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Grace Part 48: Final Encouragement

If you have followed this Grace study from Part 1 to now, you have learned what God’s grace is, how it has come to us, that you are a new creation in Christ, His LIFE is now your LIFE, how to renew your mind and tear down the strongholds that the flesh relies on, you’ve begun discovering how your flesh’s self-sufficiency developed, its specific characteristics and the ways it manifests. Now it’s time to be a doer.

A good place to start is with:  2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB) “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Grace is not an excuse to be passive. Walking in the Spirit is not doing nothing. In fact, the REST we have been brought into for our salvation is to be diligently entered. (Hebrews 4:11 (NASB) “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.”)

The following verses would be good to begin meditating on and letting them do their work in renewing your mind:

Romans 5:15, 17-19

Romans 6:1-6

Romans 12:1-2

I Corinthians 15:3-4, 22

Galatians 2:20

Ephesians 2:4-6

Colossians 3:3-4

I Thessalonians 5:23

I John 5:11, 12, 20

This ends the Grace Study notes. I recommend you review it from the beginning. Remember, faith comes by hearing, present tense. You are invited to join our class if you are in the Denver, Colorado area. Email me at p.sharon6873@gmail.com for details and dates of the next session.

I strongly recommend you attend the Grace Life Conferences, Grace Life Workshop and Exchanged Life Advance Training. Exchanged Life Ministries, 7350 E Progress Pl #206, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 303-770-5433, www.elmco.org Email: info@elmco.org

Thank you for following my blog. I do pray it has been a blessing to your spiritual walk and enlarged your relationship with Jesus.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (NASB) “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

Bibliography and Additional Resources List

The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee (Christian Literature Crusade)

Classic Christianity, Life Too Short to Miss the Real Thing, by Bob George (Harvest House Publishing, 1989)

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith (Spire, Revell Publishing, 2012)

The Rest of the Gospel (When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out), by Dan Stone (Harvest House Publishing, 2000)

The Green Letters, Principles of Spiritual Growth, by Miles J. Stanford (Zondervan Pub, 1975)

Handbook to Happiness, by Dr. Charles Solomon

The Bondage Breaker, by Neil T. Anderson, (Harvest House Publishing, 2000)

The Grace Awakening, by Charles R. Swindoll, (Word Publishing, Dallas, TX, 1990)

In the Grip of Grace, Max Lucado, (W Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 2004)

The Grace and The Glory of God, by Dr. Ray Charles Jarman, (Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1968)

Amazing Grace, by Dr. James M. Boice, (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, IL, 1993)

When You’re Tired of Giving It All You’ve Got…Growing in Grace, by Bob George, (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1991)

Spiritual Burnout, When Doing All You Can…Isn’t Enough, by Malcolm Smith, (Honor Div. Harrison House, Inc, Tulsa, OK, 1988)

How People Grow, by Drs. Townsend and Cloud, (Zondervan, Detroit, MI, 2001)

Good News For the Believer, Resting in Our Identity in Christ by Sharon Mahoney, (Denver, CO, River of Life Publishers, 1994)

He Will Give You Another Helper, by Marilyn Hickey, (Harrison House, Tulsa, OK, 2001)

Renovation of the Heart, Putting on the Character of Christ, by Dallas Willard, (Nav Press, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002)

The Place of Immunity, by Francis Frangipane (Arrow Publishing, Cedar Rapids, IA, 1994)

Abide in Christ, by Andrew Murray, (Christian Literature Crusade, Ft. Washington, PA, 1974)

Freedom From a Self-Centered Life/Dying to Self, by Andrew Murray, (Bethany House, Minn. MN 1977)

Sovereign Grace: Its Source, Its Nature and Its Effects, by Dwight L Moody, (Fleming Revell CO, Chicago, 2011)

Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living, by Joseph Prince, (Harrison House Publishers, Tulsa, OK, 2010)

The Salvation of the Soul, by Watchman Nee, (Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc, New York)

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Grace Part 47: Affect of Meditation

Mark 4:26–29 (NASB) And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

We know Jesus was referring to the seed being the Word. The soil being our heart, that place of interaction between the spirit and the soul. The night & day being the meditating times. The natural process is that it sprouts and bears fruit. We don’t fully understand how but like the farmer, we engage the process trusting the Spirit to cause the harvest.

Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of Christ.”  Notice “hearing” is in the present tense and is repeating. Meditating the word is an ongoing practice. It’s not past tense. It doesn’t say, “having heard.” It’s hearing now.

Notice rhema is used here for “the word.” There are two Greek words used in the original language of the New Testament for “word.” The more well know is logos which is used to express general or big encompassing ideas. The second is rhema which is used of a specific word usually given to a specific person. As I pointed out above in Romans 10:17, it is the rhema from which faith comes. In other words, when the logos, the general word of God becomes rhema, a specific word to us, faith comes. Meditating the word helps this to take place. Even if you are a brand-new believer you have experienced this. At the moment of your new birth, a logos word of salvation became a rhema word to you specifically and you acted on the faith that it brought.  Meditation enables this revelation, the rhema which causes the mind to be renewed, the soul to be saved and us to think a little more like God.

In another parable, Jesus gave a word picture that demonstrates how the word works its way through to revelation. Mark 4:3-8: “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; and it came about that as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. And other seeds fell into the good soil and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

He told the disciples that the sower sows the Word and explained the different soils as the ways the Word is received. I know you may have heard this interpreted as different kinds of people receiving the word but I’d like to suggest another way to look at it. What if we consider the different soils as the parts of our soul.

Mark 4:15 (NASB) “And these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. What if this is the intellectual part of our soul, our reasoning. The enemy easily can talk the natural man out of considering God’s words to be true because that man considers it foolishness. He trusts in his intelligence. Remember I Corinthians 2 and its discussion of the natural man’s thinking versus God’s wisdom. But with humility, the believer receives the word and it implants in this soil.

Mark 4:16-17 (NASB) “And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. Now the seed gets into the emotional part of the soul, a very treacherous place of the heart. Why? Because our emotions are so flighty. We are happy one minute and sad the next. Our emotions follow what we think is happening to us and react to it. They are quick to react but slow to adjust to reality. Just think about the last time someone played a trick on you and scared you. You freaked out! Then your reasoning made you realize that there was no danger after all. But how long did it take for your emotions to get settled down again. Our emotions will certainly be affected by the good news of the gospel and we’ll feel joyful about it. That is until someone comes along and rejects us for it. But if we will realize the truth about our emotions, the word will override them and hold us steady even when our emotions are swinging in a totally different direction.

Mark 4:18–19 (NASB) “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Now we hit the toughest and most important soil of the soul, the place we make our decisions, the Will. This is the place we choose between our flesh or His word. Look at the circumstances named off here: “the worries of the world, deceitfulness of riches, desires for other things.” This is where we are most likely to encounter our flesh in all its ugliness. This is where the belief in who we really are is put to the test. This is where it really heats up and the dross of the flesh comes to the surface. Will we escape the hard situations through our self-sufficiency or will we trust God and wait on His Holy Spirit to lead us in His way?

If we choose to push through, deciding against the flesh and choosing to walk after the Spirit, the Word will hit that good soil: “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. (Mark 4:20)” As James promised, being a doer of the word brings the blessings.

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Grace Part 46: Christian Meditation

The world’s religions use a form of meditation that calls for a person to empty their minds but Christian meditation involves filling our minds with the Word of God.

James 1:22-25 “But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”

James says the one who looks intently or gazes at the perfect law, the Word and lives by it shall be blessed. See yourself passing by a pool of water. If you just glance toward it, all you see is the surface being moved by the wind. But if you stand over it and gaze into it, you will see your reflection. It becomes a mirror. The word is a mirror of your inner man, your spirit, your image in Christ. When we spend time in it, I mean gaze into it, meditate on it, study it along with the Holy Spirit’s leading, revelation takes place. That image imprints our soul, revealing the truth of who we are and renewing our mind, our thoughts, attitude and intentions to that image. We could say the image of Christ, the Word, that’s inside us meets the image of Christ in the Word and powerfully transforms us.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB) But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Look for yourself in the Word until it becomes clear, like looking for yourself in a group picture. Hebrew word for meditate means to chew it, like a cow chews its cud, repeat it over and over, change emphasis on words to bring out each meaning.

Read the Word aloud. Listen to the Word. Don’t assume you know what it says. Hear it anew each time. Ask questions, “What are you saying in this? What does it mean? What should I look for here?  Am I asking the wrong questions? What? Who? How? When? Why? Where?” Study the words. Look them up in dictionaries, concordances, lexicons, and in other translations. Read it in context. Learn the culture and traditions of that time. Memorize the Word and carry it with you to work. Murmur it, let it come from your spirit. I’m not talking about saying it until it becomes true! It IS already true. This is to renew your mind to its truth. Pray in the spirit as you repeat it. Employ your imagination: get a picture of what it says.

Word pictures are a vital part of the scriptures. Why? Because it’s easier to remember a picture than a bunch of words. For example, just imagine Luke 10:19 (NASB) 19Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.” See yourself “stomping and squishing” scorpions and serpents, defeating the enemy.

Pray the Word to God.  Pray also asking the Holy Spirit to lead you into truth. Pray Ephesians 1:17-18,“Please be the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus for me. Open the eyes of my understanding, grant to me the full knowledge of your will on this subject.” Write the Word down, over and over.  Use different translations.  Sing it, psalm it, add music to it.

Finally, act on the word. Just do it! That is where the reality of the promise actually becomes known. That’s where the truth manifests! It’s not until we do the word that we experience its truth. It wasn’t until you trusted (the doing) Jesus for salvation that you were given new life. It won’t be until you step out in faith on all the other promises that you will experience their truth. Come boldly before the throne of grace in time of need and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Just do it!

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Grace Part 45: The Salvation of the Soul

Today we are going on to look at the salvation of the soul: James 1:21-25 “Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. The word “save” is the Greek word sozo, which means “to be made whole.” Our spirit is born-again, but the soul still needs to be    saved, meaning it needs to be healed and made whole. The Soul involves the mind (reasoning, logic, intelligence), emotions, imagination, memories, and will. As we read in Phil. 2:12, we are to “work outwardly” what has been planted in our spirit. I Peter 1:9 adds, “obtaining as the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

James 1:21 tells us humility is a requirement for this process. Many people get saved and  spirit-filled but never mature. They continue to live according to their flesh, suffering with it for years, repenting, asking forgiveness and trying harder. Humility is able to say, “I surrender! I give up! I don’t know a thing. My thoughts are not Yours, nor are my ways. I give up trusting in my self-sufficiency and trust You, Lord.” The word must be received with humility. It cannot sink into stubborn, hard, proud soil that will not yield to it. The result of a proud heart is a lot of head knowledge of the Bible and outward appearance, but not the thoughts of God’s heart and the evident fruit of the Spirit.

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Our spirit and soul are intimately entwined, but it is the Word that enables us to discern what is spirit and what is soul. Jesus is the Word. We have access to His mind in our spirit. The Word within meets the Word we meditate on. In that meeting, the Holy Spirit brings revelation which transforms the mind and saves the soul.

We make the soul cooperate with this process by learning and practicing stillness.  We train and discipline the mind to humble itself and receive. We learn to meditate on the word by the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Psalm 11-3 (NASB) “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Joshua 1:8 (NASB) “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Psalm 4:4 says, Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. [Selah].”  Psalm 77:6 (NASB) I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart; And my spirit ponders.” Colossians 3:2 (NASB) Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Philippians 4:8 (NASB) 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

Let’s read further in James 1:22-25 “But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”

Notice “looks intently” which means to “gaze.” There’s another scripture that ties to this one: Ephesians 5:26that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” This scripture refers to the washing the priests did at the laver in the temple court yard. Paul pulls this washing into the New Covenant by revealing the Word now does the sanctifying, the washing.

There’s a beautiful word picture here that was understood in Paul’s time that’s easily missed today. From Exodus 38:8 we learn that the inside of the original laver of the Old Testament was lined with the women’s mirrors that were brought out of Egypt. When the priest washed his hands of the blood of the sacrifice he would be looking through the lamb’s blood at his reflection. He would see himself “under the blood”. Wow, what a revelation. Now Paul is saying that we now look through the Lamb’s blood into the Word and see our reflection in Christ. And our gazing at that reflection is how the washing takes place, “by the washing of the water with the word.” In our next lesson, we’re going to learn how to “wash with the water of the word” and receive revelation of who we are in Christ.

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Grace Part 44: Revelation to Renovation

Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world (don’t be squeezed into its mold) but be transformed (metamorphoo) by the renewing (renovation) of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Let me add a couple of important notes here. The Greek verb form used for “transformed” means to be committed to a long-term way of doing something. “Mind” is nous speaking of “the highest knowing power in man, the organ by which divine things are comprehended and known. It is the seat of reflective consciousness and the power of philosophical reasoning and logic, that exercise of the mind that considers and makes moral judgment.” (Vines)

Also interesting is the phrase, “that you may prove,” the verb form here implies “constantly, repeatedly, continuously.” That means this is an ongoing, constantly happening action. I’d liken it to “always checking in.”  I also want to repeat that we aren’t looking for God to send something to us from outside to change us. The change comes from the inside and works its way out.  2 Corinthians 13:3 (NASB) since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.

So this process of renewing our minds is a long-term life-time commitment to allow the Holy Spirit and the Word to renovate our thinking and by that, change our outward behavior. Our part is to always be “checking in” especially on long standing ways of thinking and doing things.

There’s a well-known saying, “Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is a form of insanity.” If this is true, we all suffer a little insanity because of un-renewed areas of our mind. We continue to cater to the flesh’s old way of surviving. We habitually react to circumstances that appear threatening with the same old self-sufficiency. We’re stuck, insecure, self-protecting, co-dependent, addicted, and whatever else.  All the while, we are praying for things to change, for different results; but the source of it all, our way of coping with life, hasn’t changed. We are still depending on our self, not allowing the Holy Spirit to bring the needed change. And what is it that the Holy Spirit does to cause change?

The Holy Spirit has a totally different perspective on your situation. He sees you differently than you see yourself. He sees your life different than you see it. He sees a totally different way for you to live life.

1 Corinthians 2:10–13 (NASB) 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God,13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

His ministry is to give you a glimpse of what He sees so you can trade trusting in yourself for trusting God. I say a glimpse because we wouldn’t be able to handle the full picture if it was revealed to us all at once. But He gives us a glimpse, a revelation, a new perspective that results in a paradigm shift in your mind. Once received, your way of thinking in that area is changed forever because you see it completely different than you did before.

Before, you looked at life through the distorted glasses of the flesh. You had learned to cope with life through your experiences, according to the input of your senses and your feelings, according to other people’s influences, others’ acceptance or rejection, others’ expectations and reactions, and how traumatic events and hurts affected you. This starts at an early age. From your earliest days, you have learned ways and means to cope with pain and gratification.

The little toddler gets lots of smiles and cheers by taking his first steps. Those expressions of approval mean a lot. He goes on to do more things to earn more smiles and approval. At the same time, though Mom told him not to touch the oven door, the hot glass resulted in pain. He doesn’t return to that oven door anymore. And since life seems to revolve around him, everything seems to be about him. This is the first lie that the enemy seeds into our lives. The child hears his parents fighting, even hears his name mentioned, so that fight must be about him. He must be the cause. The flesh, limited in its understanding, steps up the good behavior to stop the parents fighting. Or in some dysfunctional homes, he steps up the bad behavior to shift the attention to himself. The parents divorce. The child’s flesh reasons that it’s his fault. He’s the reason Mom or Dad left. There’s something wrong with him. His identity is impacted, and he lives up to it for years to come, avoiding the pain of loss, by perhaps bailing on relationships before they get too deep. That’s the general flesh story of a child of divorce. With what paradigms of the flesh do children of alcoholics, children of codependency, children of abandonment, or abused children survive life? These lies, that the flesh invites and nurtures, become strongholds in our soul. They are the virus infecting the mind. They are the rotten frame work of our thinking.

Through these we developed certain reactionary ways. Some ways that we use to cope bring temporary “good feelings;” some avoid experiencing the pain. But none produce the eternal fruit of the Spirit: peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, and rightness with God. The Bible calls this way of doing life, “living (or walking) according to the flesh.” Romans 8:13 (NASB) for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Living according to our flesh, our own self-sufficiency, is a slow agonizing death. The Holy Spirit wants to give us a revelation of a new way to live.

One revelation from the Holy Spirit that changes our perspective in just one area of our life will cause a revolt against the wrong thinking and reactions of that area and a revolution that will overthrow the stronghold in that area. God’s truth will expose the underlying lie and tear it out. One Revelation = a Revolution = the Renovation of the mind.

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The Life of Christ Within

From “The Joyful Heart,” Watchman Nee

He was manifested to take away sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abides in Him sins not.” I John 3:5-6.

Some of us force ourselves to do things we don’t want to do and to live a life we cannot in fact live, and think that in making this effort we are being Christians. That is very far removed from what God offers us in Christ. The Christian life is lived when I receive the life of Christ within me as a gift, to live by that life.

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Grace Part 42 What is Transformation?

The Word, allowed to be planted on the inside of us, along with the working of the Spirit changes us. Renewal of the mind, also known as the salvation of the soul, is a supernatural process. Romans 12:2 speaks of being “transformed” which is metamorphoo in the Greek. It means to be changed and is sometimes translated “transfigured.” In the world of nature, it is the change process that a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.

When you were born-again you did not automatically become a butterfly.  The nature, the DNA, of the flying butterfly is born in the crawling caterpillar, but if the caterpillar does not follow through, it will not turn into a butterfly. It is in the cocoon that he “metamorphoos.”  From the inside out, an inexplicable miracle occurs.

Though born-again with the “DNA” of Jesus in their spirits, many people go on as caterpillars. They often dress up like butterflies to make others think they have matured, but the fact is butterflies fly. Transformed believers know the lift of their true identity that carries them into flight. Many believers miss this because no one has discipled them on how to get into the cocoon and let the metamorphoo process take place.

Unlike receiving knowledge, the mind is not directly transformed with new knowledge but indirectly through the help of the Holy Spirit’s revelation. Meditating on the Word lets it come alive to do the work of renovating the mind. This process is marked with “capturing every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” It destroys the strongholds of lies and wrong thinking that exist in our souls. It reveals Truth that transforms us to think and in turn, act like the Son, transforming us into His image.

1 Corinthians 2:15–16 (NASB) But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” We potentially have access to the mind of Christ through the Word and the Spirit but our minds need to be renewed to be able to receive the thoughts of the mind of the Lord.

We need to know what “renewal of the mind” is not as much as of what it is. Renewing the mind is not positive thinking. We need to think God’s Truth which is not always positive. It’s not just refusing wrong thoughts, at which, we can never fully succeed. It’s like saying, “Just don’t think about “it”.” And then “it” is on your mind all day long. Has that ever worked? ‘

It’s not reprogramming with new information. Not just a receptacle of information, the mind is intimately entwined with your spirit. Hebrews 4:12 says the heart is spirit and soul. There are many groups that try to reprogram minds like Science of Minds, L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology’s dianetics, EST, the Moonies, The Way and many other cults teach a false means of salvation. Why do these fail? Because there is not a change in the inner man. The spirit remains dead, under the law of sin and death and continues to corrupt the whole being. These are just other means of the flesh trying to deal with life without God.

And the new way of living as a Christian is not about hanging “Christian” on something the world is doing. Over the years, I’ve seen Christian martial arts, Christian yoga, Christian Heavy Metal, Christian “whatever the world has” so we can attract unbelievers into our circles, so we can be relevant and relating. This is not renewal and defeats the testimony of being changed by His Life in us. Titus 3:5 (NASB) He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…” 

The world will never relate to the born-again believer. If we pretend to be like the lost, what are we offering them that they don’t already have. We need to be different! The world isn’t even capable of comprehending, much less relating to us as spirit born believers. And why do we feel the need to be relevant to the world. Look what Paul says about this: Galatians 6:14 (NASB) “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

In our witnessing, evangelism, and the way we do church, we must trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and His ways of reaching an unbeliever’s heart. This is why we are called to walk after the Spirit. The flesh and its ways will never bring the world to a revelation of Jesus Christ and the power of His cross. But the Holy Spirit has been doing it in millions of lives for a couple of millennia!

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Grace Part 41: Revelation’s Part in Transformation

Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable (well-pleasing) and perfect.”

This really gets to the most essential element for living Life in Christ: the renewal of your mind. This is where the sanctification process continues to conform us to the image of Christ. The truths about who we are in Christ now need to do their work in our thinking and in all areas of our soul. Remember the concentric circle illustration of our make-up. Inner circle is our born-again spirit. The next circle is our soul and the outer circle represents our body. With this in mind think about what these verses tell us:

Eph. 4:22-24 “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

You might ask, why do we need to renew our minds? Simple answer is because we don’t think right. Right thinking is thinking like God thinks. Isa. 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Let’s just consider God’s perspective compared to ours. Our perspective is so short sighted, so finite, so temporal and so limited. Yet God sees all hearts (Heb. 4:13) and knows how to deal with them. God sees forward in the future where we cannot. He knows the past of which we have no knowledge. God’s goals are usually not our goals and motives. Ours are usually self-centered, how we can preserve our Self and our old ways of living according to the flesh. God wishes to see all men saved, not just from wrath but also from Self, and the suffering that walking according to the flesh causes in life.

Our minds do not think God’s truth just because we are born-again and know some scriptures. Looking at Matthew 16:13-17:10, “He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?…And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 16:21–23 (NASB) From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.22 And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”23 But He turned and said to Peter,“Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Peter caught God’s truth about Jesus: He is the Christ.  But then his flesh flooded his thoughts (16:21-23) and he spoke man’s interest instead of God’s. In the next chapter, Jesus gives Peter another chance at the Mount of Transfiguration. Matthew 17:1-3 records that Jesus transfigured (metamorphoo) before them. For a few minutes, what was inside Jesus transcended His fleshly body and shown forth. In this awesome moment, Peter’s flesh jumped up with another brilliant idea. The problem here is not so much what Peter said as his inability to be still and listen for the Father, instead of allowing his flesh to run with his own religious ideas. In 17:9 Jesus reveals His imminent resurrection but the natural minds of the disciples totally miss it. These are all great contrasts of God’s mind versus the fleshly mind.

Most dangerous is the religious mind. Many cults memorize scripture and know the Bible better than you or me.  Memorized scripture may give you some wise and religious ideas but not necessarily right thinking and godly understanding. The natural man considers revelation foolishness. The natural man is too proud, too boastful to understand God’s wisdom.

 

 

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Grace Part 40: Transformation: Inside Out

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NASB) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is one more verse telling us that God is working the sanctification process in us, first in our spirit, then soul and finally the body. He intends it to be entire and to preserve us in it.  This verse brings to mind when my grandmother used to do canning. She had a garden and some fruit trees and she knew how to preserve the harvest from these to be kept for later enjoyment. I used to help her with this and though I don’t remember all the details, what I do remember is a lot of heat going on in her kitchen. Both the jars and the fruit had to prepare with boiling to sanitize the jars and to get rid of any bacteria in the fruit. Then the hot fruit mixture was placed in the heated jars and sealed. She used the old fashion wax seal method. That sealing meant all the goodness of that fruit could be set on a shelf for a few months and in the middle of winter, when no fruit was available, we could open up one of those jars and enjoy it with pleasure.  That’s very similar to God’s way of preserving us. Things are going to get heated up. The bad stuff is going to come to the surface to be sanctified. Then God’s going to seal that area in us by His Holy Spirit so it remains blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus.

There’s one more word picture from Hebrews 3:1 that I want to you get as we talk about this inside out process (NASB) “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”

The word Apostle in the Greek referred to a military ship that carried soldiers to invade a new land. Their job was to offload on the shore and capture enough land to establish a foothold in that country. There they would build a stronghold. They would then go out from that stronghold to invade and capture more and more land around it until they had established dominance over the whole land.  Paul and the other New Testament writers adopted the word Apostle as the name for the office of one who brought the gospel to a new land, establishing footholds (churches), and from there, expanding the kingdom around the world. Of course, the first Apostle is Jesus. He brought the good news to the earth, established the stronghold of the Church, and lives through every believer to expand His kingdom throughout the world.

But His first landing is inside each believer. He is the Apostle who has brought His Life to my spirit and has established a stronghold of righteous there. From there with the power of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Word invading the soul to capture it, transforming it to His kingdom. All of these words pictures are telling us there is an  “inside out” work going on in us. The military operation involves tearing down fleshly strongholds of the soul.  The leavening affect is the working that resurrection LIFE outward.  The heat of the hard circumstances of life are used by the Holy Spirit to sanctify and preserve.  The Word taken in, accomplishes this “inside out” work of transformation of us. As we are willing, this transformation is taking place. We can rest in this!

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Grace Part 39 Transformed by His LIFE

Romans 8:31–39 (NASB): 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How shall we come into this victory that is promised here? Who brings a charge against us the most? Who condemns the most? Of course, the enemy, Satan, does his part but is it not our own flesh that also tries to separate us from God every chance it gets?

2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (NASB) 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”

The Lord has us on a path to that victory. The first essential is the New Birth which resulted in Christ’s LIFE in our Spirit, the new creature. The second essential is knowing the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us as the Helper. Now we come to the third essential, the renewing the mind and saving the soul in these Truths. In that, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we will capture the flesh’s lies that led to our self-sufficiencies and destroy those strongholds in our souls.

Just as the Holy Spirit is working from the inside of us now, enlarging us with His presence, so it is with Christ’s LIFE and the salvation it is bringing to all our being.

Matthew 13:33 (NASB) “He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.”

The three parts are changed, leavened, from the center outward. The kingdom is said to be like that and the three parts of our being are affected when the His kingdom comes in us. First our spirit, where new life is hidden, working its LIFE outward into our soul and even into our body.

Philippians 2:12–13 (NASB) So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

“Work out your salvation” is not telling you to work it out in your self, doing something to make your salvation secure. It is speaking of the fact that salvation begins in your spirit and God works it outwardly through your soul changing us and thus changing our outward behavior. The fact that it is God who is at work in you (in your spirit) is the reason for this holy process to be respected with fear and trembling. It is our sanctification and transformation!

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Grace Part 38: Walking After the Spirit

Let’s look again at Romans 8:5–13 (NASB) For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

There is a great contrast between living according to the Spirit versus living according to the flesh. Each is focused on opposite things: The Spirit is set on life and peace, the flesh on death. There’s hostility between the two. Those living according to the flesh cannot please God. But those who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Liberty from the Flesh -Walking After the Spirit!

The book of Galatians also deals with this subject and particularly chapter five.

Galatians 5:1 (NASB) “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

In Christ Jesus, we now have liberty from the law of sin and death, but to walk in that liberty, we will have to refuse to walk in the flesh and instead, continue daily to make right choices by the Spirit. In Chapter 5, Paul makes it clear we must choose between walking by the Spirit or falling from Grace back into living according to the flesh, our self-sufficiency.

Galatians 5:16–25 (NASB) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

From this we can know what is of the Spirit and what is of the flesh by the fruit each produces:

The Spirit’s Fruit (evident presence):

Walking by the Spirit is set against the flesh.  Led by the Spirit, we aren’t under the Law. The following are produced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,    gentleness, self-control. Not under Law and results in crucified flesh!

But living after the flesh will not carry out the Spirit’s desires because the flesh is set against the Spirit. The deeds of the flesh (its fruit) are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissension’s, factions, carousing, etc.  This does not inherit the kingdom of God (righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit).

If we live (have Life) by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit, also.

NASB | Ga 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

We let HIM live through us, live as us. People see us in human form but they see HIM living through us. HIS LIFE in us lives above the line!! We live seated in heavenly places. We live victorious. We live as HE lived on the earth, walking by the Spirit, walking in love, in peace and joy. We’ll need to renew our minds to this so we remember in the stress to trust Him and wait on Him for His ways so we can walk after His Spirit.

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Grace Part 37: The Holy Spirit Within Brings the Victory

Romans 8:28–39 (NASB) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Grace and the Holy Spirit assure final Victory in these last verses of Romans eight. The phrase “God causes all things to work together for good” describes the constant crisis happening in our lives. The enemy sends adversity and the Spirit within enables us to meet and overcome it, while using it to change us, more and more, into His image, from glory to glory, “…that He might be the first-born among many brethren and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) And finishing this chapter, 31-39, we boldly declare: If God be for us, who can be against us?

In Isaiah 10:27 (NASB)  there is a reference to this you may have not seen, “…and the yoke (bondage) will be broken because of fatness.” The King James (KJV 1900) states it, “…And the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” This verse is believed to be referring to the Holy Spirit. But it’s not referring to the anointing coming upon us, as on the Old Testament saints. The Holy Spirit has been put inside us (John 14:17) and He enlarges us from the inside out. This enlarging extends into our soul and into our bodies. As it does, the Holy Spirit is working to break off of us every yoke of enslavement to the enemy and to the flesh through revelation, experience, and by His supernatural power. He is working from the inside out! If God be for us (even in us), who can be against us?

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Grace Part 36: Help to Reach Our Destiny

Let’s review what God’s grace has done through the cross of Christ and His resurrection. It has given us forgiveness, justification, crucified our sin nature, made us to die to sin, placed us in Christ, given us a new spirit, raised us up to new life, the LIFE of Christ in us, given us every benefit spoken of in the scriptures for those who are in Christ, even brought us to experience death of self, and yet He was not done. To top it all off, He has also given us His Holy Spirit to live in us to aide us in this life.

It is often said that Father God is seen as the Planner. It seems Jesus and the Holy Spirit seek Him for what to do and what to say. Jesus is the Doer of the Father’s plans. The Holy Spirit is the Revealer. He reveals the Father’s plan, reveals Jesus as the Son of God and He is the revealer of Jesus in us and all that is.

1 Corinthians 2:7–13 (NASB) but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;9 but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God,13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

It is only in the context of these verses that the next make scriptural sense.

Romans 8:28–29 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;

Romans 8:29 reveals Father God’s plan for our destiny: to be conformed to the image of His Son. Doesn’t that sound right, that if we are to be heirs that we should also be conformed to be like the Son? So out of every circumstance, God brings us closer to being more like Jesus. This is where our God totally outsmarts our enemy. Where the enemy’s nearness in the beginning resulted in the fall, and our condemnation, now his temptations and intrusions can result in our sanctification!

Romans 8:26-29 to the believer, is probably the most important passage in the Bible. Being made into the image of the Son is our destiny! We were originally created in the image of God but now we are being conformed to the image of the Son. That is the place to which God is taking us!  It is the measuring stick, the plumb line, of our spiritual growth and maturity. It is our destination. And He has given us His Holy Spirit to lead us there and help us reach that destiny.

Can you imagine taking a trip without a destination? Or worse, having the wrong destination?  You may be willing to go. You may have the means to get there. You may even have memorized the map in your hand but it would all be a waste of time, and you’d never to arrive where you are supposed to be. It is imperative you know your destination. Your destiny, no matter the scenery on the way, is to let Jesus LIFE live through you! To be conformed to Him.

 

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Part 35: Romans 8 – The Holy Spirit is the Help from Above

FYI: If you are a believer and have been reading these posts from the beginning and letting the Holy Spirit give you a revelation of who you are now, you should realize the following Biblical truths about yourself:

  1. You are NOT a sinner saved by grace! You ARE a saint, having been saved by grace, having died to sin and now alive to God. (Stop the sin identification and take up the righteousness identification in Jesus; it’s the Bible way to holiness!)
  2. You are in Christ and His LIFE is now your life.
  3. Suffering is useless unless it brings you to surrender your self-sufficiency for His All Sufficiency; your self-way for His way. Die to the Flesh and your way; wholly trust in God for all things; and start living His way.
  4. His Help from above is the Holy Spirit sent to help you live His way. Now we walk after His leading in all things.

Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of Grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.

The outpouring of the Spirit of Grace, (chen), is prophesied here. We may think this is in the future for the nation of Israel, which will indeed take place. Please remember, however, the Jews in the Upper Room experienced this outpouring just as this scripture says on the Day of Pentecost. Many met the Spirit of Grace at that time and realized their salvation was strictly by God’s good Grace. Romans Eight introduces us to the One who reveals and experientially enables us to be partakers of this Grace.

The Holy Spirit is the Help From Above

Genesis 2:18 (NASB)18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  We needed a helper. First God provided a wife and that didn’t help man to not sin. Then a family, but that didn’t help. Then the village and even a world full of people that didn’t help and eventually that world had to be wiped out because their sin multiplied so much. After that nations, governments and even laws were formed and they didn’t help either. All these didn’t help man. The law of sin and death continued to reign.

Jesus announced at the Last Supper:

John 14:16-17(NASB)16 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.

John 14:26 (NASB) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

John 15:26 (NASB) “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me,

John 16:7 (NASB) “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

John 16:13–14 (NASB) “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.14 “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.

We are not alone in this battle. The Holy Spirit has been sent to us as the Helper, who helps us in our weakness: Romans 8:26-27 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Our weakness is depending on the flesh and ignorance of the heart and will of God. As we groan within ourselves in suffering against the flesh, the Holy Spirit intercedes with groans “too deep for words” on our behalf. I believe this is true for all believers because all believers have received the Holy Spirit and His ministry is to intercede for us. He will carry out His ministry to the degree we yield to Him. The believer, longing for change within, for transformation, not knowing what or how to pray, prays in the Spirit, yielding to the Spirit within, to pray even more effectually.

A very important part of His ministry is working this transformation in us, coming to help us where we are weak. Next to the prayer of surrender to the Lord, the best prayer you can learn is “Help Holy Spirit.” One of the smallest words in our English language is one of the longest in the Greek. The word for “help” is sunantilambanomai, which literally means: “to take hold, together, with, against.” The Spirit “taking hold together with” the believer “against” our weaknesses in this body, brings what is found in the believer’s heart to the mind of the Spirit of God and intercedes the answer for that saint according to the will of God. What a connection! What a HELP!

 

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Grace Part 34: Moses’ House vs. Jesus’ House

Another passage similar to the two we’ve looked at on slaves and heirs is Hebrews 12:18-24, For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them.20 For they could not bear the command, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.” 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling.”22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.”

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were under persecution by their Jewish community to return to living under the Law. The writer of Hebrews, (popularly believed to be the apostle Paul), intensely warns them through compelling comparisons not to turn back.

Hebrews 3-4 contrasts Two Houses. You should read these two chapters for yourself. Basically they are a comparison between the old and the new covenants: Moses is the house of Israel and Jesus is the house of God.

Of Moses’ House, it says Moses was faithful in his appointment from God over Israel and from that he gained some glory. He is the picture of the house of Israel, faithful as a servant but when they heard God’s voice, their master’s voice, they hardened their hearts. This is what slaves do. They don’t want to be someone’s slave and resent being told what to do. They kept up this rebellion that provoked God for 40 years even though through all those years they saw Him work miracle after miracle on their behalf! They always went astray, and did not know His ways. As a consequence, they would not enter His rest because they did not believe Him. They had good news preached to them but it still did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith. They were unwilling to believe. They kept the works of the Law but failed by disobedience to enter His Day of Rest of which Joshua and David spoke to them.

 

Jesus: God’s House

Jesus was appointed and faithful over God’s house which resulted in more glory. He is the builder of the church of believers. Christ is faithful as a Son. With Jesus as our example, when we hear His voice, we are not to harden our hearts; don’t have an evil, unbelieving heart, falling away from the living God. We aren’t to be deceived by that sin of unbelief and  come short of entering His rest. We have the good news preached to us! Even God rested from His works; so must we!  Today, now, it is our turn. The Sabbath Rest is Jesus and remains for us to enter. When you enter His Rest, you rest from your works. Be diligent to enter that Rest! The Word of God reveals that you are either living after the spirit in His rest or living after the flesh in works. In God’s sight no creature, new or old is hidden. He sees us clearly.

Sons of Moses, slaves in the house, do not act in faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. They harden their hearts, run from God, and go to work to make up for the sin: pray more, read the Bible more, fast, “take lashes,” do penance, and try harder. All the while staying away from the Father. They choose to eat from the tree of independence, “I can fix it myself and then I’ll be all right with God again.”  They are like the Prodigal Son, believing lies about their Father’s character, thinking He is stingy and demanding.

Sons of God, born again sons in the House, act in faith in Christ’s redemption, run to their Father, with confidence in His Word and in His true nature. They come to their Lord’s throne having received and resting in His Saving Grace, knowing they will find mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance there. Also they trust in the help from above, His Grace. They rest. They don’t trust in the weakness of the flesh. They rest in the transformation in their soul that shuts the door to that temptation.

Returning to Romans 8, verses 20-25, describes the restoration of all things, beginning with creation, which now groans under the slavery of corruption and likewise, we, ourselves, groan for the redemption of our bodies. This is referring to the many times we groan over our flesh and the suffering it causes us.  When our flesh has led us to handle a hard situation in our own sufficiency instead of trusting the Lord and waiting for the Spirit’s leading. The disappointment inside us that we are still influenced by our flesh is the groan referred here for the final redemption; when our bodies will be changed and we are free for good.

In the meantime, God has provided the Help from above until that takes place.

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Grace Part 33: More on Heirs or Slaves

As we read in Romans 8 and Galatians, in the discussion of adoption, the child heir is the same as a slave under authorities until the right time. The right time came in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection for mankind as a whole. For each of us individually, we receive son-ship when we believe at which time we receive new life. So now we are no longer slaves but sons and heirs of God.

Here’s The Allegory of Galatians 4:21-31:

Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.24 This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.27 For it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband.” 28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.”

We cannot live as slaves, living according to the flesh and live as heirs, living according to the Spirit, at the same time. We must choose which life we will live. Romans 8:13 states, “…if you are living according to the flesh, you must die…” so it would seem obvious which life we should choose to live. But the flesh puts up a good fight to keep us slaves to all those expectations, that perfection, the treadmills and the old ways of coping with life.

The Flesh is the Bondwoman. This allegory comes from the recorded events of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar from Genesis 16-18, and 21. Abraham and Sarah were unable to bear children but God gives them a promise that he will have a heir. They were given the promise and their part was to receive it and trust God to make it come about. But the flesh in its weakness always wants to fix the problem, get in there and help God, (to be God) and make the promise come to past. In this case, the flesh had Hagar the Egyptian slave of Abraham become the surrogate in order to produce the heir. She became pregnant and had Ishmael, the son of a slave. When the true heir, Isaac, miraculously was born by Sarah, Ishmael persecuted him. Finally, God had the bondwoman and the slave son sent away from the heir. This allegory in Galatians is using that history to draw a clear comparison between the ways and the fruit of flesh and the way and fruit of the Spirit.

The Flesh’s children are born according to the flesh, not out of the fulfillment of God’s promise. With the offspring of the flesh, it’s always about the family of origin. It’s about what their parents did or didn’t do for them, so they had to become what they are to cope. If that wasn’t enough, they created their own treadmills (laws of Mount Sinai) to produce a sense of “okay-ness,” that they can make a way to get to “perfect” on their own, but they are never really okay, at all.  Why? Because slavery is in their DNA. Their mother is Hagar, a slave, a concubine, a lesser one who never makes the grade. She was a slave and they will always be slaves. That’s just who they have always been. And they can’t stand the heirs. They envy their freedom. They envy their inheritance from above. They will never be at peace with the heirs. These are the offspring of the flesh. The only way to deal with the flesh is to cast it out. It cannot inherit with the heirs, the children of the free woman.

 

In contrast, the Free Woman bears the son of the promise. The grace given and the faith that received, are gifts from above. She’s the Jerusalem above, the eternal life. Of course, this is referring to the free woman, Sarah, and her free born son of promise, Isaac. He is the heir of the promise given to Abraham, who received that promise and his heir by faith in God’s grace.

Romans 4:3–5 (NASB) For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due.5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness

Romans 14:17 (NASB) “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

 

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Grace Part 32: Adoption, Are We Slaves or Heirs?

In Romans eight, it is clear we are being restored as His own children, His heirs.

Romans 8:14-17 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, (those who don’t live according the flesh of self-direction and self-sufficiency) these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

The suffering spoken of here, we talked about in previous lessons, gets Self out of the way so the Spirit can lead. Do you see now how Jesus is recognized living through us when we let His LIFE be our life and we let the Holy Spirit lead us to do what the Father has planned for us.

There is so much Grace in this passage, but you must understand the meaning of adoption here or you will miss it. It is not the adoption that we know today in America where parents legally take into their family a child who is not born naturally to them and make that child their legal heir. What is being spoken of here is adoption as in the Jewish culture. It’s known as the ceremony of Bar Mitzvah for boys and Bat Mitzvah for girls. The child is naturally born to the parents but is only an heir-to-be remaining under the parents’ authority. When that child reaches a certain age, usually 13, they are declared an adult and become the rightful heir with all the privileges and responsibilities of rightful owners. Before their “adoption,” they are only “heirs-to-be.” At their adoption, they are said to have matured into their inheritance and have come into it fully.

Father God considered us to be immature, unable to handle the inheritance, until our spirits were born again, free from the sin nature, and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. When we come into Christ’s LIFE and are led by the Spirit, we have matured. We cry “Abba, Father,” because our soul receives the revelation of His fatherly love and acceptance of us. In our born-again state, we now have a knowing; a witness, that we are His children, the heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. The passage also teaches that this inheritance of ours won’t be fully known until it passes through suffering that deals that death blow to living according to the flesh and gets Self out of the way, self-sufficiency, self-determination, self-everything else. Since we looked at suffering unto the death of self, last week, can you see why this is an essential part of the process to being conformed to the image of His Son? Understanding inheritance in this light, consider what the following scriptures are saying:

1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (NASB) Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 5:19–21 (NASB) 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Dead to sin, made righteous, letting Christ live through us to bear fruit for God is evidence that we are born-again. Recognizing the fruit of living according to the flesh, experiencing death to self and being led by the Spirit brings us into this adoption, revealed as heirs and joint heirs with Christ, sons of God; heirs of the Kingdom, owners, not slaves nor just visitors in the house.

Galatians 3:23-4:7 “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if you belong to Christ, then you areFathers-day-cute-images-300x178 Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. 1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything,2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,5 in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

The Law was given to lead us to Christ. That may sound strange until we understand how it did that. The Law kept us in custody and curbed sin’s destruction. The Law is like the tutor of the ancient world who was given the responsibility for walking the child to the schoolmaster. Notice not once does it say anything about the Law saving us or transforming us. It is not able to do so and was never meant for that purpose.

But now the way to God, faith, has come. We become sons through faith and are placed inBecoming Heirs Christ. It doesn’t matter what you are outwardly, male, female, Jew, Gentile, bond or free; there is no difference. Immersed into Christ, the Seed, we are now Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. As believers, we are not slaves to the law of sin and death any longer, but full grown heirs of the kingdom.

 

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Grace Part 31: The Holy Spirit, The Help From Above

In John 16:13, Jesus taught this about the Holy Spirit: (NASB) “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
For us, in addition to the Christ’s LIFE in us, God’s Grace is personified and ministered through us in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Grace. The extreme of only “walking by the Spirit” could be passivity; not doing anything unless directed by the Lord. I’ve heard believers say the Holy Spirit told  them what to wear, what to eat, and the answer to every common natural decision they made for the day. That may or may not be the Spirit. I don’t think Jesus was teaching to become an airhead and in passivity not make any decision without the Spirit’s leading.

Though that’s a possibility, I’m much more concerned with all the “doing” and “saying” that is not of the Spirit’s leading but is self-initiated and self-directed.

How can we tell what is directed of the Lord? By the fruit. John 15:1–5 (NASB)  “I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

For apart from Him we can do nothing, that bears fruit for God!

You’ve heard the question, “Is it a good idea or a God idea?” I’m afraid a lot of what the Church does today is men’s good ideas and not God’s plans, because look at the fruit. We have less people believing the word of God is the Word of God. We have less disciples than ever. We have lots of DIY sermons and not a lot of maturity in the body of Christ. And many things that come to pass that are touted as “of God” do not bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.

In Romans eight, it is clear we are being restored as His own children. Romans 8:14-17 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, (those who don’t live according the flesh of self-direction and self-sufficiency) these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

ALL WHO ARE BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THESE ARE SONS OF GOD!

The suffering we talked about last week gets Self out of the way so the Spirit can lead. Do you see now how Jesus is recognized living through us when we let His LIFE be our life and we let the Holy Spirit lead us to do what the Father has planned for us. When we give up our good ideas for His Spirit’s leading, then we will see fruit for His Kingdom! When we stop speaking our own words and doing our own deeds, then the Spirit will be able to lead. When the church stops doing its own thing, and like Jesus, does the Father’s thing, we will see fruit again.

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Grace Part 30: Romans 8 – Walking in the Spirit

Romans 8:1–2 (NASB) “THERE is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Period)

First let’s take a look at Jesus earthly walk:

Philippians 2:5–9Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus didn’t come to earth as God, but instead emptied Himself, “made in the likeness of men.” He came as a human being, like you and me accept not in Adam. When the time came for Him to begin His ministry, He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit for ministry. Matthew 3:13-17 gives the account of Jesus baptism and of the Holy Spirit coming upon Him. But Jesus didn’t go from there in His own self-sufficiency, in His flesh. The thought of that is ridiculous to us. However, do we understand how Jesus walked on this earth?

John’s gospel gives us the best examples of Christ walking by the Spirit in the following scriptures:
John 5:19 (NASB) “Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” 
John 5:30 (NASB) 30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

The word initiative used in the NASB is also translated. “me”, “myself”, “of my own self” in other versions, so you can see it is referring to “self”, “self-sufficiency”, “self-direction”, “self-strength”, “self-etc”.  Though Jesus had a self, He did nothing out of self, but instead, looked to the Father for direction. The Holy Spirit revealed to Him what the Father wanted Him to say and to do:
John 8:28 (NASB) “Jesus therefore said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” 
John 8:42 (NASB) “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
John 12:49 (NASB) “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.”
John 14:10 (NASB) “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” 
Jesus was abiding in the Father, just as we abide in Jesus and He abides in us. As we said earlier, the word translated “initiative” here is emautou, literally “myself”. Jesus didn’t do things out of His “self” but instead did and said what the Father gave Him to do and say. Did Jesus have His own plan on how to bring salvation to mankind? Apparently not. He was led by the Holy Spirit who also was and is directed by the Father on what to do and what to say. Jesus died to self in order to live to God. This, too, is how we are going to come into “walking in the Spirit.”

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Grace Part 29: Suffering to Surrender to Victory

Old ways and old habits die hard! Especially learned ways to cope with uncomfortable things in life. ‎Romans 8:20-25 tells how the whole of creation is suffering, groaning to be set free. And that we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our body.

Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” 

God’s plan is the conform us to the image of Jesus. He predestined us to this. He is doing it.

So somewhere along the way, the idea came in that once we are born-again and have a new life, the whole world around us should also become a new happy place, as if we are entitled to heaven on earth. But as we have all realize that just isn’t the case. In fact, the more we live this LIFE the more we swim against the current of the world around us.
AND in addition, God, in His wisdom, uses all things to work together for good…to conform us to the image of His Son. Now that’s not such good news. In fact, some would tell you that suffering is not of God, but you can’t get around this passage and others throughout the epistles that prove He uses it.

We all come to this new LIFE through different circumstances. Often, they are bad circumstances. We are broken and we cry out to God for help. Sometimes we realize we are dead in our sins at this point but most of the time we are just hurting and need relief we can’t seem to find any other place.

My very spiritual prayer at the time I was born-again was, “God, please take control of my life before I destroy it.” I didn’t have my sins in mind at all. I realized later how really sinful I was and how really good He was to send His grace to save me that night. One thing about this prayer, (which by the way I give all the credit to the Holy Spirit in helping me pray those exact words) was that I surrendered control to Him there.
Others may have prayed a prayer at the end of a church service, at the altar call as we sometimes call it, and you may not remember what you said. But still new birth occurred. Not by our works, but by His grace. And then we go on living our life.

What’s really unfortunate, we go on using our own resources to cope with life just like we did before our new birth. If we aren’t discipled to know what this new LIFE is, we will go on as we always did, only now we ask God to help us and we think this is what being a Christian is all about.

But God intends for us to know, to experience, this verse: Galatians 2:20,“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Our Father God is working His plan to conform us to the image of His Son. He wants us to live LIFE in Christ, to learn to let HIM live through us, even to live as us. Then others will see HIM. HIS LIFE in us lives above the line!! His LIFE does nothing from its own initiative but instead seeks the Father’s will. What He sees the Father doing, He does through us. What He hears the Father saying, He says through us. When LIFE gets hard for us, He seeks the wisdom, comfort, peace, joy, love of the Spirit to live through us. We live seated in heavenly places. We live victorious. We live as HE lived on the earth, walking by the Spirit, walking in love, in peace and joy. In those hard times, we say, “I trust You, My Lord. You will lead me through and I rest in Your LIFE.”

But the flesh is very stubborn and resists surrendering or being ignored, and causes suffering and conflict for us. The flesh is very deceiving even for the most mature believer. I had a radical new birth and quickly gave up my previous sinful life, literally leaving all behind: home, family, and friends. I came into this new life with very little.

The Spirit of God kept speaking to me that I had died and this was a new life I was now living. I had no job, but He provided for me until I got the one He had for me. I had given up a home but he provided housing for me. At every turn, what I had left in the old life was replaced with what He had for me which was far better. I left family and found a new family in the body of Christ. I left friends and found wonderful new friends. This new LIFE for me had begun and it was good.

He called me into ministry. I followed and I eventually saw ministry come to a fullness. I felt like I was living a dream. When I was ministering, I felt His anointing in wonderful ways. He worked supernaturally through me and I loved it. And I also loved the accolades that came for what He did though I always tried to deflect the praises off to Him. Still I loved the place ministry had brought me to and the identity it gave me. All this fed my flesh and gave me a new identity but not of Christ.

Then came a season that I called the season of Great Loss. Just to name a few, I lost my Dad; our spiritual parents; our church home; half our church plant; and then I lost my health. Sick with fibromyalgia and disabled with aphasia, devastating of all, I then lost all ministry opportunities. Who was I now? Mom-hood ended as my daughters left our nest and then I lost my own Mom. Sick and depressed, I was not easy to live with at that time. Eventually my husband pulled away from me. His withdrawal and absence broke my heart and brought me to my end. All this happened over several years. I wish I could say I walked in the Spirit through it all, skipping and dancing, singing praises to God and trusting Him all the way. But no! My flesh responded with questions, anger, grieving, and depression. What had I done to deserve this happening to me? Why had all this loss come to me? Had I sinned some unknown sin? All kinds of questions bombarded me. I was sick and tired and there came a day when I just wanted my life to end. I wanted to die. What really needed to die was my “self,” my flesh.

All that I identified with and relied upon. All my self-sufficiency needed to go to the cross. It was at this point by the grace of God, that I gave up, I died. Again, the Holy Spirit helped me say what needed to be said, “If it’s just you and me, Jesus, and that’s all I have, then I will go on and I’ll be alright.” I know now that He wanted to be my all and all, my only source of LIFE. Today I can say I’m so glad He did what I could not. He made me die to the me that was not HIM.

The season of loss was really a season of Great Gain as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:7 “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;”

Suffering can be a means of great gain if we surrender in it and embrace the death of self. You may not have come to this season yet. Or you may have already experienced this “death of self.” Or you may be in the middle of the death throws right now. Whatever the case, the scriptures here have been sent to us to prepare us to understand, not just with our head, but by experience, our death on the cross with Christ.

Selfers Prayer

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Breakdown Brings Update

The following is quoted from Watchman Nee’s The Joyful Heart:

“And he went out, and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75

“In affirming that he would never be offended in Christ, Peter was contradicting his Lord; yet his doing so was no mere bravado. He was confident that he spoke the truth. It was because Peter so firmly believed in himself that Jesus reinforced his general statement regarding all his disciples by adding details of the depth to which Peter would fall in desertion of him.

Yet so deep-rooted was Peter’s self-confidence that all the Lord’s assertions failed to convince him. More vehemently than ever he promised his loyalty. He meant every word. He loved Jesus and wanted to follow him unreservedly; and when he spoke as he did, he was expressing the intention of his heart. But he mistook himself for the man he desired to be. Thank God that Peter was brought through breakdown to discover his own weakness. If there was sincerity in his self-confidence, there was sincerity too in his weeping. From that hour of his self-discovery, God was able to fashion him anew.”

Through suffering that breakdown, Peter received the updating (the transformation) God wanted him to have. “Self-anything”, the Flesh, blocks the Spirit’s transforming work in those deepest parts of us. Suffering is the boiling pot that brings “self” to the surface and gives us the opportunity to give it up and let God’s amazing Grace make us anew.

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Grace Part 28: Romans 8 – A New Law to LIVE In

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. “
Notice the period after Christ Jesus. The original King James translators did not have as good of texts to translate from as we have today and the original King James Version adds an unfortunate phrase that is not in the original text. None of the modern translations include the phrase “…who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Perhaps they could not believe this passage was complete by itself,  and added the legalistic requirement that is not contained in the original manuscripts. It is hard to believe but the truth is we are released from condemnation not because our actions will release us, but because we are now in Christ Jesus. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ has set us free!

Once we lived under the Law, which was really the revelation of the law of sin and death born out of Adam’s eating of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the source of the first sin. Because of the fallen nature of man, the Law could never help us live righteously. All it could do was clarify our need for deliverance. We needed a Savior! But the only way to be freed from the law was to die. We needed a Savior to pay the penalty for our sin and take us to the cross to die.

Romans 8:3-4, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Have you ever heard of double jeopardy? Not a back-to-back run of your favorite TV game show. In criminal law, jeopardy means the peril incurred by a defendant on trial charged with a crime. In the past, it was not uncommon for persons acquitted of criminal charges by the verdict of a jury to be tried a second time on the original charge. Persons treated in this way were said to be placed in double jeopardy. The 5th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits this and protects us from undergoing this same peril. But long before the 5th Amendment, the gift of Grace prohibited double jeopardy in God’s Kingdom. You see, we were tried and found guilty, resulting in condemnation. But, Jesus stepped in, our substitute and co-crucified, and took the condemnation in His own flesh. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the possibility of ever being tried and condemned again. What were we acquitted of? All of our sin, past, present and future.

The end of Romans 8:4 contrasts the flesh with the born-again spirit under the ministry of the Holy Spirit saying, “…who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

The Mind of the Flesh vs. the Mind of the Spirit
Romans 8:5-8. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Notice, it says the mind of the flesh is:
• Set on the things of the flesh – the unsaved soul and the body
• Death
• Hostile to God
• Does not subject itself to the law of God
• Is not even capable of subjecting itself
• Cannot please God.

Out of the mind of the flesh is how we lived before we were born again, in our self-sufficiency and coping skills. This is the mind we possessed and the kind of attitude we had.
Romans 8:9-11 “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”

These scriptures describe the born-again spirit, made alive by Christ’s life and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We have been made the temple of the Holy Spirit. The reason you are free from living in the flesh is because your spirit is once again in authority over your soul, your flesh and your body. It’s in your spirit that you enjoy fellowship with God.
Romans 8:12-13 “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (before our new birth, we were obligated to the flesh, do you remember that?) for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit, you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live.”

Notice this part: “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die…” and this is where the experiential part of death comes in. The dying to the flesh, that habitual coping in our self-sufficiency, can be a long time coming. But we know it when it happens.

I strongly recommend you read Dr. Charles Solomon’s book, “Handbook to Happiness” especially the chapter, Intellectual Understanding-Then What? In this chapter, he explains that head knowledge of our death at the cross is not enough. If we want to live after the Spirit, we will experience the death of living according the flesh. It doesn’t come because we will it. It comes like the death of anything comes, through suffering.

We’re going to look closely at the next verses, 14-16, later but right now I want to continue with this discussion about the flesh. Romans 8:17–19 (NASB) “and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”

Let’s include here another passage dealing with suffering, Philippians 3:7–12 (NASB) “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ,9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

Quoting Dr. Solomon, “When misunderstood, suffering causes despair, defeat, and frustration. Often it is accompanied by resentment, bitterness, hostility, and depression. However, if we can apply God’s lenses to our eyes and see the goal He has in view, then we are afforded an entirely new perspective on the suffering…we come to appreciate it as the “fellowship of His sufferings,” we recognize in retrospect that suffering (for God’s purpose) is indeed a privilege (Phil 1:29)” (p. 74)”

Philippians 1:29–30 (NASB) “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” 

Going on to give the example of one person’s suffering, Dr. Solomon states, “God used these circumstances to force her to the end of self (the end of self-sufficiency). Realizing the reason for her suffering, she quit fighting God and trusted him to continue it until he had accomplished His purpose…He rapidly took her to the Cross.”

Remember the treadmills and Romans 7:5, that the sinful passions aroused were at work to produce fruit for death. As long as we insist on living after the flesh, those sinful passions will continue to produce fruit for death: guilt, condemnation, regret, shame, fear, anxiety, etc. all of which cause us great suffering. And it is purposeless suffering if it is temporarily relieved with fleshly solutions that only put off the death that is going to eventually come. Remember Romans 8:13, “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die;” That old way of living will kill us in spite of all our efforts to gain relief from it.

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Grace Part 27: Still Stuck in Romans Seven?

Let’s read further in Romans 7, how Paul was shown the answer to the flesh:
Romans 7:2For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”

In brief, Romans Seven sums up in a real practical sense what Paul has said in Romans 6:1–2 (NASB) “WHAT shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? “

It is in chapter seven that Paul illustrates what has been taught: The only way to get out from under the law is to die. The flesh wants to hold us under the Law but the Law has no place in a believer’s life. The flesh of religious believers uses the law to cope, but the law only brings condemnation. We can’t live LIFE as God intended us to live and still live under the Law, it only brings sin and death. But at the cross, that death has already occurred for the believer. We reckon it true when we receive what we are and have in Christ.

Pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz is a master story teller. Here’s how he tells the story of the above verses, (my paraphrase): Once upon a time, a woman was married to a hard, demanding, judgmental, and punishing husband, named Mr. Law. She didn’t like him at all but she was married to him and had to obey him. It was a very unhappy marriage. Then she met a very nice man, Mr. Grace, who genuinely loved her but he knew he could not do anything with her because she was married. He wanted to give her a nice life, meet all her needs, set her free from the oppression she was under in that marriage, and see her happy. But again, he couldn’t do anything because she was married and would be for the rest of her life. Then he had a brilliant thought. He would kill her. If she died, that marriage would legally end. So, he did exactly that and then gave her a new life. She was no longer married to Mr. Law but was now free to marry Mr. Grace, which she did! Of course!

The Law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives! ‎Romans 7:5 “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

While we were in the flesh…is referring to the time before we are in Christ. That is while we were unbelievers, the sinful passions which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body… we’ve talked about the use of the Law. It was not to save us and could not make us perfect, or help us live righteously. It was given to express God’s standard of holiness and being impossible to keep, to usher us to Christ. And its effect on unbelievers is arousing sinful passions leading to sin and the fruit of death and more misery to bring the unbelievers to the end of themselves.

Charles Swindall tells the story of his first taste of having the Law stir up these passions in him. As a kid he rode his bike to school and along the way there was a corner house yard across which most of the kids took a short cut, leaving an unsightly path in the lawn. The owner finally had had enough and put up a sign, “Do not ride across the grass!” Up until that time Swindall had not taken the short cut but the first morning he saw the sign, he said something rose up in him that compelled him to cut across the yard with the rest of the kids. He later recognized it was the “Do not” of that sign! It was the Law that aroused him to do exactly what it told him not to do. That is the what the Law does.

Romans 7:4 goes on to say, “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.”

We’re reminded again of the message of Romans 6, that Jesus did not go to the cross alone. He took us with Him. There are several aspects to His cross. The first is well known: His shedding of blood was the propitiation for our sin and granted us forgiveness from God. However, forgiveness alone was not enough. We had to die to be freed from the Law, from sin and death. It was the only way to finally set us free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 6:6-7 “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” 

Mr. Grace loved us so much, he made us to die to free us from our union with Mr. Law. But again, He wanted so much more for us. He wanted to give us a brand-new life, His LIFE. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves: He killed us. Is that shocking to you? But He also resurrected us to a new life: a brand-new life, a new spirit alive to God.

Have you experienced this. I mean, I don’t want you to come short of what is yours at Christ’s expense. I don’t want you to just “know” with head knowledge this truth. I want what God wants for you: to experience that death and resurrection. Because it is only on the other side of the cross that we truly experience Christ LIFE in us and through us. The only way I live the ETERNAL LIFE I now have in Christ is to reckon my old self dead:

Galatian 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

God gave His life FOR us, in order to give His life TO us, in order that He might live His life THROUGH us. 

We let HIM live through us, live as us. People see us in human form but they see HIM living through us. HIS LIFE in us lives above the line!! We live seated in heavenly places. We live victorious. We live as HE lived on the earth, walking by the Spirit, walking in love, peace and joy.
Rom 7:6, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”

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Grace Part 26: Law Living vs Grace Living

The following is a paraphrase from Lee LeFebre’s teaching on the Law Operating System from Exchanged Life Advance Training by permission. (Exchanged Life Ministry)

The scriptures verses referred to are: Romans 7:5; Romans 2:1-2; Romans 2:17-24; Galatians 3:1-3; Galatians 5:19-21

There’s a Law Operating System’s goal is for us to perfect ourselves. We’re motivated initially to receive acceptance so we will be loved, but subsequently to avoid the pain of failure, rejection, and punishment. The method is by achievement, powered by the flesh. The result is “fruit for death.”

Romans 7:5 (NASB) “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.” 
What are sinful passions: pride, anger, rebellion, selfishness, greed, lust, deception, lying, hypocrisy, boosting, envy, coveting, gossip, blame, hate, slander, revenge, and murder.
And what are the fruit for death (those things that weaken us): guilt, condemnation, regret, shame, fear, anxiety, despair, depression, psychosis, exhaustion, estrangement, feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, inferiority, instability, uselessness, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, unloved.
The Flesh resorts to solutions like escapism, more laws (disciplines), more punishment, to try harder, threats, religiosity (fear, guilt, punishment) or redefining deviancy.

The Law Operating System is one of achievement. But there’s another operating system, one out of Grace, that is a receiving system. Let’s look at it.
Grace Operating System
Scripture verses: Romans 5:17; 9:30-33; 10:1-4; Phil. 3:9; Galatians 2:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matt. 5:48; Hebrews 7:11, 19; 10:14
There’s a Grace Operating System whose goal is still perfection. We’re motivated initially by the failure, death, and despair (of the Law system), but subsequently to receive acceptance, love and freedom. The method is by receiving Grace as a gift, powered by the spirit. The result is “fruit for God”.

Fruit for God is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, brotherly love, devotion to one another, love without hypocrisy. These result in Good Works Toward Man as seen in Romans 12:10-21; 13:1-7: brotherly love, preferring others, meet needs, hospitality, rejoice with, weep with, same mind, humble and lowly, no revenge, be at peace, leave to God, feed enemy, give others a drink, overcome evil with good, be subject to authority, and render what is due.

Bottom line, living under the Law Operating System results in living by the flesh and the flesh only produces death. But receiving Grace as the gift that it is, and living in its operating system will always result in producing the fruit of the spirit, fruit for God and good works toward others.

Remember Jesus statement of what God expects of us: to be perfect as our Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). The only way to be perfect, is to receive it as the gift of righteousness in Christ Jesus. The soul and the body are the source of the flesh, trying to make perfect decisions, thoughts, speech and action to score achievement, but it always bears fruit for death. God solved the dilemma of Romans 7:5. Forget the soul and body as the source. Instead look to the spirit. Put Christ’s Life in the spirit and give us the New Grace System. If you haven’t yet, are you ready to change operating systems.

Prayer

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Grace Part 25: Expectations & Treadmills

Last lesson we talked about God’s high expectation of perfection as Jesus stated in Matt. 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How many different people in your life have had certain expectations of you? Your father? Your mother? Your teachers? Your spouse? Your bosses? All of us have people in our lives who put different kinds of expectations upon us. Our government has laws of expectation for our civil obedience. Society sets out certain expectations of our behavior. So we live under expectations from many sources in addition to God’s expectation of perfection.

Expectations carry two parts: 1) a standard or rule and 2) consequences. In the same way, laws have two parts: the rule and the consequences. The first expectation/law was: don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (rule) but if you do, you’ll die (consequence).  There’s a couple of other ways of putting this original law: 1) Trust God and believe Him (the rule) and live (consequence) or another way: 2) Don’t trust Him and die. The choice Adam took was to not trust God, to sin, and the result was death. Of course, this is the law of sin and death.

Let’s pull that into our daily experience. God’s expectation is always with us. Others’ expectations are imprinted on us from our early childhood. The expectation our parents put on us; as well as our teachers, our pastors, our spouses, friends, employers, etc. To the degree that we meet their expectations, we receive acceptance BUT to the degree we don’t meet the expectations, the consequence is rejection and the feeling of failure.

In life, we are constantly being confronted with others’ expectations. And expectations that must be met. And this is how we form our evaluation of ourselves. If we haven’t done well meeting a person’s expectation, then we try harder. But that often doesn’t result in better results.

Notice the degree you met anyone’s expectation, let’s say 60%, it is to the remainder degree you failed to meet their expectation, in this case 40%. If it was only one percent, you still would have failed to meet their expectation. We form our self-esteem, our identity from a very young age, based on these successes and failures starting with how well we are meeting our parents’ expectations.

Under Grace, when we trust God, we live, regardless of meeting the other expectations. But when we don’t trust Him, we have to invent ways to survive not meeting the other expectations, which results of failure and rejection. The mind’s needs, the emotions’ needs, and the body, all work together to cope with it. This is the flesh.

Romans 7:5 (NASB) “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

When were we “in the flesh”? It has not been since you were born again because since then, you have been “in Christ.” If the Spirit of Christ is in us we are not in the flesh anymore. However, because of our ignorance or self-will, we can still walk after the flesh. It’s our choice now. What is the flesh = self-sufficiency, the way we learned to cope and get our needs met in Adam.

Here’s some additional definitions to what the flesh is (From Exchanged Life Advance Training): The flesh (self-life) is the condition (mind-set, attitude, strategy of living) where my focus is primarily on myself (even if it is “good looking” self, “well-adjusted” self, or “socially acceptable” self) where I am living out of my own resources (such as heritage, education, IQ, personality, sense of humor, looks, talents, abilities, etc.) in order to 1) cope and deal with life, 2) solve problems, 3) meet my needs and, 4) become a success!

“All that I am apart from Christ as I function in self-sufficiency, with or without God’s help” (Lee LeFebre).

“All that you become in seeking to have, and to do, and to be, apart from what Christ is” (Major Ian Thomas).

“Man trying to meet his needs his own way” (Tom Grady).

The flesh sets us up on these treadmills. Romans 7:5 (NASB) “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

What are these “sinful passions” aroused by these expectations (the law) that are put upon us; these treadmills we find ourselves running on. Here’s a few but you can make up your own list: Pride (my need to be something), anger (not getting my way), rebellion (not going to submit to another), addictions (making myself feel better, even if its temporary)…and the list goes on.

What do we as believers do when we realize we have these passions within us? Usually we confess them, ask for forgiveness and try harder!! But does that cure the problem? Not at all! We just reboot the cycle and that just makes us more tired, more disappointed with ourselves and our walk, and confused about this saved life.

The result of this is bearing fruit for death, which weakened us, i.e. we find ourselves slowly dying. Here are some of the fruit for death we experience: guilt, condemnation, regret, shame, fear, anxiety, even despair. What else can you list?

Have you found yourself on these kinds of treadmills, trying to cope with life’s expectations but only bearing fruit for death? Our next lesson is going further into Romans 7 to reveal how Paul came to exclaim in verse 25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”

Selfers Prayer

 

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Grace Part 24: Romans 7 – The Problem with the Flesh!

We have studied Romans up through chapter 6 in all the parts of this study so far. We see man’s plight in Adam: both Gentile and Jew have fallen short of God’s glory, His perfection. All are in need of a help from above that actually changes man’s condition. Faith is introduced as the means to receive God’s grace. Grace is explained as “much more” than sufficient for the condition. Romans 6:1-10 goes one step further to inform us that Jesus didn’t just die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, He took our old “self” there, and we were co-crucified with Him, died, buried and raised to new LIFE in Him there. That was what was needed to remediate the problem of man’s sin nature and allow God to come live in our spirit through His Holy Spirit. Romans 8 is going to explain what that Spirit led life is all about. But between Romans 6:11 and Romans 7 the greatest challenge is revealed for believers.

Part 23 – A Time of Reckoning covering Romans 6:11 to the end of that chapter is one of the most vital messages to a Christian and Romans 7 is going to reveal why.

There seems to be a lot of confusion over Romans 7.  Some say it’s about the unbeliever’s struggle with sin. I have a hard time believing that because right there, in verse 22, he speaks of his inner man joyfully agreeing with the law of God, “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man…” That’s the new man, the new nature of our new born again spirit.

The old nature never agreed with the law of God. No, I believe this chapter is talking about a believer’s struggle with living the Christian life. Between Romans 6, that reveals how the victory over sin was accomplished, and Romans 8, which speaks of how to walk in the Spirit now, is where too many believers are living, struggling in their Christian walk.

Struggling so much that many give up trying. Nothing is sadder than a believer not knowing how to walk in the victory that is theirs. Trying hard, failing in sin, begging forgiveness, and trying even harder, always sin conscious, always feeling separated from God and never living alive to God.

Romans 7:1 (NASB) “OR do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?”
And the chapter ends with this declaration: 7:‎24-25,  “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”

When was the last time you heard a sermon on these verses? Yet this is the very place many believers are parked and can’t get unstuck, trying to live between Romans 6 deliverance from sin and the struggle of living up to Romans 8 walking in the Spirit.

Let’s think about the law that is being referred to here. When Paul referred to the law of Moses, he usually capitalized it, the Law. Not always but most times. But in Romans 7:23 another law is referred to: the law of sin and death.

About that law Romans 5:12-14 tells us: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—13 for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

There was a law of sin and death in operation from Adam until Moses, before the Law was given. What did that law amount to? Let’s think of the law of God as what He expects of us. What do you think God expects of us?

In the middle of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus states (Matt 5:48) “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is the expectation of the Father. Wow! Be perfect! That’s right! That’s an impossibility in ourselves. We have no capability of being perfect before God in our own self sufficiency.

The law of sin and death that has been in operation since Adam’s sin has been the slave driver of every human being born in the earth. Trying to be perfect for God, or for others as we are going to see. And the only means, without a born-again spirit, is what our minds, our intellect, our emotions, and our physical body can come up with to cope under this daily heavy burden. These are the coping methods we devise to survive; these are what the Bible calls the “flesh.” The law of sin and death is: the sin of trying to live independent of God (the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) and its failure which always results in death.

Romans 7:5 (NASB) “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

Take time today to read Romans 7. Our next lesson will delve into this common dilemma more.

 

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Grace Study Part 23: A Time of Reckoning

Romans 6:11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Six and a half chapters into the book of Romans, Paul for the first time gives the reader something to do. We so often think Christianity is doing all the right things. However, without knowing our union and identity in Christ first we are only practicing religious ritual. But living out of that union, we truly experience what it means to be new creatures and to have a new life.

The word “consider” is the Greek word, logizomai, also translated count, or reckon in other versions of the Bible. It was used in commercial dealings as a bookkeeping term. It spoke of recording accurate figures into a numerical log. It’s like the check register that we allCHECK REGISTER dread reconciling (a word that comes from this) each month. But it also was used in philosophy referring to sound, objective, non-emotional reasoning, or logic. James Boice in his book “Amazing Grace,” says this word had two main uses in Bible times:
“The common ground in these two uses of the word is that logizomai has to do with reality, that is, with things as they truly are. It has nothing to do with wishful thinking. Nor is it an activity that makes something come to pass or happen. It is an acknowledgment of, or an acting upon, something that is already true and has already happened…The first step in our growth in holiness is counting as true what is in fact trueThe way to a holy life is knowing that God has taken us out of Adam and has joined us to Jesus Christ, that we are no longer subject to the reign of sin and death, but have been transferred to the kingdom of God’s abounding Grace.” (Boice, Amazing Grace, p. 146-147)

Most believers have little problem counting their sins forgiven. Their ledger looks like this: ACCTG FOR SINS ONLYThey acknowledge their sins and at some point they ask to appropriate the shed blood of Christ which paid for those sins and thank God for His grace, believing this brings them back to nothing owing in their account with Him. They are in the never ending cycle of sins, asking forgiveness and trying harder, but repeating it again. And the burden of the debt only gets heavier every time around.  But that is not Romans 6 reality.  They are not accounting for the payment for the sin nature that was passed to every human in Adam. This is what the Romans chapters 1-6 ledger actually looks like:ROM 611

I’m only receiving part of the Grace given me if I only receive forgiveness for sins. The lie that I’m still under sin continues to be my reality. I need to further account that the very nature of sin that I inherited from Adam was crucified upon the cross with Christ and I now have new LIFE, new eternal Life, alive (not separated anymore) to God.

So then, we as believers living in Christ by Grace come to this point, realizing the simplest, most profound and yet, often missed part of this new life: the exchange at the Cross of our Salvation is not complete without our participation in that exchange. That participation is reckoning it as fact. It is daily reckoning yourself dead to sin and alive to God. That means recognizing, accounting and objectively bringing our minds into agreement with the truth, that our past slavery to sin is now dead and our present condition “be” now alive in Christ Jesus. Please pardon the terrible English, but there’s just no better way to put it. That is where we “be” now.

Romans 6:11-14 goes on to say that now in Christ, I present my members, my body, as slaves of righteousness:
“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under Grace.”
What are those things you can now say went to the Cross and that you now want to reckon dead in your life? What are some new things that you now want to reckon as alive in you in Christ Jesus?

How Do I Reckon?
Daily remind yourself of your Cross with Jesus: (Luke 14:26, Matt. 10:38, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Eph 4:17-24, Col 3:9-11)
• Your old sinful self was crucified with Christ-all the accusations are now lies
• You have died to self, carnality and sin. Sin has no power over you now.
• Choose today to live in Christ by His Spirit for God: to live dependent upon Him and trusting Him in all situations to lead you by His Holy Spirit.
• Surrender yourself to His will daily and see His divine purposes fulfilled by grace in your life.
• Begin to speak what is true about who you are now in Christ Jesus:
Philemon 1:6, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
• Meditate on these truths, confess them, renew your mind to them, and believe them as fact & TRUTH.

Jesus wants a relationship with us in salvation that is a loving discipleship where He leads and we follow His commands: “Come, deny yourself (your cross) and follow me (in grace)” and in that, our soul is saved (made whole). This is what God intended salvation to be and nothing less. He never intended salvation to be just a means of getting into heaven. He certainly did not intend it to be a religious pretense that makes no impact on our inner life that finds its expression in our outward life.

Another way to look at what Romans 6:11 means:

LOGIZIMAI CHART

MAY I SUGGEST THIS EXERCISE: Write down the condition in Adam that you have struggled with most in the first column. In the 2nd column write out what happened at the cross, and in the 3rd what Jesus gave you in exchange for that condition. Begin to create “reckoning” confession cards that deal with each condition in Adam of which you need to let go, and receive the exchanged benefit through God’s Grace given to you now by acknowledging your new condition in Christ.

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Identification in Christ Scriptures

The following are all the scriptures in the New Testament that state who we are in Christ. They have been personalized to make it easy to meditate them and confess them for the purpose of renewing our minds in our identity in Christ Jesus, which enables our walk to line up with His righteousness. Some have been paraphrased for this purpose but most remain in their original form. Many are from the New American Standard Bible but some are from other translations. My prayer is that they would bring as much life and change to your life as they have to me. I pray His Holy Spirit would plant these deep in your heart and quicken them to you in your times of need.

New Creation
II Cor. 5:17 Therefore now I am in Christ, I am a new creature, the old has passed away and the new has come.
Gal. 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation in Christ.
Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.
Phil 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward that goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
I Thess. 5:18 In everything I give thanks; for this is God’s will for me in Christ Jesus.

Eternal Life in Christ
John 1:4 In Him was life and the life was the light of men.
John 3:15-16 That whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 6:56 He who eats my flesh and drink my blood abides in me and I in Him.
Acts. 17:28 For in Him we live and move and exist.
I Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ, all shall be made alive.
Eph. 5:8 For I was formerly darkness but now I am light in the Lord; I walk then, as a child of light.
Col. 2:6 As I, therefore, have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so I walk in Him.
II Tim. 2:10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
I Peter 1:3 Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born-again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
I John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding in order that we might know Him who is true and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Access to the Father
John 14:6 Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.
Romans 5:2 Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this Grace in which we stand and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.
Rom. 5:15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one many died, much more did the Grace of God and the gift by the Grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
I Cor. 1:4 I thank my God always concerning you for the Grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus.
II Cor. 5:18 Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Gal. 3:26 For we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Gal. 4:7 Therefore I am no longer a slave but a son and if a son, then an heir through God.
Eph. 1:5-6 In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, by His Will’s kind intention.
Eph. 1:11 In Him we also were made God’s heritage and we obtained an inheritance.
Eph 2:7 In order that in the ages to come He might show me the surpassing riches of His Grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus.
Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Delivered from the Power of Sin and the World – Crucified, Buried, Raised to New Life and Seated Above.
Romans 6:3-8 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.
Romans 6:11 Even so I consider myself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 7:4 Therefore, I also was made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that I might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that I might bear fruit for God.
Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
II Cor 4:10 Always carrying about in my body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifest in my body.
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.
Gal. 6:14 But may it never be that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood.
Eph 2:5-6 Even when I was dead in my transgressions, He made me alive together with Christ (by Grace I have been saved) and raised me up with Him and seated me with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Col. 1:14 In whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Col. 2:11-12 And in Him I was also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ having been buried with Him in baptism in which I was also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.
Col. 2:20 I have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world.
Col. 3:1-3 I have been raised up with Christ and keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. I set my mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God.
II Tim. 2:11-12 It is a trustworthy statement: For if I died with Him I shall also live with Him. If I endure, I shall also reign with Him..
I John 3:5-6 And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins, no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Freedom from Condemnation
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Gal. 2:4 But it was because of false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus in order to bring us into bondage.
Eph 1:4 He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
Heb. 9:14 How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish, cleanse my conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
I John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

Righteousness
Rom. 3:21-22 But now apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe, for there is no distinction;
Rom. 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
II Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on my behalf, that I might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Eph 5:8 For I was formerly darkness but now I am light in the Lord; so I walk as a child of light.
Phil. 1:11 I have been filled with the fruit of righteousness which came through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God
Phil. 3:9 That I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

Justified
Rom. 3:24 I have been justified as a gift by His Grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom. 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, I shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
Rom. 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
I Cor. 6:11 And such was I; but I was washed, but I was sanctified but I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Gal. 2:16 Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

Sanctified and Made Holy
I Cor. 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
I Cor 6:11 And such was I; but I was washed, but I was sanctified but I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Eph. 1:4 Just as He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world, that I should be holy and blameless before Him.
I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Whole, Established and Complete                                                                                         Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.
II Cor 1:21 Now He who established us with you in Christ and anointed us is God.
Eph 1:10 We have a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.
Col. 1:28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Col. 2:7 Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in my faith as I was instructed and overflowing with gratitude.
Col. 2:10 And in Him I have been made complete.
I Peter 5:10 And after I have suffered for a little while, the God of all Grace, who called me to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish me.

Able to Understand the Word
II Cor 3:14 But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
I John 2:5 But whoever keeps His word, in Him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.
Anointed and Ordained
II Cor 1:21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God.
II Cor 5:19 Namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our trespasses against us and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
I John 2:27 And as for me, the anointing which I received from Him abides in me and I have no need for anyone to teach me; but as His anointing teaches me about all things, and is not a lie and just as it has taught me, I abide in Him.

Holy Spirit Empowered and Equipped
II Cor 13:3-4 Others seek for proof of the Christ who speaks in me and who is not weak toward them, but mighty in them.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Heb. 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever, Amen.
I John 3:24 And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him and He in him and we know by this that He abides in us by the Spirit whom He has given us.
I John 4:13 By this I know that I abide in Him and He in me, because He has given me of His Spirit.
I John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding in order that we might know Him who is true and we are in Him who is true in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Love and Faith Creatures
Gal. 5:6 For in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything but faith working through love.
I Tim 1:14 And the Grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
II Tim 1:13 I retain the standard of sound words which I have heard from others, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
Philemon 6 That the communication of my faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in me in Christ Jesus.
I John 2:5-6 But whoever keeps His word, in Him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this I know that I am in Him. If I say I abide in Him I myself ought to walk in the same manner as He walked.
I John 2:8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

Victorious and Reigning
Rom. 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one death reigned through the one, much more those who received the abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
Rom. 8:37 But in all these things I overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved me.
I Cor 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives me the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ.
II Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads me in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through me the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
II Tim 2:11 For if I died with Him, I shall also live with Him, If I endure, I shall also reign with Him.

Members of the Body of Christ
Romans 12:5 So we, who are many are one body in Christ and individually members one of another.
Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:14-16 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross by it having put to death the enmity.
Eph 2:22 In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Eph 3:6 To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
I Peter 2:5 You also, as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Miscellaneous Blessings In Christ
Rom. 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for me, how will He not also with Him freely give me all things.
Enriched in speech and knowledge
I Cor. 1:5 That, in everything I was enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge.
All promises are Yes and Amen
II Cor 1:20 For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are Yes wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God
Abraham’s’ Blessings Are Mine
Gal 3:14 In order that in Christ Jesus the blessings of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that I might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Every Spiritual Blessing
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
Sealed with the Holy Spirit
Eph 1:13-14 In Him I also was sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of my inheritance.                                                                                                            Peace that guards hearts and minds.
Phil 4:7 And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Needs met
Phil 4:19 And my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Treasures of wisdom and knowledge
Col. 2:3 In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
All revealed in Him
Col. 3:4 When Christ who is our life is revealed then I also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Doing all in His name
Col. 3:17 And whatever I do in word or deed, I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Always being interceded for
Heb 7:25 Hence also He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Answered Prayer
I John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence which we have before (toward or in) Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests, which we have asked from Him.

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Part 22: Three Part Salvation in Grace Exchange

In Adam’s fall, all three parts of man were affected. All three parts are redeemed in the exchange. The Fall caused the ideal relationship with God and ideal makeup of man, the spirit in control, the soul serving the spirit and directing the body in association with other human beings and with our physical world, to be radically changed, so that our salvation is three part and progressive.

The Spirit is reborn immediately and reconciles us to God so He may indwell and fill us.
II Cor. 5:17 “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come.” We are new in Christ, with His LIFE living in us, and in that, have been made the righteousness of God in Christ, and many more wonderful attributes & benefits in Christ.

The Soul is put back into its original purpose of being the “joint,” the go-between, carrying and interpreting our spirit’s intents to the body. However, it was not immediately changed and needs to be “sozo’d” saved. The mind needs to be transformed by renewal through the Word, renewed to the new reality of this new life.
James 1:21Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” 
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is…”
Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NASB) “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

The Body is made your slave unto God through the soul’s renewal and your choice to present your body to God as an instrument of righteousness to God.
Romans 6:12–23 (NASB) deals with the body so let’s look at it verse by verse.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts… You reign – not sin!
13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Even weapons.
14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. Dead to sin, not your master!
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? Choose who you will obey!
17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, The teaching of the exchanged life and your union in Christ.
18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Past tense, “you became.”
19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. As we present our member as slaves to righteousness, we are sanctified (ongoing).
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (past tense)
21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. GREAT QUESTION – ANSWER: NONE!!
22-23 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Now our benefit of being enslaved to God is sanctification and HIS LIFE. YES & AMEN
Romans 12:1 “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” 
And one day your Body will be completely transformed into a new spiritual body.
Romans 8:23 NASB “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
I Cor 15:51-54Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed…”
Philippians 3:2, “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

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Part 21: The Great Exchange Foreshadowed in Covenant

There are many significant covenants made with men in the Bible: the Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Sinaitic (Moses Law), Davidic,  and the New Covenant of Grace.
Ps. 25:14 “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him and He will make known to them His covenant.”
Most are blood covenants, that is a blood bond for life or death between two parties. Modern day contract are a mere fading shadow of what these agreements were all about. There are three essential elements that set our blood covenant apart from contemporary contract agreements:
1. Blood Shed
2. An Oath Made
3. A Sovereign God
To “covenant” means to fetter, to bind, to make an unbreakable contract unto the death. Covenant means commitment even to the swearing away of myself. “If I don’t keep the covenant, you may kill me.”

Common to all blood covenants is Covenant Cutting. A Representative of each side is chosen. They will be the stewards of the covenant and they have certain responsibility in the future. A living animal (usually a calf or lamb) is slain, cut up and its parts placed in a figure eight on the ground. The blood is shed eternally, in infinity.  The Representatives walk the figure eight (never ending) to remember that blood is shed, (feel, smell, and  see). This is an experiential reminder that if the covenant is broken, the representative of that party must die. Terms of covenant are drawn up. These terms include an exchange of weakness for strength of each party, as well as everything else each possesses. The  Representatives are cut and exchange blood. This becomes the sign of the covenant: in Abraham’s case, it was circumcision. The Representative is a living reminder of the covenant to each side. Names are exchanged.  Tribe A covenants with Tribe B so their names become Tribe AB & Tribe BA. A covenant meal is shared: usually wine and salted bread. Periodically as the parties agree, the covenant meal is shared again and the terms of the covenant are reread for all in remembrance.

Read Genesis 15:1-18 and Hebrews 6:13-20 for the record of the covenant cut for man’s redemption. The following is how the parts of the blood covenant were met for this:

• Two Representatives: God and Jesus, the seed of Abraham, represented by the smoking oven and flaming torch passing thru the figure 8: two unchangeable ones creating an eternal covenant
• Heifer slain, laid in figure eight – foreshadowing Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
• Terms: grace promise of an heir, faith promise to receive and the exchange: in Abraham’s seed, Jesus Christ, all of humanities weakness, man’s sinfulness and death, will be exchanged for the Son of God’s righteousness & eternal life.
• Circumcision & Name exchange takes place in Genesis 17 – Jehovah = Abraham/Sarah
• Covenant meal is taken in Genesis 18.

New Covenant of Grace is ratified with Jesus Christ – the GREAT EXCHANGE took place:
• Jesus, the Son of God & Son of Man is the Representative of both God and man
• Covenant meal eaten and instituted to remember the covenant and its terms of exchange: the condition of man in Adam for the condition in Christ:
o  The Bread =His broken body for our healing, deliverance from sin and death,                               given New Life.
o The Cup, “is the new covenant of My blood = shed for forgiveness of sin, to be                               repeated regularly “in remembrance of Me.”
• Blood was shed and life exchanged on the Cross (the old man crucified) and at the Resurrection (the new man raised to life).
• Names exchanged & Sign given – we are given a new name and sealed by the sign of the Holy Spirit within the believer’s circumcised heart.

The exchange of the condition in Adam: (spiritual death, under sin and condemnation, suffering sickness, poverty and being foolish) is traded for a new condition in Christ (Eternal life in our spirit, righteousness, justification, healing and health, provision, and wisdom from God).  Every time we come together to celebrate at the communion table, this is what should be remembered. This is what each of our hearts should declare and celebrate. It was not just for forgiveness, though that was essential, but it was for a complete exchange of LIVES, an eternal covenant exchange.

 

 

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Part 20: It’s a Real Good Thing

The following song “Real Good Thing” was written and sung by the Newsboys. If you want to hear them sing it, the link is at the bottom of this page. But I want you to read the words because they have caught the meaning of this Grace Exchange we’ve been talking about.
REAL GOOD THING (1994, Ariose Music) Lyrics by Steve Taylor & Peter Furler
When we don’t get what we deserve – that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing. Born to sin and then get caught, all our good deeds don’t mean squat, sell the Volvo, shred the Visa, send the cash to Ma Teresa. Great idea, the only catch is – you don’t get saved on merit badges. When we don’t get what we deserve – that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve that’s a real good thing, Doctor’s coming, looking grim, do you have a favorite hymn? Check your balance through the years, all accounts are in arrears. Guilt is bitter, Grace is sweet. Park it here on the mercy seat, When we don’t get what we deserve – that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve that’s a real good thing”

Let’s review the main points of the Grace exchange:

A short sighted view of the Cross is that it proves God’s love for us and provides us forgiveness, but these alone are not enough to fix us.

Two lives needed to be exchanged. In Adam, the psuche life, the self-life, sin nature ruled with a dead spirit meant the soul & body had to create ways to cope with life. This coping is the flesh life.  In Christ, we receive Zoe life, a life ruled by Christ and a life that reigns.

Romans 6:1-11 tells us we were united with Christ in His crucifixion and is the reason we no longer live in sin even with grace abounding. There was a great exchange at the cross; what was in the temporal is exchanged for what is in the eternal. To be baptized into Christ at the cross brought us into union with Him, puts us in Him. With Him we were crucified, died, buried, resurrected, raised up and seated with Him in heavenly places. This is not just a declared thing or a cover, this is an actual reality for us we believe!
Romans 6:2 “We who died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?” We are not who we once were. The past is past at last!

What does that mean for us personally? Well, let’s just take the Ten Commandments for example. Don’t have other gods before Him, don’t make idols, don’t profane His name, keep the Sabbath (don’t be a workaholic), honor your father and your mother, don’t take another’s life, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, and last but first to be broken, don’t covet. You don’t have to break all of them; you just have to break one of the commands to be guilty of the whole law. James 2:10 (NASB) “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” Ouch! Before I was born-again in my mid 20’s, I had broken ALL of these. This is not new news to those who have been in my classes. I’ve confessed this for years. And it is the very reason why the message of Grace and this great exchange is so precious to me!

“When we don’t get what we deserve – that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve that’s a real good thing”

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Part 19: That Amazing Grace Exchange

Baptized into Christ: Crucified, Died, Buried and Resurrected
Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that Grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” 
Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

Let’s look at these key parts to grasp this amazing exchange:
Baptized into Christ
The word says we have been baptized into Christ Jesus. That means we have been immersed; put inside; put in union; are together now and are identified with Him in His crucifixion, His death, His burial, His resurrection and newness of Life.

Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?”

Baptizmo was the Greek term for the process that fullers (wool workers) used to dye wool in Bible times. They immersed the fabric into the red or purple dye to unite the color to the wool which changed its appearance and in turn also changed its value. This colored clothe was the apparel of royalty in those days. To be Baptized into Christ literally means to be immersed and joined to Him changing us to be like Him, our King and make us reign in this life.

Romans 6:4 “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, So we too might walk in newness of Life,” 
Buried, meaning to be united in death, baptized into death: the old self, the old man, dead and buried!! No longer to run our life. We have new Life!

Romans 6:5-6, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
The old self was crucified with Him that we should no longer be slaves to sin! We are freed from sin!! As a believer, Paul boldly gave this testimony in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”

Romans 6:8, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. “
Col 2:11-15 “And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
Col 3:1–3 (NASB)  “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

The way you should look at your life now is to see your old self crucified, died, buried with Christ; you have died to sin. And now you have been resurrected with Christ, a new person ready to live in Christ unto God. He Lives in us. We let HIM live through us, live as us. People see us in human form but they see HIM living through us. HIS LIFE in us lives above the line, in Eternal Life!! We live seated in heavenly places. We live victorious, reigning in this life. We live as HE lived on the earth, walking by the Spirit, walking in love, in peace and joy.

If a cow is a cow (what it be) because it moos (what it does), how do you change the cow – you have to kill it. If we “be” in Adam and we sinned because that’s what we were, how can we be changed? It was not enough for Jesus’ blood to forgive our sin. He had to kill us! And give us His new LIFE.

Grace has put us in Christ. The Holy Spirit has revealed that to us. Our Faith believes it, acknowledges it, identifies with it and then we begin to live there. That is where we “BE” now. As said before, your relationship with God is not based on what you do, but who you are (who He has caused you to be). He has caused you to be in Christ. Who you BE will determine what you do.

The Cross was not just a temporary rescue. The Cross is our eternal testimony.
Revelation 12:11 (NASB) “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
In Matthew 10:38-39 we studied “…he who loses his life for My sake, shall find it?” Can you now see that we must choose to believe the Word that the power of sin was done away with, the old man with a sin nature died at the cross and now you are a new creature. Despising the “soul” life that lives out of itself and its poor resources, we now take up the new resurrected Life that He lives in us and are overcomers of sin.
It may not be completely clear to you yet but I promise you will see how we can live holy lives by Grace through faith in the Cross of Christ and His Life in you. And when you catch this you will say goodbye forever to the life of sin and of works, and begin real LIFE in rest in Christ.

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Part 18: Exchanging Group Pictures

From the time we are very young, when someone shows us a group picture of our family, class or gang of friends, what is the first thing we do? That’s right, we look for ourselves! The New Testament has two group pictures in which you appear. You have to know which group picture you are looking at when you read them. One group picture includes you as your Old Self along with all of mankind in Adam’s condition as in the following scriptures.
Ephesians 2:1–4 (NASB) “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,” Rom. 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
How many past tense verbs do you find? ____ How many “formerly”? ________ In the now or in the past? Definitely in the past. It’s where we formerly lived if we are believers now. (If you haven’t believed yet, then it is your current condition.)

As we reviewed in the gospel account of Jesus death, going from the Cross to the Throne, we read that Jesus was scourged, crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father. The purpose was to redeem what had been lost in Adam.

Heb. 2:14-15, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
1 John 3:8b “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”

But much more happened at His death: Jesus identified in every way with us in His life and in His death. Look what the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul that the other apostles’ gospels do not record:
Romans 6:3-11 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, So we too might walk in newness of Life, For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Col 2:13-15, “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

Jesus was not alone in his death upon the cross: you and I were with Him at the cross, His death, His burial, and His resurrection!

Many people have viewed the powerful movie, The Passion and it is indeed an awesome and moving visual of what Jesus suffered for our sins in the temporal seen world. But now in light of this group picture in the epistles, we see what happened in the eternal realm. See yourself on the Cross with Jesus, where all the wrath of God and His punishment for your sin was poured out upon Him and where your sickness was born away. See your old sinful life die there with Jesus, with all its foolishness, sinfulness, rebellion, bondages, and behaviors in which we all have once walked. Be buried with Him. Be resurrected to new life with Him!

He exchanged His Holy life for our sinful life and took us to the Cross to face the judgment our sin deserved, bearing all the pain in His own body. He also raised us up in His resurrection, exchanging our death for His eternal life.

Now you appear in the new group picture of who you are in Christ:

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Galatians 6:14 (NASB) “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” 

Colossians 2:12 (NASB) “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB) “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 

2 Timothy 2:11 (NASB) “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;” 

Romans 10:9–10 (NASB) “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

These describe you now as the new creature you have been made in Christ the moment you believed and confessed Him as your Lord!

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Part 17: More on The Great Exchange

Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”
Why was the Blood Shed? ___________  If you said for forgiveness of our sins you would be right. But what if I told you that forgiveness of sins was not enough to cure us who were born in Adam?
Hebrews 9:27, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
In His great wisdom, God knew we were totaled, completely ruined and needed a new beginning. The life of the old “man” had to be done away with and life for a new man furnished in its place. Let’s take a closer look at the need for this.

There are two different Greek words for “life” used in the passages we are going to look at here. The word psuche, though translated “life” here, usually is the Greek word for “soul.” The other word, Zoe, is always translated “life” and many times “eternal life.” It is speaking of the God kind of life we have been given in our spirit at our new birth.
Matt. 10:38-39, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life (psuche) shall lose it, and he who has lost his life (psuche), for My sake, shall find it. He who receives Me, receives Him who sent Me.” (Repeated in Matt. 16:25-26; Mark 8:35-36; Luke 9:24)
A psuche life is a life controlled by the soul as referred to above and in this next verse:
Matthew 6:25, “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life (psuche), as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Jesus spoke of His own psuche in John 10:10, “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down His life (psuche) for the sheep.” He expresses what should be done with the psuche: It is to be laid down or lost .

John 12:23-28, “And Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life (psuche) loses it; and he who hates (wants to be separated from) his life (psuche) in this world shall keep it to life eternal (ZOE). If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. Now My soul (psuche) has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’”

In contrast, Zoe life is eternal life, God’s kind of life. It is the Spirit-born, Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled life. Look at the following scriptures on this kind of life.
John 1:4, “In him was Life (Zoe) and the life (zoe) was the light of men.”
John 3:15-16; 36, “…that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life (Zoe)…He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life (zoe); and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life (zoe); but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life (zoe) and that they might have it more abundantly.”
We are going to look at covenant making shortly but there is one point I must mention here. The key principle of covenant making is the exchange of everything: All that is mine becomes yours…all that is yours becomes mine. In light of exchange read the following from Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53:4–12 (NASB) “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
The Great Exchange of Isaiah 53 included the following:
In Adam we were:
Spiritually Dead
Ruled by the power of Sin & Condemnation
In Sickness
In Poverty
Foolish
But in exchange, now In Christ we have:
Eternal Life
Righteousness & Justification
Healing and Health
Provision
Wisdom

What a deal? God took all the bad stuff in Adam and gave us all the good stuff in Christ! That is Grace!

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Part 16: The Great Exchange of Romans 6

The preaching of Grace will always come under attack. It points to faith in Christ as the only way to a relationship with God and our means to living godly. It exposes the lie that keeping the Law keeps us out of sin, when in reality the Law does not keep us out of sin but instead, increases sin. God had a better plan. Sinful us must die!
“What shall we say then, shall we go on sinning that Grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1)
In Romans 6, Paul answers the key questions that form the attack. The answer lies in what happened at the Cross.
Do you have a true perspective of the Cross? (To review the account of the Cross, read Matt. 27:33-50, Mark 15:22-37, Luke 23:33-46, and John 19:17-30.) Many believers have a shortsighted view of what took place there. Like a noble gesture, the Cross is viewed as God’s proof to us of His great love and His adoption of us into His family. But the Cross is so much more than that. Have you thought of the Cross as God’s proof of His love to you? His Love went far beyond this at the Cross.

We have to answer some questions about time and space as we go through the following passages. Remember that God is the creator of time and space and not restricted to it. How many years ago did Jesus go to the cross? _____________ What year were you physically born? ______ When were, are and will your sins have been committed?

Christ's LifeThis is where we must remember the difference between the eternal and the temporal and understand what the little preposition “in” means. Christ’s Life is Eternal Life meaning it is life without beginning or end, the “I Am.” He is ever present and in the present. It is His eternal life that we put our eyes on now. Though in our temporal world, His cross, death and resurrection took place 2000 years ago, the truth of what happened there is eternally true, true in the present and becomes our present truth the moment we believe.

From the vantage point of the eternal, we see a different picture of the Cross.
Romans 6:3-11 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, So we too might walk in newness of Life, For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The Cross is actually where you died! Jesus took you to the cross with Him, and you were crucified with Him, died with Him, buried with Him, and resurrected to a new life with Him!  An exchange of two kinds of Life took place, life in Adam for LIFE in Christ, resulting in you being created a new holy creature, created in His image, in which He can permanently abide. An opportunity for the newborn child of God was created: restoration of fellowship with the Creator, a brand new, free from sin life and so much more.
II Peter 1:2-4 says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

In contrast our life before we received new life was in Adam and looked like this:In Adam

BUT when we believed the good news of the gospel this is what happened to us:At salvationWe were placed “in” Christ and all that Christ’s Life included now became our LIFE. The great exchange was made. Somebody say “Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!”  Now we see so much more than what the Gospel accounts tell us. Paul’s gospel reveals what happened in the unseen. It reveals Eternal Life as it really is.

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Part 15: Salvation By Grace Alone – Risky Business…

In my classes I’m always asked, “Why don’t we hear Grace preached regularly?” The following explains the reluctance by many pastors to proclaim the message of Grace.
The following excerpt is from the book “The Grace Awakening” by Charles Swindoll, Chapter 3, Isn’t Grace Risky?
“Sermons about salvation by Grace alone often open a can of theological worms that wriggle their way into our minds. ‘Isn’t the gospel of Grace risky?’ we ask ourselves as we squirm in our pews. Certainly it is. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pastor of England’s Westminster Chapel for thirty years, noted this risk in his commentary on Romans:
‘”If it is true that where sin abounded Grace has much more abounded, well then, shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound yet further?” (Romans 6:1)
First of all let me make a comment, to me a very important and vital comment. The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by Grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by Grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of Grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.” (D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 6, The New Man (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p.8)
“If a pastor preaches legalism, a message of salvation based on the merits of one’s works, no one will ever bring that charge against him. But if he preaches Grace, salvation by faith alone, then that is risky homiletical business.” (p.20)
Here are some practical suggestions for guarding against extremes:
Legalism and license (freely sinning) lie on opposite sides of the path we are called to walk. In the middle is Grace, the love for God and love for other people. Living your life in the middle ground of Grace will keep you out of legalism and license.
First: Enjoy the freedom Grace provides…
Second: Treat Grace as an undeserved privilege rather than an exclusive right.
Third: Remember that while Grace came to you freely, it cost the Savior His life.” (p.24)

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you lean toward legalism or license in your walk? __________________________
Have you embraced the freedom from “works” that Grace provides? _____________
How do you know?___________________________________________________
Or do you have “works” that you still practice to gain favor with God? What are they? _______________________________________________________________________________________
Are there things you do that could be considered “license?” _____________________ What will you do about these now?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and the saving force of Christian believers in Nazi Germany. He was martyred by Hitler only weeks before the end of World War II. From his book “The Cost of Discipleship” we read:
“Cheap Grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. The essence of Grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing…Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolation of his Grace! That is what we mean by cheap Grace, the Grace, which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. “Cheap Grace has turned out to be utterly merciless to our Evangelical Church. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience. Having laid hold on cheap Grace, they were barred forever from the knowledge of costly Grace. The word of cheap Grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works. How can we live the Christian life in the modern world?”
“Happy are they who have reached the end of the road we seek to tread, who are astonished to discover the (by no means) self-evident truth that Grace is costly just because it is the Grace of God in Jesus Christ. Happy are the simple followers of Jesus Christ who have been overcome by his Grace, and are able to sing the praises of the all-sufficient Grace of Christ with humbleness of heart. Happy are they who, knowing that Grace, can live in the world without being of it, who, by following Jesus Christ, are so assured of their heavenly citizenship that they are truly free to live their lives in this world. Happy are they who know that discipleship simple means the life which springs from Grace, and that Grace simply means discipleship. Happy are they who have become Christians in this sense of the word. For them the word of Grace has proved a fount of mercy.” (The Cost of Discipleship, Collier Books, 1963, pp.37-60)

 

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Part 14: Common & Saving Grace

Common Grace from God comes to all peoples regardless of their belief in Him. It is His goodness poured out to all mankind daily.

Matt 5:44-48 “But I say to you,, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax gatherers do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Let’s read Paul’s Sermon to the Gentiles at Lystra from Acts 14:15-17:

Acts 14:15-17 “…and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.16 “And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Paul’s Sermon to the Athenians:

Acts 17:24-27 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is he served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us..”

From these verses how many things can you name which are commonly sent to all peoples out of God’s common Grace?

Isaiah 26:10 Though the wicked is shown favor (Grace – from chen), He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the Lord.

Here are some questions to think about concerning God’s common Grace:

With such favor extended, such good things freely given to the wicked, why can’t they see the goodness of God? Why don’t they repent and turn to Him? Do you remember any common Graces coming to you before you were born again that did not lead you to God?  Do you remember what you thought about those things at the time?

Saving Grace

There is a specific type of Grace which is sent to save Man. Salvation by Grace was unknown until Jesus came to earth. Saving Grace must be discussed in the context of the New Testament revelation, which was preached by and recorded in scripture by the Apostle Paul. In fact, the message of salvation by Grace was the gospel God entrusted to Paul. Before Grace and faith, people looked to the Law and the Prophets for salvation. These two very different means of salvation, “Keeping the Law” or “Through Grace by Faith” will be contrasted here. It is because of the difference of these two belief systems that most Christians, knowingly or more often, unknowingly struggle in their walk.

Many believers find it difficult to remain in relationship with God by Grace and to rest in the finished work of Christ. They are often “bewitched” (Gal 3:1) into being perfected by keeping the Law, which is legalism. On the other hand, some believers stop at initial Grace and never grow in holiness because they only understand freedom from the Law. The fullness of Saving Grace is not appropriated in their life for change. This is known as antinomianism. As we study Grace we will learn how to grow in Grace and continue by the Spirit into perfection.

There are a few very important words we must come to understand at this point before we continue. The study of Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, involves a basic understanding of several key terms. Use whatever means you have at hand to find definitions to the following terms:

Sin: _____________________________________________________________________

Salvation: _________________________________________________________________

Condemnation: ____________________________________________________________

Justification: ______________________________________________________________

Alienation: ________________________________________________________________

Righteousness (or Right Standing) ____________________________________________

Identification or Union with Christ: ____________________________________________

Sanctification: _____________________________________________________________

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation, through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13)

“Now may the God of peace (salvation, wholeness) Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit, soul and body be reserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:23)

I know I made you do all the work today but I knew you would learn so much by looking these words up yourself. These are the key words having to do with our salvation. In lessons ahead, you will see how God answered His own requirements through Grace.

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Part 14: Common and Saving Grace

Common Grace from God comes to all peoples regardless of their belief in Him. It is His goodness poured out to all mankind everyday.
Matt 5:44-48 “But I say to you,, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Paul’s Sermon to the Gentiles at Lystra from Acts 14:15-17:
Acts 14:15-17 “…and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.16 “And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
Paul’s Sermon to the Athenians:
Acts 17:24-27 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is he served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us..”
From these verses how many things can you name which are commonly sent to all peoples out of God’s common Grace:
_________________________________________________________________________________________
Isaiah 26:10 “Though the wicked is shown favor (Grace – from chen), He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the Lord.”
With such favor extended, such good things freely given to the wicked, why can’t they see the goodness of God? Why don’t they repent and turn to Him?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Do you remember any common Graces coming to you before you were born again that did not lead you to God? Do you remember what you thought about those things at the time? ______________________________________________________________________________
Saving Grace
There is a specific type of Grace which is sent to save Man. Salvation by Grace was unknown until Jesus came to earth. Saving Grace must be discussed in the context of the New Testament revelation, which was preached by and recorded in scripture by the Apostle Paul. In fact, the message of salvation by Grace was the gospel God entrusted to Paul. Before Grace and Faith, people looked to the Law and the Prophets for salvation. These two very different means of salvation, “Keeping the Law” or “Through Grace by Faith” will be contrasted here. It is because of the difference of these two belief systems that most Christians, knowingly or more often unknowingly, struggle in their walk.
Many believers find it difficult to remain in relationship with God by Grace and to rest in the finished work of Christ. They are often “bewitched” (Gal 3:1) into being perfected by keeping the Law, which is legalism. On the other hand, some believers stop at initial Grace and never grow in holiness because they only understand freedom from the Law. This is known as “antinomianism.” The fullness of Saving Grace is not appropriated in their life for change. As we study Grace we will learn how to grow in Grace and continue by the Spirit into perfection.
There are a few very important words we must come to understand at this point before we continue. The study of Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, involves a basic understanding of several key terms. Use whatever means you have at hand to find definitions to the following terms:
Sin: _____________________________________________________________________
Salvation: _________________________________________________________________
Condemnation: ____________________________________________________________
Justification: ______________________________________________________________
Alienation: ________________________________________________________________
Righteousness (or Right Standing) ____________________________________________
Identification or Union with Christ: ____________________________________________
Sanctification: _____________________________________________________________
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation, through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13)
Now may the God of peace (salvation, wholeness) Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit, and soul, and body be reserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:23)
I know I made you do all the work today but I knew you would learn so much by looking those words up yourself. These are the key words having to do with our salvation and you are going to see how God answered His own requirements through Grace in the coming lessons.

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Part 13: What Is Grace Anyway?

The simplest definition given for Grace is “unmerited favor.” But that has extensive meaning theologically and even more important, experientially.

The following explanation of the Greek word for Grace, charis, comes from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. It reports that the word is translated into English as gracious, gratifying, of manner or act, abstract or concrete; literal, figural or spiritual, especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude: acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, Grace, gracious, joy, liberality, pleasure, thank, thanks, thankworthy.

The following scriptures show how this word is used in the New Testament:
Favor: Luke 1:30 “…for thou hast found favor with God…”
Gracious: Luke 4:22 “…wondered at the gracious words which…”
Thank: Luke 6:32 “…what thank have ye?”
Thanks: I Cor 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory”
Liberality: I Cor 16:3 “…to bring your liberality to Jerusalem…”
Benefit: II Cor 1:15 “…that ye might have a second benefit…”
Gift: II Cor 8:4 “…that we would receive the gift, and…”
Acceptable: I Peter 2:20 “…this is acceptable with God.”

The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word chen (Strongs 2603) in the Septuagint. It too is translated graciousness, kindness, favor, Grace, pleasant, and precious. This is the Hebrew word that equals the New Testament Greek word for Grace, meaning unmerited favor. It is used only fifteen times in the Old Testament for that which comes from God as we looked at in the post.

Moses appealed to God’s Grace nature in Exodus 33:12-17 where he used the word chen five times to approach God. I find it interesting that the writer of the Law appealed to God’s Grace when he drew near and wanted to know Him better.
Exodus 33:11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.

The following scriptures demonstrate how chen was also used in the Old Testament:
Genesis 6:8 Noah found favor (chen); Gen. 19:19 Lot found favor; Judges 6:17 Gideon was favored; Psalm 45:1-2; Psalm 84:11; Prov. 3:34; Prov. 22:11

This word really demonstrates the idea of unmerited favor in the following prophetic verses that speak of God’s salvation of Israel in the end time:

Jeremiah 31:1-5 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. Thus, says the Lord, the people who survived the sword found Grace in the wilderness…Israel, when it went to find its rest. The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again, I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, A virgin of Israel! Again, you shall take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers… Again, you shall plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; The planters shall plant and shall enjoy them…”

Zechariah 4:6-7 “Then he answered and said to me, this is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, Grace to it!’”

Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of Grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.”

God’s Grace poured out upon Jerusalem enables them to look longingly and beseechingly toward their pierced King. God’s Grace will result in Israel’s seeing Jesus as someone of infinite beauty. His goodness enables them to repent.

The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Grace” in Hebrews 10:29, a title no doubt inspired by this reference in Zechariah. Also (2 Cor. 12:9) (khar-ece); Strong’s #5485: From the same root as chara, “joy,” and chairo, “to rejoice.” causes rejoicing. It is the word for God’s Grace extended to sinful man. It signifies unmerited favor, undeserved blessing, a free gift.

If you have not had a revelation of God’s Grace, His unmerited favor, or we would say, “His being for you, on your side,” stop here and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to this heart of the Father. Ask Him to dispel all the lies the enemy has told you about God’s nature and His attitude toward you. And like Moses, ask God to reveal His true nature to you right now.

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Part 12: Saved by Grace Through Faith

Ephesians 2:1-3:”And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

The separation from God by man’s sin has been described as a great chasm set between us that had to be bridged to reconcile us to God. Man was totally incapable and had nothing in himself to bridge that chasm. The only one who could bridge that chasm was God. It is here that we meet the word GRACE in its essential meaning.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by Grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Grace is first of all God’s attitude toward us. He favors us and does good toward us not because we deserve it, for indeed we deserve condemnation from such a Holy God, but all because Grace is His very nature. He is Love. He is gracious and compassionate.

Grace is the very means by which God has saved us unto Himself and out of our “totaled” condition. Grace is what God extends to us to cover the past, present and future. It has been extended individually to each of us for salvation and corporately to fallen mankind, to all who will believe. It historically has been, is and always will be extended to me, and you, individually as we trust and depend on Him.

Eph. 2:4-7 continues, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by Grace you have been saved) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His Grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

There is a crisis between God’s holiness and His graciousness and we must never think that forgiveness was cheap. Punishment had to be paid for the condemnation of sin against every man. Someone had to die to pay the debt. Because He loves us so greatly and wishes to have fellowship with Man, rather than destroy him, God chose to pay it Himself and extend Grace to reconcile us to Himself.

I could do nothing to save myself. The word for this is depravity. The only thing fallen man has left to do is the ability to choose to respond to God’s Grace. In God’s wisdom of creating us He placed in us free will. The will of fallen man stands between a dead (separated from God) spirit, a sin-ruled, selfish, in-control soul that is at enmity with God and a body under the rule of the power of sin. The dead spirit longs to be restored to its life source and have fellowship with God but is unable to do anything about it. The will acts like a judge hearing a case. It receives input from both sides and decides in favor of the side with the strongest case.

We may collect information about God, our lost condition, and Jesus, our Savior, for a long time in our life before we actually act on it. Some receive sooner than others. Some hear the Gospel and the word of God preached early in their lives which prepares their heart to believe. Then at the moment we are finally willing to receive salvation, the Spirit of God gives the gift of faith, enabling us to respond with faith. When we are enabled with faith, we then can receive new life.

Faith is what I receive with; it is how I respond to Him for what He has done: extended His Grace to reconcile me to Himself. Even faith to respond and receive is a Gift (charis, the same Greek word used for Grace) from God. So our reconciliation is something God desires, planned for, longs for, initiates and makes possible. His love for us is so beyond our comprehension. How many of us would, for a moment, even consider making the ultimate sacrifice for someone who hates us and fights against us. “But God, being rich in mercy,..” It is His very nature to love us and be gracious to us. He is love and cannot but love us. Someone has said He cannot love you more than He always has and He cannot love you less, because He is LOVE.

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Part 11: Introducing Grace

Scripture Reading: Romans 5

Romans 5:1–2 (NASB) 1 THEREFORE having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Let’s look at the meaning of the highlighted words here:
Justified (Strong’s #1344) dikaioo (from dikaiosyne)– simplest definition is to pardon, acquit. Also: justify, vindicate, treat as just, pronounce or treat as righteous, make or set free from. Justified and made righteous are closely related, synonyms of each other. Justified here means to have received by faith forgiveness and a pardon for the due punishment of our sins, past present and future, those sins having been paid for by Jesus death on the cross. As we go along from here, we are going to become aware that forgiveness and justification are only one side of the cross, the side that deals with our sins. Justification is then the benefit received from the blood Jesus shed on the cross.

Faith (#4102) pistis – meaning conviction of truth, belief, a firm persuasion, to trust in and have reliance upon. In the above verse, it means a conviction, belief, a reliance upon the shed blood of Christ being the payment for all my sins, past, present and future, that has made it possible for God to pardon me, acquit me, justify me.

Peace (#1515) Eirene – (from eiro, meaning: to join) meaning peace and implying prosperity, but more importantly meaning one, to set at one again, quietness, and rest. I think we often come short of the real meaning of the phrase “peace with God” because we think of it in worldly terms instead of its biblical meaning. The world thinks of peace as the absence of hostilities, war, and conflict, with a sort of “cold war” mentality. But the peace we have with God through Jesus’ shed blood is more like our historical relationship with England. At one time, we were enemies, rebels to England, declaring and fighting for our independence. But in a similar way that our relationship with God has come to peace, the US is now an ally, joined with England and at peace.

God demonstrated and proved His Grace while we were in Adam, living according to the flesh, rebels, fighting to be independent while yet trying to earn His favor through our own effort. GRACE was always there for us. When faith came and we believed Jesus’ shed blood forgave us and justified us, then we were received into His Love and experienced GRACE; we were introduced to His Grace.

This ongoing problem of earning favor with God, usually to get Him to do something for us, can be subtle. Have you ever been seeking God to get something and thought or felt like if you prayed a little longer, maybe one hour instead of half an hour, He would send it to you? Or, when not feeling so spiritual, you know if you praise Him a little harder you will again experience His presence? These are forms of “works of the flesh” to earn His favor and an indication we aren’t experiencing His LIFE within us.

How sad we do not know Him any better and realize He has already given all this and more to us. It is all in the LIFE we already have in Christ. Our part is simply to believe it and not act according to the flesh to get the same results. The problem is the kind of relationship we want to have with God, either knowingly or unknowingly; one of dependence or one of independence.

Romans 5:6–8 (NASB) 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Grace or favor is definitely a loving attitude and affection held for another. Favor is extended for who the other IS, not for what they do. God’s Grace is that and much more. He has more than proven that by giving His very own life for the object of His love: US.

The following MUCH MORE verses illustrate how much more Grace has been given in the face of mankind’s sin. The writer of “Pilgrims Progress” John Bunyan, related in his autobiography, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,” he had discovered that no matter how great his sin was, the Grace of God proved greater.

When we look at this section of Romans 5 we find the phrase “much more” in the following verses:
• (9) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him…
• (10) Much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
• (15) Much more did the Grace of God, and the gift of Grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
• (17) …much more those who receive the abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
• (20) It reaches the height of the contrast saying: “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so Grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The first “increase” here referring to transgression is the word “pleonatzo” conveying the idea of numerical increase. It may well be pointing to the fact that as the human population increased so did the number of people sinning.

The second word for “increase” speaking of sin, is very different, “perisseuo,” and means “to abound, to overflow,” “have more than enough,” or “excess.” As time went on, not only were there more people in the earth but they also learned to sin in many more ways. In this way sin multiplied in such quantity that it reached “excess.”

But the third word “abounded” referring to Grace is the word “hyperperissuo” or what we would say is super-excess or super-abounding. Though sin has been in excess, Grace has outnumbered it to super-excess. Some other translations say it even better:
NEW ENGLISH BIBLE: “Where sin was thus multiplied, Grace immeasurably exceeded it.”
JB PHILLIPS: “Yet, though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his Grace is wider and deeper still!”
JB ROTHERHAM: “But where the sin abounded the favour greatly superabounded.”
WJ CONYBEARE: “but where sin abounded, the gift of Grace has overflowed beyond (the outbreak of sin)”
TCNT: “But, where sins were multiplied, the lovingkindness of God was lavished the more.”
MOFFET: “…sin increased, but Grace surpassed it by far.”

Grace is not withheld because of sin: The first and foremost important understanding we should get from this passage is that Grace is not withheld because of sin. It is, instead, released all the more. In fact, it is because of sin that Grace has been given, not measure for measure but superabundantly.

In the face of sin, Grace is not withheld; it is lavished on all the more.

Adam feared God’s wrath, hid from Him and even answered defensively, trying to put the blame back on God when he sinned. The result was devastating to the human race but God had something greater to give. He did not withdraw His love but instead, set out to prove it in the form of Grace: abounding, super-abounding Grace. Have you ever been tempted to run away from God when overcome in sin? No matter how fast you run, Grace has already outrun you and will be there waiting for you to arrive.

Like the Prodigal son’s Father, Grace is waiting on the road ahead of us, with open arms, waiting to bring us back home!

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Part 10: God’s Faith Answer Foreshadowed with Abraham

Gentiles (in Adam) who are without the Law are under sin and Jews (in Adam) who have the Law are likewise under sin; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What will God’s grace do that none of the other helps did?
Romans 4: God introduces Faith as the “new” means of being saved (being made whole) and introduces Abraham as the father of believers:

God approaches Abraham by Grace, Abraham responds with Faith. Foreshadow New Covenant

Abraham believes God when He speaks promises to him and his faith is “reckoned” as righteousness to him. (In contrast to Adam’s disbelief of God in the garden)

He believes God before the Law was given.

He believes God before he is circumcised, which is the sign of the Old Covenant and a foreshadowing of the circumcision of the heart that the Spirit does in the New Covenant.

He believes God’s promise of an heir “in hope against hope,” contemplating (recognizing) his & Sarah’s sterility, (DEAD/TOTALED), their inability to make His will happen!

He believes God can raise the dead!

He believes God through it all over many years and gives God glory “being fully assured that what He had promised He was able to perform. Therefore, also it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:21-22

We all suspect that David had a very special relationship with God yet when you look at his life he certainly was not a perfect keeper of the Law. Apparently he didn’t rely on that for his relationship with God. Paul quotes him in Rom. 4:6:
“Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered; Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Ps 32:1-2)” David transgressed the Law in many ways, committing adultery, having a man killed, and disobediently numbering Israel. All of those were serious sins against the Law. Yet a repentant David, understanding and loving the heart of God and believing Him to be gracious, pursued Him for forgiveness.

Romans 4:3 (NASB) For what does the Scripture say? “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Most of Romans Chapter Four is about the Patriarch, Abraham, who also lived by faith in the Grace of God and was declared righteous because of it, apart from the works of the Law. Abraham was declared righteous through God’s Grace by responding with Faith. He believed God’s word to him:
• When he was uncircumcised (required by the Law) (10-12)
• When he became heir of the world without the Law (13)
• When he believed in the resurrection of the dead (17/25)

The key verses are Romans 4:15–16 (NASB) 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation.16 For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”
God’s gift of Grace is received by Faith. It is not, it cannot be earned. It is a Gift for the receiving. All that is needed is faith in the Giver, trust in Him. I love to hear stories of people who didn’t believe in the existence of God but when they asked Him to let them know He was real, He proved Himself real to them. Willingness to believe receives the gift of faith. If this is where you are, ask Him to let you know He is real. He will absolutely prove He is not only real but is present, very near to you and willing to send the help you need.

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Part 9: The Answer to Mankind’s Dilemma

Scripture Reading: Romans 3

Romans one ends with a tragic description of mankind’s condition in Adam. Chapter two deals with Jews living under the Law by their works in hope of salvation, but as the New Testament scriptures on the Law revealed, there is no hope of eternal salvation in serving the Law. Summing it all up we come to this passage in Romans 3:9-20, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one…Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

There’s that totaled condition again in Adam. But look what he says next: Romans 3:21–24 (NASB) 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Let’s look at these verses “point by point:”

  • Salvation has come apart from the Law by another means.
  • How to have right standing with God has been revealed.
  • The Law and the Prophets foreshadowed and foretold Jesus’ coming.
  • Salvation by Grace is received by faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Justification with God is given as a gift by His GRACE
  • Payment for our sin once for all was made by Jesus’ blood.

“(Jesus Christ)…whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be Just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting (in good works)? It is excluded. By what kind of law? of works? No, but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:25-27)

God has provided the means by which anyone can be saved through the blood of Jesus and that, by His Grace. All we must do is respond in faith, believing that faith is all that is required of us. The following brings home what we have learned so far from scripture. This is what it means to us:

Man’s Journey to The Ultimate Life Begins (From Townsend and Cloud’s “HOW PEOPLE GROW” – Paradise Lost)

Micro-managing Growth – Dealing with immediate problems

  • Sin model: all problems result from sin, find sin, confront it, confess, repent and sin no more
  • Truth model: Learn Bible, verses, memorize scripture, learn doctrine, especially In Christ, head to heart, Truth will set you free.
  • Experiential model: get to the pain in life, find the abuse or hurt, get it out. Inner healing, “give it to Jesus.”
  • Supernatural model: healing or deliverance by Holy Spirit, He brings transformation, exchanged life, follow Spirit.

All good methods but deals with issues as they arise, doesn’t promote growth. Didn’t always solve the problems. Has a Growth ceiling.

New Paradigm: Bigger Picture of Reconciliation Affects the Small

Way Life Was Created to Be / What the Fall Affected / How to Reconcile Life

There is specific Kingdom Order Initiated from the Beginning:

  • God is the Source: We are to depend upon Him
  • God is the Creator: We exist for Him and cannot exist unto ourselves.
  • God has Control of the world: We have control of ourselves
  • God is Judge of Life: We are to experience Life through relationship with Him and others.
  • God designed Life and its Rules: We obey the rules & enjoy the Life God designed.

The Fall Resulted in Man adopting these Lies as Truth:

  • We are the Source: we must depend on ourselves (self-dependent and independent of God)
  • We are the Creator: we exist unto ourselves, living self-determined lives for our own purpose.
  • We are in Control of our world: we try to control our world and lose control of ourselves.
  • We are Judge of Life: we judge ourselves, others and God & are separated from relationship.
  • We design life and its rules: We determine what life is and make up our own rules or no rules.

Bottom Line: Man, acting as God in our own and others’ lives. Result: Presence of Chaos, Suffering, and Hopelessness because it blocks God from being Source, Creator, In Control, Judge and Life.

Think about these lies – Are you living any of these as if they are true in your life?

Which one or ones?

Think about your life: is chaos, heartache or hopelessness in any area?

Are any of these lies alive in that area of your life?

Redemption means God buys back that which belongs to Him and brings it back into His Kingdom.

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Part 8: Why the Scribes and Pharisees Missed It

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:11-16
The New Bible Dictionary reveals another word often translated Grace in the Old Testament that does not have the same meaning as New Testament Grace. Chen, the equivalent word for New Testament Grace, is almost absent in the Old Testament, but Hesed is prevalent. This Hebrew word, sometimes translated “Grace,” is also translated “mercy” (149x), “kindness” (38x), “lovingkindness” (30x) and “goodness” (12x) in the Old Testament. But this word is not about unmerited favor. It implies a two-way relationship and was used of God and man. When it is used of man, it implies steadfast love to another human being or to God. It is often found in association with the word “covenant” and indicates an attitude of the faithfulness, which both parties are to observe, known as “covenant love.” But it requires “works” to earn favor, as Deuteronomy 28:1 literally says, “If you do this, then I’ll do that.” God said to Israel, “If you keep my Law, then I will bless you.” That is what a Hesed relationship is based upon.
In the second century before Jesus birth, a Jewish group came into prominence known as the Hasidaeans (plural for hasid, a cognate of hesed), coming to mean “God’s loyal ones”. These “loyal ones” were also called Hasmonaeans, zealots of the Law. It really meant those who were loyal to the covenant, a rigorous, devout, law keeping party in Judaism. They believed the Exile was a result of Israel’s failure to keep the Torah. So they meticulously studied the Torah, extracting every law in detail, all 613, 248 positive and 365 negative, from Israel’s covenant. They proceeded to train their followers that if they kept the law, then God was obligated to keep them in their land and bless them. The Jews who returned from the captivity in Babylon were determined not to break the law and be taken out of their land again. They took up the 248 positive laws or promises in the scriptures as their basis for obligating God to prosper and protect them. They systematically found all the promises with conditions and made sure they met the conditions. Then, on the basis of their works, they “earned” the blessings that were promised. Their religion became rooted in “If we do this/God must do that” theology. From their ranks later came the Pharisees. In addition to the 613 laws, the Jews added what they called ‘the hedge’ around the law, which consisted of specifics “do’s and don’ts” to keep the people from breaking the written laws.

A good explanation of this is here: The Scribes Built a Fence Around the Law (from http://www.bible-history.com/Scribes/THE_SCRIBESA_Fence_Around_the_Law.htm)
Every generation prior to New Testament times had its “sayings of the wise” and these writings were collected and regarded as essential to understanding the Torah. These writings were considered as equal in power to the written law and even considered higher and more valuable. It was even believed that the oral law had been given by God Himself along with the written law to Moses on Mount Sinai. It was taught that the written law cannot be understood without the oral, and therefore the oral law was more important just like water and wine, both are important but one is much more valuable in the marketplace. By building a “hedge about the law” or fence around the law, the Jewish leaders would be able to develop a system of rules and interpretations that would keep people as far from sin as possible. For example, if the law said not to work on the Sabbath day, they would make up volumes of rules that indicated exactly what actions constituted work. This made a huge separation between the so-called righteous and the sinners. It also made following God a burden that Jesus Himself said was to heavy to carry. It also allowed the leaders appear to be righteous, to approve and disapprove of people and to control all of the religious affairs within Judaism. Jesus was diametrically opposed to these leaders, their teaching and traditions, and He said that they “made the Word of God void” and they were “making disciples of hell.”
If the people did not break God’s written Law, He would be obligated to keep them in their land and to bless them. Now you can understand Jesus harshness toward these obligating demanders of favor, the original entitlement generation. You’ll remember, they were the ones who did not recognize God in their midst, opposed Jesus, and invalidated God’s words with their traditions. Of course, this kind of theology does not result in a relationship with God. They had missed the purpose of the Law.

In fact, Jesus addresses this false theology in the first of His sermons, the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5-7. Notice that the blessings are pronounced for the condition of the reader, not what might be earned, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” etc. In Matt. 5:17 Jesus makes it clear that the Law is not being done away with, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” He proceeds from there to put His own “hedge” in, a hedge that once again brings the Law back to its purpose, to demonstrate the holiness of God, its impossible requirement and its ultimate use, to point to our need for a Savior. Check these couple of examples:
Matthew 5:21–22 (NASB) 21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
Matthew 5:27–29 (NASB) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’;28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.29 “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
He makes it clear that the Law demonstrates the sinfulness of these actions and the required punishment. Then He tops it off with what is really expected of man from God’s perspective: Matthew 5:48 (NASB)48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
WOW! No person born into the earth after Adam could meet that standard, except Jesus! He is the only perfectly sinless man born into the earth then and since then.

So, how can we meet this standard? In contrast to hesed, the Hebrew word chen is not two-way. It is used of the action of a superior, human or divine, to an inferior. It speaks of undeserved favor, and in the Old Testament, it is translated “Grace” (38x) and “favor” (26x).
John 1:17 (NASB) 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
The law is an antithesis to the Grace described in John 1:17. While chen Grace was present in the Old Testament it wasn’t predominate and did not emerge to reveal its true intention until Jesus Christ came into the world. Titus 2:11 (NASB) 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men…”
God approached man with Grace prior to the Law when He dealt with the Patriarchs with unmerited favor and unconditional promise, before He gave Moses the Law. In direct contrast, He dealt with the nation of Israel with the Law which emphasized the kind of hesed loyalty that God expected of His covenant people, Israel.  However, New Testament Grace is found in the Old Testament by the unmerited election of Israel to be God’s people, attributed to God’s free choice of their father, Abraham, the friend of God, and not attributed to Israel’s works or faithfulness to the Law.

The Law was one more opportunity for mankind to choose between acting independent of God to earn righteousness or to recognize his unrighteousness, throw himself on His mercy, trust Him to be true to His revealed nature of graciousness, and depend on Him. It remains a test for believers still. How often believers are born again and then fall back into trying to retain their relationship by “do’s and don’ts” instead of faith in the Life that has been set within their spirit, faith in the Life of Christ within?

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Part 7: Is the Answer in the Law?

Romans one’s reveals man’s depraved condition, a result of Adam not believing God, the Creator and instead, being led by a creature into sin, resulting in death and separation from God. Every human’s condition in Adam, at their birth, is totaled, nothing to fix. We still need an ezer, a help from above, from God.
What about the Jews and their covenant with God? What about the LAW?

It will help if you read Romans 2:1-3:20 to be prepared for what we are going to study now. Paul turns to the Jewish readers who are apparently standing smugly by with folded arms cheering him on in his attack against the great sinners, the unrighteous and ungodly Gentiles in chapter one. However, they are in for a surprise. Surveying these scriptures, we find:
• Jews are judged according to the Truth (2:1-5) “Judge not, lest you be judged…”
• Jews are judged by their works (2:6-10) Good Works vs. Bad
• Jews are judged with impartiality (2:11-16) With or without the Law, all will be judged the same.
• Jews do not obey the Law (2:17-29) Jews have been transgressing against the Law all along. The Law is impossible to keep, just try keeping the Tenth Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” What toddler has not “coveted” that toy that’s in the hands of another? The Jews really rely on circumcision rather than keeping the Law. Circumcision was an outward picture of what must happen to the heart.
• Jews do not believe the oracles, God’s Word. (3:1-8) Jews received the Word of God first, like Adam in the garden, but just like Adam, they did not believe it.
• Jews are in the same condition as the Gentiles, because the gracious righteousness of God is only received by faith.
All are guilty, Jew and Gentile alike, before God because all have not believed His Word, have acted independent of God, trying to meet the standard of “good,” and failed. All have not depended on Him.

Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” The words “His kindness and forbearance and patience…the kindness of God” is speaking directly of God’s Grace. Isn’t it interesting that it is His goodness, not the Law, that leads us to repentance?

Read Romans 2:28-29. Some people come to salvation as Romans 1 sinners, without the Law, depraved. Some people are raised serving the Law trying to establish a relationship with God by being good and doing good works, the religious. Both types must realize that the sin of independence exists in the knowledge of doing evil and it is also in keeping the Law and doing good. Those that come out of “law keeping” have to learn sanctification by grace just like those who lived ungodly lives before their new birth. Both are saved by grace and must guard against the temptation of trying to keep the Law after becoming believers.
Throughout the Old Testament you see how God kept presenting an ezer “help” to see if man would catch on to what doesn’t help and what he really needs. First, he sent the wife. She didn’t help. Then he sent the family. They didn’t help. Then he sent the village and groups of other people. They didn’t help either. Mankind only got worse. So bad He had to send a flood and start over with just 8 people. Then he presented kings and governments. They didn’t help either. Finally, he picks one tribe, grows it into a nation in Egypt, redeems and delivers it, and gives it His Law. Surely this is the help that will raise mankind out of its depravity. But not so. Because the law was not able to save man!
THE LAW
Some have mistakenly thought of the keeping of the Law as the means of bridging the chasm between them and God. That is merely eating more fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is choosing to act independently of God, trying to save ourselves. It is not trusting His word which clearly teaches the Law was not given for salvation. Look at what the scriptures on the Law given by Moses in the wilderness says as it regards to salvation. (Don’t skip over these! It’s important to read what the New Testament actually says.)
Acts 13:38-39, “Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Romans 3:20, “Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Romans 3:21-22, “but the righteousness of God apart from the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference.”
Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
Romans 4:4-8, “Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also described the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputes righteousness apart from works, saying blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and who sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Romans 5:8-9, “But God commended His love towards us while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then being now justified by His blood we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.”
Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace.”
Romans 7:4-6, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful impulses, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead in which we were held that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Romans 8:1-4 NAS, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did, sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
Romans 11:5-6 NAS, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to His gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
Romans 13:10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”
I Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
I Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
I Corinthians 15:55-57, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 3:7-11, “But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be more glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceeds in glory. Forever, that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excels . For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious.”
Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Galatians 3:2-3, “Receive ye the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
Galatians 3:11-12, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God it is evident, for the just shall live by Faith. And the law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them.”
Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.”
Galatians 3:19, “Wherefore, then serves the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.”
Galatians 3:24-25, “Wherefore, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Galatians 5:4-5, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
Galatians 5:18, “But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
Ephesians 2:13-15, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, to make in Himself of two one new man, so making peace…”
Philippians 3:1-7, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not irksome but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he hath reasons for which he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”
Colossians 2:13-14, “And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.”
I Timothy 1:5-9 “Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, from which some, having swerved, having turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”
Titus 3:3-7, “For we ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after the kindness and love of God, our Savior, toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, but the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He has shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Hebrews 7:11-12, “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
Hebrews 7:18-19, “For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and the unprofitableness of it. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw near unto God.”
Hebrews 10:1, “For the law, having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make those who come to it perfect.”
Hebrews 10:9-10, “Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He took away the first that He may establish the second, by which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.”

All these scriptures speak plainly that our salvation is neither begun in the Law nor perfected in the Law. When we look at Grace in Galatians we will again address the believer’s perfection by the Spirit of grace, and not the Law.

The Law is God’s further revelation of the consequences of eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man chose to act independently of God, not trusting Him or depending on the faithfulness of His words. Man believed the lie that the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would make him like God, knowing good from evil. Though Man’s eyes were open to the knowledge of good and evil through sin, he was not made like God. He had believed a lie and died.

The Law further explained the punishment of evil and the utter hopelessness of ever doing enough good to pay that price. The Law was, as Galatians tells us, the tutor who was entrusted with getting the child to the Master teacher. Really a better translation of the word would be a guardian who led the child to the Rabbi to be taught the Word. The Law was to guard and lead unbelievers to the good news about Jesus.

There is only one good work that satisfies the Law when it has been broken, the death of a sinless one, the shedding of innocent blood. God, in His grace towards us, sent the Law to teach us why He must come. He was the only Sinless One able to come and die for our sins.

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Part 6: What Condition Is Man In Now?

What condition was Man in after the fall having died spiritually, and separated from God? Take a minute and read Romans 1:18-32.

The first man created was Adam and the whole human race came from Adam’s loins.
Every human’s first identity is in Adam.
Gen. 3:20 “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”
Gen. 5:1-2 “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.”
Gen. 4:1 “Now the man had relations with his wife, Eve and she conceived and gave birth.”
Deut. 32:8 “When the most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam.”
Luke 3:23-38 “…the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”
Man has not evolved up from the primordial ooze – Christians need to renounce that heresy and cleanse their hearts of it if they received it earlier.
I Corinthians 15: 39, 45, 47, 49 “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. So as it is written, the first man Adam, became a living soul…The first man is from the earth… And just as we have born the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly…”
All men are identified with Adam as their father. He had us all in his loins when he was created. We were “In Adam.” The theory of natural selection is a source of discrimination and espouses hierarchy of species and races. It dishonors the value of man, as well as opening doors for abuses. But worst of all, it denies our sin nature and fallen condition.
Man’s Condition in Adam
Before the new birth everyone is “In Adam” and in the condition that resulted from his sin.
Roman 5:15, 17, 18, 19: For if by the transgression of the one the many died…For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one…So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men…For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…
Gen. 2:17 “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die – “in dying you shall surely die”
Adam’s choice – He could eat Life from the Tree of Life.
Gen. 2:16 From any tree of the garden you may eat freely..
Gen. 2:9 “the tree of life” Had he eaten of it – he would have had eternal life imparted to him. Gen. 3:22
Or he could eat Death from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree is strictly soul food. The fruit from this tree was supposed to make one equal with God so you wouldn’t have to depend on Him. It tempts us to act Independent of God. We may act independent of God but we will never be equal with Him. Besides we are created to depend on Him and are at peace and fulfilled only when we do.
Satan’s original temptation (Gen. 3:1-5) is the same today: First he tries to get you to distrust yourself. He tries to convince you can’t hear or understand what God is saying to you. Next, he tries to get you to distrust God. He insinuates God is a liar and that He is withholding from you the things you need or want. Listen to his words:
Gen. 3:4 You surely shall not die!
Gen. 3:5 Your eyes will be opened…you will be like God knowing good from evil.
Gen. 3:6 …tree was good for food…
This last part of his temptation appeals to the lust of the flesh. It was a “delight to the eyes.” If you aren’t moved by that, maybe something intellectual will pull you into the snare: “desired to make one wise.” That also appeals to the pride of life. An inflated independent soul deflates a dependent spirit.
Adam’s condition is every Man’s condition: Adam’s curse, Death, passed to every man.
Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
It is interesting to notice that at the crossing of the Jordan by Israel, (a type of the new birth – going from the wilderness into the promise land) the waters were stopped and rolled back up to the city of Adam. All are in Adam’s condition. His sin brought condemnation; his offense brought judgment; and his disobedience produced sinners.
All have sinned and fallen short
Romans 3:9-18 “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin: as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks from God, all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one, their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The Fruit of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil passed on
Eph. 2:1-3, (Jordan) In days gone by you all were living in your sin and filth like a bunch of stinking corpses, giving your allegiance to material things and ruled by the power of custom. You can still see this spirit working now in the lives of those who won’t listen. In fact, at one time or another all of us were following our selfish inclinations and doing just as we pretty well pleased, because we were naturally just as big of scoundrels as everybody else. But even though we were a bunch of corpses rotting in our mess, God, in his overflowing sympathy and great love breathed the same new life into us as into Christ. (You have been rescued, I remind you, by divine intervention.)
Eph. 2:11-12 “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands-remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
Colossians 1:21 “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds…”
All men forgot what God was really like.
John 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”
John 14:8-10 “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
Heb. 8:11 And they shall not teach everyone His fellow citizen, and everyone His brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’, for all shall know Me.’”
All are in the Domain of Darkness
Col 1:13“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
I Peter 2:9 “…who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Death ruled – Heb. 2:14-15 “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death he might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Slaves to sin – Romans 6:6, 17 “…knowing this that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin….But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin,…”
In a body of sin – Romans 7:5 “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”
Under condemnation – Romans 5:16, 18 “And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation…so then as through one transgression, there resulted condemnation to all men…”
Married to the law of sin and death – Romans 7:1-4 “Or do you not know brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For, the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulterous; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.”
Unable to do Right – Romans 7
Man begins living according to the flesh – out of soul and body, to cope with life. The flesh: ELM – A condition or way of living out of one’s own resources and strengths as if one is independent of God. It is a disposition or attitude inherited from Adam and continually reinforced and molded by oneself, the world system and Satan.What condition was Man in after the fall? Dead, and separated from God.

TOTALLED, NOTHING LEFT TO FIX! MUST BE MADE NEW – MUST BE BORN AGAIN

0002 Pre-Salvation Person

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Part 5 What Happened At The Fall

Now that we’ve studied the creation, the seen and the unseen, and the creation of man as a tri-part being, we need to look at the fall, all of which is recorded in the first three chapters of Genesis. Genesis is the Greek word for “beginnings” and is adopted in our English translation Bibles from the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  The Hebrew word is Bereshith, meaning “in the beginning”  which are the first words of the book. The book records the beginning of many things.

Genesis 1 records the first six days of the creation of the heavens and the earth, all things in the earth, and the creation of the first humans, male and female (vs 27) and ends with the declaration, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Chapter 2 records (vs 1-3) that on the seventh day, “God completed His work which He had done and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” This is a primary principle for believers that we will talk more about later. Starting in vs 4, the phrase “This is the account of” is seen 10 times in Genesis, and is the original chapter headings throughout the book. In chapter 2, the creation is reviewed again and details are filled in that we won’t go into here, except a couple of important verses:

Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul, I Cor. 15:45).”

God’s breath gives life to all creatures. Ps 104:29-30 says, “Thou dost take away their ruwach, they expire and return to their dust. Thou dost send forth Thy ruwach, they are created.” This is often translated “spirit.” He breathes life into His creatures to give them life or spirit. It does not mean He indwells them. God breathed His ruwach into man and he received a spirit and became a living soul. So man is created a spirit, with a soul, living in a body. Adam is created an innocent. The first two human beings were innocent, not knowing good or evil and not having sin. Being innocent and sinless, God could have open fellowship with them in the garden which Genesis records.

In Genesis 2:8, and 15-26 Man was placed in the garden and told to cultivate and keep (guard) it. We have to ask ourselves what was he guarding it from? An enemy must have been present for the need of this command. Indeed, Satan had already been cast out of heaven to the earth, threatening God’s creation.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” As we talked about in the last part, free will is not free will if there are no choices to be made. God gives Adam the choice of eating from many trees (remaining innocent), eating from the Tree of Life (becoming righteous with eternal life) or eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (losing innocence by that knowledge) and dying.

Immediately after giving this command, the Lord says, It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him” (meet for him, a suitable companion, corresponding to him). The word for “help” here is the Hebrew word ezer (5828). Everywhere else in the Old Testament ezer is translated as “a help from above,” as from God. A couple of questions arise here: Why do you think it was not good for man to be alone? Why does he need an ezer from God?

It becomes apparent in the first verse of Genesis three, but first, let’s see what else God does with Adam. He brings all the animals before Adam to be named and Adam names them. Who has the authority to name things? God named the first man and woman, ADAM, as stated in Genesis 5:2 DARBY “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” The superior names the inferior. Parents name children. Masters name their pets. This was an exercise in authority.  God had created Adam to rule over all the earth and naming the animals was part of that ruling authority. Another aspect is what we name something often refers to what we see them as or what we want them to become. Fluffy the cat. Spot the dog. Junior. Champ.  Adam proceeds to name all the animals God brings before him.

However, among the animals, Adam doesn’t find a help (an ezer from above) suitable for him. So the Lord put him to sleep, took one of his “sides” (better translation than a literal rib) and fashioned a woman from it and brought her to him. Man’s response is his naming of her, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh or my flesh; She shall be called Woman (Iyshshah) because she was taken out of Man (Iysh).” She is like him, suitable, unlike any of the animals. Adam names her kind, woman. Surely this is the help God had in mind for Adam. But was she the help he needed?

Genesis three opens with, “Now the serpent…” The serpent was present in the garden. Hadn’t he been among the animals brought before Adam to be named? Yes, of course. The Faithlife Study Bible states: “3:1 serpent The Hebrew word used here, nachash, means “snake” or “serpent.”[1]  In Hebrew the word refers to the “hiss” sound of a snake or the sound of “whispering.”  Some commentaries refer to it as whispering enchantments. This creature was in the garden already. Remembering that Adam had been told to guard the garden, we should realize, now, why suddenly God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” and why Adam needed a help from above. Because the serpent had already been whispering to Adam in the garden before the woman was taken from his side and given to him. Adam had not exercised his authority over this creature as he was created and instructed to do.

The Operation of Temptation and Sin

Now the serpent turns his attention to the woman and starts to work on her with his temptations. The following give us the common attributes of his temptations:

  • “Indeed, has God said…” This is tempting her to doubt her ability to hear what God said to them. And sure enough, she quotes God, but then adds to it, “shall not touch it.” You have to wonder where that came from. By the way we might also wonder why she is apparently at the tree of which they were told not to eat, gazing upon it. Why did it have an appeal that the other trees, especially the Tree of Life, didn’t have.
  • “You surely shall not die” was to tempt her to doubt God’s truthfulness, accusing God of deceiving them. What a spin! Who is deceiving who?
  • “For God knows when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God , knowing good and evil.” This time tempting her to doubt God’s goodness – that He’s holding out on giving them something they should have, knowledge that makes them like God.
  • This last temptation, to be like God, came straight from the heart of the enemy, who had also dared to think he could be like God. Isaiah 14:13-14 records this former archangel’s five presumptuous “I wills.” For these, he had been thrown out of God’s kingdom, and cast down to the earth. He was not happy to see a second created being taking his favored place. His degenerate state’s number one goal was to destroy man and that made him Adam’s enemy and the only threat in the garden.

Genesis goes on to record that the woman ate of the tree and gave to the man, who was right there with her watching this whole temptation take place. Their eyes were opened to know good and evil. The spirit within them is immediately separated from God by this disobedience of the only law God had given to them. Sin is born. The spirit within them “died,” was separated from their Life giver, God, and became darkened in wisdom.

James 1:13-15 (NASB) “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.  14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

First there’s lust.  Then, when joined with temptation, lust conceives, births sin, which then results in death. What revealed the lust in the first man to eat of the wrong tree?

Romans 7:7–12 (NASB) “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.9 And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;11 for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”

Remember without a choice, free will is not free will. So God gave them the opportunity to exercise their free will, knowing the chance that man would make the wrong choice was very possible. In addition God gave them a command, “Do not eat…” and told them the consequence. The command “Do not eat” was the only law given to them. “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind.” It was the “Do not” that stirred in them the need to gaze at the tree, listen to the enemy’s temptations, disobey, sin, and die.  This was the same temptation Adam had been hearing and why he needed an ezer, a help from above. However the woman did not turn out to be help enough for him.

That evening as usual, God came looking for Adam.  Do we think God didn’t know what had happened? Really? Doesn’t He already know what has happened before it ever happens? Had He not already planned for mankind’s way of escape, even before the “foundation of the world?”

He questioned the man Adam; Adam blamed the woman; the woman blamed the serpent. Where does this scramble to make one’s self right before God come from? Self- justification and self-righteousness were birthed right from the beginning. The spirit, the source of Adam’s wisdom had died and was now useless. The soul will now go to work coming up with a way to cope with life without God. The soul has only a limited response to God now and limited resources from which to draw. The body is going to give its input as well which won’t be of much help either. The result is what the New Testament refers to as the flesh. The flesh, the mind of the flesh and the deeds of the flesh, become man’s means of coping with life’s dilemmas without God.

Romans 7:5 (NASB) 5 “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

God had provided every other tree including the Tree of Life for Adam to eat from, but this one tree was used to reveal lust in him. It had the “DO NOT” sign hung on it. Now, because every human being will be born from the seed of the man Adam, every human being is born in this sin, separated from God’s life, ruled by sin, in bondage to Satan, condemned under the law of sin and death.

We are faced with choices everyday that have “Do not” written on them and we are tempted, BUT God has now provided a way of escape from above, an ezer:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) 13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common  to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”

Grace is all about this gift, this ezer, this way of escape and a new way to live LIFE.

[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 3:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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Part 4 Creation of Man

Creation of Man in The Temporal Realm

Scripture Reading Today:  Genesis 1:26-28, John 4:23-24

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:26-28)

The phrases, “Let Us” followed by “our image” and “our likeness,” are the first revelation and proofs that the Creator God is not one person, but as is confirmed later in scripture, three persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  What does “God created man in His own image” mean to you? There are three formal views of what that means:

1) His Communicable attributes were given to Man. Adam, created in God’s image, meant that he shared, though imperfectly and finitely, in God’s nature. That is, Adam shared in His life, personality, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, and justice; and so had the capacity for fellowship with Him. The fall caused depravity in these areas and leaves man longing to fill the void both inside and in his relationship with God.

2) In context, Man was appointed to rule over creation. To be made in the image of God means man was appointed to rule over the earth as a representative of God.

3) Man was created a tripart being. “Let Us” – Trinitarian makeup of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit passed to Man created a tripart being: a Spirit being with a Soul, who lives in a Body.

Tri-part Man

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NASB) 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spirit – We commune with, worship, and serve God who is Spirit in our spirit.

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such people, the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)            

Look at what the following verses reveal about the spirit of man.

John 3:6 (NASB) 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Proverbs 20:27 (NASB) 27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the innermost parts of his being.

Job 32:8 (NASB) 8 “But it is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.

Romans 1:9 (NASB) 9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you…”

Genesis 2:7 “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being,”

I Corinthians 15:45, “So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul…”

The first man’s, Adam’s, spirit was not indwelt by the Spirit of God as some mistakenly think. Instead before the fall, the spirit of man was alive, but not indwelt, innocent, not knowing good and evil. Because of their innocence, they had fellowship with God.

The Soul – Man has a soul which comprises our intellect and reasoning faculties, emotions, memory, imagination and will. It is both the tangible (brain) and the intangible part of us originally created to translate the spirit’s intent to obey the will of God to the body. The Soul was created to receive direction from the spirit and tell the body how to carry it out. Its communion is between spirit and body, a connecting and translating joint between the two.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The word heart, here, is believed to speak of the soul and spirit working together as is the case in our everyday lives. The entrance of the word distinguishes each, in order to reveal to us what is of the spirit in contrast to what is of the soul. This is a very important point that we will look into in the coming lessons.

In his writings, Paul frequently uses comparative lists; in this case: soul, joints, thoughts contrasted with spirit, marrow, and intentions. The Spirit is described is listed with marrow and intentions. The marrow is the blood or life producer deep inside our bones. This last word “intentions,” illustrates the picture of the predetermined obedience of the born-again spirit to the Holy Spirit. Our spirit knows to follow the Holy Spirit and intends, without argument or reason, to do exactly that.

The Soul is aligned with the word “joints” or connector and “thoughts” or reasoning that our minds, imaginations and feelings get caught up in so easily. The soul was not created to be the leader in our lives but is to translate communications from the spirit into this physical world.

The Body – is the house in which the Spirit and Soul live in this physical world. God placed man in a physical world and gave him a body with which to interact. Our five senses act as the communicators of the physical to our soul and spirit. The body is not the person but only our house while we are in this earth. We shouldn’t let our “house” tell us what to do or determine our value.

Look what the following verses have to say about your body:

2 Peter 1:13 (NASB) 13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder…”

2 Corinthians 5:6–8 (NASB) 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—7 for we walk by faith, not by sight—8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

2 Cor. 12:3 And I know how such a man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows…

Last Key Ingredient – Our Will

We are also created in the image of God as freewill agents able to freely choose what we will do. The gift of free will amazes me. Without a free will, we would have been robots, programmed to worship God without choice. God’s integrity required we be created able to freely choose to worship Him, honestly and sincerely.  Just as necessary was the test of that free will. The Two Trees placed in the garden presented the opportunity to obey, to trust and depend on God’s word, or to disobey, to not trust God and act independent of Him. Here is the awesome Grace of God. He knew before the foundation of the world, that man would choose the latter first. He so desires us, so loves us, that He went right ahead and created us with free will anyway, deciding long ago to die for us to redeem us to an even better relationship with Him than the first man had. Even though free will was a huge chance taken by our God with Adam, the first man, He already had a plan for the second Adam to come and make a way for us to be made new creatures. He could visit the first Adam in the garden but He wanted a closer relationship that that. The second Adam would provide a way for Him to live in us and with us always. Emmanuel!

0001 Biblical Picture of Man

Diagram provided with permission from The Grace Life Workshop / Exchanged Life Ministry ELMCO.org

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Grace Study (Fall 2017)

Scripture Reading for today Genesis 1-2 – the creation account.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NASB) “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Two Realms Revealed

There are two realms, the seen and the unseen; two different realms, each having very important characteristics. The first realm is God’s unseen realm and its nature is eternal. We’re going to refer to it as the eternal realm. Eternity and the word “eternal” must be defined. Most people think eternal means from now into forever, but eternal actually means “no beginning and no ending.” Aionios is an adjective that means without beginning or end and appears 70x in NT.

From the Collin Brown Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 3 (p.832): In (ancient Greek) Homers writing. Aion is often parallel with psyche – soul, life.  The expression “eternal life” (zoe aionios) is to be understood primarily as life which belongs to God. It corresponds to basileia tou theou, the kingdom of God. John’s gospel, understands eternal life in relation to Christ through faith…The word eternal here indicates a definite quality; it is a different life from the old existence typified by hate, lack of love, sin, pain and death. Therefore, eternal life does not  just begin in the future, it is already the possession of those who have entered upon fellowship with Christ. Thus John 3:15 speaks of having eternal life in the present.”  “…that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”

I John 5: 11-12 “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the LIFE; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the LIFE.”

On the other hand, the temporal, proskairos, literally means “for a time” or “for a season” and should be understood as not eternal, and also as changeable. As our opening passage charges, it is the seen. From Genesis 1, it is what was brooded over by the Holy Spirit, and came into existence as the word was spoken, “In the beginning (of space & time) God created the heavens and the earth.”

A clear understanding should be drawn, what was created is temporal and changeable and as we look at the creation of man, this is especially true of the human soul and body and also what the Bible warns the believer of concerning the flesh.

On the other hand, what is eternal is of God’s eternal realm and His characteristics, unchangeable, holy, righteous, etc. The born-again spirit of man is also eternal and is a new creature with the characteristics of Christ, whose eternal life has given the new life to that spirit.

What is temporal has beginning and end, is under the bondage of sin & death, passing away, material, flesh ruled, and is where the body exists and the soul relates much of the time. We’ll look more at this as we talk about the creation of man and the fall.

Let’s look at some scriptures that help us get a revelation about creation from the word:

‎‎Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Ge 1:1 | IN the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Ps 33:6 | By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.

Jn 1:3 | All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

2 Pe 3:5 | For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,

Heb 12:27 And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Is 34:4 | And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away, as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree.

Is 54:10 | “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

Is 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Ro 8:19 | For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

Ro 8:21 | that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

1 Co 7:31 |and those who use this world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

Heb 1:10 |And Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands.

To simplify this and discover what this means to us as we grow in maturity, we are going to draw a line between eternal and temporal and make our aim to live “above the line”.

Eternity and the things Eternal:

No beginning, no end, LIFE, ruled by the law of the Spirit of Life, spiritual, Spirit led, all that we are in Christ, where the new spirit man lives, where Grace comes from, where the Fruit of the Spirit originate (Gal 5: 22-23), where gifts of the Spirit are sent from (I Cor 12), where His callings, His plans & purposes for each human life have existed for eternity (I Tim. 1:9-10); the source of the word of God, all these and more are “above the line” in His Eternal Life (zoe aionios) the God kind of Life.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Below the line: the Temporal Things are where the body lives, Psuche life, the deeds of the flesh, (Gal 5:19-21); the mind set on the flesh (Rom 8:5); where the Law operates (I Tim 1:9); where suffering is (2 Cor 4:16-17); The world and all it contains, its systems, governments, mind sets, philosophies, and knowledge.

Living by Faith in the unseen is necessary while in the temporal. Romans 4:18-20 reveals that Abraham had to have above the line hope (eternal hope in the unseen) set against below the line hope (temporal hope in what was seen). Grace is God’s eternal plan to give us His LIFE to live in the temporal. So here’s two critical questions:

1) Where would you like to live? ________________________________________________

2) When will you get to live there? __________________________________________________

John 12: 23-25: “And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life (psuche, soulish life) loses it; and he who hates his life (psuche. soulish life) in this world shall keep (phulasso) (save, preserve) it to LIFE (zoe) eternal (above the line living).”  Jesus’ secret was in dying in order to have eternal life in this life. More to come.

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Grace Study (Fall 2017)

Part 2 – If You’ve Seen Jesus, You’ve Seen God & His Grace

Scripture Reading Today:  Hebrews 1:1-3, John 8:1-11

The Nature of the God of Genesis 1:1, the Creator of all there is, is also Christ’s Nature.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1)… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of Grace and truth (1:14)… For of His fullness we have all received and Grace upon Grace (abundantly heaped on). For the Law was given through Moses, Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him (John 1:16-18).”

From Hebrews 1:3 fill in the following blanks, “And He is ___ _________ __ ___ _______ and the exact ____________________ __ ____ __________, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” 

Christ’s gracious nature is seen in the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8:1-11 where the test of Grace and truth is proven. To really appreciate this story you should know that it took place immediately after the Feast of Booths (John 7:2,37), a time when the Jews were to close themselves away with God. Their families lived in booths made of tree branches, as Israel had while in the wilderness. Even though the wilderness was where the Law was given, it was also where Israel had to totally depend on the Lord. There He faithfully and miraculously supplied their food and water everyday out of His Grace toward them.

The setting of this story is the morning after Jesus had spent a night in prayer at the Mount of Olives. He came into the Temple and began to teach. Engaging in an evil plot to discredit Him, the scribes and Pharisees unlawfully brought the woman before Him for judgment, outside of court and failed to bring the witnesses required by the Law (Deut. 17:6, 19:15).

In spite of this, Jesus allowed their attempt against Him to proceed. For Him there were other more important issues to consider. The life of the woman was precious to Jesus. Jesus had come to reveal the gracious nature of the Kingdom of God. How would He do that here? The Law of Moses, which was given by God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), could not be ignored and any infraction against it would have to be paid for in full.

There have been many suppositions about Jesus’ writing on the ground in this scene. Some believe He did it to think through the issues, wrote out the men’s accusations to show their gravity or wrote out the men’s sins, since he knew their hearts. He may have written out Deuteronomy 22:22-24 which was the Law against adultery or Deuteronomy 17:6-7, clarifying the Law required more than one witness (vs13), and that the witnesses were to cast the first stones. Or perhaps He wrote out the Law in Deuteronomy 22:13-21, the test of a virgin wife or Exodus 23:1-2, 7-8, which warns against bearing false witness.

Whatever He wrote, it made the scribes and Pharisees withdraw their accusations. But that did not set the woman free. The scribes and Pharisees may not have been “without sin,” but Jesus was! How could He uphold the truth and act in Grace at the same time? The woman was guilty of the sin of adultery and that sin would have to be punished. So how could He justify releasing her and let her go?

What do you think He had to do to meet all these requirements? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In our day, we would say “He paid it forward!” The Grace of God here placed the punishment of her sin upon the cross to which He was headed. In advance of the cross, He appropriated forgiveness to her right then, long before the day of His suffering and death. Jesus’ Eternal Life had already paid the punishment for her sin. The cross is the focal point of all eternity. Those who lived before it looked into the future for its forgiveness but we who have lived after it, look back to its provision.

This example of God’s Grace in Christ brings us face to face with three important facts in regard to our sin. First, sin we commit requires just punishment. Second, Jesus “paid it forward” for us as well. We must acknowledge Grace in Christ’s payment on the cross, confess and thank Him for forgiveness all of our sins. Third: remember the exchange at the cross, our sins for His righteousness and return to Christ’s Life in us. We will learn more about this in future classes but for now just realize that deliverance from sin comes by receiving His Grace, for forgiveness for sins, and Grace to live in Christ.

Every problem is based in a wrong concept of God!! From a young age, we are influenced by various people in our lives and their influence often shape our concept of God, whether right or wrong. Just consider how the following people may have shaped your concept of God:

What was your earthly Father like?

Your mother?

Sunday School Teacher?

Pastor?

School teacher?

Sibling?

In the same way events in our lives can influence our concept of God. What events in your life shaped your view of God?

We must have a revelation of the truth of His nature, who He really is, that redefines our concept of Him:

1 John 4:16–19 (NASB) 16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.19 We love, because He first loved us.

GOD IS LOVE – New Testament clarifies His nature! Exemplified in giving us a New Covenant. Look at the contrast:

Old Testament covenant – IF/Then based – Law given, sin defined, punishment or blessing promised if you don’t or do keep it. Like the two trees in the garden of Eden, it was a test for Israel. If you can keep it, you’ll get blessed.  Trust was put in self-dependence & self-righteousness. Keeping it was really impossible because the sin nature in man could not and would not surrender to the Law.  Many Old Testament people recognized this and instead related to God in humility and put their in faith in His LOVE.  Abraham & David are great examples.

New Testament Covenant: Grace based: Jesus/the Cross/New Life – this was God’s plan from the beginning, before the foundation of the world. Man in Adam can never live up to His holiness. The Sin problem must be eliminated. Jesus took us to the Cross with Him to be crucified, where the sin nature in each of us died, was buried and has been raised to New Life. We are made new creatures, with Him living in us, His very nature imparted to us, His Life in us, living through us as us.

God is LOVE and He created man with the basic need to be LOVED; to be unconditionally accepted, and cherished, valued for being. All conditions that separated us from Him were eliminated on the Cross. He is not way out there some place. He is Present. He is I AM. All this was provided through the Cross of Christ. IT IS A GIFT TO BE RECEIVED. IT IS BY GRACE. When we receive this gracious gift of new life by faith, everything changes. God sees you holy and righteous, accepted in the Beloved.

How do you receive this acceptance? By trusting in Jesus and His Cross and His resurrection.

John 3:16 (NASB) 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Grace Part 43: Renovation of the Mind

Romans 12:2 (NASB) “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The word “renew” is the Greek word anakainosis which means “renovation.” It’s not just that we have the wrong information; it is that the “main frame” has been thoroughly infected with a virus that affects all information coming into it. We live out of the wrong “frame of mind.” We need a new framework from which to think and feel and make our choices. Renovation means tearing everything out down to the frame work; having the very composition cleaned and changed in order for us to have the mind of Christ and grasp the thoughts of God.

Our spirit is the legitimate seat of our identity. Before our new birth, our spirit existed but dead, separated from God by the sin nature inherited in Adam. It was dead to God, cut off from Him, separated from Life. This is why it had to be crucified. It had to die, be buried, and raised to new LIFE, His LIFE, in order to be made a new spirit.

Living with that old dead spirit is what caused your mind to be programmed to fleshly thinking. Without a spirit in communion with God, all you had to use to deal with life was your soul’s limited reasoning, constantly fluctuating feelings, and your body’s cravings and demands. The soul’s misguided emotions, flawed reasoning, and vain imaginations were also subject to your body’s sinful passions. The Bible refers to this as the “flesh.” It’s what developed in all our lives, a mindset of the flesh, how we lived from birth until we were born-again. It was the means by which we survived life. The way we learned to cope. Romans 8 tells us the flesh is against the spirit, fights against it, and will not submit to it. It also tells us that if we continue to live according to the flesh we must die. That’s what the flesh produces, fruit for death. This is why our minds need transformation, to be delivered from living according to the flesh; to be subservient to our new identity in Christ and to learn to walk after the Spirit, to produce fruit for God and Life.

Colossians 3:10 (NASB) “and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him,” This means to be changed into a new kind of life as opposed to the former corrupt flesh life, by allowing who we now are in our spirit, who we now are in Christ, to change our identity. To put on the identity of Christ’s Life and allow His Life to live through us.

Ephesians 4:23 says, “and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” To be spiritually transformed is to take on a new mind. There’s a big difference between redecorating and renovating. To redecorate a bathroom is to paint the walls another color, hang new wallpaper and new pictures, and set out new knick-knacks.

But in renovating, you realize the real condition of the bathroom is underneath the wall paper, in behind the walls and under the floor. You have to tear out the sheet rock and get a look at the framework. And you may have to tear out the framework if the wood has rotted away. You have to tear up the floors and even replace the foundation and the plumbing that has caused the deterioration. You have to tear it all out and put in the new.

A redecorated bathroom that actually needs renovating may look beautiful but the odor of the rot will still be there until it is dealt and replaced with new.  A redecorated but un-renewed mind will have the same stench. The believer may look like they are doing all the right things outwardly but it brings forth stench of fruit for death instead of the fragrance of the fruit of the Spirit.

Here’s a few essential new revelations to renew the mind:

I am a spirit, a new creature, a new creation, created in the image of Christ Jesus. This is my new and true identity.

I have a soul. Much like having a suitcase in which I carry my clothes. Before I was born-again, this was my baggage. I put off the old clothes of who I used to be and put on the new clothes of my new self, renewed in the true knowledge of Jesus by renewing my mind.

I live in a body. It’s my house. I maintain it but it doesn’t tell me who I am or what I’m worth or how to live. I make it my servant for righteousness.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB) “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”

I take captive every thought and vain imagination that comes against my mind and instead declare God’s word of truth, agreeing with the mind of Christ and living after the Spirit.