Tuesday, September 27, 2011

God's View on Sin

I have collected nearly every reference to the words sin(s) or transgression(s) in the New Testament, particularly the ones where God is also mentioned. Remembering that the New Testament is the superior revelation of God's character because "Jesus is the exact representation of God" (Hebrews 1:3) let us take a look at God's view on sin. You may be surprised at what is here and what isn't here.

Jesus saves His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
God's tender mercy gives people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. (Luke 1:77-78)
Jesus takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29)
Jesus forgives specific people of their sins. (Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, 7:47-48)
Jesus forgives people of their sins and His gift of forgiveness is received by trusting in Him. (Matthew 12:32, Acts 2:38, 5:31, 10:43, 13:38, 26:18, Romans 4:7)
Jesus' blood of the covenant is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. (Mentioned in Matthew 26:28 of His death on the cross)
Jesus the Christ suffered and rose from the dead on the third day, and changing of mind for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations. (Luke 24:46-47)
The Holy Spirit convicts those who do not trust Jesus Christ of sin so that they will come to trust Him (John 16:8-9)
The Lord wipes away sins. (Acts 3:19)
Jesus washes away sins. (Acts 22:16)
God covers sins. (Romans 4:7)
The Lord does not take sin into account. (Romans 4:8)
Jesus was delivered over to be crucified because of our sins and transgressions, and was raised to free us from guilt and make us right with him. (Romans 4:25)
God does not charge people of sin where there is no law. Jesus Christ is the end of the law making all those who trust Him right with God. (Romans 5:13, Romans 10:4)
God's grace overflowed when sin increased. (Romans 5:20)
Just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21)
Jesus did away with our body of sin. (Romans 6:6)
Jesus freed us from being slaves to sin.  (Romans 6:6)
Jesus freed us from sin. (Romans 6:7,18,22, 8:2)
Jesus died one time to break the power of sin for all. (Romans 6:10)
God puts us under grace which makes sin no longer our master.  (Romans 6:14)
Jesus set us free from the brutal tyranny of the power of the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. He condemned sin in the flesh by declaring an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. (Romans 8:3)
Jesus takes away the sins of His people. (Romans 11:27)
Jesus died for our sins according to the foretelling of the scriptures, and He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Jesus raised again to life and now we are not in our sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)
God the Father was in Christ on the cross making relationship with Himself available to the world by no longer counting people's sins against them. God has given us this message of relationship to tell others. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
God does not count sins against people. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Galatians 1:3-4)
Jesus has redeemed us through His blood, He forgives our sins and trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins, saved us by His grace, made us alive together with Christ, raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His favor & grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1,4-7)
God rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
Jesus made us alive together with Him while we were dead in our sins and transgressions, having forgiven us all our sins and transgressions. He canceled out the certificate of debt which consisted of laws that were against us & hostile to us. He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
Jesus cleansed and purified us from our sins. (Hebrew 1:3)
Jesus sacrificed Himself to take away sins which removes the power of sin to separate us from God and makes relationship with God available to us. (Hebrews 2:17)
Jesus had no sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus offered up Himself, dying for the sins of all people, one time for all time. (Hebrews 7:27, 10:12)
God no longer remembers the sins of His people. (Hebrews 8:12,10:17)
Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26)
Jesus was offered Himself once to bear the sins of many. (Hebrews 9:28)
Jesus suffered as an offering for sin to purify people through His own blood. (Hebrews 13:11-12)
Jesus Christ committed no sin and told no lies. (1 Peter 2:22)
Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to the fact that we are right with God. By His wounds we were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. (1 Peter 3:18)
God (who is love) covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
Jesus is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Jesus Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
Our sins have been forgiven through Jesus for His name's sake. (1 John 2:12)
Jesus came to earth to take away sins. (1 John 3:5)
In Jesus there is no sin. (1 John 3:5)
God puts His seed in those who trust in Him and they are no longer able to sin, because they are born of God. (1 John 3:9, 5:18)
God showed us what love is. While we were not able to love God He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Jesus Christ loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:5)

Reflect on what was here that you weren't aware of and also consider what wasn't here that you think is true of God.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog Name Change: Loved by God, Loving Others

I've changed the name of my blog from "Love God, Love Others" to "Loved by God, Loving Others" because my life has changed from a commands based life of "this is what God wants us to do so let's make Him happy" to a love based life of "God loves me and is already happy so I will love others out of the overflow of Him loving me."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jesus Accomplished All Things Necessary to Fulfill the Law

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20,
"Do not think that I have come to do away with, undo, or abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with, undo, or abolish but to complete and fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until all things are accomplished.
Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus saying He didn't come to do away with the law but to fulfill it is like Him saying, "I didn't come to do away with the debt. I came to pay the debt." Paying the debt is like doing away with it but better because it is more than mercy, it is forgiveness and graciousness. We were in debt to pay the whole law with perfect obedience to it. Jesus did it on our behalf. He paid the debt of obedience. Jesus wasn't saying, "Forget about that old law thing I'm going to junk it." He was saying, "I'm going to do this for you because I love you and I know you can't do it."

If Jesus was speaking about these things after His resurrection He would say something like this.
"When I came I didn't throw out the law and the prophets. I have fulfilled the requirements of the law for all mankind. I have also fulfilled the prophesies about the Messiah. What I did was so important that even if heaven and earth disappeared every bit of the law would have remained unfulfilled but I accomplished all things necessary to fulfill it. Now I make everyone great in my kingdom. Even those who were the best law keepers did not have enough righteousness to enter my kingdom. You will need my righteousness to enter my kingdom. Just start trusting me and I will give it to you."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Serving God by the New Way of the Spirit and Not the Old Way of The Law

Galatians 5 says, "You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace," and "a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." That yeast is the law, a little law takes away a lot of grace. If you put even one law on yourself, God's old covenant law or your own invented law, then you are putting yourself in bondage.

You are to serve God by the Spirit not the old way of the law as Romans 7:6 says, "We have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit." Serving God by the Spirit results in doing the good deeds described in the law and more. One difference is that there is no burden, no guilt, no shame, no condemnation. Serving by the Spirit is walking in the Spirit. It is a walk with God. It is not, as much of Christianity unwittingly practices, a walk without God trying to keep His laws and other moral laws (ones imposed by tradition, society, self, the church).

When you serve God by the Spirit you won't worry about "Am I doing enough? Am I spending enough time with God? Am I being a good witness?" and things like that. The primary questions are "Am I aware that He is with me?" and "Do I trust Him and His love for me?" When you serve by the Spirit you do what you see the Father doing just like Jesus did. We aren't to serve the law we are to serve God. It is falsely taught that serving the law equals serving God or that serving a church organization equals serving God.

"He is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made buildings (temples, churches), and he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." (Acts 17:24-25)

Hands don't serve God. It is His Spirit in you and the new living spirit He has given you through Christ that serves Him. When you replace "trust in Him" with "trying for Him" your life will have misery because you try to serve God with your flesh, your hands. Jesus said in John 6:63, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all."

Thankfully God doesn't judge you by works even if they are done by the flesh rather than the Spirit. He loves you because love is who He is. "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you" (Romans 8:8-9).

Trust and Works

God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through trust/faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

You cannot earn God's grace, His favor, His approval. We receive God's grace by faith (trust). Now that we have trusted Him and received His grace we can and will do the good works that God intends for us to do. Not only are you not saved by works but you are not approved by works. The works are the result of trusting God's love for you and partnering with Him in life under His yoke.
Just like the evidence of life is a pulse the evidence of trust (faith) is loving works. Works without God is like synthetic life. There may be a pulse but there is no true life. Trust brings life. Jesus said in John 6:47 "Truly, truly I say to you, He who trusts in me has eternal life." Works are the result of having life. If you live then you will do. If you live to God because you are alive in Him you will do the good works He has prepared for you. The burden is on God. Your response to His love for you is trust.
God's great love, His grace for us, comes first. Trusting that He first loves us brings salvation, we knowingly know Him. Good works come third but they don't come without God's continued love, which never ends, and your present tense trust.
Jesus talks in Matthew 7:21-23 about people doing "good works" in His name yet not knowing Him. So it is true that works without trust is dead. If you have dead trust (faith) then you do not trust God because God is life and knowing Him is life and trusting Him is how you know Him. What James (2) talks about is false faith, false trust, because trust in Christ cannot be dead!
What James was saying was "You think you know God, you think you trust God? Where is the evidence? Abraham proved that he trusted God by offering up Isaac his son on the altar. The scripture was fulfilled that says "Abraham trusted God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
How did Abraham trust God? He did it by action. Trust includes action. Scriptures simplify when we think of them relationally. If you asked me "Do you trust me?" and I said "Yes" then you asked me for help and I said, "You're lying you don't need help" it would be obvious that I don't trust you.
God is Spirit so in order for us to know God in this day we have to "trust that He exists and rewards those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Because Jesus isn't physically on the earth we have to trust Him in order to meet Him. But that also makes it easy for us to talk about Him without actually trusting Him or knowing Him.
Excerpts from James 2 in The Message: "Does merely talking about trust indicate that a person really has it? Does merely talking about Jesus indicate that a person really knows Him? Isn't it obvious that trust and works are yoked partners, that trust expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of trust"?"
Galatians 5:6 says, "The only thing that counts is trust expressing itself through love." God counts nothing against you but the only thing that counts for you is trust expressing itself through love. Remembering that God is love we could say, "The only thing that counts is trust expressing itself through God." This means your trust in God causes His goodness to come out of you. It is your trust expressed through God inside of you resulting in His love coming out of you.
Jesus said in John 6:28-29, "This is the only work God wants from you: Trust in the one he has sent." Dead trust, dead faith, means you don't know God at all. Dead works means, at best you are acting without communicating with God in a trusting relationship, and at worst you also don't know God at all.
The issue isn't about worrying to balance separate items. It is all a single unit of God and His love that consists of distinct yet flowing portions. At the beginning from love blooms trust and from trust blooms loving works but it lives on as one organism. He first loved us so we trust Him. We love because we trust in His love. God works with us when we trust Him because He loves us. "For in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Life of God vs. The Knowledge of Good and Evil

In the beginning did God think, "It is harmless for Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, I just don't want them to, so I'll make a pointless rule about them not being allowed to eat of it. If they break that rule I'm going to call what they've done sin because it made me mad and I will have them and all of their generations suffer for ticking me off."

Was not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil a pointless rule that when broke would curse all of mankind? Was God being petty and cruel or was God wise enough to know that having the knowledge of good and evil is destructive to us?

Only God can properly handle having the knowledge of good and evil. God didn't create us to know good and evil He created us to know Him and be in relationship with Him. We often camp out at Jesus taking the penalty for our sin and unwittingly focus on our sin (which Christ took away) but we partake in Jesus' life in the resurrection. He took away our sin but most of us don't realize that. We focus on our sin and our knowledge of good and evil. Our sin is away and our life in Christ is here. Which is better to focus on what is away or on what is here? That which was taken or that which was given?

Man ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that is what brought sin into the world. Jesus died on a tree. Sin was brought in by a tree and sin was taken out on a tree. Christ died to the knowledge of good and evil so we don't have to live by that. Our life is not to be about "doing good and abstaining from evil." It is to yield to Jesus and trust Him to live through us.

The knowledge of good and evil gets in our way of knowing Jesus Christ the tree of Life. We are to "throw off the sin that so easily entangles us and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our trust/faith in Him, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising its shame" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Shame is the result of living by the knowledge of good and evil. Shame is what caused Adam and Eve to hide from God in Genesis 3:8. Before they ate from the tree in Genesis 2:25 it says that they were not ashamed. In Genesis 3:10 Adam says they hid from God because they were afraid of God. Shame and fear cause you to hide from God. I cannot emphasize enough how universal, absolute, and real that truth is, shame and fear cause you to hide from God. Shame is what makes you think you have lost favor with God. Shame is the opposite of grace. When you live by the knowledge of good and evil you will feel shame, you will have fear, you will feel guilt, you will judge yourself harshly, you will judge others harshly.

We are not branches of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are branches on Jesus, the tree of life. We live by His life by trusting Him. When we judge ourselves and others by our knowledge of good and evil we will be miserable and cruel. When we consider ourselves living to God in Christ Jesus we will experience God's love and will be loving to others.

Eve said in Genesis 3:13, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Today we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because we are deceived by the serpent. Christ came to reverse the spiritual effects of the fall of man in the garden. When Jesus raised to life He came out of the tomb and into a garden. We were raised with Him. We are in that garden also. The garden of His life, love, grace, and righteousness.

Romans 6:6-11 says, "Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin for we have died and are freed from sin. Because we died with Christ, we trust that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Since it says to consider "in the same way" let us look at the "same way."
Since you were raised from the dead you cannot die again, death has no mastery over you. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who trusts in Me will live even if he dies." (John 11:25)
The death you died, you died to sin once and for all; but the life you live, you live to God. Consider yourself dead to sin because you are. Consider yourself alive to God in Christ Jesus because you are.

Jesus wants us to feast on Him. He is the bread of life, He is the tree of life and He is our life. God doesn't want you to try to be good. Trying to be good is eating from the wrong tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God wants you to let His life live through you. That is eating from the tree of life.

God said to Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die. "The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

Here are some highlights from Romans 6-7:
Sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. You are under God's favor. You have been set free from sin. Law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives. You died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to Jesus who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (the law, obligation, knowledge of good and evil). Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Our Lover and His Bride
Let's look back at Genesis 2:22-25 & 3:21-23, "The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."

"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken."

Ephesians 5:29-32 says, "Christ feeds and takes care of His body, and we are members of His body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the Assembly."

Jesus said in Matthew 19:4-6, "The Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Colossians 3:1 says, "You have been raised with Christ." Genesis 3 is referred to as the fall. When Christ rose He lifted us up. Let us now take a look at Genesis 2 and 3 through the lens of the new covenant and through the eternal eyes of Christ.

"The Father fashioned His Son's bride out of His Son, and brought her to His Son. The Son said, "This is now spirit of my spirit, and mind of my mind.” For this reason the Son left His Father in Heaven, to be joined to his wife; and they shall become one as the Father and Son are one. And there is no shame."

"The Son sacrificed His skin, His flesh to clothe His wife with Himself. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the woman has become like one of Us, and now, she can stretch out her hand, and take from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever!”"