Thursday, September 27, 2012

Romans 7, Rebirth, & Renewed Minds

"I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want." (Romans 7:15,19)

I once experienced the struggle Romans 7 talks about when I believed I was a sinner. But now that I truly walk by the spirit (which doesn't simply mean to act moral or obey the law, it means to know & focus on the spirit of God & what he has birthed as our spirit) I never experience the condition of Romans 7 but the freedom & empowered state spoken of in Romans 8 where I never have condemnation, guilt, or shame.

Twice in Romans 7 (17 & 20) Paul says, "It is no longer I who sin but sin living in me that sins." He is saying "I no longer sin." "I do not sin anymore." "When you see sin come out of my person it is not me who is doing it. I am not the cause or the source. I no longer produce sin." This gels perfectly with 1 John 3:9 which says someone who is born of God cannot produce sin. I can rightly say, "I, being a child of God, no longer sin."

"It is no longer I who sin but sin living in me that sins," has to be speaking of either the flesh, the mind (soul), the spirit, or some combination of those. Certainly it is at the very least talking about the spirit. IT MUST BE TALKING ABOUT ONE OF THEM or Paul is a liar & you must throw out his writings.

I no longer sin. Sin in my flesh still produces sinful actions if I don't walk by spirit but I, in my new spiritual identity in Christ, do not sin. Why? Because a birth establishes a new identity. "Your new creation has been created in God’s image. It is righteous and holy" (Ephesians 4:24).

"From now on we identify NO ONE according to the flesh (what else is there left to identify by but the spirit?). If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things PASSED AWAY; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) That new creature is new because it has been recently born. Jesus said in John 3:6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." New birth exclusively concerns the spirit because "A man cannot be born when he is old. He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born" (John 3:4). Our new creation is our spirit, we are not to identify ourselves according to the flesh. Don't hold onto the flesh as part of your identity, doing so empowers the enemy.

If "It is not I who sins but the sin living in me that sins," as Paul says in Romans 7:17,20, then who is responsible for the sins?
While there are various instigators for unloving actions (sin, Satan, the law, the body, lies that are believed) the unrenewed mind, which is flesh, is ultimately responsible for those actions occurring.

If you don't put to death the DEEDS of the flesh sin is going to come out of your body. If you don't mow the lawn it is going to continue to grow & get longer. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh is like mowing the lawn. Renewing your mind is like uprooting the grass & plowing the dirt so sin will never grow there again. The less renewed your mind is the more unloving actions will show up in your behavior.

Truly it is not you, as a spiritual child of God, sinning. If sinful actions come out in your behavior it is your unrenewed mind that does not cut them off. Your mind is the bridge between the flesh & the spirit. The unrenewed parts of your mind are paved with old flesh. The renewed parts of your mind are paved with spirit.

Your mind can be used as a lawnmower, plow, or seed sowing hand. The unrenewed mind lets the grass grow. A partially spiritual area of the mind only mows the grass. A renewed area of the mind plows the land to prevent grass from growing in that area again. A fully renewed area of the mind sows good seed into the soil for fruit bearing life.

The love of the spirit, through renewed parts of the mind, takes responsibility for the unloving actions caused by the flesh & makes amends with the parties harmed. Christ made amends for our actions & relationally He continues to do so through us who walk by spirit. So our spiritual identity in Christ isn't a false excuse to "get off the hook" for how we behave. It is our reborn identity perfectly loved by God that, given the opportunity, flows out only good things. It is our true self, our eternal self. It is not self-centered nor does it make excuses for the flesh's behavior. It is one spirit with God (1 Corinthians 6:17 & Ephesians 4:4). It is God living in us, & with us, & through us. I will accept nothing less than the identity I know I was born into by the Spirit of God. I am not a sinner. I am perfected forever. I am perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect. I am one with God because He wanted to love me & I let Him. The fact that nothing can separate you from His love means you are already in His love. Absolutely nothing ever stands between you & His love. Trust Him & let Him love you as He wants to love you.

Related Posts
Commentary on Romans 7 by Andrew Wommack

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Consciousness of Sins is Self-centered

God no longer charges us with sins (2 Corinthians 5:19). The sacrifice of Christ has purified us for all time & our consciousness of sin can now disappear if we know we have been cleansed (Hebrews 10:1-2). God does not count your sins & neither should you. He has forgotten them forever, they have left His consciousness (Hebrews 8:12,10:17). He has taken our sin away. It is best for us to follow His example and no longer ascribe the condemning label "sin" to our actions.

Regardless of how it is identified, if you do something to harm someone they still experience loss or pain. Counting sin is self-centered. When you count your own sin you make everything you do that harms others more about you than about them. Love is not self-centered & that is what God tells us to live by in His new covenant. We aren't to live by fault finding introspection but by self giving love & affection. Counting sin makes you focus mainly on your feelings, morality, & performance; often even to the exclusion of those you are harming. "Love does no harm to a neighbor" (Romans 13:10). You can be love conscious without being sin conscious, obviously Jesus was because He had no sin.

It is impossible to avoid guilt & shame when you are conscious of sins. Shame means disgrace, dishonor, & "a turning in upon oneself." God will never put you to shame. He will never lead you to self-pity. The only way it is ok to "count sin" is to count the ways you have harmed another person in order to apologize to them & make amends. This is what James 5:16 refers to when it says "confess your sins to one another."

Someone who is love conscious doesn’t deny the pain he has caused others, he owns up to it. That is why Romans 6:11 says we are to "consider ourselves dead to sin BUT alive to God in Christ Jesus." Christ has freed us from sin consciousness thus we are dead to sin. But Christ has also made us alive to God thus we are free to be love conscious.

Defining Your Experience using Romans 6:11
"As a man thinks in His heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). "CONSIDER (regard, deem, judge, view, reckon, take, believe, see) yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
What people "consider" themselves to be changes how they experience God's love though it does not change God's love for them nor how He considers them. I believe the experience of most, if not all people can be defined by switching the variables in Romans 6:11. In reality all Non-Christians are dead to God & all Christians are dead to sin but alive to God whether they experience it or not. Please note "Alive to sin" also refers to "sin conscious," & "dead to sin" also refers to "no sin consciousness." Remember I am listing people's perceptions of themselves below. There are only two realities for mankind, 1. Sin & no God, 2. God & no sin.

  • Alive to sin
    • This is the condition of a lost person who is aware of his negative actions in some way but has never paid attention to the gospel.
  • Alive to sin & Dead to God
    • These are those who know they do harmful things & have heard the gospel but reject it. These people may openly scoff at God or mock Him.
  • Alive to sin but Dead to God   
    • Typically this is the condition of a lost person who is aware of his sinful state/actions but has not trusted Jesus. These are those "convicted" by the Holy Spirit of their disbelief in Christ. They are more concerned about their eternal status with God than they are with individual actions. They are usually on their way to trusting Christ for salvation.
  • Dead to Sin
    • These are those who have had their "conscience seared." They are remorseless & utterly self-centered.
  • Dead to sin & Alive to God
    • This is a rare type of person who believes that sin has never existed & that they can know God apart from Christ having come in the flesh. They are the people refuted in 1 John 1 & mentioned in 1 John 2:26
  • Alive to God & Alive to sin   
    • These are "false converts," those who participate in a religion but have never met God. Some of these people are Pharisee types, they consider themselves alive to sin simply to boast in their self-righteous overcoming of it through rule keeping.
  • Dead to sin & Dead to God
    • Amazingly no one sees themselves this way. Those who see themselves dead to God always tie it to sin/behavior. The universal undergirding of salvation is exposed here. You cannot see yourself as separated from God without sin/behavior being the cause of it thus the need for a savior is revealed.
  • Alive to God but Alive to sin
    • Most genuine Christians live here. They have at least some relationship with God but their aliveness to sin causes them to constantly put the breaks on that relationship. What they consider sin makes them feel less loved & even forsaken (through "broken fellowship") by God. This type of life is like being stuck in traffic. You make a little progress then stop, a little progress then stop. When things seem to be progressing nicely you feel the hope of finally taking off at full speed just to end up slowing & stopping again soon after. This group is the best example of why a sin consciousness is dangerous for Christians. They can taste God's love but they are starving & can never eat & drink of His fullness as long as they are alive to sin. Sin consciousness is the primary opposing force to experiencing the love of God in a relationship with God. These people experience lots of shame & guilt. They live by unintentionally self-centered performance based morality. They experience sporadic freedom, joy, & peace based on how much they think they do or do not sin.
  • Alive to sin & Dead to God   
    • This mindset includes Christians who think they have "lost their salvation" through actions they consider sinful. Some so called "backslidden" Christians may also see themselves this way. Those who feel cast off, on the shelf, or who are "running from God" also have this mindset. Those who think confession or repentance is tied to forgiveness from God may also find themselves here.
  • Dead to sin & alive to sin at the same time.
    • These people have a custom list of sins. They are dead to many of their own sins but very much alive to others. They are the condemning self-righteous types. While they can be Christians they pay little attention to the actual Spirit of God.
  • Dead to sin & alive to God
    • These people have freedom from sin but focus more on that freedom than they do on God Himself. They are a rare type of people today. They are the kind religious people fear will abuse their freedom but they are still experiencing God's love far more than the religious. In the first century there were many people like this which is why people are told to "not use their freedom to indulge in the flesh" (Galatians 5:13). This is a great place to be but it is still second best. Despite their behavior these people are often drawing closer & closer to God because they know that their negative behavior does not prevent it.
  • Dead to sin but alive to God
    • These people, the rarest of all, have no sin consciousness. Instead they have a love consciousness, they are conscientious to love. Their focus isn't on freedom from sin but aliveness to God. They are looking to love because of how well they have been loved by God. These are the most satisfied people in the world & they love better than anyone else.

Sin consciousness is good if one has sin. It makes them aware of a problem so they can look for or receive the solution. Sin consciousness for a Christian however is like a healthy man receiving cancer treatment. For no reason he is destroyed by the chemo & radiation treatments (feelings of guilt & condemnation, devaluing himself based on his behavior). There is no cancer to remove so the treatment does 100% harm. Likewise Christ irrevocably took away the sins of Christians thus guilt serves no purpose & only destroys.

We died with Christ. Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. For the death that He died, he died to sin one time. Remember this, you have likewise died to sin one time. You are permanently freed from sin & you do not need to "die" again. Now we live with Him in spirit & one day face to face. Death has no power over Christ. The life he lives, He lives to God. Remember this, you are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. You have an unbreakable bond because you are now one spirit with Him. (Romans 6:8-11, Paraphrase)

Related Posts
Catching Up in Perfection

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is the law sin?

"Whatever is not from trust is sin" (Romans 14:23). "The law is not from trust" (Galatians 3:12). "Is the law sin? Certainly not!" (Romans 7:7)

Most take Romans 14:23 to mean, "Whatever is not from trust is counted as a sin" but it actually is saying "whatever is not FROM trust is FROM sin." A person cannot operate by trust & by law at the same time. Galatians 3:12 is saying, "Obedience to the law does not come from trust in Christ because Christ has freed you from the law & He will not put you under it." The law itself is not sin & the law does not come from sin but from God. However obedience to the law is not based on trust thus sin is who convinces a person to keep the law.

From sin's point of view "Rules are made to be broken." From God's point of view "Rules were made to show you that you are broken." Trust in Christ fixes you permanently. Sin seeks to make you feel broken by convincing you to put yourself under the law. Under the law sin uses the law to produce evil desires in your flesh.

The law came from God. You cannot adhere to the law & trust in Christ because He has ended the law & you have been released from it. If you feel as though you must keep the law it is not Christ giving you that feeling but sin itself seeking to deceive you & produce evil desires in your flesh that will hurt you.

Thoughts on Portions of Romans

  • The Good News of Christ is the power of God for salvation for everyone who trusts. In it is revealed God’s righteousness from trust to trust. (Romans 1:16-17)
    • The gospel is the revelation of God's righteousness. God's righteousness is Jesus Christ & His body (2 Corinthians 5:21). We become a part of His body & thus righteous by trusting in Jesus. This means the Gospel contains God's eternal purpose which is to bring people into the union & relationship that the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit share.
    • The righteousness of God is revealed to us who trust in His trustworthiness.
    • His righteousness begins & ends with trust.
  • Because people chose to worship & serve false Gods, because they refused to have God in their knowledge, God respected their free will & let them wallow in their lusts & ungodly mental states. Once they gave up on the idea of acknowledging God & His goodness there was no reason for God to force them into morality so He let them do all the devastating things they wanted to do. (on Romans 1:22-32)
  • Their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. (Romans 1:26-27)
    • Even in Old Testament times God did not wipe out homosexuality. Paul says God let them "receive in themselves the due penalty of their error." They suffered the physical, emotional, & mental consequences of their choices. This further shows the absurdity of those who say God will "judge" a nation because of how they handle homosexuals. We live in an age after the law. "Sin is not charged when there is no law" (Romans 5:13). God will not pour out wrath in this age on anyone. He doesn't count any one's sins against them in this age (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). All wrath is reserved/stored up for the day of wrath & judgment (Romans 2:5) exclusively for those who reject Christ.
    • If you trust in Christ all of your sins are taken away forever (Psalm 103:12) & God will never have any wrath for you. So while a homosexual lifestyle is more destructive than most of us realize, Christ has put away all sin. He is not especially mad at anyone. He does not look at mankind based on sins. To apply your hatred or offense to God misrepresents Him to the uttermost & shows that you are clueless about the reasons why Christ came to die for us.
  • You therefore who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who proclaim that a man shouldn’t steal, do you steal? You who say a man shouldn’t commit adultery. Do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who glory in the law, through your disobedience of the law do you dishonor God? (Romans 2:21-23)
    • Paul's point here is not to get the Jews to straighten up & stop acting hypocritical. He is making a point to them that no one can keep the law even if they firmly support & promote the law. "For you who judge practice the same things" (Romans 2:2). The law virtually requires you to judge others. Paul is establishing his point that the law is powerless to bring righteousness because no one can keep it. Those who uphold the law as a means of righteousness "despise the riches of God's goodness."
  • Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. (Romans 3:31)
    • Paul & his co-workers in Christ established the true purpose of the law which was to "shut every mouth and make it so the whole world has to answer to God." So to establish the law was not to put themselves under the yoke of bondage of obedience to its commands but to make the need for a savior evident to the Jews.
    • "The law is good, if a man use it lawfully" (1 Timothy 1:8). The only lawful way to use the law is to point people who have a need to the Savior. The Law is God's way of revealing to people their need. It is powerless to make provision for that need. It is the Gospel that provides the power to produce salvation.
      • Once the need of righteousness & salvation has been fulfilled the law is no longer needed thus "the law is not made for a righteous man" (1 Timothy 1:9).
  • Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin. (Romans 4:8)
    • The strongest possible language is used here in the Greek, "by no means." Those who trust Christ will never have sins held against them, more so they will never be charged with sin.
    • Notice he didn't just say "did not" or "does not" but "will not," implying that even future-tense sins have been dealt with through the sacrificial offering of Jesus, once for all (Hebrews 10:10,14).
      • All our sins--past, present, and future--were forgiven (removed from us) through the one offering of Jesus.
      • If God can't forgive future-tense sins, then none of us can be saved, because Jesus only died once, nearly 2,000 years ago, before we had committed any sins. All our sins have been forgiven, they have all been taken away from us.
  • 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. (Romans 5:10)
    • "God gave us the good work of reconciliation. This work is to tell people that 'God was in Christ on the cross reconciling the world to Himself and He is not charging anyone with sin because of it.' He has given us this word of reconciliation. We beg you on behalf of Christ, 'Be reconciled to God.'" (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)
      • We can see that God has reconciled everyone to himself but that reconciliation does not mean everyone is saved. To be "saved by His life" one must "be reconciled to God."
      • Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, to intimately know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." Salvation is the entrance into an eternal relationship with God.
      • Mutual reconciliation is required for salvation. Both parties must agree to be in relationship. God is already extending relationship to all mankind. He is giving out kindness to all in the hopes that they will respond positively.
  • We died with Christ. Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. For the death that He died, he died to sin one time. Remember this, you have likewise died to sin one time. You are permanently freed from sin & you do not need to "die" again. Now we live with Him in spirit & one day face to face. Death has no power over Christ. The life he lives, He lives to God. Remember this, you are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. You have an unbreakable bond because you are now one spirit with Him. (Romans 6:8-11, Paraphrase)
  • You Jews were married to the law, obligated to keep its commandments for life. But you have died. You were made dead to the law through the body of Christ so that you would be married to another, to Jesus the Messiah who was raised from the dead. Thus you are not under the burden of the law anymore but instead are joyfully joined to Christ Jesus our loving Lord. (Romans 7:4, Paraphrase)
  • Whatever is not from trust is sin (Romans 14:23). The law is not from trust (Galatians 3:12). Is the law sin? Certainly not! (Romans 7:7)
    • Most take Romans 14:23 to mean, "Whatever is not from trust is counted as a sin" but it actually is saying "whatever is not FROM trust is FROM sin." A person cannot operate by trust & by law at the same time. Galatians 3:12 is saying, "Obedience to the law does not come from trust in Christ because Christ has freed you from the law & He will not put you under it." The law itself is not sin & the law does not come from sin but from God. However obedience to the law is not based on trust thus sin is who convinces a person to keep the law.
    • From sin's point of view "Rules are made to be broken." From God's point of view "Rules were made to show you that you are broken." Trust in Christ fixes you permanently. Sin seeks to make you feel broken by convincing you to put yourself under the law. Under the law sin uses the law to produce evil desires in your flesh.
    • The law came from God. You cannot adhere to the law & trust in Christ because He has ended the law & you have been released from it. If you feel as though you must keep the law it is not Christ giving you that feeling but sin itself seeking to deceive you & produce evil desires in your flesh that will hurt you.
  • Why didn't Israel arrive at righteousness? Because they didn’t seek it by trust, but by works of the law. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense; and no one who trusts in him will be disappointed.” (Romans 9:32-33)
    • Those who seek to become righteous or even just feel righteous by their own works stumble over Jesus & are offended at Him.

Catching Up in Perfection

"The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that were weak & useless, was set aside because the law never made anything perfect. God has brought in a better hope, through which we draw near to God" (Hebrews 7:18-19).
"The sacrifice of Christ makes those who draw near to God perfect" (Hebrews 10:1).

The Law made nothing perfect but Christ does!

"By one offering Jesus has perfected forever those who are made holy" (Hebrews 10:14).
"The spirits of righteous men have been made perfect" (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Another accurate translation of the word "perfect" is "complete." The word "saved" can be translated as "made whole." Thus when you are saved you are complete, you are made whole, you are perfect forever. "The Lord's work is perfect" (Deuteronomy 32:4). You are His work (Ephesians 2:10).

"The blood of Christ can purify our consciousness of dead works so we can worship the living God" (Hebrews 9:14).
"God is able to make His worshipers perfect in their consciousness" (Hebrews 9:9).
"The sacrifice of Christ has purified us one time for all time thus our consciousness of sin & feelings of guilt can disappear forever" (Hebrews 10:2).
"Our evil consciences have been removed by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood. We are clean. Let us draw near to Him with true hearts that are fully confident by trusting in Him" (Hebrews 10:22).
"A clear conscience depends on our knowledge of God’s grace & love for us, not on our own fleshly wisdom. It brings pure motives and godly sincerity to all of our behavior" (2 Corinthians 1:12).

"Your beauty is perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord God (Ezekiel 16:14).

These are Jesus' words to the parts of His body which is His bride, the Assembly, "You are so beautiful, my beloved, so perfect in every part." (Song of Songs 4:7)

Here is a song I made in 2007 with the same title as this post.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reality Because of Christ: Sin

Jesus has taken our sins away as far as east is from west.. (Psalm 103:12, John 1:29, 1 John 3:5)
God is no longer charging people with sin..  (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)
Jesus Christ is the end of the law to everyone who trusts Him & where there is no law sin is not charged.. (Romans 5:13, 10:4)
Blessed is the man whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin..  (Romans 4:8)
No one who is born of God sins.. (1 John 5:18)
Everyone who has been born of God cannot sin & is not able to sin... (1 John 3:6,9)
The sacrifice of Christ has purified us for all time & our consciousness of sin can now disappear if we know we have been cleansed.. (Hebrews 10:1-2)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Righteousness Hand Mirror

The righteousness of God through trust in Jesus Christ is given to all those who trust Him (Romans 3:22).
God is just (righteous) & God is the justifier (the one who makes you righteous, the one who makes you right with God) of anyone who has trust in Jesus (Romans 3:25).
A man is justified (made right with God, made righteous) by trust apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:28).
I do not have a righteousness of my own derived from the Law. My righteousness comes through trust in Christ. Christ's righteousness comes to us from God on the basis of trust. (Philippians 3:9)

Other Meanings of Righteous are:
    innocent, faultless, guiltless, approved of God, acceptable to God

David speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits 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.” (Romans 4:6-8)
    "Not take into account" can also mean "not count, not charge, not impute, not reckon."
    "Blessed is the man who by no means the Lord will charge with sin." (Romans 4:8 WEB)

God counts us as righteous if we trust in Him, the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Jesus our Lord was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised from the dead to make us right with God, to make us righteous. (Romans 4:24-25)
Those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
All who receive God's wonderful abundance of grace and his gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

God's law is over, ok?

  • Romans 4:15
    • The Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
    • For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!) -NLT
  • Now before trust came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming trust would be revealed. Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by trust. But now that trust has come, we are no longer under a guardian (the law). (Galatians 3:23-25)
  • For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who trusts. (Romans 10:4)
    • For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him. (Rom 10:4, AMP)
  • Sin is not charged when there is no law (Romans 5:13).
  • He has made us competent as servants of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:6-11,17-18)
    • The Ten Commandments are called the ministry of death and condemnation. The word ministry means service. That means the Ten Commandments serve up death and condemnation. That is what they give you. But thanks be to God who through Christ brought a surpassingly glorious ministry that serves up freedom, transformation, and everlasting righteousness!
  • Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so 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 (made right with God, made righteous) in His sight. Now the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the Law (Romans 3:19-20).
    • We are not under the law. The law doesn't speak to us.
  • The law is good but it is not intended for those who receive the righteous nature of Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 1:8-11).
  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
    • Praise God for His redemption but may we also be aware that the law curses and to put ourselves under it is bondage.
  • On the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18-19)
    • I would much rather draw near to God than try to keep laws. Drawing near to God means we experience His love and thus we become more loving to others which ultimately fulfills the law anyway.
    • I don't live to keep commands. I live by trust in Christ. If our perspective is even "I must love" or "I must keep the law written on my heart" (which most assume to be the old testament law) I ignore God who lives in me and I serve death rather than life. We don't relate to law (as love or on our hearts), we relate to Christ & one another. Law is a thing. Christ is a person. If I try to serve a thing in order to serve a person I no longer serve that person, in practice I put something between us. It is drawing near to God to experience His love that is good for us, not putting up boundaries (laws) to make it harder to draw near to Him.

This Side of the Cross: Church Discipline?

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly; and if he refuses to listen even to the assembly, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." (Matthew 18:15-17)

Jesus said this before the cross. Gentiles are a part of His body now. As I've said elsewhere the word church should be translated "assembly." The Jews had an assembly going back into the old testament. Today the Assembly includes Gentiles thus what Jesus spoke of here was something only for the Jews at the time. How do you treat someone like a gentile when you are one? Gentiles are our brothers in Christ. Jesus also loved & spent time with tax collectors, they were His friends. I don't see abandonment of relationship in view here at all.

Jesus' goal was to have Jews follow & trust in Him so they could be saved by His sacrifice. Sin had real spiritual power before the cross. Jesus wanted the disciples to watch out for each other so sin would not cause them to fall away & prevent them from being saved by His sacrifice on the cross.

Before talking about this Jesus warns that sin could cause them to go to hell, "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire." That was only true for someone who did not remain with Christ until the resurrection. Jesus wasn't talking about His post-cross followers losing their salvation. Jesus was talking about Jews not arriving at salvation when it comes at the resurrection because sin distracted them.

How to be a slave to sin

Those who seek to be justified by the law must seek to justify the law when faced with grace. They must reason that it was never nailed to the cross & that Christ never took sins away. Why would someone want to be an enemy of their own freedom?

People talk about grace being "a license to sin" but those who put themselves under law "give a license to sin" to allow it to dominate them. They are saying to sin, "please make me constantly aware of you, I need to focus on you, I need to feel every bit of guilt and shame I can religiously conceive a reason to have."

"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey?" (Romans 6:16).

Almost every Christian offers his or herself as a bondslave to sin, not by actions but by mindset. They are freed by Christ but they choose to go back to sin and focus on it ad infinitum. If you ever sit around thinking, "I have sinned" or "Is this a sin or is that a sin?" you are sin conscious thus you don't believe Christ cleansed you. Sin consciousness makes you a slave to sin. Christ took sin away on the cross & He credits no one with sin. I am sick of seeing people make excuses to make their entire life about whether they sin or not. You have almost no idea how much God loves you. It is literally beyond all you can ask for or imagine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good Hearts with Good Ears

"Much of Christian "evangelism" uses guilt and fear, it brings people into a state of apprehension through intimidation and fear. The belief systems that are most likely to mislead you ridicule reason & good judgement, man's mind is not celebrated as part of good judgment and a gift to be used." -Carol Forsloff

These quotes remind me of all the teachings that tell you that you can't trust yourself/your heart, that you have to be an academic expert to hear from God or to understand the bible. Particularly it reminds me of the abuse of the old testament scripture, Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Hebrews 10:22 says, "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in the assurance that trust brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience." Our hearts are clean. We do not have the deceitfully wicked heart mentioned in Jeremiah 17:9. We have the Spirit of God in our hearts. Our hearts are, as Luke 8:15 says, "good and noble." The Christian heart is not deceitfully wicked! God has already created a clean heart in those who trust in Him.

God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who cries “Abba! Father!” (Philippians 4:6)
The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

When Christians are taught that they have wicked hearts that cannot be trusted they will reject the voice of God for the voices of deceived or deceitful men, false doctrines, guilt, shame, & fear. God has poured His love into our hearts! Think about that. The self-affirming voice that religion calls pride is often the voice of God loving our hearts. The heart of every Christian cries out “Abba! Father!” but because people have subjected themselves to the poisons of man-made religion (sermons, pastors, churches) they don't trust their hearts because their hearts are demonized as if the Spirit of God had never came into them. Messages that are sin conscious, that speak of Christian turning from sin, confession of sin, God convicting of sin are all things that keep your mind separated from trusting God. They cause you to live as if the cross has no power and the Spirit has no presence.

If you could trust that God can faithfully speak to your heart why would you need mediators & sermons? You wouldn't & that is why it is always the preachers who are telling you that you can't trust your heart & you have to be leery when thinking you've heard God's voice. The bible says in 1 John 2:27, "You have God's anointing & you don't need any men to teach you." Have you ever met anyone who actually believes that verse? Do you only see people running to preachers, pastors, & authors instead of God when they have questions? That is because those people believe their hearts are wicked & cannot be trusted to communicate with God. Teachers can be beneficial but God does not need men to teach you, He can do it Himself. God says, "Seek me and you will find me." It is easy to find Him. He is always with you.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Reality Because of Christ: Flesh and Spirit

"Sin has no power over you because you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14)
If you are struggling with sin you are either under the law or come short in your understanding of God's love for you. I still have behaviors that are not good but I don't "struggle" against them. Those actions are better defined as "lapses." A lapse is "a mistake resulting from inattention," inattention to God's love for me & inattention to my identity BECAUSE OF JESUS. Some might prefer the wording "my identity IN JESUS" but the truth is I have no identity apart from Him. My consciousness resides in this temporary tent of flesh but I am not the flesh anymore than a camper is the tent. I don't have an identity in Christ and an identity out of Christ. My sole identity is in Him thus I prefer to say my identity is "because of Him." I'm not sometimes in & sometimes out. I am never "in the flesh". There was a distinct change called rebirth, a permanent change of identity not based on my behavior but based on His love & trustworthiness.

Looking at Ephesians 6:12
The flesh is not something you are to fight. Flesh is not something to kill, crucify, or whatever. I hear "Heresy!" being yelled at me already. Ephesians 6:12 says, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood." So if you struggle with sin or the flesh something is wrong with your way of thinking, you are not operating under an awareness of God's gracious love for you. The flesh is not something to fight but to control, train, & teach. We must allow God to renew our minds & we must grow in the knowledge of God's love and trustworthiness because our minds are the bridge between the spirit and the flesh. Walking by the Spirit means to "set your mind on the things of the spirit." Our minds can either focus on flesh or focus on spirit. Our flesh is a faulty tent that needs to be repaired and secured. Our spirit is perfect forever and in constant oneness with God.

You don't train something by fighting it. If I trained an animal by kicking, punching, & throwing it that will not produce positive results. If there is any compliance it will be out of fear of punishment. Sound familiar? That is because the majority of Christians are taught to operate out of fear of punishment. "Keep the rules or get whipped!" Struggling against the flesh merely makes it harder to focus on the spirit. If I am in a one-on-one fight I am not thinking about how nice my grandmother is. I am captured by the conflict. I cannot focus on my good spirit while attempting to fight my flesh. The flesh isn't something you fight on the playground and leave lying in the dust. The flesh is always with you. "Present your body parts as servants to righteousness which will result in the purification of those parts" (Romans 6:19). Do you want your flesh to be the abused & angry dog that bites you or do you want it to be the channel through which you love others?

"Our struggle is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." The spiritual forces of evil approach us only to "steal, kill, and destroy" through deception. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). Think about this for a second. Mainstream Christianity teaches "death to self" as a good thing that is a daily necessity. If your self is a bad & wicked thing why would Satan want to kill it? Why wouldn't he just let you destroy yourself? You have a good self so if you are trying to "kill yourself" every day Satan doesn't need to join in. Christ gives us abundant life. Satan wants to steal that life from us. He cannot actually do it but he can however convince you to keep yourself from experiencing that life by deceiving you into thinking that you are bad, the blood of Christ had no affect on you, & that being born again does not change your identity or spirit, it only means a ticket to heaven and an obligation to obey scriptures.

James 4:7 says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Resist means to actively fight against. Many people invite the devil to a fight only to get perpetually whooped. You aren't to conjure up Satan's presence for a fight. You resist Him when he comes to you otherwise you are to pay him absolutely no mind. You resist because he is the one putting pressure on you. You aren't to put pressure on him. When he flees it doesn't say pursue him.

What if you are trying to fight the wrong thing? What if you are trying to fight your flesh when you should be training it for righteous deeds? What if you are trying to fight sin after Christ has broken its power over you? What if you aren't required to look for a fight in the faults of your flesh? What if you are only to fight Satan when he comes at you? God does not fight you. He doesn't want you to "surrender" because you are forever on the same side as Him.

Looking at Romans 8:6
"The mind set on the flesh is death." This is talking about a mind "set" on the flesh, a mindset of flesh. A mind of an unsaved person or a mind that is not aware of the righteous identity given to it because of Christ. It is not speaking of a mind that occasionally turns to the flesh to allow its destructive deeds to be done. It is a mind that uses expressions like, "I need to die to self," "I must kill myself for God," "I must crucify myself daily." The mind set on the flesh identifies itself by the flesh rather than the spirit. It thinks self is a bad thing because it sees self only as flesh. It is ignorant on what rebirth means. In practicality (not in doctrine) it thinks that being "born again" equates to "being born again after I die so I can get into heaven."

"But the mind set on the spirit is life and peace." If you lack peace then you are not setting your mind on the spirit, you have not seen or are not thinking of the perfect identity Christ has shared with you. Notice it is also life, not death. It is a mind that is aware of God's resurrection power living within. Instead of wallowing in attempts to "die to self" it rejoices in the life Christ has given it, the unending relationship with God. A Christian's spirit is sinless thus if your mind is set on the spirit you will not focus on "sin," you will not be conscious of it. When a mind is set on something it excludes things which do not pertain to whatever it is set upon. If my mind is set on driving I'm not thinking about swimming. A mind set on the spirit agrees with God, it does not focus on sin nor does it charge sin to itself. It dwells on the goodness of God not the wretchedness of the flesh.

Looking at Other Scriptures
Galatians 5:24 says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." First note it is past tense. The flesh has already been crucified. In the bible death pictures separation. The flesh and its passions & desires have been separated from who you are, they are not a part of your identity. The flesh being dead means, not that our physical bodies have passed on but that we are dead to it, it is no longer a part of who we are. Verse 25 goes on to say, "If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit." When we belong to Christ we live by the spirit. All Christians live by the spirit, that is their only source of life. Before you are saved your spirit & body are dead because of sin. When you receive salvation Christ is in you & "your body is dead because of sin, but your spirit is alive because of righteousness" (Romans 8:10). So if you are a Christian walk by the spirit, focus on spiritual things. God is spirit. You are spirit. You are one spirit with God.

Colossians 2:9-15 says, Christ removed (circumcised) the body of the flesh. When we are immersed (baptized) in Him the flesh is removed and we become one spirit with Him. It is removed in terms of identity, not in terms of locality. We still have the same physical body we did before we were saved. Our rebirth creates a new man who is separate from the other, that man is a spirit. "Our old self (spirit, identity) was crucified with Christ, because of this our body of sin has been done away with" (Romans 6:6).

"By the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh" (Romans 8:13). There are two parts to this. The obvious one is to control yourself with your mind to where you do not allow the flesh to produce and carry out unloving & harmful deeds (you set your mind on the spirit). The second one, which must happen first for the other one to ever sustain, is to separate in your mind the deeds of the flesh from your identity. If you identify yourself by the deeds of the flesh (what most would think of as sin, disobedience, law breaking, etc) you will not walk by the spirit. If you don't focus on the spirit you cannot stop the flesh from producing and carrying out unloving & harmful deeds. If you still identify yourself as a sinner, even a "sinner saved by grace" you are not walking by the spirit and will not be able to "put to death the deeds of the flesh." If you tie what you do to who you are, sadly you are either clueless about what it means to be born again & blind to so much of the results of the cross or you are lapsing about God's goodness towards you.

What about Paul saying "I beat my body and make it my slave" (1 Corinthians 9:27)? Paul is referring to intensity in self-control, not self-destruction, fighting, death to self. "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things" (1 Corinthians 9:25). He uses athletic language to picture one who trains his body to do his will. This does not picture shame, guilt, condemnation, or anything like that. Self-control is the opposite of death to self because self-control sees self as good. Mainstream Christianity teaches "death to self," the bible teaches "self-control." Paul was saying that he uses his spirit (self) to control his body so that it will serve his spiritual desires. Some creatures may require being struck to control them. Striking for training is a far cry from a fight to the death. Even at that Paul isn't talking about physical striking. He wasn't sitting around punching himself in the face. He was mainly referring to the weariness of travel to spread the gospel. He used his spirit to control his body for the sake of the gospel. There is nothing in this context about resisting sin or the like.

In 1 Timothy 1:18-19, 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul talks about "fighting the good fight." What is he talking about, resisting sin as many would have you believe? No, as always he is pointing to the living Christ not dead sin. First he says to Timothy, "Fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience." Then he says, "Fight the good fight of faith." Finally in 2 Timothy Paul says of himself, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." It is all about faith. To "fight the good fight" is to "continue to actively trust Jesus in your day-to-day life." It is trusting our Lord in the face of adversity & all other situations. Trusting Christ is walking by & setting your mind on the spirit. Christ is a life giving spirit. He doesn't demand our life, He gives us His life!

Instead of God wanting you to pledge to give up the flesh's bad habits He wants you to receive His goodness to displace those harmful behaviors. This is the paradigm of life. Life does not focus on faults. Life does not seek to fight for survival. Life does not seek to die. Christ's life is not fleeting. "Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. Christ is our life" (Colossians 3:3-4).