Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Knowing Others & Being Known by Them...

A problem with society:

We want information instead of answers because that way we don't have to ask anybody any questions. We just spend our time pretending to know things instead of getting to know one another.

This is why we love entertainment & celebrity. We want to know about people without having to know them. We want to be famous so people can know about us without actually knowing us. We still like the "idea" of people so we love watching fictional characters & even having them be a primary topic of conversation but we don't like actually relating to people. So we live in a synthetic world where we know without knowing & are known without being known.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

God's License to Sin?

Some people say teaching grace is a license to sin. Well I say teaching God is in complete control is a license for God to sin.

It credits all of the evil in history to being under "God's sovereignty" picturing God standing at a door choosing to open it for some things & close it for others. It pictures God opening the door allowing all rape, molestation, pedophilia, murder, & abuse that actually happens to happen. He doesn't try to stop it because He opens the door & "allows" it. It "passes through His hands." God signs all the permission slips to allow for all of your suffering & every sin someone else commits against you. What loving parent would sign off on such things?

In Jeremiah 32:35 God says, "They sent their sons & daughters to pass through the fire to Molech. IT HAD NEVER ENTERED MY MIND that they would do this abomination." This clearly says that the evil they did never entered into God's mind. Why? Because God is good. He does not harbor knowledge of future evil. He does not fill His mind with knowledge of the sins of the world. So God did not "allow" them to do this. It didn't "pass through His hands." This is true of all evil. God has nothing to do with it. He comes alongside & comforts or fixes the damage it causes.

Sadly it is more important for some people to believe that God is "all knowing" & "in control" than it is for them to believe that God is love. Some will even water down love until it is unrecognizable to protect these beliefs. With the idea that God orchestrates everything, every tragedy, people can feel like they trust God by believing He is in control without actually having to relate to Him. When you treat Him as He is, your Father, your friend, & your older brother instead of as a puppet master God bent on teaching you lessons so you conform to His will, that is when you walk with Him experiencing His companionship, comfort, peace, & guidance. You can rest in God being there to relate to you in real life instead of trying to figure out how He is trying to fix you. Yes He teaches us as bad things happen to us just like any good father would but He didn't orchestrate those things because He is a good Father. No good father brutalizes & manipulates their child's life to "teach them a lesson."

God doesn't give you sicknesses or medical problems, God doesn't make your car wreck, God doesn't cause people to shun you or treat you badly. If you think He does & you have kids ask yourself if you would do those things to your child. Jesus didn't do those things to anyone & He is "the exact representation of God." If you believe God does those things you've given Him a license to sin. You've given Him a pass on love. I was told straight up by someone that, "Yes God is love but God is not the bible's (1 Corinthians 13's) definition of love."

Here's the double/triple minded teaching I've heard my whole life put into honest language, "God is sinless & God hates sin but He is allowed to do things we would call sin if a person did them because He is God." Just & righteous are the same word. So those who say, "God is love but God is also just" have shot themselves in the foot because love defines righteousness. God is love & love does not demand its own way. What God "allows" is total freedom & in freedom there are still consequences for choices made & things to be learned from those consequences.

So what do you want? A "God" who manipulates everything to "conform you" to "His will" or the Father that Jesus revealed who gives it His all to love you & be with you?

Related Posts
But God is also just...
Real Talk: God is Just, Calling a sin a sin
God is Not All Knowing & God is Not in Control
3 Doctrines That Really Don't Believe God is Love

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

He who the Son sets free is free indeed

I've heard this a million times, "He who the son sets free is free indeed." But free from what? This comes from what Jesus said in John 8:34-36, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."

He was talking about freedom from sin!
Oh but there is something incredibly deep here.
He says if you commit sin you are a slave of sin. Do you commit sin?
If you do that would mean you have to constantly go back & forth between slave to sin & free from sin. How is that possible if Jesus says when you are set free you are free indeed? If your freedom depends on you not committing sin how free can you really be?

John recorded the words of Jesus above. Let us look at something else John wrote in 1 John 3:9, "Everyone who has been born of God does not commit sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God." Our flesh is not born of God but our spirit is. God identifies us by our "new creation" which is our reborn spirit. That spirit cannot commit sin. Twice Paul says, "It is no longer I who sin but sin living in my flesh that sins" (Romans 7:17,20). Sins still come through our bodies but we, in our true spiritual identity, are not the source.

Does your flesh commit sin? Yes.
Are you your flesh? No.
Does your spirit commit sin? No.
Are you your spirit? Yes.
Is your flesh responsible to prevent your flesh from committing sin? No. That just makes things worse.
Is your spirit responsible to prevent your flesh from committing sin? Yes.

"You have been called to live in freedom. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." (Galatians 5:13-14,16)
Your flesh is something you carry around that you have power over by your spirit. You are not a sinner, you are not a slave to sin, you cannot commit sin. You are a powerful child of God. Self-control is spirit-control. When we renew our minds to the truth we lace our brainwaves with the spirit.

You've been set free by Jesus! You are free indeed! And you've got the right to bear arms to put to death the deeds of the flesh & fight off the lie that sin can be your master. People quote Romans 6:16, "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?" They say this means you as a Christian can be a slave to sin but they fail to quote anything after it. Let's see it all together, "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? 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, and HAVING BEEN FREED from sin, you BECAME slaves of righteousness."

This is saying that once you believe the gospel you will never be a slave to sin again. The "form of teaching" was the truth of the good news. It says if you present yourself to obedience it results in righteousness. Obedience to what? Obedience to the gospel which is trusting in Jesus to be saved. If you are saved you've already made your choice. With this scripture in context we see that it isn't talking about a back & forth 'slave to sin, slave to God, slave to sin, slave to God,' type of life. It clearly says once you obey the gospel you are free from sin. How free? As Jesus would put it, FREE INDEED!

Here is another explosive part. When we offer ourselves as servants & slaves God instead makes us sons & daughters. This is what happened to the prodigal son. He offered himself as a servant & his father received him only as a son. Jesus said, "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever." You are indeed free forever because you are a son not a slave!

For more posts on this see our Sin? Forgetaboutit! page

Monday, May 20, 2013

Entertaining Angels Unaware

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2).

People tell stories related to this verse about doing something for someone in need & thinking that person may have been an angel. They suspect this usually because the person "disappears" within a short time. Disappears as in they cannot find them though they were just very close. I'm not going to say this sort of thing doesn't happen but I do have some thoughts on this.

Thought #1
This word doesn't have to be translated as "angels." It could be translated as "messengers." This could mean that the stranger they have been hospitable to may have a word from the Lord for them or be a traveling evangelist.

Thought #2
I had this sort of thing happen to me once before. I did something for someone & soon after she seemed to "disappear." My wife was with me & we were wondering if it was something like the verse above describes. These were my thoughts at the time, "I don't want to help angels. Angels don't need food. Angels are fine. I want to give to real people with real needs, not waste it on well fed angels." Angels receiving money, food, rides, etc in place of real people who need those things seems like a jerk move. These don't seem like good angels to me. I've also gotten the impression that people take doing something for angels as more of an honor than helping a human being.

What do you think about this whole thing? Your thoughts & stories are appreciated.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Filthy Rags Myth

"All our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6)

Isaiah 64 is an obvious old covenant scripture when we read the whole chapter, yet we use part of a verse from it (above) for modern day evangelism. We take what one group of people said about themselves, it is not even God speaking, & apply it to all of humanity. It does not even say their view of themselves is accurate.

This does not refer to all of mankind. If God viewed all of mankind's righteous acts apart from Him as filthy rags He'd be unjust. On top of that this is never the way the Old Testament pictures God. There are countless places where God loves people's righteous acts in the Old Testament.

"How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (garments); we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:5-6)

Why do we need clean garments of righteousness? Is it because God is a stickler & will murder anyone who doesn't meet His standards? No! No! NO!
"The devil holds the power of death" (Hebrews 2:14). "The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). When people are unclean the devil catches their scent. In the old covenant there were many scent based offerings to throw Satan off. We need righteousness to protect us from death. Sin has earned us death (Romans 6:23) but righteousness earns us life (Proverbs 10:16).

We don't need righteousness to approach God. Jesus is God & even prostitutes approached Him. It wasn't God's choice to blind men because they failed to meet His high standards. Sin was what blinded mankind to God. Jesus came to restore sight to the blind. If He was the one who made them blind in the first place He is double-minded & cannot be trusted.

The universal truth of the opening verse is that we cannot, by our deeds, clean ourselves of unrighteousness. We cannot clean ourselves of unrighteousness at all. People's righteous acts are like filthy rags, NOT in the eyes of God, but because they cannot cleanse us, they just rub the dirt around. When we are saved our spirits are "cleansed of all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9) & Satan can no longer touch us (1 John 5:18).

The world view of "God demands we live up to a standard & you don't measure up" IS FALSE. Many people reject God because they can plainly see what Christians are really saying while the Christians have no clue. They reject Him because Christians have presented Him as a self-centered worship demanding maniac who will torture you if you don't join his side. He's pictured like a ruthless dictator who doesn't really care about human life at all, that he literally values nothing about us except what we can do for him! That he not only sees us as valueless but he sees even the best things we do as filthy as bloody menstrual rags! Where is the good news there? This is essentially what the "our righteousness is filthy rags" gospel says, "You make God want to barf but he'll slowly clean you up so he doesn't have to smell your rank butt for all eternity."

It is true that our deeds cannot clean us, they cannot save us. But please stop using this scripture to define how God views humanity. This is not right, especially after the cross! Righteousness is necessary for safety from sin, Satan, & death. God loves righteousness, even that done by those who don't know Him. On judgment day it says God will judge people by their deeds, it does not say He will judge them by their sins (Revelation 20:12).

If we truly believe that men choose death, rather than God condemns men for rejecting Him.. If we truly believe that God loves the whole world, God is love & love keeps no record of wrongs.. maybe we'd see things like this..

God "stores up wrath for the day of judgment" for the sake of justice (Romans 2:5) so that those who hate Him, even after He offers them one more chance on that judgment day, can justly have the second death (which is annihilation) that they have chosen. Why does Revelation 20:12 say God judges by deeds? Why oh, why wouldn't it say He judges them by sins? Because He has already taken the sinful deeds of the world away. "The sting of death is sin" (1 Corinthians 15:56). God wants to take away that sting as much as He can, even for those who reject Him! He judges them by their deeds to ease the sting of death that their sinful condition has earned them.

Long standing doctrines have caused us to be blind to the plain texts & contexts of scripture seeing only the details, assumptions, & interpretations of those doctrines when we read scripture. This is true for those who believe the doctrines & many of those who don't. Those who embrace the doctrines are blind to the truth. Those who reject the doctrines often reject the scriptures too. But there is truth in the scriptures & it is good news. The good news of freedom, salvation, love, & mercy.

Related Posts
God Never Wants His Children to Feel Shame (Looks at Isaiah 6)
For more posts on the second chance God gives mankind on judgment say see this page

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

God NEVER Forgave You

English definitions of the word forgive:
To let go of anger or ill feelings against; To cease to blame or hold ill feelings against

That is what most view God's forgiveness as, God was angry at you but Jesus made it so the Father would accept your apology by suffering under the Father's anger in your place. If what we needed was forgiveness then that means God was the one causing the problem. He refused to forgive us unless He was appeased by a sacrifice. I don't have to do anything to be forgiven, it is the forgiver that does all of that. If forgiveness is what I needed why did Jesus go through all the pain & suffering if He could have just decided to forgive me? If God is love & love keeps no record of wrongs why does God have to forgive me? If God has to forgive us that means He is unloving because He chose to hold things against us in the first place. But friends, this is not what the word "forgive" means in the Old or New Testament.

Excerpted from the Ancient Hebrew Research Center Website:  "From a Hebraic perspective, the forgiveness of sins is the same as lifting sin off and removing it just as we see in Micah 7:19, 'You will tread our iniquities under foot & You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.'"

What has been mistranslated as "God's forgiveness" actually means that God takes hold of your sin, lifts it off of you, & takes it away. Translating the Hebrew pictographs we get this meaning, "Sin has grabbed you. The Father pulls sin off of you & out of you then yokes you with Himself."

The issue was never any of these things, Our sin offends God, We fail to meet God's holy standard, etc. Sin was never about God vs. man. It was about sin vs. man. Man loses & is dying. God comes to man offering to give Him eternal life & protection from sin. Sin is the problem, sin is the crushing burden that we need removed. We never needed God to forgive us. God loves the world & love does not take an account of wrongs suffered. The gospel of forgiveness is anti-gospel. It starts off with the bad news of "God has a problem with you" instead of the good news that God wants to solve your problems through loving you.

On the cross God wasn't getting rid of His list of your sins, He was getting rid of Sin's (Satan's) list of your sins. He was removing all cause for accusation against us. When you first trust in Him God removes the spiritual burden & condition of your sins off of you. I felt intense burden before I was saved & when I was saved I immediately felt lighter because He removed my sin. That is what 1 John 1:9 talks about. It refers exclusively to entrance into salvation but because the English word "forgive" has been placed in there people have thought & taught that it means we must continually "ask God to forgive us." How can someone who doesn't hold anything against you to begin with forgive you? He can't because HE LOVES YOU TOO MUCH TO LET ANYTHING COME BETWEEN YOU! He will take your burdens, He has taken your burden, He has taken your bullet.

For those of us born after the cross the truth is GOD NEVER FORGAVE YOU because He never held anything against you in the first place.

"If you kept a record of sins, Lord, who could ever stand? But You lift us up out of sin & we stand in awe of you for it." (Psalm 130:3-4)

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Putting God to the Test

Satan challenged Jesus with scripture trying to get Him to act upon a promise in scripture without the Father's guidance to do so.

The devil took Him along to the holy city, Jerusalem, and stood Him on the pinnacle of the Temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written that 'He will charge His angels concerning you, to protect you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest your foot be striking on a stone.'" (Matthew 4:5-6, Luke 4:9-11)

Commentary 1:
How often have we fled to scripture instead of to the living God & said, "the promise in this verse is for me!" then had nothing come of it? We may have followed Satan's tempting rather than God's guiding in doing this. Satan, as he did with Jesus, may take a scripture & say, "This promise is for you right now! Go act upon it now!" just so you'll end up being disappointed with God, trusting Him less. What we did was trust in the scripture more than the living God inside of us. We trusted in past impersonal promises more than the personal & present Prince of Peace & ended up with less peace.

Commentary 2:
This was Satan's response to Jesus quoting scripture saying, "Man will not live on bread alone, but upon every word coming out from the mouth of God.” Satan thinks, "Ok if He's going to say He lives by God's word I'll get Him to act on one of the written promises." Interestingly Jesus called this "putting God to the test." Jesus didn't need to see God pass the test because He already fully trusted Him in truth. In the NT a test is often a method to gain reason for accusation (ie if the test is not passed). But Jesus wasn't playing Satan's game.

Things New Testament scripture describes as putting God to the test:
Acting upon a written promise of God (most likely apart from the Father's real time guidance).
Demanding God give you a sign.
Making demands of God.
Asking God (scripture) morality questions so you can criticize the answer.
Requiring yourself or others to keep the law.
Being dishonest about your giving.

When you really trust someone you won't even think about making demands of them. You will rest knowing that they will take care of everything. You will trust that they are good & loving to you.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Living Under the Law Puts the Gun in Sin's Hand. Examining Romans 7-8

Romans 7
Romans 7 isn't about the history of the law or how an unsaved person discovers that they are a sinner. It is instead what happens to a Christian when they put themselves again under the law. It is not talking about how the law was under the old covenant but how law & sin is under the new.

"You were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 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."
Paul speaks briefly about being a Jew under the law having sinful passions aroused by the law. He says that they have been released from the law & no longer have to live that way. In the rest of this chapter He warns that the way we experience life is similar to that of a unsaved person when we put ourselves again under the law. He says, as he does again in Romans 8, that we are not "in the flesh." This sets the stage telling us that we have been released from the law & to no longer serve/walk by it. The remainder of Romans 7 goes on to speak about what happens when a Christian puts themselves under the law & I can say from experience & observation that it is totally true.

"Is the Law sin? Certainly not! 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.”
The law exposes sin, it was meant to do that under the old covenant so people could protect themselves from sin.

"But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind"
Sin used the law against people like a weapon gaining greater power over them. This was true for old & new covenant people.

"for apart from the Law sin is dead."
This is a decisively new covenant statement. Sin was alive before the law in the days of Genesis. Sin was alive before the cross but Jesus killed it. Now, for those under the new covenant the only way for sin to have life is through someone subjecting themselves to law. "Sin shall have no power over you because you are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

"I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me."
This isn't about how unsaved people find out that they are sinners, verses 4-6 makes that clear when it talks about Christians not living by the letter of the law anymore.

This is experiential language not literal or spiritual language because
1. All people are "dead in Adam" from physical birth.
2. Sin was already alive in all mankind before the cross.
3. Sin does not "kill" an unsaved person's spirit only when they find out about the law. Sin also killed before the law was given.

He was alive apart from the law, meaning He was living exclusively under grace but then commandments came & sin became alive. The commands that used to sustain life in the old covenant now produce (figurative experiential) death (a crappy shame filled life of burden). Sin deceived him using the law, this is easy because the law sounds good because it was once very good. It deceived him into putting himself under the law (walking by the old way of the letter) & thus "killed" him causing him to struggle when before he was free from sin. So this is not about sin & law under the old covenant but under the new.

"So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good."
The law was a good weapon meant to be used against sin to kill it while it was alive in the days of the old covenant. Now however that the law has ended through Christ sin uses the law as a bad weapon against us who are under grace.

"Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? Certainly not! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful."
He says sin should be most obvious when it uses the once good commands to produce death in us. The law was meant to be good & stand against sin & it did or else we'd have to ignore the positive ways the law is spoken of in the Old Testament. But now that Jesus has drained sin of its power Himself we have no need for the law & in fact the law has become sin's favorite weapon to persecute us. To us who have tasted grace it should be obvious that sin is at its most utterly sinful state when it uses God's commands against us.

"For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 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."

This can only refer to a saved person.
1. He clarifies that nothing good lives in his flesh suggesting that something good, God, lives in his spirit. He also separates the inner man (spirit) from the "members of his body" (flesh).
2. He says sin is what sins in him. This is only true of someone born of the Spirit. Those who are not born of the spirit do produce sin from themselves because they are sill in the "old man" identity that includes the flesh.

Paul says that he knows the law is good. Later in 1 Timothy he says the law is only good if used right pointing out that the law is not made for the righteous thus we should not subject ourselves to it. Why is Paul struggling? The verses examined just before this tell us exactly why. It is because sin is using the law against him. It is because he has put himself under the law thus sin is alive to him thus something to struggle with. This is Paul describing what it is like to "serve/walk by the oldness of the letter of the law." In the new covenant walking by the law is also walking by the flesh. This struggle IS NOT the inevitable common struggle of all Christians. It is ONLY the struggle of those who empower sin by putting themselves under the law. I am also saying this from experience. I'm not just pretending this is true because I think the bible says so.

Let's step back & review these verses in light of what we've learned before moving on to Romans 8.
"Is the Law sin? Impossible! 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." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead."

Is owning a gun murder? Certainly not! But a murderer taking hold of a gun produces death. Guns are meant to protect you from evil yet evil men can take your gun & kill you with it. The law is the same way. It was meant to protect people from death & the power of sin under the old covenant, it did, but the law was too weak to stand against sin. So sin took the weapon that is law & pointed it at people gaining more power & producing death. Sin was armed before the cross but Jesus disarmed it to where now the only way sin is alive with power is through the law. "Apart from the law sin is dead" means apart from the weapon of the law sin is unarmed. I've said this before, "the only way for sin to have power over you is for you to put the gun in its hand." But to my surprise scripture says the gun is the law. God officially abolished the law on the cross thus God does not require us to put the gun of the law in sin's hand to shoot us.

Romans 8
"Therefore there is 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."
This again shows us that Romans 7 is for "those in Christ Jesus." He says, "Instead of judging us by law keeping God sets us free from it." You are free from the law. You are free from the reality of sin & death. If you struggle against sin or death (shame & burden) you are living with a false mindset, sin has used the law to deceive you, because the reality is you have been set free from them.

"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, so that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
This essentially says that "Jesus fulfilled the law!" He condemned sin, robbing it of its power. Some translations falsely say that "the requirement of the Law" is fulfilled in us. But instead it truly says that the "righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us." The righteousness, the "good" of it that Romans 7 speaks about. It is speaking about the good & righteous actions the law talks about. They are performed when we "do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Walking by the law is walking by the flesh under the new covenant.

So this is said in light of what is said in Romans 7. If we try to keep the law we are doing it by the flesh because sin has deceived us into doing so. Sin tells us that it is good to try to keep the law & thus it empowers itself when we try to keep the law. Why? because the law was good but it is inferior to the new way of the spirit. If we simply walk by the spirit all of the good things the law talks about doing comes naturally. God has "Put His laws (instructions/guidance) in our hearts, and writes them on our minds." If we look at the written commands like a check list or if we even consider keeping the written law (letter of the law) we will empower sin & be condemned. But it is not a condemnation from God but a false condemnation from sin because sin cannot truly condemn us because Christ condemned sin.

"Those who walk according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who walk 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. 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. If Christ is in you, 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 dwells in you."
If you lack the experience of peace it is likely you have set your mind on the law &/or the flesh rather than the spirit. He also points out that regardless of if your mind is set on the flesh "if the Spirit of God is in you" you are in reality "not in the flesh but in the Spirit." This possibility of Christians having fleshly/legal mindsets is why he points out that God "will give life to your mortal bodies (members/body parts & unrenewed mind) through His Spirit who dwells in you."

"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh (law), to live according to the flesh (law)— 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."
This is saying that we are not obligated to keep the law by the flesh, we are not obligated to live trying to keep laws. If we do this we will figuratively die. This is not talking about loss of salvation, eternal life cannot be snuffed out. This figurative death involves us thinking or feeling like we are experiencing the sad realities people who don't know God & people under the old covenant felt. Things such as condemnation, burdens, guilt, shame, feeling separated from God, feeling like we don't measure up, feeling that God is mad at us, struggling against sin as Romans 7 describes, & many other miserable things.

"The (bad) deeds of the body (flesh)" still happen because we still have bodies. We are living abundant life. If we don't put ourselves under the law all we have to do to continually experience that abundant life is to "put to death the deeds of the flesh by the weapon of the spirit."

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies 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 so that we may also be glorified with Him."
Embracing & experiencing these realities are marks of setting your mind on the Spirit:  Living like God is your actual Father, absence of fear, never feeling burdened, obligated, or persecuted like a slave, knowing we are God's children & that He shares with us & gives to us.

Additional truths from Romans 8 relating to all of this.
The Spirit helps our weakness. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. God is for us. Sin cannot truly stand against you, you cannot truly be condemned, all accusations against you are baseless. We cannot be separated from God's love by anything including sin & ourselves. When it comes to giving God didn't spare His own Son so He will also with Jesus freely give us all things. We overwhelmingly have victory, conquering through Him who loved us.

See this post for more on the purpose of the law under the old covenant regarding it protecting people from sin, The Devil Has the Power of Death

God Predicted His People Rejecting the Fullness of His Grace

The Lord declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

We've probably heard this many many times. I'm angry that graceless religion never once told me why God said this, instead they used it to spin their own web.

Here it is all together:
Our God will love deeply those who turn to Him. Our God will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

What's that? God's "HIGHER ways" pertain to Him loving us deeply & ABUNDANTLY pardoning us! And you know what.. God is 100% right because Christians will fight & fight the truth refusing to believe that God loves them without condition & that He abundantly pardons them. They say "we must confess our sins over & over to be forgiven (pardoned) over & over." That is the very reason God said this! He said it because people would refuse to think that He loves them deeply & pardons them abundantly!

God already had an answer in scripture for such people. "My ways are higher than your ways, I love deeply regardless of how well you love others or Me for that matter. My ways are higher than your ways, I pardon abundantly regardless of how well you forgive others. I know you don't think this is true but that is because my thoughts are higher than your thoughts, my opinion of you is much higher than your opinion of yourself."

Related Posts
Why Christians Don't Need to Confess Sins

Saturday, May 4, 2013

If you're going to preach against sin you should also preach against the law.

Sin kills (Romans 7:11)
The letter of the law kills (2 Corinthians 3:6).

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
The ministry of laws engraved in letters on stone brought death (2 Corinthians 3:7).

Sin gives birth to death (James 1:15).
The law arouses sinful passions & bears fruit for death (Romans 7:5).

You have died to sin (Romans 6:2).
You died to the law (Galatians 2:19). You have died to the law through the body of Christ (Romans 7:4).

Because Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross we have died to sins & live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
We have been released from the Law, having died to the law which bound us in chains (Romans 7:6).

Consider yourself just as dead to sin as Jesus is (Romans 6:10-11).
If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. If you are led by the law you are not being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18).
When you are not under law sin stops being your master because you are instead under grace (Romans 6:14).

Jesus made us alive together with Him while we were dead in our sins and transgressions. He has taken away from us all of 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 the law out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).

The law was not made for the righteous, know that everyone who has trusted Jesus is righteous. The Law is only good if one uses it lawfully, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Do not use the law for anything other than revealing the glorious gospel of the blessed God to the unrighteous so that they may trust Jesus (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Can Christians Renounce Their Salvation?

Hebrews 6:1 calls one foundation of salvation "repentance from dead works." Repentance means "a change of mind." Repentance from dead works means you change your mind about dead works working, ie you don't live under the law.

Hebrews 6:4-6 says, "In the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance (changing their minds), since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame."

What do they "fall away" from? Grace. Paul said falling from grace was seeking to be justified by law. "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4).

The NET translation notes that the crucifying & putting in Hebrews 6:6 can be understood as temporal which gives us this meaning.
"It is impossible to renew them again to change their minds WHILE they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves all over again & WHILE they are putting Him to open shame."

Galatians 5 tackles this very thing. WHILE you are seeking to be justified by law you "have fallen away" you "have fallen from grace." When you give up on being justified by the law, as Paul tried to convince the Galatians to do, you will then be able to change your mind back to grace because you trust that the one time sacrifice of Jesus has taken care of everything. Hebrews 10 makes it clear that Christ only had to die once & that any physical sacrifice is worthless because Christ's did the job. Hebrews 6 addresses something almost identical except instead of talking about living by the law in terms of physical sacrifice rituals it regards living by the law in terms of "dead works." Hebrews 6 starts off saying "we'll stop laying the foundation of repentance from dead works.. IF God permits." God didn't permit it because the very next thing spoken of in v4-8 regards repentance from dead works. To summarize, it says that as long as you trust in dead works working you'll never change your mind about trying to be justified by the law. It is a sense of "until you know it is broke it is impossible to fix it."

This is why Hebrews focuses on the perfect sacrifice of Christ. It aims to show that we have no need to recrucify Him or offer animal sacrifices anymore. But we do have to leave the old covenant behind for us to benefit from God's grace. That is the same thing Galatians 5 says, putting yourself under the law makes you "severed from Christ." This is not severed in the sense of being separated from His love, we know that is impossible. "Fallen from grace" isn't a spiritual state, it is a mental & experiential state. You cannot benefit from grace experientially while you are living under the law. The two mindsets can't coexist.

Hebrews 6:7-8 goes on to say, "Ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned."

Now lets interpret this considering the context, "Ground (a person) that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if the vegetation yields thorns and thistles, the vegetation is worthless and the ground is CLOSE to being cursed, and the vegetation with thorns & thistles ends up being burned."

Why is the ground only CLOSE to being burned? Because it is living under "the curse of the law" but Jesus "became a curse for us" preventing the ground from being cursed. This is teaching something similar to 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 which speaks about men's works being burned up. In that text there are good works made of gold & the like which "build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ" then there are bad works (works that misrepresent God, such as works done for the law rather than by God) made of wood, hay, & straw that are eventually burned up. To summarize Hebrews 6:7-8 is saying that those who have fallen from grace produce thorns & thistles, living under the law experiencing life as though they are cursed. But they are not cursed instead their thorns & thistles (bad/legalistic works) are burned up while they are "kept safe" though their works go up in flames. [Visit this post for a full look at 1 Corinthians 3:10-15's take on this].

Some use these verses from Hebrews 6 to teach that Christians can lose their salvation. Others, who don't believe in loss of salvation teach that these verses mean a Christian can "voluntarily choose to reject God." Neither is true, this text is about "repentance from dead works" meaning the law. The law's works cannot produce life. John 5:24 says, "Whoever trusts in the Father has eternal life and WILL NEVER be condemned; that person HAS CROSSED over from death to life." How can God extinguish ETERNAL life? He can't. God will never condemn His children even if they try to willingly, knowingly, voluntarily reject Him. God will not abort His children & you can't commit spiritual suicide, God will not allow it. We are His forever but this life on earth is infinitely better lived by grace than by law & that's what these scriptures are about. Romans 8 says "No created thing can separate us from God's love," we are created things. We cannot pluck ourselves from God's hand. God is love, if you can't be separated from his love you can't be separated from Him. If we are faithless He is still faithful.

Related Posts
Why Be Afraid of Hebrews 10?
Saved Through Fire? (Linked above)
Inseparable & Unforsakable, Fellowship Never Broken

Ananias & Sapphira

"Who or what then can separate us from the love of Christ? There is no such thing! Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, NOR ANY OTHER CREATED THING (that means you), will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

If you believe that you can be separated from his love you will misinterpret scripture, applying things to Christians that are impossible. God is love, if you can't be separated from his love you can't be separated from Him.

Scripture gives no indication that God killed Ananias. It says, "As he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last." It also does not say what Peter said to Ananias's wife Sapphira was a good thing. Jesus rebuked His disciples for wanting to "call down fire from heaven" to kill people, telling them "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of." Peter seems to do something similar here to Sapphira causing her to die. John wrote that "perfect love drives out fear" yet what Peter did caused great fear for everyone. Paul said that because of what Jesus did on the cross God "no longer charges the world with sin" (1 Corinthians 5:19). What Peter did was ungodly. Acts is a narrative & it doesn't say "this was a good thing they did" or "that was a bad thing they did" but the rest of scripture makes it clear.

Are people really so hungry for fear, unforgiveness, & divine consequence for sin that we would rather justify Peter's actions in Acts 5 than we would see God as love, love that drives out fear? Absolutely.

Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if this were a false story that was added to scripture.