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Walking on Spiritual Paths

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The admonition to walk or live “according to the spirit”  is given in a few places in scripture, primarily Romans 8 and Galatians 5.  One can only walk one of two ways:  according to the flesh, or according to the spirit, and the two are opposed.  

Let’s be careful not to become too casual or familiar with spiritual concepts.  If you think you’ve grasped a concept or idea, you quit looking any deeper into it, and the deep places are where God’s heart is.  It’s also true that anything one encounters regularly tends to seem less important.  

Along that line, I strongly encourage us all to refuse to accept pat answers and dumbed-down understandings.  We have to be careful here too, because many of these make a lot of sense to the natural mind and are given by well-respected, talented men.  My question is this: what exactly does it mean to live or walk “according to the spirit?”  The dumbed-down answer (to this and most every spiritual question) boils down to “acting better and believing the right things.”  Often, this consists of some combination of reading the bible, praying, attending church or Bible studies/small groups, quitting bad behaviors (“sins”), and witnessing to others about Jesus.

One problem is, it’s possible to do all those things without truly pursuing or loving God.  The classic example is becoming (emotionally) “hyped up” at a church retreat of some sort, or to get (emotionally) “convicted” after listening to a hellfire sermon, causing one to clean up behavior, attend church, read the Bible, pray, or witness more.  But once the emotion fades, the old ways are back in full force.   In these cases, there was no spiritual change, because the spirit doesn’t fluctuate like emotions do.  Likewise, I’ve seen people who do truly love and seek God, whose behavior was sub-par at times and who were not involved in church activities and did not have a set “devotional” time.  Thus, walking in the spirit has to be more than a reformation of behavior, change of beliefs, or an increase in religious activity, even if there is a zeal for God behind them.

What does scripture actually say?  Romans 8 gives some interesting insight into this issue.  Keep this in mind as you read: Flesh = natural things, whose origin is man, whether good or bad.  Spirit = supernatural things, whose origin is God, and are beyond “good” or “bad.”  Romans 8: 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally (fleshly) minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  Galatians 5:25 adds: “If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.”  The essence of living according to the spirit is to be spiritually-minded: to think, see, perceive, and understand all things according to the spirit of God – His light, His life, His understanding, which are given or imparted to His sons through Jesus Christ.  The essence of walking in the spirit is to stay in that place; to refuse to let the natural (“fleshly”) mind influence one’s understanding and perception.  Rather than behavior, it’s about the location one’s awareness and source of life is rooted in.  Again, in every single case, this will either be: 1). In the flesh, meaning according to logic, reason, human understanding, and anything originating with man, or 2). In the spirit, meaning according to revealed truth from the spiritual realm, apart from logic and reason (though not necessarily contradictory to them). 

If these things are so, we have to unlearn our old patterns of looking shallowly at behavior which never reaches God, but only brings guilt, pride, or quiet hopelessness.  Instead, let’s see and believe that Jesus dealt with sin once for all, and truly BE free to get our focus off ourselves and onto establishing the kingdom of God, where those who live and walk in the spirit are to get spiritual treasures and bring them to bear here and now.  In other words, cast off every appearance of the flesh, whether good or bad, and like a baby, learn all over how to walk with spiritual “legs” on spiritual paths. 

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

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“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ*, the Father of the glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, for your knowing what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us who are believing, according to the working of the power of His might…”  -The Apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:17-19, YLT

Just about everyone would agree Paul probably had a pretty good idea of what was needed and helpful for those following Christ, so looking at the things he prayed for others can be very helpful.  Paul’s primary desire for the Ephesians seems to be that they would have understanding.  Maybe the need for understanding seems simple or obvious, but we MUST recognize that this isn’t “understanding” like we think of it in our natural lives, which has to do with a mental grasp of something.  The understanding Paul refers to is spiritual; it is obtained and functions very differently than natural understanding used in one’s natural life.   

By his own words, the understanding he prayed for has two components: a God-given “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of Him” and involvesthe eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”  It’s common and easy to assume we know what these things truly are or that we possess them, but assumptions are so dangerous.  We will never truly know God, in an intimate and real way, unless He grants to us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” and unless the “eyes” of our understanding are “enlightened.”  So what does that mean?

“Revelation” is basically an uncovering or an exposure; it’s seeing the essence of something, without filter or distortion.  “Wisdom” is more of a spiritual concept and is harder to define, but I would define it here as “an impartation of the mind of God.”  I think Paul is basically saying this: “I pray God would grant you, by His spirit’s working within you, a connection and agreement with the mind of God and an unclouded, undistorted vision of spiritual reality, that you can truly know and experience union with the Father, that your understanding would be based on spiritual light…”  And he goes on from there.  The reason he prayed this is because there is a great tendency in man toward  understanding spiritual concepts with the non-spiritual, carnal mind.  The carnal mind can be religious and good, but it cannot receive spiritual revelation, rejects “enlightenment,” refuses to subject itself to God, and is both fearful of and opposed to the true knowledge of God.  This is why Paul prayed the Ephesians would spiritually possess wisdom and revelation, and have enlightened eyes of understanding.  Enlightened = spiritually perceptive, as opposed to naturally perceptive.

I hope that makes more sense.  I pray these same things for myself and all fellow believers, because without sight, understanding, wisdom, and revelation, we are like a blind man trying to navigate an unfamiliar journey alone and without help.  At that point, there are really only two options: stay put but pretend you can see and are making progress, or admit you are blind and helpless, and cry out for mercy and grace to remedy your pitiful situation.  I hope more and more are rejecting the pretense of claiming to see while blind, and coming to see their destitution.  It’s at that point that desperation sets in and things can change.   

Father, may those of us who name the name of Christ recognize and admit our blindness and destitution, seeing that all our good works and good will haven’t truly connected us with You or furthered Your kingdom, but only our imagination of it.  In desperation and longing, may we cry out to You, to grant us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, an enlightened understanding, eyes to see and ears to hear.  We want to be able to see and hear You according to Your way, so we can cooperate with You in establishing Your kingdom, for Your glory.  Amen.

 

 

*Jesus had a God?  Interesting…  

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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God’s Greatest Enemy? Not What You May Think…

“…And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

 “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be…” (Romans 8:7-8)

These two passages are companions, speaking of the same thing. In Genesis, you have the serpent and his “seed” (descendants, offspring) at enmity with the woman and her seed.  Thousands of years later, Paul, who knew the Old Testament thoroughly, wrote of the fleshly mind being at enmity with God and the spiritual mind.

As I’ve discussed at some length recently, the mind of the flesh (also called the carnal mind or the natural mind), which Paul warns against, came into being in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  You can immediately see it’s effects; in an instant they go from walking with God intimately and innocently to hiding from Him and covering themselves.  The mind of the flesh has been the prevailing and “default” mindset of all mankind since that time, leading to all kinds of wickedness, blindness, and religious foolishness. 

The serpent’s “seed,” meaning his descendants and offspring, are those who are filled with and led by the “mind of the flesh,” which again, is essentially just the natural, human mind.  In fact, I truly believe the “antichrist” is a corporate body composed of religious people who are ruled by the carnal mind, just as the body of Christ are those filled with the mind and life of Christ.  “Antichrist” refers to being opposed to Christ by a deceptive counterfeit anointing, not necessarily that which is blatantly or obviously opposed to Christ. Many think of the serpent as “evil,” but the scripture doesn’t say that.  It simply says he was crafty, cunning, and subtle. In fact, his temptation was to become aware of evil as well as good! In the same way, the mind of the flesh isn’t “evil” as we often think of it.  “Fleshly” or “carnal” simply refers to that which is 100% natural; to things that are human or earthly in origin, being non-spiritual and temporal. Physical things such as money, food, appliances, etc are fleshly, along with everything intangible that has it’s origin  in the heart and mind of man, not God. This would include all of man’s thoughts, ideas, motives, and desires.

So we see that much of what Christianity values and advocates is thoroughly fleshly. Three or four times in the first four verses of 1 Corinthians 3 alone, Paul referred to the Corinthian believers in Jesus as fleshly.  This is the very same Paul who wrote that the fleshly mind is enmity with God and the spirit!  The truth is, although the fleshly mind can be very religious, occupied with good, and believe in Jesus, it is and cannot be other than the enemy of God. God’s ways are not at all like our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts. As He sees, from a spiritual point of view, the fleshly, human mind is blind, rebellious, stubborn, and ignorant. It’s opinionated, devoid of wisdom, proud, and confident. It’s everything the spiritual mind isn’t. The fleshly mind is the primary, if not the only, enemy of God.  Even Satan has to answer to God as a tool He uses, but the fleshly mind is not so.  It was forbidden in the garden, brought death when inherited, has permeated all of mankind, and only in Christ can we be freed from it. The death that we are told we must experience in order to abide in Christ is, at least in part, the cessation of the fleshly mind as our means of perception and relation to God.

The “seed” or descendant of the woman is Christ and his body. In the garden, God referred to this seed as a “he;” an individual man who was to come. In God’s time, Jesus Christ came! and indeed bruised the head of the serpent. No longer did the serpents seed, the fleshly mind, have legitimate authority over mankind. But, the serpent’s seed wasn’t immediately or entirely eliminated, because God has in mind an entire group of people filled with the very life and spirit of Christ, constituting a corporate, worldwide body of Christ, who will inherit the Kingdom of God.  Paul said Christ is to be the firstborn among many brethren, that we are all members of his body, that we are to be filled with the life and spirit of Christ himself. 4  These are those called to be part of the true ekklesia, or church.  Christ’s body doesn’t consist of those who are called Christians or intellectually believe in him, but simply those who are filled with the spirit and life of Jesus Christ and being conformed to his image, regardless of title or creed.  May becoming spiritual and following Christ be our focus and goal, nothing else.

 
3). Genesis 2:17 
4). Romans 8:29, Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 2 Corinthians 4:11, Colossians 3:3-4, Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 6:17.
 
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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Judgment

I want to look at one aspect of God’s “Judgment.”  Which would be more harsh and grievous for God to send or allow:

1.) Famine, economic ruin, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, government oppression, etc.

2). The spread of spiritual deception on a large scale.  This results in many being convinced they know God and follow Him, but it’s all false.  In reality, they have been cut off from perceiving spiritual Truth and are thus prevented from genuinely knowing God.

In reality, it’s #2 that is far more scary and perilous, and is exactly what has been happening.  Being shut out from knowledge of God is far, far worse in an ultimate view of things than anything that could happen in the physical realm.

In John 14:26, 15:26, and elsewhere, Scripture declares that the holy spirit is sent to, among other things, bring to mind the words of Jesus, testify of Jesus, and to guide us into all truth.  So, if we lose our ability to connect with the Spirit of God, a connection that can only be made spirit-to-Spirit, which bypasses the mind, then it follows that we will not be mindful of Jesus’ words, won’t receive a true testimony about him, and will be led down any number of paths except the one path of Truth.  This isn’t to say the mind is to be inactive or is useless.  It’s to say Truth ultimately isn’t acquired by the mind.  ANY doctrine, path, or concept that is not Truth revealed by God’s Spirit to a human spirit is carnality, and I assure you, most of what is believed and taught in the church today is nice, spiritual-sounding, soul-pleasing carnality.

(Romans 8)  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  Carnality originated at the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  It is based on logic, reason, and rationality, although it certainly may use spiritual language and promote religious activities.  The Spirit, however, doesn’t make sense to the carnal mind.  Therefore, reason and spirit are opposed and will always be opposed.  To follow God in spirit, you have to let go of the doctrines and supporting arguments you’ve gathered and be taught all over by God Himself through His Spirit.

(1 Corinthians 3) And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.  (Those who are carnal are unable to receive or digest “solid food,” which is simply spiritual truth, and never will be.  The carnal mind always goes back to and defends what it knows and has been taught, and the reasonable arguments for its belief).  For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?  (This reminds me of the many denominations of Christianity.  Carnality leads to divisions and titles).

Please think on these things.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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