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Deception 1: Something When Nothing

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For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Galatians 6:3 KJV)

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20 KJV)

 

Believe it or not, if you examine them closer, you’ll see the two verses above are actually speaking of essentially the same thing.  I’m going to look at this, because they contain an essential truth, one I’ve been sharing about often as of late.

The common fear-based mentality of “act right or be punished” will, AT BEST, lead to a shallow and incomplete understanding of the spiritual truths the apostles wrote about in the Bible.  Spiritual things go deeper than surface-level outward behavior.  For example, many Christians read Galatians 6:3 (quoted above) as something like this: “if a man thinks he is acting righteously when he is hypocritically living in sin, he deceives himself.”   Maybe there’s some shallow truth in such an interpretation, but what Paul really said is this: “if a man considers himself (that is, his flesh) to be alive or better than others, when in reality all flesh is dead and worthless, he deceives himself. 

Do you see the great difference in the two? The first attitude, which is surely the far more common one, has to do solely with outward behavior. Equating spirituality with obedience of outward laws will ALWAYS lead either to self-righteousness or self-condemnation.  These are equally deadly, because both keep the focus on SELF, working exactly like spiritual cancer in that they keep the flesh alive when it should be dead (that’s what cancer cells do, look it up)!  The second interpretation, which Paul meant, is not directed at behavior, but at recognizing what God did in Christ (ended the flesh and brought the reign of God to earth through the Spirit), and beginning to see and walk accordingly, with the Life that is implanted within!

That being said, allow me to highlight Paul’s foundation for stating the flesh is worthless and those who value it are bound to be deceived.  He gave this foundation earlier in this same letter to the Galatians, in chapter 2 verse 20, also quoted above.  What he said is that since he had seen by revelation that he (and ALL flesh) had been crucified with Christ, he no longer considered himSELF as being alive or capable of producing anything (spiritually) alive. 

In Philippians 3:7, Paul wrote of undergoing a radical change, so radical that the very things he once saw as profitable and desirable, he now found worthless and gross.  The basis for this radical change was receiving the revelation of Christ as the “last Adam”1.  Before this revelation, he valued his own works and was proud of his impressive law-keeping.  But, by the grace of God, he was shown that the only “life” within him, the only thing righteous, was Christ, the Spirit of God.  Knowing this and knowing himself, Paul remained on guard against thinking ANYTHING that came from himself was of spiritual worth or usefulness.

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So what does this mean, what should we be doing differently? That’s the so-called million dollar question, but there’s really no direct or cookie-cutter answer other than “follow the Spirit.”  Remember Jesus saying in John 3:8 that a spiritual person is like the wind, which cannot be predicted or followed? I believe at least one point he was making was that the Spirit of God is not like the law, with its strict set of do’s and dont’s. The walk of a spiritual man is different – the law becomes inward, written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15, Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16). Carnal/fleshly man cannot discern what is and isn’t spiritual, it takes spirit to discern spirit.

So, I have no specific directions for you, other than to seek to know the presence of God within you, nurture it and listen to it and desire its growth, and patiently follow its leadings and promptings.  Sadly, this is what most of Christianity has failed to do, choosing self-preservation and religion over sacrificial love and the walk of the Spirit.  What I can say is that following spirit will lead you into love and sacrifice and truth (and persecution from the religious who are threatened), and away from religion and pride.  For me, as I’ve (very slowly and still very imperfectly) learned to follow the Spirit, I am finding love and peace and kindness and compassion present within me, coming forth more and more without effort.  When I’m walking in the spirit, I’m not TRYING to love – it’s just there within me. I’m not TRYING to be patient or kind, I just AM. I’m also not worried about God’s wrath or judgment if I screw up, because I know that God has already judged and condemned those same things I want to be rid of. If I fall short, I am thankful to recognize it, and I simply press onward.

I realize I’ve written about this same essential idea in most of my last several posts. But for whatever reason, this is what I am seeing and what is coming out of my heart right now. I hope it blesses and challenges you. Others are saying these same basic things more powerfully than I am, but there you go.

I love you with the love of Christ, and am in this with you : )

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:45
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Deceitfulness of “Sin”

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Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”  (Hebrews 3:12-15 ESV)

It’s so easy to lose focus on the central issue in one’s walk with God – the inward, invisible heart.  In the passage above, the one thing we must take care to avoid is a “falling away (literally: departure) from the living God.”  We’re told that this departure is a result of an “evil, unbelieving heart,” and that an evil, unbelieving heart is a heart which has been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  That all sounds great, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

I don’t think this was intentional, but I see a general progression given in these verses: deceitfulness of sin → hardened/evil/unbelieving heart → departure from the living God.  The starting point seems to be “the deceitfulness of sin.”  I think sin remains greatly misunderstood.  You can quit or avoid all kinds of bad actions, but still remain in “sin.”  Sin isn’t a set of actions, it’s an inward nature or power.  For example, scripture says that sin can dwell within us and that it “desires” certain things.1   Under the old covenant, sin was essentially the violation of the law as given through Moses.  Sin had to do with behavior.  But in the new covenant, Christ has redeemed us from the old way of the law to the new way of the Spirit.  He has become our one, final propitiation (sacrificial offering) and “taken away” our sins.2  Sin now has to do with the one’s spirit.

Within the new covenant, sin could be defined as anything which does not conform to the heart of God or the love of the Spirit.  Sin is the nature of the flesh, the fruit of the carnal mind.  In that light, sin is actually much more broad and dangerous than a bad attitude or behavior.  In God’s eyes, sin could look like following the law instead of the spirit, or promoting religion and judgment instead of love and mercy.  It could look like refusing to consider or accept another viewpoint, or holding to tradition over revelation.  Sin in God’s eyes could be many of the “good” things which religious men promote.  A prophet once said: “maintaining truth without revelation is deception.” 

Sin and what Paul referred to as “the works of the flesh” are related, but not the same thing.  Galatians 5:19 says that the works of the flesh are “evident” or “manifest,” meaning they are easily seen and recognized; things including violence, drunkenness, sexual deviance, jealousy, debauchery, etc.  If you see those things, you immediately know the flesh is at work.  However, sin is different.  Sin is said to be deceitful, meaning that it can be very subtle and difficult to recognize.  The serpent in the Garden of Eden was said to be extremely “subtle” or “crafty.”  His temptation wasn’t for Adam and Eve to do something outright evil, but simply to be like God!

All that said, let’s look again at the phrase  “the deceitfulness of sin.”  First of all, in chapters 7-10 of Hebrews you’ll find the most plain statements in the entire Bible that sin (as it was known to a Jew 2,000 years ago) is no longer an issue which believers need worry about.  In these chapters we are told things like: Jesus purged our sins, made reconciliation for our sins, that God will not remember our sins and iniquities anymore, that there is no more sacrifice for our sins after Christ, that there is a “remission” of sins, that sin has been “put away” in the offering of Christ, that we need have “no more consciousness of sins,” and that we have been “perfected forever” by the offering of Christ.  So, I don’t believe the “deceitfulness of sin” is simply being somehow tricked or tempted into doing bad things (“sinning”). That’s “sin” under a covenant of law.  Hebrews 9:15 (ESV) says: “Therefore he (Jesus) is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

I think falling away from the living God begins with sin’s subtle nature (deceitfulness) causing us to mislabel and fail to recognize it.  Therefore we may remain in sin and darkness, all the while being satisfied with our behavior/performance or preoccupied with issues which God has put away from Himself in Christ.  This causes a “hardened heart,” meaning a mind which resists new truth or ways, because we’ve been deceived into thinking we’re following God already.  The result is “falling away from the living God,” meaning ceasing to commune with God and walk by fresh spiritual revelation and insight (faith) into current righteousness.  Righteousness is by faith, and is maintained by fresh faith.  Because our human nature, which is inherently sinful, is always bent toward the natural realm and way, including law and behavior as a means of righteousness or judgment, we are to “exhort each other daily” to live in the new way of the spirit, abiding in Christ, and refuse to return to the natural way of law, fear, and deception.  

 God bless you, thank you for reading.  I hope this was edifying.

 

 

 

  1. Romans 6:12, 7:20
  2. Galatians 3:13, Romans 7:6, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 3:5
  3. Titus 3:9-11
 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Counterfeit Pride vs. Spiritual Pride

Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  -James 4:5-6

If there’s one thing God finds repulsive, it’s pride.  Pride is the only thing in all of the New Testament which God is said to “resist,” literally meaning to “prepare for war against.”  As spirit opposes flesh, God wars against and opposes pride.

You can bet that there is a difference between what God and men see as pride.  Men have defined pride as essentially an inflated ego and self-absorption. That may be true to an extent, but I’m coming to see that every spiritual dynamic found in scripture (such as pride) has a fleshly “counterfeit,” either made or reinforced by the religious, darkened, natural mind of man.  Like counterfeit money, counterfeit spiritual things are designed to seem real – they go by the same name as the genuine, have circulated so long they are accepted almost everywhere without question, and tend to remain in wide circulation until examined closely by someone with better means of perception, often a higher authority.

The counterfeit version of a spiritual dynamic is almost always the most common, because few people wait for and rely on the “light” of the spirit to see and define their reality (why this is so is an interesting question). Instead, the vast majority approach the spiritual realm the way they approach everything else – with the natural mind – which can never produce anything other than natural understandings and ideas.  The presence of Bible quotation and study, inspiring rhetoric, loud music, prayer or fasting, spiritual words, emotional stimulation, or even spiritual “manifestations” don’t at all mean genuine wisdom is present or God is glorified.  

As God sees it, pride is flesh claiming or pretending to be spiritual.  It’s darkness masquerading as light. The Greek word for pride is huperephanos, a compound of huper (over, above, beyond, instead of), and phaino (to shine, lighten, appear). The idea seems to be this: something leaving its proper place in order to take over and be seen.  Pride is flesh/self covering the spirit, making itself seen instead, but pretending nothing is wrong or out of place.

Here’s what’s scary: God opposes and resists pride, but (like many spiritual things) true pride is subtle, deep-rooted and can easily go unnoticed.  Many familiar “counterfeits,” on the other hand, having come from the mind of man, are easier to identify and “correct” through self-discipline of some sort.  Flesh can see and correct flesh, but only the spirit can see and correct spiritual error.  The first step toward the spiritual reality of humility instead of pride is to cry out for God’s light, recognizing the need for it.  Remember –> Jesus said that to claim you can see is to remain blind and under sin (I wrote about that in more detail here). 

I’ll stop for now, but I intend for more to come soon.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2014 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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