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Light and Darkness

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“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…”  -Ephesians 1:17-18

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts…”  -Ephesians 4:17-18

Most of still today relate to God through law, believing that it is primarily our behavior/obedience that determines our relationship with Him, although we don’t have much of an explanation for why He seems so inconsistent in when and who He punishes and seems to reward.  I have elaborated on this issue before, but for this post, suffice it to say I believe we relate to God in this way because we don’t understand the radical change that took place in moving from the Old to the New Covenant – radical enough to change the definition of “obedience.”  In the Old Covenant, obedience was about keeping laws, about doing and not doing the correct things.  In the New Covenant, obedience is about having a renewed mind and walking in the light and Life of the Spirit within us – all of which are impossible when law is in focus, because law fuels self-awareness, fear, and sin.  I’m not making this up by the way, it’s in your Bible!1

At the top, I quoted two passages from the writings of the apostle Paul, who wrote powerfully about the New Covenant.  In Ephesians 1, notice what he says is the key to know the hope of the God’s invitation to us, and to experience the riches of His glorious inheritance: enlightenment of the heart.   Notice also what he says in Ephesians 4 is the one thing that alienates men from the Life of God: darkness of the understanding.  Both, as is obvious, are not outward behaviors, but inward perceptions and ways of seeing.  I believe that if we humble ourselves and genuinely seek the Spirit of God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, being willing to let go of our precious doctrines and religious ways, it will happen.  Scripture says whoever humbles themself will be given grace and sight.  It is a renewal of the eyes/perception of the heart that constitutes “repentance,” which Jesus and the apostles said is the essential starting point to live within the kingdom (will, rule and reign) of God.  

The law, which empowered sin, is fulfilled and gone.  It was put away, nailed to the cross and ended in Christ.  Therefore, sin, as we usually think of it, doesn’t exist.1  As I’ve said many times, the issue now isn’t to avoid bad behavior, but to receive an enlightened heart and understanding so that we may knowingly and willingly participate in the things of God.  This is even more important when you realize that only what is Spiritual in origin will stand the purification of fire and the shaking which ALL people and things will undergo.  I’m writing more about this right now.  Again, this doesn’t mean we become better at stopping bad things and doing good things.  This means we become new creations according to a new identity and Life, which are part of the nature/Spirit of God Himself that dwells within us.  We walk in a different realm, with a whole new perception of things, so to speak.

The way of Christ is this: to abide in light/reality and overwhelm darkness/imagination, to walk in the spirit and deny the flesh, to receive grace and abandon self-righteousness, to see by faith and blind the eyes of flesh, to love and not to resist/demand/expect, to taste of death so that others might taste of Life.  As I’ve said before, it’s a much, much higher way than simply avoiding bad behaviors.  It’s actually MORE demanding and radical, but also much more life-giving!

I hope you’ll check back soon.   Bless you all.

 

 

  1. Colossians 2:11-15 ESV: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (All this already happened.  Your circumcision in Spirit, your burial and resurrection.  In Christ it’s all done, and you are in Christ).  (13) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

    1. Along these lines, you can see also Romans chapters 5-7.  Specifically you could look at 5:13, 5:20, 6:14, 7:5-8, along with 1 Corinthians 15:56.  Hebrews also says we were perfected forever (in God’s sight) by the one, single sacrifice of Christ, and that God remembers our sins and lawless deeds NO MORE.  This is the solid foundation for us to walk without consciousness of sin.  This is also in part because no law = no sin.  Sin as in the old covenant sense of “don’t do this or that.”  Just as sin was taken away, our “obedience” is different too now.  Obedience in the Greek language means “conformity.”  How can you conform/obey rules if there aren’t any?  In the New Covenant, obedience/conformity isn’t about adhering to a set of rules, but to one’s identity as a son of God, full of love and light, one who is enlivened by the Spirit and not the fear-based flesh. It’s all too easy to follow rules with a wicked heart.  The pharisees did it in Jesus’ day and many religious people still do the same today.  God has no desire for that.  He looks for those who walk as sons in love and in the light and power of His spirit, without worrying about their behavior at all.  

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The “New” Commandment?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Do you find it a bit odd that Jesus referred to the command to: “love one-another as I have loved you” as “new?” Didn’t he tell a Pharisee that that the greatest commandment in the law, which in their day had been around for roughly 1,600 years, was to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself?  I was a bit confused by this, so I looked closer, and saw that the word “new” in the Greek actually means something closer to “fresh.”  Jesus “new” commandment wasn’t new in the sense that it had never been heard of before, but it was new in the sense of being fresh, timely, invigorated.  I believe Jesus intention was to reintroduce and revitalize something that had been set aside, forgotten, and become stale. This forgotten, stale thing was the beauty, centrality and necessity of love.  It appears that above all else, as he was leaving earth, Jesus wanted his followers to know clearly that IF they would love one-another, then people would recognize that they, like he, were walking as manifested and obedient sons and daughters of God – in other words, his disciples.

As all answers tend to do, this raises more questions.  The first question that comes to mind is why Jesus specifically chose to emphasize love above everything else, like hell or holiness or prayer or witnessing?  Love must be of the utmost importance, especially when you consider that this was essentially Jesus’ final exhortation to his followers.  I believe the answer to this is first and foremost that Jesus emphasized love because he wanted his Father to be known, and love is the love is the true nature/essence of God, a nature which had become obscured and forgotten over the centuries, largely due to the ruthlessness of the law, which is another subject itself.  Not being connected to law, the new covenant enables and encourages authenticity and inward spiritual reality, not outward piety or rigid rules that result in hypocrisy and self-righteousness.  The second reason I believe Jesus emphasized love is because he knew that without it, the church/body of Christ would quickly begin to divide against and attack itself, becoming inept, blind, hypocritical and hardened, which is sadly what has happened, to the great detriment of the expression of the Kingdom of God/Heaven on the earth.  

I’ve said this any number of times, but while most of us would agree that love is vitally important, we really don’t realize or appreciate how radical genuine love is.  Love is just as different from religion’s rules and constraints as it is from hedonism’s pursuits and excesses.  Love doesn’t fit well into categories, as it is not for or against anything, but is simply grounded in the fact that Christ has reconciled all things.  Love steadfastly waits until the reality of this is fully manifested.  Love is pictured very well in the life of Jesus, who was merciful and kind toward those who religion had rejected or wounded, but was very harsh toward the self-righteous, who with hardened hearts laid burdens on others and misconstrued the true nature of God.  The suffering that accompanies love is largely because love is immovable, neither compromising truth, nor coercing or demanding its own way. Love remains patient in the midst of suffering, repaying good for evil and looking past the fearful ignorance of men, which unfortunately remains the foundation of most of what we see in the world today.

So, I suppose my point is that those who are Christ’s should realize that in his own words, love is absolutely necessary for believers to have toward one-another.  Love is THE fresh commandment Jesus gave to his followers, then and now.  Love is so vital because without it, the body of Christ will remain sick and the Kingdom cannot be expressed on earth.  IF this is so, it is of the utmost importance that we be sure, as John wrote, not to merely SAY we love, or merely BELIEVE in love, but to let the Spirit of Love penetrate us, permeating our perceptions until it is naturally the driving force behind our actions. This might mean reconciling with an enemy, or asking forgiveness when the other side won’t. It might mean getting rid of possessions we are fond of in order to help another who has less. It could mean showing mercy to someone who continually screws up and is extremely frustrating and disappointing. It could mean speaking truth when the consequences will be severe. It can mean joining, leaving, staying, going, and innumerable other things.  Let’s simply let love have it’s way, realizing that it is the way of Christ. I believe that as we do, the Spirit will be with us and new, fresh manifestations of Life will begin to be seen on earth!  I have written many other posts about love, so I would encourage you to look them up using the right sidebar if you are interested.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Good People, Careless Stewards

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“…Just-as each has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the various graces of God. If anyone is speaking, speak as oracles of God; if anyone is ministering, minister as from the strength which God is supplying; that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ: to whom is the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 4:10-11 MLV)

This is a very radical scripture, with a simple message: we must be careful, as “stewards” of the exceedingly precious grace (divine influence) of God, to not let anything carnal/fleshly/natural mix in with the spiritual, because God is increasingly glorified as flesh is increasingly absent.  It may sound easy to walk like this, and it can be, but it’s also costly.  Many of us must learn to embrace humility, long-suffering, and even a “carrying of the cross.”

The more we’ve built ministries, emotional attachments, habits, and lives on non-spiritual foundations, the more we stand to lose if and when these foundations are destroyed. I recall reading of a man heavily involved in a certain religion who began to realize that the teachings of his religion were not true – a very difficult thing to see and accept when your belief system has permeated your entire life and world, as his had.  Being very troubled by this, he went to one of his religious leaders and expressed his doubts and the reasons for them.  This leader essentially responded: “I know the church’s teachings aren’t necessarily true, but still, we promote and practice many good things, and think of what you have to lose. Stay in the church anyway!”  This is an example of what can happen if one builds extensively on a “mixed” foundation of flesh and spirit.

As I detach from religion and fear, the clearer I see just how foolish it is to resist new ways and understandings from the Spirit. The last time I checked, the Kingdom of God is so much bigger than us – bigger than our individual approval, individual comfort, or our individual anything!  Isn’t the Kingdom of God about God?  About His will being done on earth as in heaven, about magnifying, honoring and glorifying Him, instead of natural man?  In the passage at the top, Peter actually wrote that we are to minister pure Spirit so that God is glorified.  Isn’t the Kingdom and the way of Christ all about self-sacrifice, servanthood, and elevating others ABOVE yourself?  Wasn’t Jesus’ single new commandment to love each-another as ourselves, just like he loved us?   If so, then our individual selves are not really in the picture at all, and so realizing you have been deceived isn’t something to resist, but to celebrate!  It’s true many have a lot to lose by letting go of their religious ways, but if we are truly desiring, as Jesus did while on earth, that the will of God be done on earth as in heaven, then we will be EAGER to correct whatever has not been lining up with that desire.  Resisting new revelation of the Father’s heart and purposes only makes sense in the light of self-centeredness, which often hides behind religiosity and is empowered by disguised fear.  The religious desires to “do” or “be” are typically not from the Spirit, but from a selfish need to feel important or recognized, or on a fear-based obligation of some sort which the Spirit has no part in.  

One of religion’s subtle dangers is that it actually hinders the expression of divine love, because it’s emphasis on outward behaviors and “correct beliefs” allows one to feel justified without genuine Spiritual encounter or the expression of the Spirit’s love and Life.  Recently, I was talking with a friend about how, over the past several years, as our understanding of spiritual things would change and grow, we would gravitate toward different teachers and ministries.  Each time we thought we had “found it,” only to see later that flesh/Adam/carnal was still mixed in somehow (including in us).  Many of us have moved from church to church or ministry to ministry, but we have not moved from flesh to spirit.  In going from one mixture to another, we have changed expressions, but not substances.  That said, some of these changes may have been positive, with a little less flesh and a little more spirit present each time.  I suppose the main thing is that we remain humble and correctable.  I’m no one’s judge, nor do I condemn anyone – I just grieve at how the body of Christ, of which I am a member, has been deceived and hindered.

It seems that what has happened in many cases is, rather than admitting we’ve missed the boat, we have “moved the goalposts” and accepted the idea that the world and even the church is destined to get worse and worse until we’re “raptured.”  But this is not accurate, for so many reasons.  There is going to be a new earth, which I think is this same earth, only remade after the “fire” of God’s presence, as ministered by His people, has burned up what was founded in man.  We need, and I think are beginning to experience, a revolution within the so-called church.  I do see more and more that hard questions being asked, and if we are willing to accept the answers from the Spirit of God in a place of humility, then great things will happen.  Jesus’ own ministry was actually quite small, and he usually resisted those who tried to expand his following.  What seems good, and even what “gets results,” has NOTHING to do with the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom/Reign of God is nothing more or less than the will of God being known and done.  It’s HIS inward Life being expressed outwardly.  This is ONLY going to come as the body of Christ yields to Christ it’s head.  I can tell you this – when the body of Christ stewards and pours out only pure Spirit on a global scale, it will look far, far, different from Christianity and all the other religions we see today.

Let’s determine to value the expression of God’s Life above even our religions, friends, and families.  Not that we disown those who don’t agree with us, but that walking in agreement with the Spirit takes precedence over agreement with anyone or anything else.  Let’s not put our own ideas or ways into anything, even if this means we go “radio dark” for a while, ceasing all religious activity and waiting upon God.  Did you know that when God revealed Himself to Paul, who was a deeply ingrained scholar of Judaism, he went into obscurity for several years to commune with Him before beginning his ministry?  This isn’t to give a formula for everyone, but for many of us, something similar is probably needed – a “detox” of sorts.  

Again, let’s not go by appearances or canned reasonings, let’s not just parrot what we are familiar with, but let’s allow the spirit be the spirit.  Maybe His ideas and ways are different from ours.  In that way, and only in that way, can Jesus Christ truly be glorified and the Reign (Kingdom) of God truly begin to materialize on earth.  Amen!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Life and Death

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You can’t focus on life and death at the same time. This applies to the upcoming election, the state of the world as a whole, or your individual life. If you’re focusing on what is wrong, bad, twisted, shameful, etc. (what I’m calling “death”), you cannot simultaneously focus on LIFE.

Am I saying pretend everything is great and things couldn’t be better? Not at all. Am I saying don’t vote? No. I’m saying get your focus on a higher realm, the Kingdom of God. I’m saying don’t be occupied with what is going on in the realm of “death,” that is, the realm that is not connected and aligning with the Spirit of God – whether politics, wars, your job, your natural family, or your own personal faults.

None of the above things can or do have ANY influence on the spiritual realm. What is of God cannot be changed, cannot be thwarted, cannot be affected by death. Darkness can NEVER dim light. It’s the other way around – light casts out darkness, instantly and effortlessly. Many of the things above remain in darkness, it’s true. That’s the only way they can remain the way they are. But why focus on darkness? And even worse, why try to get rid of darkness with more darkness (your own ideas, your own beliefs, your own efforts)?

This might sound “academic” or “detached,” but I don’t mean it that way at all. The Spirit of God is actually leading me to be more directly involved with people and situations in my surroundings. But I know enough to not do so from a place of frustration, trying to deal with things hastily and sloppily, as my “soul” tends to do. I want to approach everything and everyone from a place of hope and of love, based on the finished work of Christ and the Reign of God which has been established and is growing.

“You can curse the darkness or light a candle” is a bit cliche, but it’s true. The thing is, the only “light” we can truly offer is the Spirit within us, the spirit of love and joy and peace and righteousness. Approach EVERYTHING from there.

I pray we all have our mind and awareness in the reign (kingdom) of heaven more and more, until we are only aware of light even as we walk through a world that still contains darkness.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Lying with the Dogs

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“Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices a lie.”

Consider this: what exactly is a lie, and how do you “practice” one?  As with many things, the answer depends on what perspective you are coming from.  From a natural perspective, a lie is essentially a false statement being presented as true.  From a spiritual perspective, a lie is deeper than mere words – a lie is a path or way in which things without life are considered or presented as alive or life-giving. The Bible refers to these dead things in many different terms, including  darkness, carnality, the night, the flesh, or the old man (referring to Adam). So then, within the New Covenant, “liars” are those who stubbornly continue to value, walk in and promote the (often religious) way of the flesh/old nature, despite the fact that God put it away, crucified and nullified it once and for all in Christ.   Just like those who tell lies in the “natural” sense, spiritual liars also present something false (the way of the flesh/Adam/natural man) as true (divine, life-giving, desirable).  

This isn’t merely important, it’s necessary to grasp if you want to follow the way of Christ in establishing the Kingdom of God and honoring the Father. The biggest reason the world and the church are in the shape they’re in is that believers have either been unable to recognize that most of what they have considered “spiritual” is nothing but dead flesh, and/or been unwilling to repent and follow the way of the Spirit (which includes sacrifice, love and laying down one’s life for the sake of others). However, if you merely want to get to heaven in the end, then you’re unlikely to ever repent and truly change the way you perceive and believe.

To follow the spirit into such a life of sacrificial love, I believe the key is that one must first be enabled to “taste and see” the goodness of the Father’s creation and Kingdom, which cannot be accessed or affected by anything physical.  Each of us can dwell in this Kingdom of love and peace and righteousness and joy NOW, before it becomes fully manifested in the physical realm. This is the “freedom” Jesus proclaimed he came to give mankind.  With one’s heart and life rooted in the Spirit,  one can let go of their hold and fascination with the natural world, which is struggling and dying due to it’s basis of self-preservation and fear.

Consider James 3:12-15 (MLV), with my comments in blue: “My brethren, a fig tree is not able to produce olives or a vine figs, are they? Thus no spring is able to produce both salty and sweet water (the spirit will not, and in fact cannot produce the works of the flesh (things like greed, anger, judgment and criticism, sexual immorality, jealousy, etc).  Who is wise and knowledgeable among you? Let him show out of his good conduct his works in meekness of wisdom (the truly wise and spiritual are those who do good from the heart, as evidenced by a natural humility and meekness rather than from a selfish motive such as as approval from men, blessings from God, or punishment-avoidance). But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth (if you walk in jealousy and with selfish motives (which are of the flesh), yet present yourself as spiritually mature, you are living and practicing a lie and blaspheming the way of Christ). This wisdom (labeling flesh as spirit) is not a wisdom that comes down from above (spiritual, heavenly, divine in origin), but is earthly, sensual, demonic (natural, fleshly, religious, doomed to destruction).” 

I am not perfect and am not free from the influence of flesh.  I am also not condemning anyone, keeping in mind there is no condemnation in Christ.  However, we know the flesh has already been condemned once and for all, therefore we must learn to recognize it and reject it in favor of the spirit.  If we align with and pursue what has been condemned, we will find ourselves “outside” the Kingdom, as the verse at the top says, and marked for destruction (though this does not mean eternal torture in hell).

I believe that as one becomes increasingly familiar with the presence/voice of God within, entirely separate from fear, selfishness, or preconceived ideas or religious doctrines, it becomes easier to discern between what is spirit and what is flesh. Hebrews actually says the Word of God is able to divide between the two. Learn to hear our Father, the voice of love and peace and truth and reconciliation. Let Him show you that all is well in His kingdom, that His Kingdom is still at hand, and be free to walk in it now, showing others it’s beauty and inviting them in.

1. Revelation 22:15 MLV

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Steer Clear of the Law, Son

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This post is a little long, though I think it’s enlightening, thought-provoking and well worth reading.  However, for those who don’t have the desire or time to read it all, I’ve made a “TLDR” summary.  If you want to know more, you’ll have to read on. 

(TL;DR) Summary

  • Jesus’ primary purpose was to reclaim the Father’s Kingdom on earth, not to get us to heaven.
  • Living by law will prevent one from following Jesus in sonship and should be avoided just as we should avoid following the flesh.
  • Jesus didn’t just free us from Moses’ law, but from any and all forms of a law-based relationship to God, because…
  • …a relationship of law creates servants, while love-empowered faith creates sons.  God delights in sons and earth needs them.  
  • Sonship is the higher calling.  Like on earth, sons are intimately involved with their Father in running His Kingdom, while servants just thanklessly tend to it.
  • Love empowers faith and enables grace, which are elements of sonship.  Law prevents them.

 

Ok.  Here’s a big question, which someone I really respect posed recently:  Which scenario honestly makes more sense and is more God-honoring?

  1. The son of God came to earth, lived a life of suffering, and died in agony in order to get us to heaven.
  2. The son of God came to earth to reclaim his Father’s Kingdom, which Adam lost.

Although almost all of Christianity is focused on scenario 1, I am convinced the answer is scenario 2, and scripture proves it.  The thing is, the tendency toward self-focus in the heart of man is so strong that unless it’s displaced, all scripture or other testimony of God’s will which don’t involve self in some way will be pushed aside.  The Father’s purpose in sending Christ was not for you or I personally, it was for His Kingdom.  Everything else, including our salvation, is secondary and merely a part of that bigger purpose.  Our primary value and honor lie in participating in the Kingdom of God as a son (or daughter – sonship in this sense is gender-neutral).  For us to truly follow Christ (which is all he asked) as a son, inheriting and participating in their Father’s Kingdom, some radical changes must take place, transitioning the church from servanthood into sonship and darkness into light (one could also say Adam into Christ).  One of these changes is coming to avoid law as much as or even more than avoiding the corrupt, sinful flesh.  Maybe that sounds strange or flat wrong, but bear with me and it might be more convincing.

The issue of “law” is really interesting.  Jesus mentioned it more than once and Paul wrote about it extensively, but I still don’t think we really understand it.  Many times in scripture when “the law” is being discussed, the original text simply says “law.”  This is actually a big point, because it demonstrates that we’re not just freed from THE law, as in the law of Moses which all of Israel was familiar with around Jesus’ time, but from law entirely – free from a law-based relationship with God – and freed to a relationship of sonship!  

If you or I follow our flesh, we will be cut off from the Kingdom of God (though this doesn’t mean we burn for eternity).  Likewise, if we embrace and follow law, we will be cut off from Christ and separated from grace.  This essentially means believers who persist in a relationship of law, though their sins are atoned for, will never rise from the status of servants to sons and will thus never be able to intimately co-operate with God.  I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid both of those outcomes. Law produces servants, not sons, because it only deals with flesh and external behavior.  Faith and love deal with the spirit, affecting the heart and producing a relationship of sonship.  Law and faith are forever opposed, just as flesh and spirit are opposed.  I could probably give a dozen or more relevant scriptures supporting these statements, but don’t have room.  Here are just a few:

  • (Gal 5:19-21 MLV): “Now the works of the flesh are apparent, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, carnal indulgences, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, selfish ambitions, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelings and things similar to these; which I told to you beforehand, also just-as I did say to you beforehand, that those who practice similar things– they will not inherit the kingdom of God!”
  •  (Gal 3:10-12a MLV): “For as many as are out of works of law (“out of” is the literal Greek translation, meaning works of law are the basis of relationship) are under a curse; for it has been written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ (If you break one commandment one time, you are irreversibly guilty as a law-breaker.  See James 2:10).  Now it is evident that no one is justified by law (not only “the” law, but law generally) before God; because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’  And the law is not from faith…”  There is no right relationship/standing with God from law, only from ongoing faith. Law is “do this, don’t do that, or else.”  Faith is a moment-by-moment walk in the spirit by divine revelation.
  • (Gal 5:2-6 WEB (R)): “Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law (a relationship of law is all or nothing). You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but (all that really matters or has importance in the spiritual realm is what comes from) faith working through love (literally: “faith which is energized by love”).
  • (Php 3:9 WEB (R)):  “…and be found in him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…”
  • (Rom 10:3-8 ESV):  For, (Israel) being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness (righteousness in God’s eyes isn’t connected to law). For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (In this sense, Christ as the word of God, isn’t “up there” or “down there.”  The word is a spiritual reality within you.  “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote).1  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)…”

Law is very familiar to our thinking, and it’s influence can be very subtle.  The minute our walk with God becomes based on do’s and dont’s, we are relating by law and cut off from Christ.  It’s not that doing bad or following the corrupt desires of the flesh is acceptable – I already mentioned that doing so will get you shut out of the Kingdom of God (which is as terrible as a burning hell for someone who loves Him).  It’s that do’s and dont’s are the basis of law, and faith and love never enter the equation, thus grace is prevented and sonship is thwarted.  For us to walk as a son, love, faith, and grace aren’t optional, they’re essential.  Grace is God’s influence on our heart, and faith is a divinely-given sight and conviction, given to the spirit.  Love empowers faith and enables grace, so above all, seek to love one-another with love that is generated from the divine presence within you and around you.  Amen.  

 

1.  Colossians 1:27

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Dying to Enter (Lazarus and Rich Man pt. 3)

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This will be my final and most comprehensive look for now at Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  For those who are new, it has nothing to do with physical death, heaven, or hell.  It has everything to do with the promise God made to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ and given to all men, the arriving of which reversed the roles of the spiritually rich and spiritually poor.  Anyway, read on and it will make more sense.

Luke 16, NKJV: 22 So it was that the beggar (the Gentiles, those shut out of fellowship with God) died (experienced the ending of the season of the law and prophets at the coming of Christ), and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (began to partake of a new season of spiritual kingdom-seeking, typified by Abraham, whose promised blessing preceded and didn’t relate to law or Israelite ancestry). The rich man (Judah/Jews) also died (both died at the same time – the change in spiritual seasons happened to all simultaneously) and was buried (permanently lost all relevance and authority).  Notice: ONLY the rich man was “buried. 23 And being in torments (testing, affliction) in Hades (the unseen realm, place of blindness, powerlessness, death), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (Lazarus, not he, inherited the promises given to Abraham).24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham (Pharisees saw themselves as Abraham’s children because of their bloodline), have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water (get even a tiny amount of Truth) and cool my tongue (undo the effects of his perverse teaching which came from his perverse heart – see here); for I am tormented (literally: sorrowful, grieving) in this flame (intense affliction, purification). (Notice: in the old season Lazarus desired  crumbs from the rich man, and now the rich man desires just a fingertip of water from Lazarus.  There is a great role-reversal).  25 But Abraham said, ‘Son (Judah was Abraham’s great-grandson and the Jews were descendants of Judah), remember that in your lifetime (during the recently-ended season of the law and prophets) you received your good things (their life of “luxury” – the luxury of having opportunity to be a part of God’s people and partake of His covenant and blessings), and likewise Lazarus evil things (his life of spiritual hunger, lack and helplessness); but now (in the new season) he is comforted (desired, invited) and you are tormented (grieving, in anguish, sorrowful, mourning). 26 And besides all this, between us and you (between the season of law and season of fulfillment) there is a great gulf fixed (some say this is representative of the Jordan river, which divided Israel from the Gentiles),2 so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us (the change in seasons is irreversible).27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house (Judah’s descendants, the Jews), 28 for I have five brothers (Judah had five physical brothers), that he may testify to them (declare the truth of the new season of the kingdom of God through Christ and warn of resisting it), lest they also come to this place of torment (affliction, testing). 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them’ (the law of Moses and the prophets actually pointed to Christ and the new season he would bring, but most Jews were shut out of it because of their religious pride, resulting in hard hearts, blind eyes and deaf ears). 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent (change their perception from natural to spiritual). 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”  (Again, their religious pride caused the Jews to be ignorant or openly resist the very thing their precious law and prophets pointed to – the spiritual fulfillment arriving in Jesus Christ, proven by his resurrection from the dead).  

Jesus made a very telling and important statement immediately before he told this parable: 

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

These words, especially regarding marriage and adultery, seem to be out of place.  But remember, in the Greek he starts the parable by using the word “now…” meaning the parable continues his previous thought.  Therefore, divorce, remarriage and adultery somehow tie in with the ending of the season of the law and prophets and the beginning of the season of spiritual kingdom-seekers.  It has to be seen spiritually to make sense.

If marriage is seen as an exclusive covenant of devotion between two parties, then the Jewish religious leaders were very much “married” to the law. With a new season arriving with Jesus, the Jews, particularly the religious leaders, faced a dire problem with two components: 

  1. The only way out of their covenant/marriage to the old season of the law and prophets was for one of the parties to die (either them or the law).
  2. According to Jesus, it is impossible for the law to fail, or “die.”  Therefore, as long as they were alive, those in covenant with the law could not relate to God within the new season of spiritual reality without being adulterers against their covenant of law.

Paul, a former Pharisee, understood and wrote about this predicament, most plainly in Romans 7:1-6:

 (ESV) Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?  For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.  Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions (literally, the “sufferings of sin”) aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

So here’s a rephrase of what Jesus said: “Everyone in covenant with the law commits adultery by pursuing the spiritual kingdom of God outside that law.  Also, since God is divorcing and ending the covenant of law in me in favor of a new, better covenant made with all men, from now on anyone who enters into covenant with the law will become an adulterer against the new covenant.”  The good news is everyone is free from marriage/covenant with law, which only strengthened sin and death, not because the law passed away or died, but because in Christ we died!  Every single one of us.  Paul states this many times throughout the scriptures.1  This parable is just an elaboration of this truth, specifically given to the Jewish religious leaders, but very much applying to everyone.  Our death with Christ and freedom from law is a very deep subject which I haven’t seen the depths of and won’t try to here, but it’s absolutely at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The question I have is what ends up happening to those (whether Christian or not) who don’t see or refuse to accept their death with Christ, and continue to live their lives?  I do believe there will be great sorrow and anguish like the rich man experienced, but I’m not convinced it’s eternally permanent.  I don’t fully know, but I don’t want to find out, and I don’t believe those who seek the kingdom need to personally worry about it.

Finally, lets look at Abraham.  The name Lazarus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Eliazar.”  In the book of Genesis, we learn Eliazar was Abraham’s chief servant, who before Abraham had sons and grandsons was going to inherit Abraham’s estate.  Some have pointed out that by helping Abraham’s son find a wife, Eliazar was helping shut himself out from Abraham’s inheritance.2 That just strengthens the interpretation of Lazarus as those who desired God’s kingdom and promises but were shut out until the right season arrived.  Lazarus being taken to Abraham’s bosom is the Gentiles, by faith, inheriting the promise made to Abraham’s seed, Christ.  These aren’t physical blessings, but spiritual ones.  Are you glad about that, or disappointed?  The answer to that will tell you a lot about where your heart is.  In Galatians 3, Paul wrote extensively about Abraham’s promised blessing superseding Moses’ law, which was only temporary until the fulfillment of that promise.  Here’s some pertinent quotes from that chapter:

  • “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.”
  • Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”

  • “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

As convoluted or inadequate as they may be, I hope these blogs have helped you to see Jesus better and to hunger and thirst for God’s kingdom and righteousness on a more authentic and deeper level.  Things are far different than most of us who grew up in Christianity have been taught.  What God desires (and will get) is a household of sons and daughters with the mind of Christ, who worship in spirit and in truth, who walk in love, and who seek to establish the kingdom of God on earth.  Religion may use similar words and make similar statements, but all that religion knows and promotes, be it ever so good and beautiful, comes from their own darkened mind which eats from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and cannot satisfy or please God.  That’s hard to say, but it’s true.  God would have us eat of the Tree of Life again, walking with spiritual understanding and no awareness of sin or condemnation (death) which come by law, but with an awareness of life – His spirit, presence and kingdom.

  1.  Colossians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6…
  2. http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030602.htm
 
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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