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A Given Understanding

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“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” -1 John 5:20

There are several deep and somewhat confusing statements in this obscure verse.  First, John says that Jesus came and gave an understanding, which enables us to “know Him who is true.” John then says that we are “in Him who is true,” “in His Son Jesus Christ,” and that somehow all this connects to “the true God and eternal life.” 

Reading this verse, the first question I have is, what is the “understanding” Jesus came and gave, and how does it enable us to “know Him who is true?”  On the surface, one might say this understanding refers to the things Jesus taught about God.  But there are two main reasons I don’t think that’s quite it.  First, because Jesus didn’t really teach “about” God.  Instead, he taught about the Kingdom of God, demonstrated it with healing and miracles, warned and prophesied against the corrupted religious establishment, and stressed the importance of loving others as oneself (which he said sums up the entire law). The second reason is, the Greek word for “understanding,” which is dianoia, doesn’t refer to mental knowledge.  It is most often translated “mind,” and seems to mean a full and true comprehension and thus a correct perception.    

John says this dianoia Jesus gave enables us to “know Him who is true.”  The word “true” is alethinos, which refers to that which is genuine, the real article without any falsehood or counterfeit.  Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines alethinos as:

  • 1. that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine

    a. opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended

    b. it contrasts realities with their semblances

    c. opposite to what is imperfect defective, frail, uncertain

  • 2. True, veracious, sincere

So, it seems that John is saying the understanding and perception Jesus gave enables us to know God the Father as He genuinely is, to know His real nature, and not a distorted or incomplete representation.  The idea is, I think, that before Christ, under the Old Covenant, God’s people knew Him primarily through a relationship of laws and symbolic rituals.  Their relationship to God was more like one of master and slave, not Father and son.  The partnership and Spiritual union that the New Testament says is ours in and through Christ was not yet available.  The transition from the Old Covenant of law to the New Covenant of grace and faith through Christ was colossal, and has not yet been realized on a large scale.  Many scriptures speak of this transition.  Here are a few:

  • Galatians 4:4-7 (WEB): “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” 

  • John 4:19-24 (WEB):  “The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  • Romans 7:6 (WEB): “But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”

  • Hebrews 8:1-5 (WEB):  “Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a servant of the sanctuary, and of the true (alethinos) tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (the physical temples and rituals were only symbols and representations of heavenly, spiritual realities), even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, “See, you shall make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.”

  • Hebrews 9:22-24 (WEB): “According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves (the alethinos, the true) with better sacrifices than these. For Christ hasn’t entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true (alethinos), but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…”

I believe the mind/perception/understanding Jesus gave is both the demonstration of God’s true nature as a loving Father rather than a callous master, along with the ability to be a “partaker” of this nature, as 2 Peter 1:4 says. I still believe that as far as God is concerned, flesh is dead and gone.  He doesn’t see our flesh or sin at all, because in God’s mind all believers are “in Christ,” meaning they have become adopted as members of the corporate son of God, literally becoming members of Christ’s body and filled with God’s nature, thus becoming one with God.  This too is the understanding Jesus gave, which Paul and others have elaborated on.  I won’t take the space to elaborate on it here, but, for example, scripture says Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh,” that there is no condemnation in Christ, that we have been perfected forever by the one sacrifice of Christ, and that God Himself has placed us into Christ Jesus, as 1 Corinthians 1:30 says.  

When John wrote that we are “in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ,” I believe he meant we are in God AS A RESULT of being in Christ. We in Christ (and Christ in us), Christ in God, thus we in God (see John 14:20).  It’s nothing we did or can do, God did it already.  Not only that, but it seems to me that neither “the true God” nor “eternal life” are found apart from our identity and union with Christ as members of his body, which is a spiritual reality we must “abide” in.  It’s as if God has allowed His nature and being to intertwine with ours in a deep way, through His son.  Now, all this doesn’t mean we as individuals are instantly perfect or that we can’t still act from the flesh.  To say that is to deny the obvious.  What it means is to the extent we have the “dianoia” to recognize we have been adopted as Sons in Christ, and our nature is that of Spirit and love, that we are not under the rule of sin and law, and that we are corporately the body of the son of God – as these truths become the foundation of our hearts and minds, we can manifest the fruit of the Spirit and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  It is desperately needed, and I believe the season is coming where these things are going to come to pass.  The question is if we will have the courage to lay down our lives in the flesh and the world to manifest the life of the Son of God, our true Life.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Glorious Christ Within

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So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.”  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.2

Recently, while I was meditating, Paul’s famous statement in Colossians 1:27 came to mind: “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” There is a staggering amount of depth in those seven words, but one simple thing they clearly show (as do numerous other scriptures) is that, at least here, Christ” does not refer to a person named Jesus.  There is no tiny human living inside our bodies.  So then, what or who is this “Christ” within us, providing our hope of glory?

As I noted recently, the word “Christ” an adjective, a word of description, meaning “anointed.”  An anointing is an impartation of God’s spirit upon or within something in order to set it apart and empower it for a specific purpose.  In Colossians 1:27, what Paul meant was this: the only hope of “glory” (manifesting God’s nature, achieving a higher, spiritual state of being), either for us as individuals or as the body of Christ as a whole, is for us to receive and walk in harmony with the inward anointing of God’s spirit.  Perhaps surprisingly, this holds true even of Jesus, a man whom God made to be “the Christ” by anointing him with power and then raising him from the dead (see my previous post for more on that).  

If all this is true, then the real issue is this: how does this anointing work; how does the Christ within us produce glory?   (I wish questions like these were given more attention).  To answer it, let’s first look at something Paul emphasized in his letters to at least three different congregations: the Romans (Romans 6), Ephesians (Ephesians 4), and Colossians (Colossians 3).  To each, he wrote about an “old man” who is dead and must be shunned, and a “new man” who is alive and must be embraced.  Each of these “men” represent a nature or a mind with which we perceive things and live according to.  In the passage from Romans 8 below, you’ll notice Paul specifically mentions the “mind of the flesh” and the “mind of the spirit.”  In brief, the “old man” is Adam and everything that comes from his fallen, lifeless nature, and the “new man” is Christ and everything that comes from his nature of abundant spiritual life.  (I wrote about this a bit more here). 

Romans 8:6-10 (WEB): “For the mind of the flesh (our natural/Adamic mind, the old man) is death (it’s dead, and everything that comes from it, good or bad, is dead), but the mind of the Spirit (mind of Christ within, the new man) is life and peace (connects with God and conforms to His will); because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God (opposed to Him); for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be (no connection with God, who is spirit and love). Those who are in the flesh (religiously living by the mind of the old man) can’t please God (and have no hope of glory). But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if (since) it is so that the Spirit of God (Christ) dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his. If (since) Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Another literal Greek translation of “if Christ is in you” could be: “since Christ is in you…”   Paul was writing to believers, so I believe he was saying that since Christ (the anointing of God’s spirit) is within, then that inner spirit is full of life and at peace, though at the same time your own mind (“the mind of the flesh”) cannot connect with God (is dead) and is at enmity with Him (no peace).  In learning to follow the anointing of Christ within into glory, step #1 is to realize that there is a difference between  your own mind and will, and that of Christ is in you, and that the former is irreversibly spiritually dead and useless.  It’s the old man who is religious, fearful, guilty, prideful, blind, arrogant, and so on.  The new man is full of love, joy, peace, courage, life.

1 John 2:27 says: “As for you, the anointing which you received from him (Christ) remains in you, and you don’t need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing (Christ) teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, you will remain in him.” Do you want to be a follower of Jesus?  Living according to the mind of Christ/the spirit within IS to follow him!!!  That’s how Jesus lived!  Jesus was absolutely not religious, he had no awareness of separation from God his Father, no awareness of sin, no sense of fear, guilt or of obligation to do certain things he felt he “should.”  He knew his Father’s life, presence, and spirit were with him and in him, and so he simply did and said what that life in him naturally led him to.  Yes, he prayed to his Father, and we should too.  But as we mature, we will begin to realize that God is always with us and in us, and that often, our circumstances are from Him and our will and His will are one.  When “Christ in us” is what we are aware of and operate based on, and the mind of the flesh is shunned, there will be much more peace, trust, and use of authority, and much less begging and worry.

I wish I understood and could articulate more, but I will continue to share what I receive.  God bless you.

  1. John 14:28, John 5:30; 8:28; 8:42; 8:49; 12:49; 14:10.

  2. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Judge Not Lest Ye Be…Blind?

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“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”1 -Jesus

I recently re-read this parable, and purely as a gift I was able to see it from a new angle that amazed me. I always thought this parable was basically about being careful of judging others because I’ll be judged in the same way (which is true and amazing on its own). But what I saw is that the real issue Jesus is discussing here is much bigger; what he’s really discussing is sight. Judgment becomes a blockage to the bigger issue of our ability to “see,” as well as our ability to help our brother to see (perceive spiritual reality as it is in Christ, without filter or distortion).

According to the greatest prophet who ever lived, if a fellow believer has something hindering their spiritual perception/vision, you cannot help them if you approach them with an attitude of judgment, condemnation, or criticism. That very attitude becomes a greater hindrance to your own sight than the one you’re trying to remove in your brother. I think this is why Jesus referred to those who try to help others while judging them as hypocrites. It becomes another scenario of the blind leading the blind, and both of you will end up wandering off the way and into a ditch.

An attitude of judgment and criticism comes from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree/source makes one more aware of natural things such as the law, sin, and self; things that the religious people whom Jesus called “sons of hell” are very aware of and fond of talking about, but things that God doesn’t deal with. We need to start eating from and leading others to the Tree of Life once again, where there’s no condemnation, but grace, mercy, truth and Life. One of my favorite scriptures is John 1:4, which says:  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus was full of LIFE, and it’s only that life that dispels and conquers the darkness and death that are within us and which often cover themselves with religion.

Again, the “plank” in the eye that Jesus talked about is an attitude or heart of judgment. The main lesson in this teaching isn’t that we have to quit sinning before we can confront the sin in someone else, it’s that if we confront someone in an attitude of judgment, we become more blind than they are and cannot truly help them to see reality in the spiritual realm (in light of the cross).  Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. He said he judges no man, but came to seek and save the lost.2  Certainly, Jesus was far from the emasculated lovey-dovey figure many have made of him, and he often stressed the need for repentance and the severity and hardship of being his disciple. Nevertheless, he didn’t come telling the world how terrible they were (he saved that for the religious hypocrites). Instead, he came declaring truth and made a way, the way, for reconciliation with God. Paul wrote “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”3 This is good news to those who love God, because the way has been opened – not the way to get to heaven and have a pleasurable existence, but to have the honor of knowing God and participating in building His kingdom as a son or daughter.

 

  1. Matthew 7:1-5, NKJV
  2. John 3:17, 8:15; Luke 19:10
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:19
 
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Posted by on December 28, 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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Rich Toward God, pt. 2

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I believe all Jesus’ parables are given to believers, and each time a man is spoken of, he represents a group of people.  This rich man represents a “church” which is carnal, or led by her darkened mind.  Immediately after making up his mind to build bigger barns to store up his grain and goods, God addresses him directly: You fool! (literally: “one without perception!”) This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  To be seen as a fool by the God you claim to worship is truly sad. 

Jesus concludes this parable by contrasting two ways of life, which I believe are mutually exclusive:  “So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  The foolish rich man planned and labored to “lay up treasure,” i.e. to get ease and security, for himself.  As I mentioned before, it’s possible to, by all appearances, be very good in doing this, but the real issue is the SOURCE of the plan and action.  In this case, the source was this man’s own mind/soul. 

Being “rich toward God” is entirely differentRich toward God” literally translates “rich toGod,” meaning to be rich in God’s sight, or: “to possess and be that which God finds desirable.” The “rich toward God” have an inward ownership of spiritual riches such as wisdom, understanding, and fruit.  They are those who have been given eyes to see, ears to hear and have used these senses.  They have nourished the seed of God’s Word and life in them, and are producing a crop of spiritual fruit.  The independent soul of man cannot and will not value the things God finds desirable. No amount of success in any plan or goal which came from one’s own reasoning will survive the testing fire of God, thus the result will be “poverty toward God!”  We have to be so careful and diligent on this issue, because the transition from soul to spirit/Adam to Christ is not instant or easy, and many in their blindness continue to walk foolishly and will lose everything they worked for.

If we want to follow Jesus, we MUST NOT live from and according to that life and realm which is done away in Christ,1 which God has no desire for or dealings with.  Again, this can be called many things with fair accuracy: the old man, the carnal/fleshly/natural mind, the Adamic nature, soul, ego, self, natural life. This is the realm which in Christ has been done away, and what we must continue to reject.  It’s this we are to be set free from.  There is no other option – to follow Christ’s way requires rejection of self/flesh/Adam/soul/carnal mind/”reason.”  Jesus said so himself.  To persist in blindness and carnality, no matter one’s behavior or beliefs, will result in the loss of everything.

I think everyone is either storing up treasure from and for themselves, or coming to possess spiritual wealth in God’s eyes by seeking His word, heeding it, and humbling themselves (in other words, by following the way of Jesus).  If you sense truth in this, sincerely ask God to lead you to true wealth and seek Him diligently.  Repentance is always step #1, and it’s simply changing your mind to conform to what God is showing you by revelation.  I am leaning towards making a part 3 sometime in which I look at the famous teaching Jesus gave immediately following this parable, which makes more sense when you keep this parable in mind.  Maybe I’ll do so in a video.  I hope this blog is something the Spirit of God can use.  God bless you.

 

1. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

 
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Posted by on April 28, 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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Sin, Self, and God’s Kingdom

I noticed and found this very interesting this morning: sin is called deceitful and is subtle, but the “works of the flesh” are evident and obvious.

Sin is characterized by deceitfulness.  It’s often undetected, even by those who are looking for it.  It’s subtle and crafty.  Satan’s primary activity appears to be that of deception.  Deception is simply perceiving things differently than God without acknowledging so.  I believe that sin, wickedness, and evil, as God sees them, don’t really look like what we would call “evil” or “sinful.”  Sin and evil are subtle, that’s important to keep in mind.

Starting in Matthew 16:21, Peter tells Jesus that he shouldn’t go to the cross.  Rather than acknowledging his concern, Jesus  rebuked Peter and actually referred to him as Satan!  Peter, in his great distress and concern, was just trying to protect Jesus’ flesh, but Jesus immediately rebukes him, stating Peter was using a natural, human perception of things rather than a spiritual view of things, and that one has to deny himSELF and take up his cross to follow Jesus. Peter was trying to protect Jesus’ self, and Jesus saw this as evil, as a hindrance to God’s will.  Jesus had to die, this was his mandate from God.  We too have to follow in his example.

I believe the primary meaning of sin is to “miss the mark” of God’s will and guidance, which, if yielded to, will lead to inward purity and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.  In that sense, something we might call “good,” if not done in obedience to God, is actually “sin,” because God had no part in it – it originated in our own mind or heart, not His.  In a similar way, the word “wicked” in scripture comes from the idea of twisting, as in the “wick” of a candle being made from twisted-together strands.  Thus any sort of perverted or misapplied understanding or mindset is wicked, as are the actions that may result.  Scripture declares: “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  ONLY as we understand in our heart and apply what Jesus and the apostles really meant, can we be righteous, meaning “in a right standing and relationship,” before God.  Wickedness is empowered by deception.

(Hebrews 3) 12 “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

(2 Timothy 3) 13 “But evil men and impostors will proceed to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

(Revelation 19) 20 “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image…”

(Revelation 20) 7 “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations…”

Many things we call “sin” are really what scripture calls “the works of the flesh.”  In contrast to subtle, deceptive sin, the works of the flesh are “evident,” meaning they are obvious, easily seen and recognized.

(Galatians 5) 19 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality…those who practice such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” 

The reason practicing the works of the flesh will keep one out of the kingdom of God is simple – the flesh, or your SELF, is opposed to God, and to follow it is to establish the kingdom of SELF and to make SELF your God.  Everything labeled as a “work of the flesh” is aimed to gratify oneself.  There is no consideration of God, no self-denial in sexual immorality, anger, strife, divisions, envy, drunkenness, divisions, etc. Sin has to do with independence from God – acting from or for self rather than God.  When we establish the kingdom of self rather than God’s kingdom, we commit treason, mutiny.  This is sin, this offends Him.  More than watching a bad movie or kicking the dog, establishing self is the real offense. Salvation, which we are told to “work out,” has to do with being delivered from the influence of self.

Conclusion:  If you want to be righteous, free from wickedness or evil, then completely let go of all that YOU have acquired in terms of your beliefs and understandings, and let God’s spirit teach you.  If you want to be pure and without sin, then do nothing from yourSELF, but learn to discern the Father’s will and follow Him.  Seek God, get quiet and still, ask Him to reveal Himself to you, TRUST Him to do it, look for His guidance, rely upon Him.  1 John 2:27 is a confirmation of this.  Remember this – if you humbly, before God, acknowledge that you lack sight and clarity, you cannot be deceived.  I believe God gives grace to the humble.  Grace is the influence of the spirit of God which will teach you.

Galatians 5:19-21  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  (20)  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  (21)  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 
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