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Meekness and Life in Knowing Christ Crucified

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As recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the apostle Paul said this about his visit to a group of believers in Corinth:  “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

That’s a bit dense, but it seems the essence of what Paul was saying is something like this: “Because I wanted you to encounter God the Father rather than a human ego known as “Paul,” I chose to conduct myself among you in meekness and simplicity, rather than with severity and grandiosity.”  It seems that many times, Paul took pains to be humble and meek.  2 Corinthians 10:10, to give another example, shows that many people found Paul to be less “impressive” in person than in writing.  He intended it that way.

Somehow, Paul makes a connection between the exclusive “knowing” of Christ crucified and a conduct of meekness, sincerity, and simplicity. What does that mean? Here is a suggestion: “knowing Christ crucified” = recognizing Christ AS one’s life(!) and therefore walking in humility and sacrificial love. Scripture says clearly: all men (all of Adam) died in Christ, and Christ is their true life and identity. The recognition of Christ AS one’s life is a natural product of knowing the truth that in Christ ALL were crucified and risen anew. It’s not a matter of changing or doing, it’s a matter of seeing and integrating. Consider the following verses:

  • Colossians 3:3-4: “For you (self/ego) have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When (literally: “whenever”) Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died…”
  • Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I (Paul/ego) who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
  • Romans 6:6,11: “We know that our old self (old man) was crucified with him…” “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:1: “If (since) then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above…”

The knowing of Christ crucified caused Paul’s meekness because “knowing” has nothing to do with a mental agreement of fact, but everything to do with integration with revealed truth, which then naturally leads to the expression of that truth outwardly.  If that truth is that “Paul” the ego has died and Christ lives in him, then to know/integrate with that truth will mean the suppression of that (in this case brash) ego and the manifestation of the Life of Christ – a Life of love and truth and grace.  This is especially important when teaching others.  You don’t want them seeing YOU or receiving from YOU the ego; you want them seeing and receiving Christ the Life!  I’m not saying we are all identical robots.  We are all unique and amazing expressions and functions of the body of Christ on earth, and for that very reason, we must be sure we are not presenting the dead ego/self, but Christ the Life!

So, can one really “know” a spiritual truth while ignorantly living in a contrary manner? Does one truly “know” Christ crucified if one still sees the ego/self/flesh as one’s life, and relates to others as that self/ego?  I think the answer to those questions is “no.” That answer concerns me, it inspires me to go deeper. Again, if Paul himself – the one who was able to truthfully claim to be a flawless Jew and later a gifted, revelation-endowed, miracle-working, fanatical evangelist of Jesus – if such a man took pains to ensure the ego/self known as “Paul” wasn’t seen, but Christ the Life was seen in him, how much more should you and I do the same? Let’s give this some serious thought, brothers and sisters. Bless you!

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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Rich Toward God, Pt. 1

 

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The words of Jesus are unparalleled, just as Jesus is unparalleled.  They are the foundation for those who would follow him. Everything else, including bible verses, must be filtered through his teachings.  If we are building our walk and understanding on the teachings of Paul, Peter, popes, pastors, presidents, preachers, or anyone else, we’re mistaken.  I would like to look at one of Jesus’ parables.

Luke 12:15-22 NAS77 And (Jesus) said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (16) And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a certain rich man was very productive. (17) “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ (18) “And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. (19) ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘ (20) “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ (21) “So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (22) And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.

I am convinced every parable of Jesus has an ultimately spiritual meaning and application. Therefore, I don’t think he is really concerned with whether people store grain up or not.  His concern is much deeper – where our awareness is and the source of life we are drawing from.  (More on that in a bit).  It’s very important to notice the very first thing this man does – he begins reasoning to himself.This literally translates he reasonedwithin himself.” Then, he begins consulting his own “soul” (self) for guidance. These two actions underlie the whole meaning of this parable.

I realize that reason and self-consultation may seem harmless enough in the eyes of man, but spiritually, these things are absolutely fatal. Remember, in Romans 8 and elsewhere, Paul taught that the carnal mind (our natural, rational, non-spiritual mind) is hostile to God, and can’t know Him.  Consulting his non-spiritual, carnal mind for guidance was this man’s fundamental error, leading directly to his demise.  What’s scary is he seemed to think he was being wise, having no idea he was off track at all. 

Because God sees spiritually and men see fleshly, many who profess to believe in Christ have been occupied with the wrong problems and ignorant of one of the fundamental problems, which is fairly simple: our fleshly mind and natural life, whatever form they take, are at enmity with God, period.  Behavior and correct beliefs are secondary issues at best. What matters to God is the substance being presented to Him; flesh or spirit, Adam or Christ, shadow or reality, tradition or truth, reason or revelation, pretense or humility.  Jesus makes it very clear the rich man is aware of and living from his blind carnal mind and soul, which is the “old” God now has no dealings with.This man’s wealth reminds me of Revelation 3:17, where Jesus summarizes the Laodicean church’s attitude as: “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing…”  But where man sees wealth, God sees destitution.

Immediately before telling this parable, Jesus gives a warning which also has to do with this parable’s meaning: Beware, and be on your guard against all covetousness; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”  Here’s an alternative translation: Be seeing, (requires spiritual light/revelation and rejection of the fleshly mind) and be guarding against all covetousness, because abounding life doesn’t come from the things one possesses.” Covetousness = a desire to have more. In verse 18, this man decides to build bigger barns to store up his “grain” and “goods.” I think these represent whatever our soul takes pleasure or finds security in. Perhaps “grain” specifically represents material possessions (food, money, houses, etc), while “goods” represent the good works we do which we feel endear us to God and ensure our place in heaven. The human soul is very fearful. Consulting his soul brought a fear of lack, leading to covetousness, leading to blindness, which led to a hard heart and being cut off from God’s spiritual, eternal, vibrant life.  What is more valuable than that?  This is why Jesus warned not to connect possessions and “life.”  In reality, they have nothing to do with each-other. 

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Selfish Religion

It seems to me the primary goal of all religions is selfish. Buddhists seek Nirvana, Muslims seek heaven and in some cases perpetual sex, Mormons seek Godhood, Christians seek heaven, etc. Maybe this seems obvious or trivial at first, but after a little thought one can see any system that ultimately serves self does not honor another, (i.e. God). Doing or speaking good for an ultimately selfish end is not true love and makes everything a servant of self. Religions glorify and praise God(s) in word, song, and feeling. They advocate various forms of self-denial or hardship in order to please God, as well as advocate helping one’s fellow man. But when it’s all boiled down, the ultimate goal of each is a selfish one, and this totally prevents any true honor of another. Thus we see religion DOES NOT honor God.

I am coming from the perspective of a Christian, having been raised in the Christian world most of my life, and still near it and familiar with it in many ways. I can truly say that the goal of most Christians is to get to heaven and to avoid hell. Many Christians might deny this is their primary goal, but it is. Though this is impossible, if ALL promise of heaven and threat of hell were removed, most of Christianity would crumble. You see, only in freedom does one’s true nature come forth. Only when restraints and fear are removed do you see the true nature of the heart reflected in one’s actions.

Here’s a small example. Lets say a man owned two dogs, who he kept chained on the front porch while he went to work during the week. One Monday morning, after a long weekend, he put the dogs on the porch but forgot to chain them down. When he returned, one of the dogs had stayed right where he was left, and the other had run away. The owner was surprised, because the dog that ran had for years acted just as affectionate and loving as the one who stayed. But by running away, this dog showed that all along, he was loyal to his master only because he essentially had no choice. The other dog showed that his loyalty was from the heart, being proven by the test of freedom.

Freedom could be said to be a test. Only when one is free do you see the true motives of the heart come forth in the actions. Someone might object that there’s not freedom in Christianity, because of the constant threat of hell or judgment. Well, Christianity might teach that, but Jesus himself and the apostles taught that in Christ, we are free. Free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), free from law (Ephesians 2:13-19, book of Galatians), free from fear (Romans 8:15), free in God’s love, as a son (John 8:32-36). One thing we’re not freed from automatically is ourSELF. Salvation is a process which involves being freed from the influence of self, which is opposed to God.

It is very freeing to know God has adopted you into His family, that you have been cleansed by a once-for-all sacrifice, and that He isn’t watching over your shoulder to wait for you to sin so He can smite you. There’s many old-testament minded Pharisees today that will tell you otherwise, but this is the truth. For some, if they believed this, they would start pursuing the desires of their flesh/self. To do this is essentially to be your own god. But if you desire to be a disciple of Jesus, if you love the Father simply for who He is, you’ll follow and obey Him from your heart, from love no matter what you may get out of it or what happens to you. This was the attitude of Jesus – to do His Father’s will and to deny himSELF. It wasn’t and isn’t easy. The real goal of a follower of Jesus is to build and establish the Kingdom of God on earth – not to go to heaven. Examine your motives, and I pray we see that the glorious God is greater than we’ve ever known, His love is beyond our comprehension, and living for Him is the highest pursuit of all.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on June 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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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Laodicea Summarized

(Revelation 3, ESV):  14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

It’s critical to keep in mind that Laodicea, who Jesus speaks to, is a congregation of believers in Jesus Christ.   Laodicea means “a just/righteous people,” from the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes.    

Interestingly, Jesus tells them exactly why he sees them as “lukewarm.”  (Revelation 3): 17 Because you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing…”  Laodicea is seen as lukewarm and nauseating, because they say in their heart that their condition is one of wealth and they need nothing.  Again, this is a congregation of believers which God recognizes.  I believe Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven.  This is lukewarmnessJesus literally says in reality they are:  “undergoing a testing, pitiful, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”   He then gives them counsel to repair their utterly destitute state.  The theme of his counsel is toward repentance from tainted understandings.

Jesus first counsel is to get “gold refined by fire.”  Here and everywhere else, he is speaking spiritually.  This “gold” represents that which in the kingdom of God is precious and leads to increasing wealth.  In scripture, gold is compared with wisdom.  Wisdom and understanding are the “gold” of God’s kingdom.  The fire that refines (purifies) this gold is the judgments of God.  I believe this primarily takes place within our heart, the core of our thoughts and beliefs.  When we undergo this fire, things based on men’s false wisdom are either consumed or made visible and then separated.  What remains is the precious “gold” of everything in our heart which is based on wisdom from God.  I believe many well-established religious ways of thinking and acting will be burned up in this fire.  We can only access God’s mind and heart by Spirit-to-spirit revelation.

The second thing Jesus says to buy is “white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…”  Garments cover naked flesh.  In the spiritual, our “flesh” reprents our SELF, the “me, myself, and I” part that always cries out to be catered to.  Self can be very religious, but it always opposes God.  It must be crucified and covered.  I believe the “white garments” here represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus Christ Himself.  As self is daily put to death, then one can receive this white garment.  God recognizes nothing else.  Many things we see as “good” have been tainted by self and God sees them as ”wood, hay and stubble” to be burned or disgusting, “filthy rags.”  Self is the filth that stains our spiritual covering.

Finally, Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy “eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”  In  Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus spoke of the singular eye” (spiritual perception) which gives light within, which can be “clear” or “bad.”   The word “clear” is the Greek word haplous, essentially meaning an unmixed, sound whole.  Jesus is saying that one’s spiritual perception (eye) needs to be without any mixture of the false teaching of men or unclean spirits, which Jesus calls darkness.  An “eye” that has this mixture is called “bad” and results in total darkness.  Jesus warns if the “light” (truth and understanding) we claim to have is actually “darkness” (deception and confusion), then this is the most extreme darkness there is.  This is why the Laodicean attitude of “no need” while in darkness is so dangerous.

“Eye-salve” is the Greek word kollourion, which comes from a base word meaning “glue.” “Anoint” likely just means to “rub in.”  Our natural understanding is the “eye” Jesus said in Matthew 6:23 is bad and results in total darkness.  The “eye-salve” Jesus offers will glue shut this bad eye and cover it with the presence of the Holy Spirit.  1 John 2:27 says: “you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie…”  To perceive spiritually based on the “sight” of this anointing is the “clear” eye that Jesus says will produce a body full of light (truth).  But first, the “eye-salve” must be applied to glue shut or negate everything else.  If this is not done, then the natural, carnal understanding/perception will remain the “light” within, which Jesus calls the most extreme darkness.  God forbid.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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