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The Sting of Death (Root of Slavery Pt. 2)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (bondage).  -Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

In my last post, found here, I made the case that the “devil” in Hebrews 2 is not an evil spiritual being.  “Devil” is translated from the Greek word diabolos; an adjective which means something like “an accuser.”  In this post I want to look at what this “accuser” actually is.  

The primary thing Hebrews 2 says about this devil/accuser is that it had the “power of death.”  To make sense of this, we have to understand that “death” is often used in scripture in a spiritual sense, referring to a state of separation from God (who is Life).  Here are a few examples:

  • Romans 8:6: “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace…”  Just like darkness has no existence in itself, simply being the absence of light, so death has no existence itself, being the absence of Life.  The idea that the mind of the flesh IS death means is that there is nothing divine to be found in or given from the natural mind/imagination of man, which has not been refined by the Fire of God’s presence.

  • 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”  Abides in death = dwells/lives in death.  This is clearly not speaking of physical death (or life), but of a state of separation from from God, who is Life.  Note also: love is THE sign of Life.

  • 1 Timothy 5:6: “…She who is self-indulgent is (spiritually) dead even while she (physically) lives.”

 

  • The devil having the “power of death” means it somehow facilitated a separation from God, and it creating a “fear of death” means it also reinforced the awareness of this separation.

 

Now, how did the devil create a separation from God?  To answer that, let’s look at a few other scriptures which mention death and its power. My comments are in blue.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:56 ESV:  “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”  -In other words, law empowers sin, and sin gives death it’s “sting.”  So the foundation of sin and “stinging” death is law.  Law—> sin —>death.

  • Romans 5:12-13 ESV:  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”  Again, crazy as it may sound, we see that law —> sin —> death.  

  • Romans 3:20 ESV:  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  -Justification NEVER comes by law, only knowledge of sin/violation does!  

  • Romans 7:5-6:  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  This is the same basic thing as said in the verses above: law—> sin —> 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.”  There are many parallels here with Hebrews 2.  Here in Romans, we are told law and the “written code” held men “captive.”  Hebrews 2 mentions a “life-long bondage” empowered by a “devil” which was destroyed through Jesus’ death.  It’s clear in this passage that “that which held us captive” is the law, also referred to as “the written code.”  So, the “captivity” of Romans 7 is the same thing as the “life-long bondage” of Hebrews 2. All this captivity and bondage stems from the law, aka “the written code,” which created sin and death.

Think of a speed limit: does the law give a reward to those who drive within the limit?  No!  Law doesn’t work like that!  Law’s ONLY function is to accuse; to identify and prescribe penalties to those who step outside it’s boundaries.  In this way, law creates both sin and “sinners.”   When we become self-aware and conscious of sin, then spiritually speaking, we “die.”  This is what took place when Adam and Eve at from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They immediately saw their “nakedness,” BECAME AFRAID, and hid from God.   But, remember this: when Adam and Eve “sinned,” THEY hid from God, but HE went looking for them!   So here it is:

 

  • LAW is the “devil” of Hebrews 2.  Law accuses and thus gives rise to sin.  Sin then gives rise to death – an awareness of separation from God – through self-awareness and fear.  This also gives death a “sting,” causing people to be aware of and pained by it.  

To summarize: we know that the devil had the “power of death.”  By the same token, it is LAW which gives rise to sin, which then gives rise to death. The devil also facilitated a “fear of death.”  Again, law, by way of sin, gives death a fearful “sting.”  Third, the devil caused “life-long bondage.” Again, it is LAW which creates “captivity,” or bondage!  Here is one final scripture to support this idea:

In part 3 to come, I am going to look at how Jesus broke the cycle of “sin and death” and placed ALL men into a position of grace and life, though many remain ignorant of it.  Thanks for reading.  I know this may be a bit “dense,” but I hope it makes sense and you glean what you can.  Bless you!

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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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We ARE It (Without Hands pt. 1)

I’ve written many times about the fact that in Christ/Spirit, we have died and risen into new life.  In Colossians 2:11-13 (ESV), Paul uses the illustration of physical circumcision to make this same point:

“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, 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. 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…” 

There are several important things Paul states about this spiritual circumcision. First, it only exists “in him,” meaning in Christ/Spirit.  It’s not something that is seen in the physical body or felt with physical senses.  Second, it was done “without hands,” meaning that man had no part in it and cannot alter it.  Third, this circumcision didn’t cut off a foreskin, but the entire “body of the flesh.”  By doing this, God did what man couldn’t (and still can’t) – end the flesh. As God sees, in the Spirit, EVERYTHING which has been birthed from the “seed” of man is condemned, dead, taken away.  Fourth, Paul says God did this while men were dead in trespasses and (spiritual) uncircumcision.  We didn’t “earn” this, it was done in God’s timing and by His decision.  Paul says by cutting off the flesh, God was forgiving all trespasses and uniting men with Christ, making them alive TOGETHER with him. Needless to say, a radical change has taken place!  This change, for those with eyes to see, is not in the physical world, and not in the darkness within or outside of us.  Those things remain dead.  This change is in the Spirit, which then alters our perception of and relationship to everything, and which ultimately will consume all that is not in accordance with it!  

In a recent post, I mentioned some questions I wanted to address in light of these things.  Here are a few of these:

1. How should we relate to other people?  

-I agree with Paul, who in 2 Corinthians 5:16 wrote believers are to “know no man after the flesh.”  Knowing that in the light of the new covenant, all flesh has been cut off and put away, and all men reconciled to God, we will not relate to people (positively or negatively) based off what is dead and cut off.  It’s unnatural and often very difficult to walk this way, but I think the term for it is LOVE.  For example, In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul wrote: “…the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded (recognized) this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died…”  In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul also famously wrote that love keeps no record of wrongs, is longsuffering and kind and never quits.  I believe this is because love is based on the eternal, accomplished fact that Christ died for all, as all, reconciling all men to God, who is no longer counting sins against anyone. 

 

2. What should our relationship be to the world? (I define “world” not as planet earth, but as the systems and values that have been founded and established by man on the earth).  

Again, scripture answers this quite clearly:  

  • “…the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  -Galatians 6:14

  • “…all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” -1 John 2:16-17 ESV

Recognizing the cross of Christ was our cross too, and that his resurrection was our resurrection too, we will not make any firm attachments to anything still founded on the old creation, nor will we let its values or deceitful desires enter our hearts.

3. What is our relationship to religion?  

-We realize that God is satisfied in His son, and places no value on anything except an increase of His spirit.  In the new creation, there is no benefit (nor intrinsic harm) in any outward observances of any kind.  The only obligation we have is to love one-another.  Seeing the mind and hand of natural man underlying all forms of religion, and knowing natural man is spiritually dead, we simply leave religion be, calling men to come out of it as the Spirit reveals the new creation within them.  We then follow the Spirit in freedom and Life, outside of pretense and ritual.

4. What do we make of it when we still “sin?,” if we have died and been raised with Christ?  

– First, let us remember, according to scripture, Jesus became sin on our behalf, took away the sin of the world, and God is no longer reckoning sin against anyone.  So while sin exists (in a sense), it is, in the final analysis, a moot point, a defeated foe, a nullified issue, and one that we would be much better off not worrying about at all.

Assuming this is true and we are reckoned sinless and have been raised to new life in Christ, it is still the case that the MANIFESTATION of this reality is not instant or painless.  We remain human, and scripture gives many examples of carnal behavior even among the early church.  Even when we genuinely are seeking the Kingdom, it often takes time for us to let go of habits and attachments that were formed in darkness, especially those deeply-rooted issues which often develop from traumatic experiences and subconcious lies.  It also often takes time to unlearn and undo the fear-based, self-focused way of relating to God many of us were raised under.  And because some of these things remain, sometimes old behaviors/habits persist for a time, or temporarily return.    

But, the key thing is, having died with Christ, we know these things are not “us.”  As Paul wrote in Romans 7, it was not he (Christ, his true identity) that sinned, but the vestiges of sin (the old man/Adam) that remained within him.  Knowing Christ alone is alive, he sought and suffered to see that truth become the manifest reality of his existence.  Knowing any old, sinful ways are not “us” and are not being held against us, we can avoid the two deadly errors: either thinking we “have it” and becoming proud, or thinking we “don’t have it” and becoming discouraged and fearful.  We don’t “have it” or “not have it.”  We ARE it!   It’s just a matter of revelation, refining, and manifestation.  

Here’s what I mean by “we are it.”  A few scriptures speak of purification or refining, which is a process that identifies and removes foreign material so only the valued substance remains.  In the same sense, the Spirit isn’t working to make us something new or better, but simply to identify and consume what ISN’T our true and valuable nature – Christ/Spirit/love.  As we yield to the Spirit’s gentle work, painful as it may be, the falsehoods and impurities are removed, making us become MANIFESTLY a new creation in the process.  It may not look like the ideal person religion has presented, but more like Jesus.

~

Father, renew our minds and hearts to the reality of the new creation.  Let us always remember that in the end, the “hands” of man are useless.  May Christ, our life, be manifested, unhindered by our own efforts or misunderstandings.   Thank you that you removed sin and are not dealing with us accordingly.  May we be the same, for ourselves and others, that fear might diminish, and love and wisdom grow.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Servanthood vs. Sonship

 

prodigal son modern

I wrote part of the following on my facebook page recently and it brought about some good discussion and insights.  I’ve mentioned these ideas before, but I think they came out particularly clearly and concisely in this instance.

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I believe there are two ways of relating to God: as servants or as sons. The relationship of a servant is one of keeping laws and fearing punishment, but not of receiving reward for obedience.  Law doesn’t give any rewards, it simply waits to punish those who step out of line.

Sons, on the other hand, while they may need to grow and mature, are still considered equals with their Father, being members of His household. They are not under the laws of the servant, so they do not fear punishment or rejection. They love their Father, honoring Him, learning His heart and ways, and helping run His kingdom by fulfilling the tasks He gives them. They cooperate with the Father and inherit all that He has. The relationship of a son is one of honor, cooperation, peace and freedom.

Although they deeply want to please their Father and further His purposes (Kingdom), sons aren’t even aware of laws – they know they’re accepted and loved members of the family, so with freedom and without fear they live and go about their Father’s business and tasks, enjoying the benefits of being in His household.  Servants, however, are and should be very worried about breaking the laws and rules. Strictly obeying them is their entire life and purpose.

LAW CREATES SERVANTS, AND SERVANTHOOD IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE  IMMATURE AND INFERIOR WHEN COMPARED WITH SONSHIP.

Jesus, the firstborn Son, made himself a servant in order to elevate us to sons.  Now, by saying sons aren’t under the law, which is true, I’m not saying that following the flesh is ok. If you’re following the flesh, you’re not following the spirit. But “flesh” can also be very good, religious and devout.  If you’re walking in the spirit, you’ll naturally be aware of love and freedom, not the self-examination that comes with law-keeping as a means of righteousness.

So what about sin?  I think it’s important to understand that “sin” literally means to “miss the mark.” For servants, the “mark” or goal is the law, and therefore sin is a violation of these commandments or laws. But for a son, who aren’t under these commandments and laws, sin is different. For a son, the “mark” is love and conformity to the Father’s heart/will at the present time. Therefore a son can keep law perfectly, can refrain from all outward forms of sin, but still very much “miss the mark” (sin).  Have you known someone who outwardly seems very righteous, but who can be harsh, critical, unloving, and self-focused?  That person is not walking as a son, though they may be seeming to “keep the law.”  Sonship is actually a higher call, harder and more costly in many ways, but also much, much more glorious.

I could go on an on, it’s a huge topic, big enough for a book. I can’t make anyone “see” these things, but I pray these words can be used to open some eyes and feed some hungry hearts. Many scriptures testify to these things and highlight the distinction between servants and sons. But others, it’s true, seem to be directed toward those with a servant mentality.  Perhaps it’s true that some scriptures are directed at servants, and others at sons. I suppose both have a place.  But I’d rather be a son, even if it’s harder.

By the way, I think the scripture which mentions “sinning willfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth” in Hebrews 10 is referring to one who rejects the sacrifice of Christ and the sonship it brings, and instead continuing to try to relate to God by law and self-righteousness. It’s exactly like Paul wrote in Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by (literally: “in”) the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

The difference between servanthood and sonship is truly radical.  Galatians 4:4-7 KJV says this: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Likewise, Hebrews 10:12-22 KJV says this: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience (no awareness/consciousness of sin, see Hebrews 10:2), and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Amen…

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Deceitfulness of “Sin”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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Kingdom Warnings in Hebrews

Falling_Fence_(John_Gollings_with_Samantha_Slicer_2001)

I think in some ways, Hebrews is the most unusual and “mysterious” book in the New Testament (along with Revelation), and it is one of my favorites. As I was reading it recently, three explicit warnings given in the first few chapters stood out to me, and as I thought about and looked into them further, I found some really cool stuff.  I was also reminded that while it might be more pleasant to focus only on the promises and the positives, if we believe those, we should equally believe the warnings that came from the same source.   (All scripture quotations from the WEB ® translation).

(Hebrews 2:1): “Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away.”

(Hebrews 3:12-13): “Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today;” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

(Hebrews 4:1-2): “Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard.”

Condensing and summarizing these warnings helps clarify them:

  • (2:1) Our Call: Pay closer attention to God’s word; first and foremost as given through Christ himself, but also as given through His apostles and prophets.  What is Being Avoided: Drifting away from God’s heart and Kingdom, into religious deception or spiritual apathy.

  •  (3:12-13) Our call: Be aware that an evil heart of unbelief (spiritual blindness) can take root, exhort each-other.  What is being avoided: An evil heart of unbelief (a spiritually blind, deceived heart), falling away from the living God (walking in old religion instead of fresh revelation), being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (having a heart and mind which is callous and impenetrable to the truth, being covered by layers of convincing deception).

  • (4:1-2) Our call: To fear, to ensure faith (gift of true spiritual perception) is “mixed” with what we hear from God.  What is being avoided: Coming short of and failing to enter God’s promised rest.

I don’t have a lot more to say on this…it’s sobering. I think the church of Christ, by and large and almost from the outset, has failed to heed these warnings, and has suffered the consequences listed above, resulting in irrelevance, disconnect from God, and hindering the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. It would go a long way if believers would get over themselves and their selfish focus on “sin,” heaven, and hell, which are not what the gospel is really about.  Instead, let’s seek to have a Kingdom mentality like Jesus did (his first words in scripture are “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”), the apostles did (Paul preached the kingdom until the end)1, and the Father does. 

Isn’t it interesting that neither the admonitions or warnings in these verses have to do with behaviors or actions?  This is because behavior isn’t the issue.  Jesus’ life and death was for the sake of the Kingdom of God, for the will and heart of God. Nothing more or less. With that goal in mind, our path and calling are clarified. As Jesus said, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God (His will done on earth as it is in heaven) and His righteousness (the things He desires in the current season and moment).  Our good or bad behavior factors in to the equation as a very minor point, if at all.

Sin/bad behavior is an issue which has already been dealt with, and what God sees as sin in the new covenant is different from what natural man, who remains under the law, sees as sin. If we truly love God and desire to do His will, what we must be sure to avoid are things that will hinder the Kingdom. These are the things that Hebrews warns of and are spiritual, inward states like an “evil heart” that is impenetrable to new truth, religious deception and dogma, doctrine without revelation, false faith, flippancy towards God’s message through His prophets and apostles, self-confidence, etc. Bad behavior won’t hinder the Kingdom nearly like these things will (if at all).

I hope this served as an exhortation for you and I am thankful for others who exhort or otherwise fulfill their role in the body of Christ faithfully. Let’s think on these things brothers and sisters, they are extremely important if we care about God’s Kingdom. Amen.

1. Acts 28:31

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Awareness

“For the Law…can never…make perfect those who draw near.  Otherwise, would they (law-ordained sacrifices) not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness (awareness) of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder (bringing back to awareness) of sins year by year. (Hebrews 10:1-3)

“…through death He (Jesus) might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death (judgment) were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Law was always intended as a temporary measure until Christ came.  Law and sin go hand-in-hand.  Look at these quotes from the Bible:

  • …through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
  • …apart from the Law sin is dead.
  • …the power of sin is the law… 
  • …sin is not imputed when there is no law.

I believe that what dominates our awareness, controls us and is, in a sense, our “master.”  If sin is what you are constantly aware of, then sin is your master, no matter if this awareness takes the form of a nagging regret of past sin, fear of future sin, drive to avoid sin, desire to indulge in sin, or whatever else.  Until Christ came, law and sin were the master of God’s people, dominating their awareness due to fear of judgment.  In fact, the ONLY thing law can give is demands and punishments.   Fearing punishment and avoiding sin is a servant’s mentality.  Pursuing God’s kingdom and walking with Him in love’s freedom is the mentality of a son or daughter.  As long as law remained in place, men would never be able to relate to God like a true son, without the pretense and fear that come from a law-based relationship that lacks love and intimacy.  

Therefore, as Hebrews 10 indicates, an essential purpose of Jesus’ ministry and shed blood was to take away sin-awareness, which is founded on law, and thus cancel our bondage to sin’s rule over us.  Adam, the physical ancestor of all men, sinned and thus sin spread to all his offspring.  In the same way, Jesus, as the spiritual ancestor of a new spiritual race of people, fulfilled the law, freeing all his offspring from law and sin.  He also offered a once-for-all sacrifice of divine blood, far superior to that of animals.  Because of this, as members of Jesus’ spiritual body, we can focus on God’s kingdom, not on our behavior or our final destination.  Sin shall not have rule over our awareness or our bodies, because we’re not under law, but under grace (God’s empowering).  By Jesus’ once-for-all offering of himself, all believers have been sanctified (Hebrews 10:10) and perfected forever (10:14).  Believe this and move out of the holding pen of sin-awareness and behavior management.  Life consists of what you are aware of.  Be aware of God and His kingdom, not sin.  Amen.

More to come  : )   God bless you.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 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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