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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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Inevitable Fire and Solid Hope

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“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.  -Mark 9:43-49 ESV

“…he has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  -Hebrews 12:26-29

A while back, a friend of mine said something that struck me as profoundly true: the “fire” spoken of many times in the New Testament is nothing other than the presence and being of God.  Let’s always remember, an essential part of who God is and what He does is “consuming fire.  In the end, the fire of God’s presence “shakes,” consumes and permanently ends all that is based on the fearful mind of man apart from the spirit, including all inward and outward selfishness, oppression, wickedness, falsehood, and perversion.  These are the “wood, hay and stubble” that Paul said are destined to burn up in fire.1  It can be no other way.  Wicked men won’t “burn forever” any more than wicked systems or institutions will.  Our God is not a torturing fire, He is a CONSUMING fire.  What can remain after undergoing such intense Fire?  Well, think about this: the only thing that no fire can consume is a fire like itself.

Jesus famously prayed that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven,2 and I think we can agree on two things: 1) This prayer is inevitably going to be fulfilled, and 2). This reality has not fully manifested yet, in time and space.  If it WILL be fullfilled, then all that remains to be seen is when and through whom.  When will the members of Christ’s body lay down the illusion of OUR valuable independent lives to receive and live by the Life of the Spirit?  Or, will the vast majority of us continue to fearfully oppose and resist the Spirit of the very God we claim to worship, while covering our hearts in the armor of fear, ignorance and pride?  Paul said the manifestation of God’s reign on earth  is characterized by “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”3  These qualities are only found when and where men follow Christ, loving one-another as themselves, where leaders are servants, the last are first, and meekness is recognized as strength.  The Kingdom is not merely “moral.”  It is LOVING – a far costlier way.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans 11:33-36.  In the ESV translation it says this:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

All things are from God, through God, and to God.  Isn’t that amazing?  This is a solid hope: both the source and destination of the universe is God, who is love, light, spirit and consuming fire.  The fire must first consume, but love DOES win.  I refer to this as a “solid hope,” because in spite of whatever chaos and pain and lack of clarity we may find ourselves surrounded by, it remains true.  This solid hope is like a beacon in darkness, a northern star to navigate by.  It’s a truth to receive, build upon, and act in accordance with.  What it is NOT is an excuse to continue following the “flesh” down a path of selfishness and fear (even if masked by religion).  If we use divine truth as an excuse for the flesh, we are doubly guilty and awaiting God’s consuming fire to burn us and all we’ve built.  Even worse, living such a way contradicts and dishonors the Father.  

At the top, I quoted Jesus’ words in Mark 9:49, where he said we will ALL be salted with fire.  In context, Jesus was talking about hell and is clearly saying that ALL will undergo the fire of hell itself.  That alone should make us take another look at what we have thought “hell” is.  Everyone, at least at first, has desires, ambitions, motivations, fears, enjoyments, and whatever else, which have been kept away from God, knowing that if they are exposed, they will be consumed.  Well, I have news for us all: they will be exposed and consumed anyway!  If we willingly bring them to the light to be exposed and to the fire to be consumed and refined, we will become children of light and have less to hinder our progress along path of righteousness, and we will not have to be burned by force later.  This is largely what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 11:31, when he wrote: “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”  

I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone – keeping in mind the inevitability of Fire, let’s allow it to burn away our chaff and wickedness now.  Again, this isn’t about “sin,” but more about selfishness, fear, and ignorance.  Let’s let go of these and surrender to humility and love, following Paul’s counsel in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “…do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Finally, think about this: not one single thing we can see with our physical eyes is eternal.  Nothing.  This simply means we should treat the physical world as transient and, in a sense, illusory, valuing and devoting ourselves much more fully to things which we can only see with the eyes of our hearts, things of the Spirit realm which won’t end, such as love, peace, joy, compassion, healing, kindness, faithfulness, self-denial, gentleness, righteousness, patience, faithfulness, truth, etc.  This is how Jesus lived, and all who will follow him as a Son of God will devote themselves to these things as well.  

Thank you for reading. 

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
  2. Matthew 6:10
  3. Romans 14:17
 
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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Life and Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Power Perfected (Our Body pt. 3)

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“He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 WEB (R))

“And those who passed by derided (Jesus), wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.” (Matthew 27:39-44 ESV)

Wow.  Just wow.  

Here’s something to think about: to walk in the Spirit of God, the Spirit of “power and love and self-control,” a requirement is that the flesh be “weak,” meaning “without energy.”  Our flesh should be so “malnourished” that it has no power.  This is not a metaphor or suggestion, but a universal law, expressed many times in scripture. For instance, in 2 Corinthians 12, quoted above, Paul says he was being beaten up and weakened by a “messenger of Satan” so that he would not become arrogant or self-righteous.  He asked God to take this away, but God chose to leave it, telling Paul that His (spiritual) power is only matured where there is weakness (of flesh).  This does not refer to the physical body.  The “flesh” is a nature, which was birthed when Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The flesh is always fearful and self-focused, because it is based on the illusion that man has goodness, worth or even existence in and of Himself, apart from the Spirit. Paul understood this and concluded: “when I (flesh) am weak, then I (Spirit) am strong.”  Again, I believe this is a universal law, not a suggestion or an ideal.  

It’s a well-known mystery in Christian circles that the first “church,” particularly for the short time following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, walked in spiritual power and radical love far beyond what we usually see today.  Perhaps the reason for this discrepancy is simply that we have failed to truly embrace weakness of flesh?  As stated in Acts chapter 2, the first group of believers, at the direction of and under the power of the Spirit, renounced individual ownership of everything they had.  Everything was seen as belonging to the body of Christ, not the individual member, so if one member lacked, others would gladly give.  They truly practiced the exhortation Paul would later write to the believers in Phillipi: “…make my joy full, by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself; each of you not just looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant…”1

Today, I see so much of the opposite.  I see many believers (including myself many times) being far more “generous” toward and occupied with themselves than others.  How can this be reconciled with “love your neighbor as yourself“?  I hear talk of violent response to persecution, despite the fact that Jesus taught against it.  Obviously, I want to live in peace, free from an oppressive government.  That’s not a “bad” desire, but the bigger question isn’t “good or bad,” but “flesh or spirit.”  God doesn’t just look for “good” and only reject “bad.”  He recognizes and looks for spiritual, and rejects fleshlyI don’t understand things perfectly, but is it possible that the earth is in the shape it’s in not because we haven’t killed enough bad people, but because believers have walked in the flesh without realizing it, and have thus remained spiritually immature and unable to share or impart Truth and Life?  What I am simply trying to do here is remind us of a spiritual law which has largely been ignored, resulting in a lack of power.  The law is this: spiritual power is matured only in fleshly weakness

Consider this scenario: What if God isn’t so much looking at us as believers individually, but as His (corporate) Son, the entire body of Christ?  What if, just like Paul (and Jesus himself? see Hebrews 5:7-9 below)2, many members of the body of Christ need suffering to shock them into seeing how deeply the tentacles of the “flesh” have infiltrated every part of their life and thought?  If God is aiming to weaken the flesh (which He sees as death) in order to allow for the maturity of the Spirit, then such hardship and suffering would actually be an act of mercy and love, because the deceptive flesh is keeping believers from their inheritance in God’s Kingdom!

Here’s where the rubber meets the road: if THE BODY needed such harsh treatment, would you INDIVIDUALLY embrace it for the sake of others, or would you resist it?  Would you gladly lose your comforts and pleasures if it meant the maturity of OUR body3 and the establishment of the Kingdom of God?  If not, then the love of the world is in your heart and you are not seeing and living according to the spirit, the New Covenant, and love. That’s not a condemnation, just a statement of fact and something to address.  Most believers are not in such a place right now, and I’m not all the way there myself.  If nothing else, let’s be willing to be willing to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  Let’s seek the One whose love and Spirit are within us and are able to make us willing, from the heart, to suffer gladly for the sake of others.  Although the flesh was put away and made obsolete at the cross of Christ, many of us to this day still know it as our “life,” so letting it go is impossible in the flesh, which is why self-examination and religious piety are useless.  What’s needed is for the flesh to be ignored altogether, good or bad, and for us to set our minds and hearts on the revelation of the Father and the maturity of His spirit within.

Good and evil are the two sides of the coin known as “flesh,” but there is a different way altogether, known as “the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.”4  The term “flesh” can encompass everything born of Adam/Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than of Christ/The Tree of Life/the Spirit.  On the other side of embracing (not causing) the “death” of the flesh is true Life – not a better existence on earth, but the inward reality of all the things the scriptures speak of – Love and glory and all the fruit of the Spirit.  Our Father is patient and kind, and will provide what we need (though not necessarily what we selfishly want or are accustomed to) by the power of the Spirit.  If you see a “shaking” coming or experience it, realize that the only thing that can be shaken is the flesh. Therefore don’t fear, but rejoice!  The flesh being weakened/malnourished will allow for the Spirit to mature.  See it as an opportunity to practice true discipleship and follow the Lord, and realize hardship and oppression may not be something to resist but embrace, because the stage is being set for the Spirit of God to truly work in His body once again.  Amen.

  1. Philippians 2:2-7 WEB (R)

  2. (Hebrews 5:7-9 WEB (R)):  He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear, though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation…

  3. https://firstthekingdom.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/body-or-bodies-our-body-pt-1/

  4. Romans 8:2 WEB (R): For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 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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Foolishness

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My brother and I sometimes laugh about the word “fool,” because it is so potent and descriptive, and we can all relate to it to one extent or another.  To me, the essence of a fool is not someone without understanding, but without the ability or willingness to be corrected and to gain understanding.1  In that way, foolishness is empowered by pride.  If you are on the wrong path but refuse to even consider another way or receive correction, what hope is there for you?  Until you are humbled, there is none.  A few weeks ago, I came across this clip from the TV show “The Office.”  While funny, the catch is that a true fool or “idiot” wouldn’t genuinely stop and reconsider their ways to begin with, and many life their entire natural life in such a foolish state, with some calling it righteousness, others “reason.”

What I really want to explore is the idea that the ways of God/the Spirit are and always will be foolish to the “world” (meaning all that has its origin in Adam through the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).  On a practical level, this means that if you are walking in the Spirit, in righteousness, and loving your neighbor as yourself, your actions and values will very often appear foolish, both to others and even to (the rational/soulish/fleshly part of) yourself!  Decisions and actions which don’t take self into account in any way seem foolish to everyone and everything outside of the Spirit and love.  But read the scriptures below, especially Jesus’ words, and you’ll see that to love, you have to be “foolish.”  As I’ve said many times, the way of self/Adam/the flesh/the world is always selfish at its core,  in one way or another.   

Elaborating further, I’m convinced that the ways of God/Spirit do not take self into account at all.  Scripture attests quite plainly that in the eyes and mind of God/Spirit, self (also called Adam or flesh or soul or the natural man or the old man or the world) is dead, irrelevant, crucified, put out of sight and out of mind.  This isn’t to say self/flesh doesn’t still have some place within us or exert an influence on the earth, it just means they have no influence or effect on the Spirit.  The Spirit doesn’t reward good flesh, punish bad flesh, or have any other “response” to flesh – it bypasses flesh totally because flesh is dead.  In this way, the law has no claim on a son of God.  Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t smite us right away when we “sin,” or clearly reward us when we’re doing good?  God doesn’t relate to us based on our religious devotion or lack thereof.

The apostle Paul has a reputation as intellectual, deep, blunt and harsh, all of which are true.  But, if you read his letters closely, you’ll see he was also first and foremost a man of deep love.  For example*:

(1 Corinthians 4:10-13)“We (those sent by God) are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have honor, but we have dishonor. Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten, and have no certain dwelling place. We toil, working with our own hands. When people curse us, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure. Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now.” 

(Ephesians 5:1-2)“Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.”

(Romans 12:10, Romans 13:8, 1 Corinthians 16:14, Galatians 5:13-14, Colossians 3:12-14)

  • “In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another…” 
  • “…owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” 
  • “…Let all that you do be done in love.” 
  • “…For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
  • “…Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Jesus also emphasized the way of foolish love:

(Matthew 5:39-48)“But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

(Matthew 20:25-28):  “But Jesus summoned them, and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

(John 15:12-13):  “This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Ok, so let’s make this practical again. There is no way that in ourselves, in our old nature, lower nature, nature of Adam, our flesh, our religion, whatever you want to call it, will ever be able to do this in sincerity.  Instead, the self tends to create or follow a religion or belief system which allows for righteousness without faith and without love.  The result attracts the soul and ego of men, but not the Spirit.  One way to discern between religion and the Spirit is that religion compels men with duty, threats and rewards.  If you are “loving” with any of these things mixed in, what you are calling love isn’t love.  Genuine love, in the Spirit, doesn’t compel, it is a nature, it’s natural

We MUST both see and walk in the Spirit, no matter what appears “right” or “logical” or even “scriptural” to our natural minds.  Only in the Spirit is the flesh nullified and faith, hope and love exist.  If we can connect with God within, with our higher nature there, we will find love is at the core of who we are.   As those who truly follow Christ walk in this sacrificial, radical love, especially for one-another, Jesus said men will know we are truly from him and not just adherents of another man-made religion with lots of dogma but little substance.  Get alone with God, humble yourself, seek Him without any selfish agenda, and genuine changes will start to happen  : )

 

  1. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=KJV&quicksearch=fool+heart&begin=24&end=24

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Light of Life

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“Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.'”1

Recently, some friends of mine presented to me the teaching of Richard Rohr on the “true” and “false” selves, which I believe are the same things as what others have called the flesh and the spirit, the old man and the new man, or Adam and Christ.  What Mr. Rohr teaches is essentially that the false self is the identity we have given to ourselves – an identity which consists of who we see ourselves as and who we believe we should be.  The false self is often based on our life experiences and our daily roles and duties.  It is tainted by selfishness and warped by fear.  The true self, he says, is who we are beyond and underneath all expectations, experiences, fears, and pain.  The true self, he says, is the only one who is born of God, and it must be uncovered and allowed to dominate our awareness. 

Another thing I’ve thought about is Jesus’ title as “the light of the world.”  What does this mean?  Think about this: light has two important functions, which operate together: 1). To reveal or manifest what is real and true, and 2). To dispel darkness and false ideas of what is real and true. When you turn on the light in a dark room, two things happen: you learn what is in the room, and you learn what isn’t in the room.  So if Christ gives light, what reality or truth does his light enable us to see and apprehend?  Could it be that this light which Christ shines illuminates and thus reveals a distinction (which is what “judgment” actually means) between what is of God (spirit and truth), and what is of man (flesh and falsehood)?  Perhaps a primary thing Christ came to enlighten men about is that the spirit of God is within them (the true self), and that we can walk as sons of God simply by attending to and living from that life which is within us, while denying our self-preserving old nature.  Spiritually, in the absence of light (darkness), there can be no reality, only the imaginations of men, which can certainly produce wonderful emotions and great religions, but never life.

The arrival of Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy that the time of “darkness” was ending:

  • (Matthew 4:13-16 KJV):  “…He came and dwelt in Capernaum…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying:  ‘…the people which sat in darkness (all men, ultimately) saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up'”.
  • (Luke 1:67, 76-79 KJV):  “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying…And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death…”  Notice that according to God, law-keeping Israel, who Jesus was sent to, were sitting in “darkness” and “the shadow of death!”
  • (Luke 2:25-32 WEB (R)):  “Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. He came in the Spirit into the temple. When the parents brought in the child, Jesus, that they might do concerning him according to the custom of the law, then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now you are releasing your servant, Master, according to your word, in peace; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Paul taught that believers were once in darkness, but in Christ are now in the light:

  • (Acts 26:22-23): …I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen, how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles.”
  • (Ephesians 5:8): “For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…”
  • (1 Thessalonians 5:5): “You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness…”
  • (2 Corinthians 4:6):  “…seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
  • (1 Peter 2:9):  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…”

This post is just scratching the surface…I’m already working on a part 2 that goes deeper.  For now, I just hope you are seeing that all believers are to live “in the light” and be a source of light for others.  This doesn’t mean living a moral life (as I’ve said many times before, atheists and “religious” folks can both be very moral), nor does it mean merely “witnessing” to others about Jesus, which can be done in your own power and from a wrong motive.  The light that we are to walk in and shine is the LIFE of God – His spirit within us, our “true self.”  The defining characteristic of this life is self-sacrificing love which is naturally produced (though still painful at times), and a desire for communion with God in Spirit and Truth.  Again, Jesus said those who follow him will have “the light OF life.”  It’s a life and light that is within us, right now.  You don’t need to beg, do something, or go somewhere to get it.  Just realize it’s there and seek to uncover it.  This isn’t automatic or always easy, but it is very possible, absolutely revolutionary, and spiritually necessary.  Stay tuned my friends.  God bless you.

 

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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