Ministry of the Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ministry of the Spirit

By Larry R. Lasiter

© 2010

"But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?" 2 Corinthians 3:7-8

The Apostles were sent forth from Christ with the Gospel of a new Covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit - and not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts written by the Spirit of God. The Sinai Covenant ratified with the children of Israel was the ministry of death mentioned here in our text. In verse 9 the Old Covenant including the letters engraved in stones is referred to as the ministry of condemnation. You might wonder how this could be since the Ten Commandments were and are holy, reveal Godís standard, and teach us how He wants us to live? Notice also that this same Apostle in his first letter to this Church said, -"What matters is keeping the Commandments of God." (1 Cor.7)

The Bible defines sin as the transgression of the Law, and since we have all sinned and have come short of the glory of God we all stand condemned. This is where the new Covenant, the ministry of the Spirit comes to the rescue, -"The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (vs.6) Paul went on to explain that the Lord Himself is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. And this is why Jesus told Nicodemis, who by genealogy was born under the Sinai Covenant, that he must be born again of the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God. The Commandments can teach us what sin is but they cannot save us from the sins we commit - the letter condemns and kills because the penalty for sin is death.

The Israelites were actually offered the Covenant of the Spirit at Sinai which would have made them a whole nation of priests,- "If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My Covenant. . .then you will be to Me a kingdom of priests." (Ex.19) But because of fear they backed away from Godís presence and chose Moses to intercede for them, -"Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." (Ex.20) God would have written His Commandments into their hearts and given them the Holy Spirit to magnify their intent and empower them to walk in them. The ministry of the Spirit would have also brought them under the grace of God where their sins would have been forgiven. As a result all they received was the letter of the Law and God eventually added more than six hundred laws because of transgressions. (Gal.3)

But Godís Laws are Spiritually discerned, and no one can truly obey them without being led by the Holy Spirit, which is "the Lord" Himself (2 Cor.3:17) and even then all we can do is obey them in our mind because our flesh will always fall short. Paul said, -"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the Law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the Law of sin." (Rom.7:24-25) Our desire and willingness to obey Godís Commandments is service to God - even though in the flesh we fail daily.

Our failures are in the flesh but our true life is in the Spirit where we are perfect and just in the eyes of God.

In Matthew 5 Jesus said, -"Never imagine that I have come to destroy the Law. . .I have come to fulfill, and until heaven and earth pass away not one comma shall pass from the Law." Later in the same message Jesus quoted two of the Commandments in the letter, but then magnified the Spiritual intent by saying that "to hate someone" is murder and "to lust" is adultery. Paul wrote that the Law was Spiritual (Rom.7) - it must be Spiritually discerned. Only the ministry of the Spirit can reveal the meaning of the letter by removing the veil. And only the ministry of the Spirit can put the life of Christ in us and bring us into grace. "But we all. . .are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Cor.3:18)

 

Discovery of Sin

 "But I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me." Romans 7:16-17

Jesus said, -"No man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6)"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word." (John 17)

We cannot decide to come to Christ on our own but can only answer His call when it comes and respond to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

 Those who hear the call of God today receive the honor of being the first-fruits of Godís Harvest and will be in the first resurrection, -"and I will raise him up on the last day." Notice also Revelation 20:6, -"Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years" Notice Verse 5, -"The rest of the dead did not come up until the thousand years were completed."

When we are truly convicted we see the wickedness of our sins for the first time which causes us to cry out for forgiveness.

We immediately see that we are guilty and humbly fall to our knees realizing our desperate need for Godís mercy. Initially we are so over-whelmed by the multitude of our transgressions we just want to have all of our sins forgiven and feel clean. But soon afterwards we discover the principle of sin itself.

At conviction we first see our sins, and at sanctification we make the discovery of the nature of sin itself.

At conviction we realized we had sins standing against us that needed to be paid for, and at sanctification we realized that we needed deliverance from the power of sin. Like this beloved Apostle, we too agree with the Law of God but find ourselves doing the very things we hate. Paul blamed the nature of sin which dwelled with him. He understood that though he had already been forgiven of the sins he had committed, he needed deliverance from the power of sin, -"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" The answer is Jesus, -"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" No matter how many sins you commit, it will always be the sin-principle that leads you to them.

Not only do we need forgiveness for what we have done, we also need deliverance from what we are.

Thanks be to God, we have a Deliverer in Jesus.

In his letter to the Galatians (2:20) Paul said that he had been crucified with Christ and that the risen Savior was now living His life in him. He taught the Romans that Jesus died for our sins but was risen because of our justification. (Rom.4)

To be justified means to have been examined and judged innocent. Since we are raised with Him we must first be declared blameless and innocent.

How? As Paul said, -"To live is Christ." (Phil.1) We are sanctified when we receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to the discovery of the nature of sin, but also to the nature of righteousness in our Deliverer, -"For as through the one manís disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." (Rom.5:19)Through Adam we received the sin nature, but through Christ, the "last Adam" we receive the holy nature of God.

 

A Clean Conscience

 "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22

When we come to Jesus old things pass away. When we receive Him our old self dies and we become a new creation in Christ. We were once in sin but now have been transferred into the righteousness of Christ and are declared "holy," "unblemished," "innocent," and "above reproach." In Romans 8 the Apostle boldly cried, -"Who dares bring an accusation against those whom the Lord has justified."

I am reminded of when Joshua, the High Priest was standing before Godís Throne wearing filthy rags and Satan was at his right hand making railing accusations against him. The filthy rags represented Joshuaís life work and the devil was pointing out that he was not worthy to serve as High Priest of Israel. The High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement to atone for the sins of the people, but first he had to be cleansed from his own sins. The filthy clothing was evidence that he was not clean and therefore was unworthy to make atonement for the sins of the people.

Then suddenly the Lord rebuked Satan and commanded His servants to remove the filthy garments and clothe him with pure and clean garments, saying, -"See, I have taken your iniquity away from you." (Zech.3) This same blessing is lavished upon every Christian - "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor.5) At the cross Jesus became our sin and when we come to Him we become His righteousness.

The flesh is too bad to be cleansed -it must be crucified

- it must die.

Though the flesh dies when we come to Jesus, the conscience and the heart remains. This is why our text says that our hearts must be sprinkled clean to protect us from an evil conscience. We are given a type for this when the High Priest entered through the veil and sprinkled the Mercy Seat with the blood of a sacrifice to atone for sins. The sacrifice, the flesh, had already been offered and burned on the altar, but now comes the role of the blood which cleanses our hearts. Under the Old Covenant the sacrifices and the ritual had to be done every year because the blood of animals could not atone for sin. These things served as a reminder of sins - was only a shadow of the reality that a holy sacrifice was still needed which came in Christ, the Lamb of God.

We can receive salvation yet still be hindered by an evil conscience which reminds us of our sins -in Christ there should be no reminder.

David, a man after Godís own heart cried, -"Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me." (Ps.51) His evil conscience was reminding him of sins which God had already forgiven him of. David knew he needed his heart sprinkled and cleansed by the blood to walk unshackled by guilt. The blood satisfies Godís wrath.

On the first Passover in Egypt, God told the Israelites to kill the lamb and eat it in their houses but first put the blood on their door posts, saying, -"When I see the blood I will pass over that house and no plague shall come near." (Ex.12) Proverbs 23 says that as a man thinks in his heart he becomes. Every person will act like who they think they are. This is why we must allow Christ to finish His work in us by giving Him full access to our heart, and receive by faith that He has cleansed it and we are fully innocent.

 

An Awakened Conscience

 "But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron." 1 Timothy 4:1-2

Before you came to Christ you were mostly untroubled by your conscience. You could practice sin and sleep well. But when the Lord called you and began to convict you through His Spirit, your conscience was abruptly awakened and was sensitive to the will of God. This new found awareness of sin made sin to be utterly wicked to you.

Paul said that with his mind he agreed with the Law of God but painfully found that his agreement didnít wholly prevent him from breaking it. He cried, -"Oh wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death!" He was asking who would save him from himself.

The Apostleís conscience was awakened to righteousness and to sin and he felt the pain of the violation.

But Paulís conclusion is one that as Christians, we all must come to receive by faith, -"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Rom.8)

God wants our conscience to be sensitive and our hearts to be soft so that we can truly hate evil and love righteousness, but we must not give the devil opportunity by receiving lying accusations against us. Though the body of sin and death is present with us, it is not us - we are a new creation in Christ and in Him there is no condemnation.

No saint past, present or future has the power to produce a righteousness worthy of the presence of the Lord. This is why God not only removes our sins, but clothes us with the righteousness of His Son. The devil wants to accuse you but the Lord has already declared you innocent in Christ.

Paul concluded that since he hated sin, loved the Law of God and wanted to obey it, that anything short of that was not produced by him but by the body of death present with him. Paul did not own the sin, he acknowledged the righteousness. An awakened conscience and a sincere heart must receive the truth that we are in Christ, and in Him there is no sin.

An awakened conscience and a sincere heart must receive the truth that we are in Christ, and in Him there is no sin. However, we must be sure that we are living in Christ, for there are many who profess His name who are not. Jesus said that those who keep the Commandments abide in Him, so do not be deceived into believing that you are living in the truth of Christ while practicing lawless rebellion. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Cor.13)

 

Freed From Sin

"For as through the one manís disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:19

"Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with. . .for he who has died is freed from sin." Romans 5:6-7

A man is not a thief because he steals, he steals because he is a thief. Every sin begins from within.

Likewise, a man is not a sinner because he sins, but sins because he is a sinner.

David said that he was conceived in sin - meaning that he had inherited the nature of Adam who was the first sinner. Through Adamís disobedience we all inherited sin and death, but through the obedience of Christ, the last Adam, we inherit His righteousness and life. We are not sinners because of what we have done, but because of what Adam did. Likewise, Christians are not righteous because of what they have done, but because of what Jesus did.

It is not only what we have done that is wrong, but our very nature in the flesh is wrong and cannot please God.

This is why the flesh must be crucified with Christ and we must be made a new creation in Him. Since Adamís nature is sinful we must be born of the divine nature of God through the Spirit of God, -"He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." (2 Pet.

When witnessing we must always point to the problem of manís sin nature rather than merely focusing on bringing to light the personal and individual sins which have been committed. A sinner can easily be deceived into believing that they are a good person who has done some bad things. And they can quickly conclude that if they simply work a little harder at being good they will be fine. We must always point out that God must deal with more than past sins committed, but also with the very source of sin which is the sin nature of Adam. The Bible plainly says that there are none good, not even one.

 In Adam we are all sinners, but in Christ we are made righteous and holy. This is why there is no other Way but Christ for salvation.

 One may think that kind, benevolent and loving people who do not confess Christ can be saved, but there is no salvation outside of Christ. We inherit sin and death from Adam and inherit reconciliation, righteousness and life in Christ Jesus.

You and I exist because of Adam. If Adam had died before he produced offspring then we would have died with him because in the flesh, we are the fruits of his loins. In the flesh we are all associated with Adam, but in the Spirit we are identified with Christ. As we see in our text, the old self which is from Adam must be crucified in order to deliver us from his sin nature.

In Hebrews 7 Paul makes a case that the priesthood of Melchezedek is eternal and better than Aaron, the Leviteís priesthood which was temporary. To prove his point, the Apostle argues that when Abraham gave tithes to Melchezedek Levi was offering tithes too though he was still in his grandfatherís loins. So, because Abraham was the head of the family, what he did was also credited to Levi even before he was born. Likewise, "in Christ" what the Lord has done is credited to us who have been born in Him, and even now exist in Him. By His perfect obedience we were made righteous. Our sins were paid by His Blood. And with Him we receive the divine nature, and the old self was crucified with Him.

 

In Christ

"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." John 17:22-23

This precious prayer that the Lord uttered on the night He was arrested should bring inexpressible joy to those of us who have been saved. We have been glorified and have been made one with the Father and the Son. Perhaps what is most touching of all is knowing that our Father loves us with the same love that He loves Jesus. How blessed it is to be in Christ, -"To those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor.1)

What does it mean to be in Christ and how do we get in Him? First we cannot get in Him by our own power but must be chosen in Him by the Father, -"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." (Eph.1)

To be in Christ is to be identified with Him in His death, resurrection and inheritance. We share in His death through baptism which does away with our identity in the first Adam.

I was once Larry, the son of Adam, the sinner, but now I am Larry, having been born of the Spirit, a son of God in Christ.

Where my destiny once was connected to the first Adam, now it is connected to Jesus, the last Adam in Whom I have inherited eternal life in glory, -"The first man, Adam, became a living soul, the last Adam became a lift-giving Spirit." (1 Cor.15) And where I once shared the curses of disobedience in my father Adam, I now share the blessings and obedience in Christ, the last Adam.

In Christ our sins are forgiven by the blood and our old self identified with the first Adam has already been crucified with Christ, -"Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." (Rom.6)

 Paul also wrote that a Christian "dies daily" - meaning that there is both a working of life and a working of death in the Ministry of the Spirit. The Spirit empowers us to put to death the desires of the flesh in order that the manifestation of the Life of Christ may be clearly seen in us more and more as we are transformed from glory to glory.

In Christ sin is no longer our master, nor are our daily sins imputed to us but come immediately under the blood, -"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account." (Rom.4)

Adam is the head of a fallen race, but Christ is the Head of a risen race, a new and eternal creation.

Our identity in Adam was crucified with Christ in order that through the Spirit we might we born and joined to Another, -"No one who is born of God practices sin, because His Seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (1 Jo.3)

The Spirit seals us in Christ, -"Having believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance." (Eph.1) Sometimes when a person wants to safely preserve an important document they have it sealed in a container. The document once had a separate identify but now shares an identity with the container. Wherever the container goes, the document goes - being sealed together the two are one and share the same destiny. Since they are sealed together, if the container is accepted, the document is accepted. In Christ, we share His destiny.

 

 

Chosen in Christ

"So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ĎThis is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Genesis 2:21-23

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." Ephesians 1:3-4

"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin." 2 Corinthians 11:2

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:25-27

Notice that the Church is the bride of Jesus Christ whom He presents to Himself after her cleansing and sanctification. Jesus loves the Church as a husband loves his wife, even laying down His life for her. When Jesus looks at you He is looking at you as His beloved bride who He loves, cherishes and wants to protect.

In the beginning this same Jesus, as God the Son, created all things, -"There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1:9-20) It was Jesus who spoke the worlds into existence, and Jesus who took the dust of the ground to make Adam. But when it came time to give Adam a wife God didnít take another handful of dirt but instead took Eve out of Adam.

Here we find a wonderful typology - God caused a "deep sleep" to come upon Adam which is surely symbolic of death and was surely picturing Jesus who is called the "last Adam" in the New Testament. Eve was not born of woman but was taken out of and made from man. When Adam looked at Eve he was looking at himself and said, - "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." Eve was created solely from Adam - nothing else was added - Eve was not a composite. What was once a part of Adamís body, without independent consciousness, became an extension of him as another life and together they became one flesh. Since the saints were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and are His "body" - He looks at us as Adam looked at Eve.

This leads us to an interesting observation - Adam experienced "deep sleep" not due to sin because sin had not entered the world yet. This type for death was obviously necessary for the creation of Eve his bride. Eve was chosen in Adam before sin, and before there was a need for redemption. Likewise, the saints were chosen in Christ before sin entered the world - before there was a need for redemption, -"before the foundation of the world."

In light of these truths, perhaps we may view Ephesians Chapter 5,- "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her" not as the redemptive event which occurred on Passover 31 AD, but as the time we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Perhaps like Adam who was laid down alone only to arise with a bride, Christ gave Himself before the foundation of the world for the creation of His bride.

When we continue reading in Ephesians 1 we see that through Christ God redeemed His "own possession." Paul writes the account as if the Church was already Godís own possession before redemption was made through Christ, saying that the Holy Spirit was given "with a view to the redemption of Godís own possession." (verse 14) Notice also Romans 8:29-30, - "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."

The Scriptures clearly say that it is Godís will that all would be saved and that no one would perish. Jesus said that hell was not created for man but for the devil and his demons. But because all were created and predestined for salvation, we must not assume that all were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and that all were "foreknown", "predestined" and "chosen" to be the first-fruits, the bride of Christ.

The saints are called the "chosen ones" - the question is when were they chosen - after their natural birth or in Christ before the foundation of the world? I contend that the saints are not the "chosen" because they were called out of the world, but called out of the world because they are the "chosen ones" who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.

Jesus prophesied of His wedding banquet declaring that the "invited guests" are blessed and honored to receive the invitation. But consider that an invited guest to a wedding is there to witness the union and covenant of the Groom and the Bride. It is an honor to be an invited guest, but how much greater honor is it to be the chosen bride? Notice also, - "And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He PREPARED BEFOREHAND for glory, even us, whom He also called." (Romans 9:23)

 

The Second Man

"So as it is written, ĎThe first man, Adam, became a living soul.í The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. . .Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly." 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

In Adam we all stand guilty and die, but in Christ we stand innocent and live. Oí the value of knowing Christ and receiving His grace. I once was lost but now Iím saved and safely sealed in the Beloved Himself. Jesus is the last Adam who succeeded where the first Adam failed, but He is also the "second man" and there is a difference.

Jesus was the son of man and also the Son of God. The Gospels record His genealogy as the son of man which traces back to Adam, the first man, but we see in John 1 that as the Son of God He was the living Word who existed as the eternal God who has no beginning nor end. Jesus was and is God who has always existed with the Father, and who spoke the creation into existence, -"Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be selfishly grasped." (Phil.2) "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1)

How beautiful it is to understand that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity in order to share it with us. He stepped down from His majestic Throne to be nailed to the cross as our body of sin so that He could raise us in Himself and seat us in Heavenly places.

As the last Adam He embodied the sum of all humanity and paid the penalty of sin in full - it is a finished work for those who believe and receive Christ. The last Adam was crucified and buried and slept the sleep of death for three full days. The body of sin and death having satisfied the demands of the penalty due now becomes a life-giving Spirit as the second man rises and steps out of the shadows of death. And He wasnít alone, for the first-fruits were with Him.

The Bible says that a Christian is one who is "in Christ." In Christ, we were crucified and buried with our father Adam but were raised in the righteous Body of Jesus. The Church is the "Body of Christ" and Jesus is the "Head" of the Body. In Him the fullness of deity dwells in the form of His Body, the Church, -"For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells, in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule authority. . .having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him. . .When you were dead in your transgressions. . .He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. . .having canceled out the certificate of debt. . .He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Col.2)

In the first man sin reigned in death but in the second man grace reigns through His righteousness to eternal life. A person who is in Christ Jesus hates the sinful lusts of the flesh. He is no longer tormented by a desire to sin but has received power from on high which makes him more than a conqueror. He no longer struggles against God and His righteous standard, but now prevails victoriously over the temptations of the flesh. In Christ, sin is no longer his master. In the flesh, the first man cannot subject himself to Godís Law (Rom.8:7) but the second man, -"keeps the Commandments of God, and His Commandments are not burdensome." (1 Jo.5)

 

Put on the New Self

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

When it came time for Jesus to begin His ministry, He fasted for forty days and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Time after time the devil offered Jesus the things of this world saying that he would give it all to Him if He would only bow down and worship him. But the Lord rebuffed him each time and finally said, -"be gone!."

Because the things of this world can be enticing Jesus told His followers to always seek the Kingdom of God first and trust the Lord to provide for their needs in this life. Jesus taught His disciples to not store up their treasure on the earth where they fade away, but in heaven where they are eternal. This is quite a contrast to what many preach today as they provide "Biblical" formulas that they "guarantee" will bring the believer into riches. Certainly it is not wrong to have worldly riches, but if that is our goal we have missed the mark of our calling. Abraham was rich, but he was moved much more by the promise of the eternal inheritance above than in the passing riches of today, -"By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow-heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb.11)

Our text says that we should seek the things above where Christ is because we have been raised up with Him. Though we will rule this world with Christ for a thousand years, our inheritance is one of above rather than here below. We see that our life is hidden with Christ in God and will be revealed with Him in glory above.

The things of the earth are only temporary and will pass away at some point, but the glory and treasure above is eternal. We seek the things above by first putting away the old lusts of the world, and then by putting on the new self in Christ Jesus which has crucified the desires of the world, -"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Gal.5)

 

Your Identity in Christ

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

To know Christ is to be joined with Him as one. The Church is the bride of Christ and as a man and woman are no longer two but become "one flesh" in the marriage covenant, when we are joined with Christ in Covenant we become one spirit with Him, -"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin." (2 Cor.11) Dear saints, it has not yet appeared what we shall be, but when our Beloved comes we shall be as He is.

Though now we see through a glass dimly, on that Day we will see clearly. I have seen Christ transform so many lives. I have been so blessed to witness great changes in peopleís character as they grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

Truthfully, a Christianís life in not really a "changed" life but an "exchanged" life - our mortal, sinful life for the immortal, righteous life of Jesus. And I must say - it is glorious indeed!

 On occasion I have actually seen the shekinah glory of God literally illuminating the face of one of His saints. It was as if the glory within was reaching out to the glory descending as deep called unto deep.

It is of the utmost importance that you fully receive your identity in Christ. You must believe that God no longer recognizes you according to the flesh, -"Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh;. . .Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come." (2 Cor.5)

What do you see when you look in a mirror? Do you see the first Adam or the last Adam? Do you see the first man or the second Man? You can only see your true identity in Christ by looking through the eyes of faith. By faith God spoke the worlds into existence. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not yet seen. By faith in the promises of God Paul assured the saints that a glorious creation was waiting to be revealed when the mortal gives way to the immortal.

To receive your new identity in Christ you must first understand the difference between being forgiven and being delivered. Only when you receive by faith that you have been delivered from sin can you know for certain that you are saved. The blood of Christ cleanses you from your sins but the life of Christ delivers you from sin itself, -"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Rom.6) When Christ died for you, you also died with Him, and as He died to sin once for all, you also died to sin once for all and are now alive forever in Christ.

Please indulge me for a moment and go to a mirror. What you will initially see is an old familiar face in the likeness of Adam. But the eyes are the windows of your soul, so look closer, gazing deeply into your eyes and receive by faith that a new creation is looking back at you. Come to recognize yourself no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit for "behold new things have come."

 

Our New Nature

"No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:9-10

God has crucified our flesh with Christ and by the Spirit has transferred us into the risen Christ. We are now children of God, born of the Spirit and partakers of the divine nature, -"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." (2 Pet.1)

Until we were born again we were partakers of Adamís corrupted nature. Adamís nature is one of good and evil, though the evil tends to corrupt the good. Looking back we can see that as children of Adam our lives bore the same fruit as the forbidden tree - good and evil. With the same mind we entertained noble thoughts and lustful desires. We used our tongue to bless and to curse. We loved and we hated. We sometimes were moved by compassion and yet inside found deep-seated selfishness.

A son of Adam has the capacity to love, share, forgive others and can even be moved to worship and praise God.

 Even Adamís corrupted nature has the ability to do a righteous act.

But it is simply not in his nature to practice righteousness.

Not only does a son of Adam not have the power to produce a worthy righteousness, but he cannot practice righteousness because he is not of God and still lies in the power of Satan, -"We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." (1 Jo.5)But thanks be to God, where the first Adam failed the last Adam succeeded as a life-giving Spirit to all who would receive His Seed.

The two seeds, the fleshly and the Spiritual, are in opposition to each other. Though he is capable of doing good, a person born only of the flesh is not capable of being good -his flesh will war against the Spirit, -"For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another." (Gal.5)

This is why todayís text says that we can see who is of God and who is of the devil by who is exhibiting the ability and the desire to practice righteousness. We initially receive the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor.5) as a gift, but abide in Him by practicing righteousness. Jesus said -"If you keep My Commandments you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Fatherís Commandments and abide in His love." (Jo.15)

Now, a person who has been born again of the Spirit and is in Christ has a divine nature which cannot practice sin. In fact, he is dead to sin because the sinner he once was has been crucified with Christ. Sin itself is still present and given the opportunity will try to bring him back under its power. But sin can only be actively practiced in the sinner and since the sinner has died it has lost the only vehicle that can take him into the practice of sin.

Sin is much like a deadly disease - it can only live and strive in a living host. A Christian is alive in Christ but dead to sin, sin has lost its host and cannot effectively operate in the divine nature of His Body. Can a child of God commit a sin? Yes, but he cannot practice sin because it is simply not in his nature. Sin is foreign to him and he is repulsed by it.

Sin, the old master is still around but the slave who served him is dead and has been born again as a slave of righteousness, "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Rom.6) Dearly beloved, we need not strive against sin by our own power, but put our faith on our divine power in Christ.

 

The Living Temple

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 "But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" 1 Corinthians 6:17-19

The Corinthian Church was rich in the outward manifestation of the Spirit. Miracles were common in the Church, they prophesied and spoke in heavenly tongues. But they were lacking in spiritual maturity, -"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly." (1 Cor.3:1-3) The Corinthian Church had many manifestations of the out-pouring but they were struggling in the flesh because they were neglecting the indwelling - they were not allowing God, the Head of the House to have His way in their lives.

We must conclude that there is a difference between receiving the out-pouring of the Spirit and the indwelling of the Spirit.

Visual signs are primarily a result of the out-pouring, but real change in a person comes from giving way to the indwelling. It is the indwelling that we must submit to in order to grow to spiritual maturity - to the stature of Christ.

There are many in the ministry who are pre-occupied with the out-pouring because of the manifestation of miracles yet struggle in their flesh because they fail to yield to God as the Lord of their lives through the indwelling. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew Chapter 7 saying, -"Many will say to Me on that Day, ĎLord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?í And then I will declare to them, ĎI never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.í"

Let us understand that the Spirit is God - I believe the very essence of both the Father and the Son. The Spirit is not a thing or merely a power but is the personal manifestation of God. As our texts show, where the Spirit of God dwells, He dwells. In 2 Corinthians Paul revealed that the Lord is the Spirit, -"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Cor.3:17)

When we are born of the Spirit we become a living temple in which God Himself lives. Perhaps you were taught to pray to God as if He were far off somewhere, but in reality He is nearer than your next breath. You need not make a "long-distant" call because He is in the House. In Christ we receive the revelation that we have become His presence rather then a person seeking to enter into His presence.

Since our body has become a holy temple in which God dwells, we are not to commit immorality which would work to defile the holy body. Paulís answer to the problem of fleshly indulgence is to understand that are Godís temple, have been purchased by the sacrifice of His Son, and do not belong to ourselves, -"You are not your own . . .for you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."

Objective is a statement that is completely unbiased. It is not influenced by a personís previous experiences. It is verifiable by looking up facts. Subjective is a statement which is colored by personal experience and observation. It has a basis in reality but reflects a personal perspective. When we see Christ as Lord objectively - exalted to the Throne in heaven - then we experience the out-pouring power of the Spirit upon us. When we see Christ as Lord subjectively - as Ruler of our lives - then we experience the indwelling power of the Spirit within us.

When God awoke us to the reality that He exists and is real - calling us to receive salvation through His Son - we experienced the out-pouring of His Spirit upon us, washing away our sins and clothing us with His power. But then came the reality that He has cleaned the house for the purpose of moving in.

Through the out-pouring we do the mighty works of Jesus, and through the indwelling we are transformed into what He is.

Let us take heed that we do not neglect the work of the indwelling for by the out-pouring alone no one will see God. It is only through the indwelling that we come to intimately know and actually become the presence of God, -"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Cor.3:18)

 

The Law of the Spirit of Life

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the Law of Sin and of Death." Romans 8:1-2

When we think of Law in the context of the Bible we generally associate it with the Laws given to Moses or the Ten Commandments - however "Law" simply means "instruction," meaning, Godís instructions. Although God has always required people to follow His instructions He has not given all the same instructions. For example, the Laws which Abraham kept were not all the same Laws that were given to Israel at Mt. Sinai because many of those were added because of transgressions. In fact an entire Book was added, written on animal skins and placed on the outside of the Ark of the Covenant.

We may think of Laws in the context of our government where they are enacted and enforced as needed. These Laws are decided by men and can be repealed or changed which make them different from Godís Laws. A state can decide what the speed limit is going to be on any given road or highway, but it is always subject to review and change.

Sometimes laws are discovered. Whenever something proves to be constant it is considered to be a law. Isaac Newton discovered the Law of Gravity. He observed that whenever an object which was heavier than air was no longer held up by a stronger force, it fell to the earth. One day while sitting under an apple tree Newton witnessed an apple fall from the tree and contemplated why this always happens.

Since it had sprang forth from the branch the apple had been sustained from the downward pull of gravity by a healthy stem. But when the stem weakened to the point that it was no longer stronger than gravityís pull, it gave way and let the apple fall. Since this could be replicated over and over without fail, the force of gravity became accepted as a Law. No matter how many times a branch releases an apple the force of gravity will always pull it down

There is a Law of Nature which we all inherited from Adam.

Adam was a sinner and we were all conceived in sin, David lamented, -"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." (Psa.51:5) In the flesh we were all born of Adamís seed which has only the power to reproduce after itís own kind - the sinner kind. This is why we must be born again of the Spirit which is Jesus, the "Promised Seed" which makes us a new creation in Christ with a new divine nature.

In Christ we receive a risen nature and our life is not merely changed, but exchanged.

When I was in Adam I had a fallen nature and discovered that there was a Law that always pulled me downward. This is the Law which the Apostle is referring to in our text, -"the Law of Sin and of Death."

He understood that this was a Law because the result was always the same. In the previous chapter Paul wrote how the Commandments were "holy, righteous and good" and that even though in his mind he agreed with them, he found that in his flesh he could not keep them but did the very things which he hated. He reasoned that since he desired to obey God that it was not him who was failing but the sin which was ever present in the flesh, -"But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. . .For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do no want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me." (Rom.7:16-20)

The Commandments showed Paul what was good and evil but testified that he was not practicing"good" but "evil" though he hated it saying, -"I myself with my mind am serving the Law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the Law of Sin." (7:25)

Let us understand that Paul was a Spirit-filled, anointed Apostle of Christ Jesus who agreed with and desired to keep Godís Commandments and actually did keep them in his mind but failed to do so in his flesh. A true Christian would also agree with and desire to keep Godís Commandments even though, like Paul, would find that they will fall short in the flesh. But thanks be to God that through Jesus His Son He has made us perfect and righteous in the Spirit.

Seeing that he agreed with God yet was unable to freely practice his desires, Paul cried, -"For I joyfully concur with the Law of God in the inner man, but I see a different Law in the members of my body, waging war against the Law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the Law of Sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (verses 24-25)

The "Law of my mind" here is the Law of God which the "Law of Sin" was waging war against. That war still goes on today, Paul wrote, -"For we know that the Law is Spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin." (verse 14) There has always and will always be war between the Spirit and the flesh and the flesh hates and wars against the Law of God.

Itís interesting that Godís solution to the problems posed by the Law of Sin and of Death - is another Law. Paul discovered that even after he was in Christ and was born again of the Spirit, he still experienced the downward pull of the Law of Sin and of Death in his flesh. When he cried out "Who will set me free" from this Law he discovered that in Christ God had enacted another Law, the "Law of the Spirit of Life" to free him.

One Law triumphs over the other Law. Though the downward pull of the one Law was still working, the upward pull of the other Law sustained him in Christ.

If I were to drop my pen the Law of Gravity would immediately exert itís power and pull it down to the earth. That is how the Law of Sin and of Death works. But if I were to intervene and place my hand under the pen the pen would not fall but be sustained by a power greater than the force of gravity. Gravity could pull with all of itís might but the pen is safe and sustained as long as I hold it in my hand.

That is how the Law of the Spirit of Life works - we are forever safe if we abide in Christ, -"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our abode with him. (John 14:23) "If you keep My Commandments, you will abide in My love;" (John 15:10)

The Law of Gravity pulls everything down to the earth, the world - likewise, the Law of Sin and of Death pulls every person down to be earthy, to become worldly - fleshly and disobedient. Paulís problem was not in the Spirit but in the flesh but he understood that he had been delivered and set free from bondage to sin and itís penalty, death. He understood that in his flesh nothing good dwelt, but he also knew that he was a new creature in Christ and was no longer recognized according to the flesh by God. -"Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh;. . .Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.: (2 Cor.5:16-17) The life of the Christian is in Christ where he dwells in the Spirit.

Beloved, let us fix our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Captain of our salvation. We are a holy and living Temple of God and Jesus is living His life in us. We need not be anxious or strive but simply trust and yield. The Apple tree does not strain heartily to produce an apple, it is just a natural thing for it to do. Examine yourself to see that you are in Christ and then give way to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Jesus will live His perfect, holy, righteous and obedient life in you for He never changes, -"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever." (Heb.13:8)

 

Led by the Spirit of God

"For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Romans 8:14

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets it's desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another," Galatians 5:16-17

To be saved in Christ is to have been crucified, buried and risen with Him - to be a new Spiritual creation that transforms us into sons of God - and to be Spiritual warriors who war against the desires of the flesh. The Holy Spirit is the only lawful originator.

Whatever we say and do will have itís origin in the Spirit or in the flesh. Jesus said, -"The flesh profits nothing." (John 6) And, -"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." (John 3) This is generally applied to the truth that in Adam we were all born of the flesh and in Christ we are all born again of the Spirit. But the principle of "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" can also be applied to every thought, motivation, work or deed. We must come to the point where we confess that without the Lord we can do nothing, Jesus said, -"Without Me you can do nothing." (John 15)

You might argue that you can do lots of things without Christ. It is true that we can do a great many things without Christ and most "Christians" and "Ministries" do. Jesus prophesied that on the Day of Judgment "many" would declare all the ministries and wonderful works that they did in His name - yet He will reply, -"Depart from Me, you who practice sin. I never knew you." (Matt.7) Yes, we can do many things yet to God they will add up to nothing if He has not led us to do them by the Spirit. If the Lord has not sent you, He is not with you, -"I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied." (Jeremiah 23) The blessing is only in His will. Many jump out ahead of the Lord and expect Him to bless their work, while His plan is to lead by His Spirit and do His work through them.

You can create the illusion that you are accomplishing much by using your own talents and natural abilities. These natural abilities were there before we were born of the Spirit - they are a part of who we are in Adam not who we are in Christ. While God can and will use these natural abilities by quickening them with the Spirit we must learn to never reply on them but on the move of the Spirit of God, -"But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." (John 16)

Anything that we set out to do without being led by the Spirit has the stain of flesh on it and God always rejects a mixture. We have been purified and are commanded to live pure lives before the Lord. Our ways must be pure and be His ways. Our words and deeds must be pure and a mixture is not pure. An idea, word or work born in the flesh is worldly and fleshly and actually wars against the Spirit of God. In fact, it is rebellion against the very will of God.

Adam, the flesh, cannot be rehabilitated, he must be crucified. His will and his desires must drown in the watery grave of baptism and not be a part of our new identity in the risen Christ. We must not quench the Spirit and restrict the life of Christ in us - it is His life now not ours, -"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in te flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Gal.2:20)

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote that each saint is a living temple because the Spirit of God lives in them. He also said that the Holy Spirit places in us the mind of Christ by which we come to know the very thoughts of God. Christians have two minds, the natural mind they were born with which must be in the process of being renewed daily, and the mind of Christ which is given to lead us. We hear our own thoughts and also the thoughts of God.

You might wonder how we can know the difference since one is born of the flesh and one is born of the Spirit. I have often said that when you hear a thought that surprises you because it is not something you would normally think, and it is confirmed by the Word to be Biblically sound with Scriptural authority behind it, then it is from God.

But there is also the principle that if you seek the true will of God and are willing to receive it no matter the costs - you are in the place where God can lead you by the Spirit. We must come to the point of surrender - where we truly want Godís revelation and His will above all. That is the only place where you will hear the Spirit clearly and have discernment between what is man and what is Divine.

 

Lights in the World

"You are the light of the world. A city set on hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

We must allow Christ to live His holy and righteous life in us - this glorifies our heaven Father. Jesus is the True Light which enlightens every man - He must be free to live His life in those whom He has purchased with His own blood. We are chosen vessels prepared to receive the holy dwelling of His presence through the Spirit. We must not quench the Spirit of Christ and live according to the principles of the world. We must be faithful to His Word and be honorable, truthful and trustworthy if we are to be His lights in this dark world.

In todayís Church there are so many places where Christians war against the Spirit, which is the very presence of Christ. Just recently I read a news report that Banks are foreclosing on Christian Churches and Ministries at a record pace. The last thing a Bank wants to do is foreclose because they often lose money. The reason for these foreclosures is obvious - many Churches and Ministries are not paying their debts. This is not honorable but is a disgrace. Lending institutions have found that Christians are no more trustworthy than non-Christians and in fact are worse in many cases. As a result Christianity has lost much respect as people are thinking, -"Your actions are so loud I canít hear a word you are saying."

As a Minister who has done radio broadcasts since 1995, I can tell you that Radio stations have virtually no trust in preachers to pay their debts. They always require payment in advance and freely give the reason why - they have been left holding the "debt bag" too often. The airwaves are constantly filled with pleas for money from those who listen yet many of the same Ministers are delinquent on their debts - it should not be this way.

It seems that we live in an entitlement era where most people have come to believe that they have a "right" to have housing and food provided for them, but this is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, the Church was taught to work and eat their own food, -"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. . .we did not act undisciplined among you, nor did we eat anyoneís bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day. . .For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order; if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either. . .For we hear that some of you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all. . .Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread." (2 Thes.3) I think I can safely say that this "command" by an Apostle of Christ is rarely taught or obeyed in todayís Church. The Apostle also taught that a man who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever even saying, -"he has denied the faith." (1 Tim.5:8)

To be a light is to be Christ -  Christ that others can readily see in you.

Let us ask ourselves, -"What do people see in me?. . .Am I allowing the true light of Christ shine forth from me as I interact with others. . .treat my family. . .work my job. . .as I shop. . .as I play sports. . .as I do business. . .as I pay my debts. . .in how I react to a wrong suffered. . .in how I respond to temptation, etc?"

Are we being good citizens, employees, employers, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, husbands, wives, friends, etc. We must be living honorable lives for Christ to be exalted and to be His light in the darkness. We cannot be a part of the darkness. We are called to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. We are called to a holy calling and must live worthy of it. If others cannot respect us they will not respect Christ who dwells in us, nor the testimony of His Word.

Now for balance let us understand that what we aspire to in Christ is very high indeed but is rarely attained in our daily walk. As we examine ourselves we must painfully admit that in our behavior and actions we fall short of Godís glory every day. Paul acknowledged this himself when he said that with his mind he agreed with the Law of God but in the flesh found that he often practiced the very things he hated. However, he concluded that it was only sin present with him and that since he was in Christ there was no condemnation.

God sees us as we are in Christ - pure and blameless, without the stain of sin. But the world will notice your every sin and every failure and hold you and Christianity accountable for it. This severely limits our ability to witness for Christ, so though we glory for who we are in Christ, we must be also be conscious of how the world sees us. Do they see us as bearing the light of Christ, or do they see us as no different than those in the darkness? Do they see a person who would not lie to them? Do they see a person who can be trusted to fulfill his responsibilities? Do they see a extraordinary employee, employer, friend, etc? Do they see a person who is compassionate and who often sacrifices himself for the interests of his God and his fellow man?

Now, let us understand that we are going to make mistakes and when we do the devil will make sure that others in the world will notice. Do not let the world judge you in your failings. Do not allow those who have no real regard for truth and for what is right judge you when you fail. Always remember that you are trying to live righteously. You are aspiring to honor God and do His will when others are not. So, never allow the wicked to use the righteousness of God to judge you. They may accuse you of being no different than them, but the real difference is in your heart. You care about what is right - you want to set a good example for others - you desire to please God and walk according to His will - and God knows all of this very well.

While the Word of God will convict the hearts of the righteous, the wicked will attempt to use the Word of God to bring the righteous into condemnation. But the righteous are righteous, not because their deeds are righteous but because God has clothed them with the righteousness of His Son, -"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor.5) A Christian is not righteous because he practices righteousness, he practices righteousness because he has be made righteous.

Beloved, we are called to do the Work of God and to proclaim His Gospel and His truth and it is the ministry of the Spirit which empowers us and leads us in this holy mission. We can only do this if others are willing to hear us. This is why we must be careful in our walk - no one will listen if they do not respect us. We must aspire to live as worthy of our calling as possible for the sake of the Gospel of Christ and the truth He preached.

We are called to expose sin, something we cannot do as we practice sin ourselves. I will leave you with the words of our beloved brother and Apostle Paul, -"Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;. . .But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ĎAwake sleeper! And arise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.í Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5)

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries