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Rediscover the Gospel
18 minutes | 8 days ago
Session 13 - Believers Cannot Sin (The Glory of Righteousness)
BELIEVERS CANNOT SIN (1 JOHN 3:9)1 John 3:9 (NKJV) 9 Whoever has been born of God doesn’t sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. Many people struggle to understand this passage because its context clearly shows that Christians still sin: 1 John 1:8 (NKJV) 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:10 (NKJV) 10 If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 2:1 (NKJV) 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous. These are three instances from the same letter where the writer, the apostle John, talks about sinning. The first two passages communicate that, “If you say you haven’t sinned, you are a liar.” Then, in the third passage, John adds this, “I am writing to you so that you will not sin (future tense). But if you do sin, you have an Advocate with the Father.” Then, in 1 John 3:9 he declares, “If you are born of God, you cannot sin.” That sounds very contradictory, isn’t it? Both Scripture and experience reveal that Christians can sin and still sin. Even the entire context of the book of 1 John shows that it’s possible for a born-again believer to do something that is sin. Yet, 1 John 3:9 clearly says that if you are born of God, you cannot sin. How can this be? Some people take 1 John 3:9 to mean you cannot “habitually” sin. Several Bible translations now even render it this way. People who think along this line preach something like this: “If you were a drunk before you were saved, you might get drunk once or twice, but if you are truly saved, you will not habitually sin. Eventually, you will see victory in that area, or you were not truly born again.” However, in order to embrace this view, you have to categorize sin – which God doesn’t. To Him, there are no “big” sins and “little” sins. By His definition, we all habitually sin. We all habitually fail to study God’s Word as much as we should. We all habitually fail to love others the way we should. We all habitually fail to be as considerate as we should. We habitually get into self-centeredness, and God has to habitually deal with us about it. Sometimes, we also pass over things that God calls sins. For instance, God views gluttony the same as drunkenness, adultery, and murder (see Deuteronomy 21:20). Gluttony is a sin that can only happen habitually. You cannot become overweight by eating just one large meal. Even if you gorged yourself one meal, it would only make a pound or two of difference. However, in order to gain an extra fifty to a hundred pounds, you would have to do it repeatedly. Being overweight is a habitual sin. I don’t say that to condemn anyone, because I know there are overweight people who are not that way necessarily because of food. But I want to put things into perspective. If you interpret 1 John 3:9 to mean that you cannot habitually sin if you are truly born of God, then nobody would qualify, because we all habitually sin. The only way this can be preached is to say, “Well, you cannot habitually do the big sins, but the little sins, yes, you can habitually do them.” However, this is not what this verse is saying. I believe that the apparent contradiction and confusion created by the book of 1 John concerning the new creation and sin flows from the frequent and subtle alternation between sinning at the level of the body and soul and sinning at the level of the new spirit. If you understand the human composition of spirit, soul, and body and that God deals with the born-again believers in the spirit or at the spirit level, then a better interpretation of this passage would be the following. The only part of you that is born of God is your spirit. Your soul is not born of God and your body is not born of God. They have been purchased, but they are not redeemed yet. Your soul and mind are being renewed, and your body will be glorified at the end. But the only part of you that is changed right now in an instant is your spirit and your spirit cannot sin. That spirit was created in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). Once you believed, your spirit was sealed (Ephesians 1:13), preserved and encased in the Holy Spirit in such a way that sins that you commit in your actions and in your thoughts don’t penetrate it. Since the recreated spirit cannot sin by itself, it retains its purity and its holiness. You don’t lose your spirit’s holiness based on your performance. This understanding is pivotal to having a relationship with God and fellowship with Him. Based on Hebrews 9 and 10 and on what we’ve discussed so far about future sins, we can also interpret 1 John 3:9 in the following way: if all past, present, and future sins of born-again believers have already been removed by Jesus’ sacrifice once and for all, then there is no sin that a believer could do that would fall outside of what the sacrifice of Jesus has already dealt with. As such, a Christian cannot commit sin anymore. Next, let’s see how and what does the Holy Spirit convicts the world and believers of, because most of the time the condemnation coming from our conscience is confused with the Holy Spirit’s conviction. THE CONVICTION OF SIN AND OF RIGHTEOUSNESSIn the night before His crucifixion, in John 16:7-11, Jesus gave His disciples some instructions, telling them the following: John 16:7–11 (NKJV) 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It’s to your advantage that I go away; for if I don’t go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they don’t believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. In verse 8, we can see the three-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit: to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. It’s amazing how religion in general has twisted this verse to make it sound condemning, when it’s in fact the exact opposite. The Lord Jesus seems to have known that this passage will be misinterpreted, or that it could be misinterpreted, so He went on in the following verses explaining in detail exactly what He meant. In verse 9, it says “of sin” (singular) and not “sins” (plural). The Holy Spirit convicts the world and not believers, of only one sin: the sin of not believing in Jesus. He doesn’t convict the world of all their individual immoral sins, because the conscience already does that. The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict people that are not born again about whether they are drinking, lying, or stealing; that is the conscience’s job. The primary reason for which people will be going to hell is the sin of rejecting Jesus, not their individual sins. This is the direct cause, because the sins of the entire world have been paid for: 1 John 2:2 (NKJV) 2 And He Himself is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Jesus didn’t die only for the believers that would accept Him, but He also died for the people that maybe will never accept Him. He has already paid for their sins as well. The sins of the whole world have been paid for. The Lord Jesus has paid for the sins of the whole world, even those that haven’t been committed yet. Consequently, people are not going to hell for their sins. Their sins have been paid for. People go to hell for rejecting the payment that was made for their sins, which is the sacrifice of Lord Jesus. Christ has paid for the sins of every single person. It doesn’t matter whether you are a good person, a moral person, or a bad person. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God.” Every person has missed heaven. Some of us have lived maybe a little better than others, maybe we haven’t done the evil things other people have done, but compared to God’s standard of holiness, all have sinned and come short of His holiness. If you are trusting in your own goodness, your own holiness, and in your good deeds, without receiving Christ into your heart, you will go to hell. Jesus paid for your sins and you cannot come before God based on your goodness and tell Him, “God, I deserve heaven because I lived holy. I didn’t curse, steal, or kill anyone. I am a good and moral person.” You would be sent directly to hell. But Jesus paid for the sins of everybody. Everybody! All your sins have been paid for. It doesn’t matter what you have done. It doesn’t matter if you are the sorriest person in the world. Jesus has paid for your sins the same way He paid for every person’s sins, so sin is not the problem anymore. Jesus ended the sin problem once and for all. It’s all about Jesus. All that matters is that you put your faith in Jesus. That is what the Holy Spirit convicts the world of: Jesus’ payment of all sins. After you are born again, the Holy Spirit continues to convince you and tell you the same thing, but on the righteousness side of the payment. He tries to convince you that all your past, present, and future sins have been forgiven and removed for you by Jesus’ payment of blood. The Holy Spirit is not the One going around after you everywhere telling you: “You should not do this,” or “You should not have done that.” Some of you have this thinking sometimes, “Oh, the Holy Spirit has been on my case and He’s been telling me all the time I should not do this or that.” No, this is religion that talks to you that you, not the Holy Spirit. It’s your own conscience condemning you and your intuitive knowledge of good and evil, your knowledge of right and wrong. Religion only amplifies these and makes it worse. The Holy Spirit is not the One condemning you. Have you not heard people in church confessing things like, “My brother, I did this thing wrong and the Holy Spirit just made me feel miserable; He would not give me any rest?” They stand up, confess, and then they repent, and tell everybody what they have done. And they think the Holy Spirit brings this feeling of condemnation. They call it conviction, but it’s actually condemnation. That does not mean that the Holy Spirit is against the conscience and He’s opposing it. Conscience is good and moral, exactly like what Paul said about the Law of Moses. That is why God gave it to us in the first place, to keep us in check. Both the conscience and the Law of Moses reflect God’s nature and His perfect moral standard. They are both in tune and in unity with the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit has to convince believers of a higher reality that supersedes the condemnation coming from the conscience and the Law, and that is, the righteousness of Jesus that was paid for in blood. Isn’t it so that you don’t hear very often in churches today people standing up and saying: “Dear brothers and sisters, I did this or that and I know it was not good before God. But the Holy Spirit came to me and convinced me that I am still the righteousness of God and Christ, I am still God’s beloved, and I am free of condemnation?” And yet, this is exactly what the Holy Spirit is trying to convince believers of, especially after they sinned, because it is so counterintuitive to the human mind’s logic. Concerning believers, the Holy Spirit continues to convince them basically of the same sin of unbelief and not of individual sins. However, this time, it is not unbelief in Jesus’ payment for their sins, but unbelief in the continuous eternal result of Jesus’ payment for sins, that is unbelief in righteousness. The Holy Spirit is there to convince believers of righteousness. Why? Because Jesus is no longer with them to assure them of this reality. He went to the Father. So, when you sin as a believer, the Holy Spirit is there to ask you: “Do you really believe in Jesus?” You answer: “Yes, I believe.” And He says: “Then you are still righteous and in right standing with God, even if you sinned. You are not condemned. God is not angry with you and you are still in fellowship with Him. And I, the Holy Spirit, am still here with you to help you and to strengthen you. I am on your side no matter what and I love you.” The root of all sins is the sin of unbelief in Jesus. If you peel all the layers, everything goes back to unbelief. Why do you worry? Because you don’t trust in Jesus. Worry is an insult to the promises of God. The doctor tells you that you are sick and you are going to die, while the Bible says that by His stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24). Why do you stay sick sometimes? Because you trust the doctors’ facts and diagnosis, more than you trust the Word of God on healing and on who you are in Christ. And that is what the Holy Spirit is trying to convince believers of. He is trying to convince them of the Word of righteousness. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Helper and the Builder, not the Accuser. The devil and your conscience are the accusers. The Bible says: 1 John 3:20 (NKJV) 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. When your own heart condemns you, God is there through the Holy Spirit to tell you that He is greater than that condemnation and He knows all things. He is aware of your failures and sins, but He is greater than those failures. So far, we have seen from the Word that born-again believers are righteous by nature in their spirit, are free of condemnation forever, and their future sins have been removed as well. Consequently, they cannot actually sin in their spirit. What are then the implications of these facts in some areas that believers face on a daily basis, such as confession of sins, the Lord’s Communion, the extent and assurance of salvation, as well as practical holiness or sanctification? We will see in our next sessions.
29 minutes | 18 days ago
Session 12 - Condemnation and Future Sins (The Glory of Righteousness)
Free of CondemnationAnother way your conscience is cleansed of the consciousness of sins is by realizing and acknowledging in your mind and heart that, even when you sinned, you still remain free of condemnation. Let’s read the most famous passage on freedom of condemnation found in Romans 8:1-2: Romans 8:1–2 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Who is Paul referring to in the above passage? He addresses those who are in Christ, meaning the invisible church (which is the true church), and not the visible one. Now, what does it mean for you to be in Christ? It means that you are a born-again believer and a new creation. It means also that you are saved, justified, that you have eternal life, and have the Holy Spirit in you. These are all equivalent phrases about being in Christ. So, this passage is addressed to believers that still commit sinful actions. In the physical and natural realm, when can a court of law condemn you? You are condemned when you break the law of the country you live in. In the spiritual realm, being condemned before God means that you are a sinner. What does “no condemnation” mean before God? It means justification, or having the “justified” legal status declared by God on you as a believer; it’s right standing with God. That means you are “unblammable,” as if you’ve never sinned. Justification is more than forgiveness of sins. In our inter-human relationships, forgiveness means that the wrong done to someone remains still unpaid, but the wronged party chooses to overlook it or forget about it. The phrase “forgiveness of sins” in relation to God can be used only in the sense that believers didn’t pay themselves directly for their sins because of His mercy. But Someone paid. Christ is the One Who paid for them and in their stead, and they paid in Him. God didn’t just overlook or forget their sins without any payment. Christ paid for them. Justification means that believers paid in full for their sins in Christ, and that they have been reborn into a new justified creation that has never sinned. If you received Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior, then you became justified, you paid in full for all your sins through Christ, and you have been reborn into a new justified creation that has never sinned and will never actually sin ever again. I will explain that in detail later. As a believer in Christ, all your sins - past, present, and future - have been completely and permanently removed, not just forgiven. In the story of Daniel, after he was thrown into the lions’ den and God saved his life, if someone came to king Darius and told him that Daniel broke the law, it would have been unjust for the king to punish Daniel again for the same law break. Daniel had already been thrown once into the lions’ den. In the same way, God’s justice today demands our acquittal because of Christ’s sacrifice. We are not justified based on mercy, but based on justice and righteousness, because our sins were paid in full in Christ. In the night of the Passover, when the people of Israel were getting ready to leave Egypt, God told them: “When I will pass through your door and see the blood (not your good works or your good name), I will pass over” (Exodus 12:13). Blood means that there has already been a death. Jesus died for us and that’s why God’s righteousness is on our side. Many Christians read Romans 8:1-2 and, unconsciously, add to it in their mind the following phrase:“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus [as long as they don’t do sinful deeds].” However, Paul addresses born-again believers in this verse, who still have sinful deeds in their lives. If they didn’t have any sinful deeds at all, there would not be a reason for them to feel condemned in the first place, and the verse would be irrelevant. The apostle Paul has in mind exactly those people who were regenerated, who were made righteous, but still have sinful deeds in their lives, like you and me. It’s exactly those deeds that have the tendency to make you, as a believer, feel condemned, although you are not condemned anymore. Another way some Christians read the above verse is the following: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus [as long as they do works of righteousness and walk according to the Spirit].” However, at the moment of salvation you have received an eternal redemption and justification, completely apart from works and independent of your good or bad works: Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it’s the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Romans 3:28 (NKJV) 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law. Salvation came by grace through faith and not through good works, which are the deeds of the Law. Faith is the only condition of receiving eternal justification. Good works are not a condition, but a natural effect, and a normal result of a genuine saving faith. Faith alone justifies, but not the faith that is alone. James seems to paint a slightly different picture than apostle Paul in James 2:14-26, by affirming both faith and good works as conditions for salvation, apparently contradicting Paul. I said “apparently” because James is not actually contradicting Paul and we will see why. Let’s read the passage from James 2:14-26: James 2:14–26 (NKJV) 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but doesn’t have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you don’t give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it doesn’t have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James states in verse 24 that a man is justified by works as well, and not by faith alone. James seems to have been bent towards the Law more than apostle Paul, emphasizing the works more. However, James is not saying that believers need good works as the CAUSE of their justification. He is saying that they will have good works as a CONSEQUENCE of their justification. Works cannot be added as a primary condition to justification, but as a necessary result of a genuine faith. There is an indestructible connection between faith and works. For example, if electric power runs as it should, there will be light in your house. But you, as the owner of the house, cannot produce light by yourself to prove that you have electric power coming through to your house from the electrical plant. Generally speaking, Christians have a genuine faith at the moment of salvation concerning the escape from hell in the future life, after death. However, most of them don’t apply the same simple faith to sanctification and to good works in the present life. Because of wrong beliefs and wrong teaching, they are saved from hell, but they bear very few fruits of righteousness. They fail to do a lot of good works and are sometimes in doubt that their faith is even genuine or wonder if they are still saved or not. Good works should not be done by believers to obtain or MAINTAIN justification (salvation), but rather they should be done out of gratefulness and thanksgiving towards God for what He has done. Those good works will also receive rewards at the end of times. However, good works don’t create faith; they only reveal a genuine faith that is alive. In the same way, the bad works or the lack of good works don’t kill genuine faith, but only reveal a faith that was already dead in the first place. If we go back in the Old Testament at the incident with king Solomon and the two mothers, what did Solomon look for when he decided to kill the healthy baby and share it between the two women? Did he look for a deed on the part of any of the two women that will deserve the healthy baby? Did he want to create a new relationship between any of those two women and the living baby, a relation that was not already there? Of course not! He was only looking for a deed that would prove what was already true; an action that would show who the real mother of that healthy baby was. Likewise, a genuine faith and relationship with Christ will eventually yield fruits of righteousness. The Future SinsMost believers agree that at the moment of salvation all their past sins have been forgiven and removed by the blood of Jesus. However, what about the future sins? Are you free of condemnation only until your next sin? Are future sins removed in time based on your confession, or are they removed at the moment of regeneration as well? Of course, our future sins were also removed at the moment of salvation, because we were made righteous forever in our spirit. Let’s read again Hebrews 10:10-14: Hebrews 10:10–14 (NKJV) 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever (or for all time) those who are being sanctified. Verse 10 says that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL. Then verse 12 says that He offered ONE sacrifice for ALL our sins FOREVER. Finally, verse 14 again says that by ONE offering, He has PERFECTED us FOR ALL TIME. Even of sins that you haven’t committed yet, you have already been forgiven. Hebrews 9:12, 15 say that He has obtained for you an ETERNAL REDEMPTION and an ETERNAL INHERITANCE. The term “ETERNAL” proves that redemption is not temporal or partial, but covers all time and all sins: Hebrews 9:12 (NKJV) 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:15 (NKJV) 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. By enlarge, the body of Christ believes in a momentary redemption and a momentary inheritance that is constantly in the state of fluctuation based on their performance. Based on how you act, you can lose your salvation, and then you need to be born again AGAIN. However, if you could indeed lose your salvation at your next sin, then the most loving thing that the Father God could do for you is to kill you, and take you to heaven immediately after you received Christ in your heart, so that you would remain saved. A softer perspective that some people adopt is that you don’t lose your salvation and neither you go to hell at your next sin, but you lose all the benefits of salvation. They believe that, if you sin, God will not answer your prayers anymore, will not fellowship with you anymore, and will not be pleased with you anymore, until you remediate the situation. As a result, He will not release joy in your life, will not heal you, and will not make you prosper, unless you do the right thing. This interpretation is basically the same thing as the first perspective, but with lesser consequences, which are mostly related to this present, temporal and physical life and not to the future, eternal, and spiritual life. However, this is not what these verses are teaching. Let me ask you this: When Jesus died for your sins on the cross, did you exist at that time on this earth? Most probably not. Therefore, that means all your sins for which Jesus died for, all the sins of your lifespan were future to Him. You have been eternally redeemed, you have received an eternal inheritance, and have been sanctified and perfected forever at the moment you believed in Jesus’ sacrifice. That is nearly too good to be true! Does that mean you can go ahead, and do whatever you want, and sin how much you want? Does that give you license to sin? Of course not. If you think that way, you need to be born again. This should rather encourage you even more to a right living before God. If you were truly born again, you would want to live for God and not for yourself. You may be doing a poor job at it sometimes, but the truth will make you free: not free to sin, but free from sin. Sin doesn’t affect God’s relation to you, neither His blessings for you, because of Christ, but sin does affect you, it affects your mind, and your capacity to receive the blessings of God both for yourself and for others. Your sinful deeds lead to death that might not be necessarily manifested instantly and tangibly in the way you expect, but it’s death manifested through confusion of your mind, depression, fear, unbelief, sickness, and ultimately even premature physical death. You will probably notice that when you sin, the devil and your conscience will directly attack your faith. They will tell you things like the following: “God is upset with you, your fellowship with Him is interrupted, the Holy Spirit left you, you are not loved anymore, and you are still a sinner.” This is the death that I refer to. When you sin, it becomes more difficult for your mind to believe again the truth of God about you and it requires extra effort to counter those thoughts of death generated by your sinful actions. You are the one interested first and foremost in not sinning, because when you sin, you hurt yourself without even knowing. The offence of your sins towards God has already been paid for, so it’s not God getting hurt, but you are. It’s not God stopping His power and His blessings flowing through you because of your sins, but you are. Yes, God is grieved when you sin, but grief is not anger or offence; it’s rather a pain and a sadness of God, flowing out of God’s love as a Father towards you, when He sees you destroying yourself, and playing with death. God doesn’t reject you when you sin, because your sins have already been removed. God will never tell you: “I will not love you anymore if you do this,” or “I will not bless you anymore if you do that,” or “I will forsake you and interrupt My fellowship with you if you sin.” John 10:10 tells us that the thief (Satan) doesn’t come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Our sinful actions give him the opportunity to do exactly that. When you understand the goodness of God towards you, and when you get a revelation of His love for you, that He wiped out all your sins (past, present, and future), you cannot but love the Lord, and be in awe of Him. You would be so appreciative of what the Lord has done that you would serve and obey God more accidentally than you ever have done on purpose before. It would lead to a holy life! Now, let’s continue reading in Hebrews 10 from verse 15: Hebrews 10:15–18 (NKJV) 15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. This passage includes a quotation from Jeremiah 31 beginning from verse 31, where God promised that the New Covenant would not be like the Old Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, people would come to the Lord, they would ask for forgiveness for their sins, they would offer an animal sacrifice, which symbolically would cleanse them, and this is how they had their relationship with God. However, as it says in Hebrews 9:9, these things never cleansed their conscience. They were still sin-conscious and they were still living under condemnation. But in the New Covenant, God has put His laws into our hearts and He has written them into our minds. He doesn’t remember our sins and lawless deeds anymore. Furthermore, verse 18 from Hebrews 10 says a very striking thing: where there is remission of these sins, there is no longer an offering for sin. Extraordinary! Many Christians believe that every time they sin they have to go back and plead for God to apply Jesus’ blood on their sin. They believe they need to bring that sin under the blood. They feel that God is upset with them if they don’t confess their sins. They feel the need of waiting for some time before they even dare to come with their sin before God, especially if it’s a repeated one. In the meantime, until they get to that moment, they cannot even think about asking for something from God or rely on God to help them in any way. They think they are on their own and feel that they have placed themselves in the opposite camp with God. Finally, when they muster enough courage to come with their sin before God, they feel they need to cry as much and as sincere, as they possibly can, to assure God that they are really sorry for their sin. In that way, they make a kind of penitence for their sin and they punish themselves for it. They believe the more they cry, the more God will believe them, and finally will grant them forgiveness. You might have been in the same situation as these believers as well. I know I’ve done these things myself and went through these cycles for years, only to get back in the same place again and again. However, as far as God is concerned, He can never be upset again about your sin and wait for your heartfelt confession before granting forgiveness. All your sins have been PAID IN FULL by Christ, if you are in Christ. God can never be upset with Christ, right? Believers are no longer seen according to flesh, but according to Christ. Moreover, God being upset with you, would mean a double payment for your sin. That would make God unrighteous and would cheapen Christ’s sacrifice. Your crying of confession to be forgiven would be a human work added to the condition of being justified. If your future sins need your confession in order to be taken away, this would be like adding your work of confession to the sacrifice of Jesus and doing the same thing the people of Israel did in the Old Testament through animal sacrifices over and over again (see Hebrews 10:11). I will talk later about 1 John 1:9, which might come to your mind right now. You might say: “What about Isaiah 59:2-4 where it says that our sins put a separating wall between us and God, hide His face from us and He will not hear us?” Yes, that was true in Isaiah’s time, because nobody had paid for those sins yet. Christ had not died yet on the cross. In the Old Testament, when they sinned they had to bring sacrifices and repair their relationship with God, otherwise He would not hear them or help them. However, in the New Testament, Christ has paid already for any sin and has redeemed us from the curses of the Law and from all the consequences of our sinning: Galatians 3:13 (NKJV) 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (for It’s written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”). Christ redeemed you from all the curses of Deuteronomy 28, meaning that He paid the penalty of every breach of the Law for you, and in you. In the New Testament, our sins no longer put a dividing wall between us and God and He still hears us, even when we sin. Imagine I was over to your house and your child walked into the kitchen and kneeled down and said: “Oh mom and dad, I know I don’t deserve anything, I know I didn’t make my bed today, I know I haven’t gotten the best grades, I know I am not doing everything I could. But could I, please, have something to eat? Please, please! Just a little bit of food, please; not too much, so I would not get proud, but just enough to survive. I may not deserve a whole meal, but could you give me a little bit?” And your child would continue to beg you that way. If I saw that, I would think, “Something is wrong with this relationship.” Children are to honor and respect parents, but there is nothing wrong with the kid just coming in and say: “I am hungry, I want something to eat.” .” In reality, parents enjoy a level of familiarity in their relationships with children, and they like when their children come and draw benefits from that mutually respectful and familiar relation, instead of begging fearfully for things they need. However, religion has taught us to come beg God for crumbs, and tell Him that we are so unworthy of anything we might need. If you feel this way, it means your conscience hasn’t been cleansed. You are not approaching God in the New Covenant way. You are acting as though there is still a separation between you and God, and this is evidence that your conscience hasn’t been cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus. Let’s read the next verses from the same chapter 10 of the book of Hebrews: Hebrews 10:19–22 (NKJV) 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 Let’s draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. We have to come to Him now by a new and living way. Verse 22 uses the expression “full assurance of faith.” There are various degrees of faith, trust, and reliance on God and on what Jesus did. You can just have faith and that’s the first level. But you can be assured of your faith and that’s the second level. Finally, you can have full assurance of faith. This verse says that we are supposed to have a full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. You cannot come before God with a full assurance of faith and absolutely and totally confident if you haven’t cleansed your conscience. Unfortunately, this is where most Christians live. They live with a defiled conscience. They still have a conscience of sin or a consciousness of sin, and their own heart condemns them. They might not even have any specific sin on their mind at times, but they would still feel sinful, unworthy, indebted to God, and condemned. That means they didn’t cleanse their conscience of sin.
25 minutes | a month ago
Session 11 - The Great Exchange (The Glory of Righteousness)
The Great Exchange2 Corinthians 5:21 says the following: 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He (God, the Father) made Him (Jesus Christ) Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Question: In what way was Jesus Christ made sin on the cross? Was He made sin only legally OR was He made sin vitally in His nature as well, meaning in His spirit? Then, in what way were believers made righteousness? We have already seen and proved earlier that believers had to be made righteousness both legally and vitally in their nature. Here we will focus on how was Jesus made sin on the cross and on what kind of death He experienced as a result of being made sin. Did His spirit experience spiritual death and complete separation from God together with His physical death? These are very important and complex questions that we will attempt to answer. When I talk about nature throughout this section, I will refer to the spirit of a human being, respectively to the spirit of Jesus Christ. There are two prevalent perspectives concerning the answer to the above questions. The first perspective is that Jesus was not made sin vitally in His nature, but sin was only legally or judicially imputed to Him. By the same token, born-again believers remain sinners in their nature and righteousness is imputed to them just legally as well. The second perspective is that Jesus was made sin both legally and vitally in His nature, and He took on the nature of Satan on the cross. By the same token, born-again believers become righteousness both legally and vitally in their nature. Both these perspectives have difficulties. The problem with the first perspective is that it makes believers in Christ only legally righteous. The issue with the second perspective is that Jesus takes on the nature of Satan. The viewpoint that I will present and explain in this book is a third alternative: that born-again believers were made righteousness both legally and vitally as I have already proved earlier, but Jesus was made sin only legally, and not vitally in His spirit as well. Moreover, I will advocate that Jesus experienced only soulish death and physical death, but not spiritual death in His spirit. Why do I believe that sin was only imputed legally to Jesus? There are about four reasons for that. First, it’s because whenever the people of Israel brought animals for their sin and guilt sacrifices in the Old Testament, and laid their hands on the animals for the transfer of guilt, those animals never became sin in their nature. It was just a legal transfer. The same happened with the azazel scapegoat that was sent in the wilderness in the yearly Day of Atonement, caring legally all the sins of the congregation. The scapegoat didn’t became sin in its nature. Second, we see that God credited righteousness to Abraham and the other people of God in the Old Testament only legally and in advance, before Christ came to die on the cross. In the same way, sin was imputed to Jesus Christ just legally, but in His case, it was both retroactively (in order to include Abraham as well) as well as for all time. Third, if Jesus had been made sin in His nature, meaning in His spirit, then He would not have been anymore the perfect, blameless sacrifice for humankind’s sins. Let’s read two passages that illustrate how the Passover Lamb of the Old Testament (Exodus 12:21) was a “typology” of Christ and how Jesus Christ, Himself, was going to become the Lamb of God (John 1:29): Exodus 12:21 (NKJV) 21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. John 1:29 (NKJV) 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! If we continue with this parallel, we can notice that the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament had to be “unblemished.” At the time of sacrifice, a hand would be laid on the unblemished sacrificial animal to symbolize the transfer of guilt. We can see that in many passages like Exodus 12:5, Leviticus 4:3-4, Leviticus 23-24, Leviticus 32-33, and Leviticus 22:20, but let’s read just two of those passages: Leviticus 22:20 (NKJV) 20 Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf. Leviticus 4:3–4 (NKJV) 3 If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. 4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, lay his hand on the bull’s head, and kill the bull before the Lord. The sacrificial lamb didn’t actually become sinful in nature, but rather sin was imputed to the animal legally and the animal acted as a sacrificial substitute. In like manner, Christ, the Lamb of God was utterly unblemished, as we can see in 1 Peter 1:19, and humanity’s sin was imputed judicially to Him. He was humanity’s sacrificial substitute on the cross of Calvary. The transfer of sin on Him was just legal and not vital. Let’s read 1 Peter 1:18-19: 1 Peter 1:18–19 (NKJV) 18 Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. The whole world is currently in sin and separated from God from birth, because of the sin nature transmitted from Adam, and not because of their own sinful actions. Likewise, Jesus becoming sin in His nature would have meant He would have been separated from God and blemished, defiled, even if He had never sinned through His actions during His lifetime. The fourth reason for why I believe that sin was only imputed judicially to Jesus is because Jesus would not have had the right to resurrection if He was made sin in His nature. Let’s read Romans 6:23 to see why: Romans 6:23 (NKJV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This passage says that the wages of sin is death. If Jesus had become sin in His nature, He would not have come back from the dead and He would not have defeated death. The only people on whom death cannot reign over are righteous people. Therefore, Jesus had to remain righteous in His nature and spirit in order to have the power and legal right to come back from the dead. Now, why do I believe that Jesus experienced pain and death only in His soul and body, but not spiritual death in His spirit? First, it’s because Adam and Eve sinned with their soul and physical body before their spirit became dead. In the same way, Jesus had to experience death only in His physical body and soul that were blameless and without sin, in order to determine the resurrection and recreation of the human spirit into a brand new creation. He only tasted death with His soul and body, but didn’t experience spiritual death with His spirit. Hebrews 2:9 (NKJV) 9 But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Jesus tasted death with His soul on the cross by experiencing all the negative soulish emotions that humans can possibly go through: sadness, hopelessness, discouragement, fear, worry, depression, confusion, loneliness, boredom, anger, etc. Moreover, Jesus tasted death with His body on the cross by experiencing all the physical pains, sicknesses, and diseases that humans can possibly have, all at once at that moment on the cross, and by finally giving his breath. Second, if Jesus had become sin in His spirit and died spiritually as well, there would have been a cosmic breach in the Trinity of God. The Godhead Itself would have been contaminated by sin. Let’s not forget that Jesus was also God; He was one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence, and He had eternal life in His spirit. This is unconditional fixed existence without end in the life and presence of God. Jesus’ spirit had to be preserved. Not only that, but if such a separation had been possible to happen, that the Son of God would enter spiritual death and lose eternal life for a moment, then there would not have been any assurance for believers’ salvation and for the gift of eternal life they have received either. They could lose their salvation and eternal life at any moment as well and become eternally damned. You may ask now: “So, if Jesus’ spirit could not be made sin, then did He really have the potential to sin while He was on earth? Were Jesus’ temptations real temptations or was He just pretending to be tempted like us? What would have happened if Jesus had sinned in any way?” The fact that Jesus didn’t become sin in His nature on the cross doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t have the full potential to sin. He was the Son of Man, He came in Adam’s initial position before the fall, and He fulfilled the whole Law as a man and not as a God, otherwise God would not have accepted His sacrifice. His temptations were very real. He had the real potential to sin and enter spiritual death like Adam, otherwise His temptations would not have been real and that comes against what the Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 and Hebrews 7:26: Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) 15 For we don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 7:26 (NKJV) 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens. I don’t know what would have happened with the Trinity and the human race if Jesus had sinned in any way during His lifetime. I don’t even want to think about the devastating consequences, nor do I want to speculate about it, since the Bible doesn’t say anything about such repercussions or such a possibility. However, what I know for sure, according to the Bible, is that Jesus could have sinned anytime, but He didn’t. He remained holy, undefiled, and separated from sinners. Praise the Lord! He is so praise-worthy to have been able to complete such a difficult and almost impossible task: to fulfill all the Law of God as a human being and then pay through His death for all the wrongdoings of humanity. The fact that Jesus could not be made sin because He was God and the fact that He had the genuine potential to sin, is probably an antinomy or a paradox that we will have to accept as it is for now, although it’s uncomfortable, until we will have access to more knowledge into the mystery of Trinity and Godhead. An antinomy is a contradiction between two beliefs or conclusions that are both true and reasonable in the same time. What are some of the implications of Jesus’ sinless life on earth? The fact that Jesus lived for thirty-three years a sinless life on earth and then died on the cross, while having the complete opportunity and potential to sin, accomplished at least three important things. First, it made Jesus the perfect, blameless sacrificial Lamb. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 2:10 that He was perfected through the sufferings of temptations and the sufferings of death on a cross, in order to become the High Priest and the blameless Lamb. Hebrews 2:10 (NKJV) 10 For it was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. No one can achieve righteousness or be called righteous and blameless without having the opportunity and temptation to be unrighteous. On one hand, Jesus was born perfect, and yet on the other hand, He had to be perfected, in the sense of using and applying His perfection from birth in real life. He was born holy and He was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. Yet, He learned obedience through sufferings, as we see in Hebrews 5:8-10: Hebrews 5:8–10 (NKJV) 8 Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus’ sufferings before the cross, while living on earth, never consisted in things belonging to spiritual death and darkness, like physical sickness, lack, poverty, depression, sadness, confusion, weakness, failure, fear, worry, hopelessness, or discouragement. He destroyed all these wherever He went and refused to accept them in His life. He was never subject to them. His sufferings were rather temptations and persecutions from other people and from the devil, and finally, death on the cross. Can you imagine how much faith Jesus had to exercise in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross as well, that the Father would accept His sinless life and His sacrifice, and that He would really come back from the dead? Hebrews 5:7 says this: Hebrews 5:7 (NKJV) 7 Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him Who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. Sometimes, we, as believers, are so encouraged during a sermon or a devotional time and then when we face a trial, it’s like we forget everything we know from the Word of God. It seems like nothing can encourage us during those times. What Jesus experienced in Gethsemane and on the cross is similar. Being in the midst of suffering, His perception of reality was not that fixed and clear, and He had to fight the fight of faith, just as we have to do, all the way to the end. That is why in the garden He asked the Father, if it was possible, to remove the cup of the cross from Him. The passage we read said that He offered up prayers and supplications with vehement loud cries and tears to be saved from death by His Father. You cannot but love and cherish Jesus for eternity, when you grasp even a little of what He had to go through for you and me. The second thing that Jesus’ sinless life accomplished was that it assured His resurrection; it gave Him the right to be resurrected from the dead back to life. Have you ever wondered what would have happened with Jesus if He was not killed on the cross? If Jesus had not been killed by people on the cross, He would have continued to live forever. Death could not have touched Him, because He never sinned. Death has a claim only over sinful people. Moreover, if Jesus hadn’t chosen to let go of His life of His own accord, He could not have been killed, no matter what the Romans did to Him. Let’s read John 10:17-18: John 10:17–18 (NKJV) 17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” After Jesus died, He was resurrected back to life not because He was God, but because He lived a sinless life as a human being while on earth. Death could not hold Him and had no choice, but to “spit” Him out. If Jesus had remained in death, that would have meant He was sinful as well, because only those who sin die. That would have meant His sacrifice had not been accepted by the Father, and consequently, all believers had remained still in their sins, because there was no longer a substitutionary payment for the sins of the fallen humanity, as we see in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19: 1 Corinthians 15:12–19 (NKJV) 12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, Whom He didn’t raise up—if in fact the dead don’t rise. 16 For if the dead don’t rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (the people of the Old Testament)19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. Jesus’ death without the resurrection would not have been enough to atone and pay for humanity’s sins and for its justification. By His resurrection, Jesus Himself was justified first, and through His justification, the rest of the people in Christ were justified. People need to believe in His resurrection for salvation as well, and not only in His death. Romans 4:25 (NKJV) 25 Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Romans 10:9–10 (NKJV) 9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. The third thing that Jesus’ sinless life accomplished was that it gained the righteousness that was going to be given to believers. He fulfilled the whole Law and obeyed God to the end. Jesus was sinless and yet, He died physically. That was not right according to God’s justice. So, God reconciled that innocent death with His justice, by crediting it as payment for humanity’s sins. Now, after believers’ sins had been remitted, they would have been back to square one, where Adam was initially created, and left to earn their righteousness by works, as Adam was supposed to do. Jesus’ sacrifice paid humanity’s debt of sin (the negative side), and brought it to zero. However, God took a step forward and put believers on the positive side forever: He credited to believers not only Jesus’ death and resurrection, but also His sinless life, that He lived on the earth. The righteousness that Jesus earned by His works, He gave to believers freely, as a gift, both legally and vitally. First, He declared them legally righteous, then He made them vitally righteous in their nature. As a result of Jesus’ righteousness, He also gave believers eternal life as a gift, the same life from the tree of life found in the initial Garden of Eden. That is why believers are now in a much more elevated and better position than Adam was, and that is UNCONDITIONAL FIXED STATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND ETERNAL LIFE. Christians don’t have to try anymore to be holy in order to gain God’s favor, or God’s righteousness, or to be more blessed, or to maintain their salvation. The believers’ work of holiness is now for the pleasure of God, for living a good life on earth by fulfilling all their God-given destiny, and for rewards in the future life. Manifested holiness is also possible effortlessly because the believers’ nature has been changed into righteousness. This Great Exchange was possible because, at the Last Supper, in Matthew 26:28, Jesus entered into a new blood covenant with His disciples, and with all other humans that will ever live and believe in Him respectively: Matthew 26:28 (NKJV) 28 For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Everything that the disciples and the believers in Christ of all time had, was going to belong to Jesus now, and everything that Jesus had, was going to belong to the disciples and to all believers in Christ of all time. Jesus and the disciples together with all believers of all time became ONE in that moment. That’s why, when Jesus Christ went on the cross, believers went on the cross with Him, they died with Him, and were raised with Him. Christians are not sinners saved by grace. We cannot say we are just sinners saved by grace. We could say that we WERE sinners, but now we are saved by grace or, even better, that we are saints saved by grace. We can no longer sing songs that affirm brokenness and weakness, or sing lyrics that don’t align themselves with God’s present truth of the New Testament, such as: “renew a right spirit within me,” “cast me not away from thy presence,” “don’t take the Holy Spirit from me.” These things will never happen to us, Christians. They were true for David in the Old Testament in Psalm 51, but not for Christians today. You might argue that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Yes, but that was before salvation, not after. Now, we have become the glory of the Lord in our spirit and we are transpiring that glory to our body and soul the more we look in the mirror of the Word of God and behold that glory of the Lord from our spirit: 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV) 18 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 by the Spirit of the Lord.
21 minutes | 2 months ago
Session 10 - What Is Sin? (The Glory of Righteousness)
What Is Sin?Now that we defined righteousness, we are in a better position to define sin, by comparison with righteousness, in a more holistic way. We said earlier that righteousness is the nature of God that defines His character and His ways of doing all things. 2 Peter 1:2-4 says that those who are in Christ have also become partakers of God’s divine nature and righteousness: 2 Peter 1:2–4 (NKJV) 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Just by looking at the definition of righteousness, we can deduct two things about sin. First, sin is also a nature the same way righteousness is a nature. In fact, the Bible shows that all human beings are born on this earth with a sin nature in their spirit, that was inherited from the first man, Adam. Second, sin is everything that God is not. Sin is the complete opposite to righteousness, to God’s character, and to His ways of doing things. We can see this contrast illustrated in many passages of the Bible. Let’s read just a few of them: Romans 6:18 (NKJV) 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:20 (NKJV) 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Similar to righteousness, there is positional sin and practical sin or, better said, inherited sin and manifested sin. Inherited sin or inherited righteousness decide your eternal destiny and have to do mainly with eternal damnation and eternal salvation respectively, while manifested sin and manifested righteousness have to do with the quality of your life here on earth, as well as with eternal rewards after this life. People who remain with a sin nature by not accepting the sacrifice of Jesus, will go to eternal damnation in the lake of fire after physical death, no matter how many good and righteous deeds they did while living on earth. By contrast, those who change their sin nature into a righteousness nature and are transferred from death to life by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus for their sins (John 5:24), will go to eternal salvation in the presence of God after physical death, even though they still did sinful deeds in their lives on earth. Their eternal salvation is secured by their righteous nature received by faith as a free gift and not by their righteous deeds or manifested righteousness. How should we define “manifested sin” that accompanies the sinful nature or is still present sometimes even in people with a righteous nature? In the eyes of most believers, manifested sin amounts only to immoral and wicked deeds, which have first been revealed by the human conscience when the first man fell, then by the Law of Moses as transgressions of the Ten Commandments, and later on by Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, where He expanded the moral law to the level of thoughts and intentions of the heart (Matthew 5-7). Finally, apostle Paul described in detail in his epistles this kind of manifestations of sin, in passages like Ephesians 5:3-4, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:10-21, and Colossians 3:5-9. These are: sexual immorality, adultery, homosexuality, impurity, lust, uncleanness of any kind, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, slander, abusive language, gossip, idolatry, theft, lying, drunkenness, abuse, sorcery, hate, envy, jealousy, strife, anger, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, murder, evil desires, and wickedness. These sinful deeds and attitudes are all sins of commission, mostly external, and they are the most obvious among all sinful behaviors. Then, there are sins of omission like when believers can do some good and yet don’t do it (James 4:17), or when they don’t love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as Jesus loved them. However, there are also some other sinful deeds of omission that are less obvious, yet still sinful in God’s eyes. If you remember, I mentioned somewhere in the beginning of this book that righteousness does not consist only of morality, although morality is included in it. Righteousness is much more than that; it consists of God’s nature, character, and ways of doing things. Righteousness includes removal of all sin through Jesus’ sacrifice, as well as healing, prosperity, blessing, victory, peace, joy, wisdom, and eternal life. Since sin is the opposite of righteousness and the opposite of God’s nature, then allowing in our lives sickness, disease, poverty, financial lack, debt, lack of peace and joy, worry, sadness, melancholy, depression, stress, failure or fear of any kind, insecurity, overeating, etc. is also sin. Yes, you read that well: allowing sickness in your body is sin. Accommodating lack, poverty, and debt in your life is sin. Being stressed and worried is sin. I am aware that what I’ve just said may come as a shock to many, because we might have never thought of sin in that way. Before you turn away and discard this teaching, allow me to give you biblical support for why I believe sin includes all those things. Can you ever picture God, the Father, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus as being stressed out, worried, fearful, sick, poor, sad, insecure, or depressed? No, of course not, these attributes cannot even be mentioned in connection to God. Were any of these facets of death present in creation in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of man? As we know from the Bible, God didn’t include them in His creation of the world and man. When did these sinful states of being enter the world? They all came in when man disobeyed God and sin entered the world. They are all manifestations of sin and death. Do you think by any chance that any of these effects of death will be present in heaven in the future life? No, of course not, even now they don’t exist in God’s presence or anywhere in the third heaven. Moreover, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:19 that the born-again believers in Christ have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. Let’s read them: 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV) 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV) 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, Whom you have from God, and you are not your own? If we go back to the Old Testament and think about the Tabernacle or the physical temples of God, was there any defilement or uncleanness allowed in them? No, there was none permitted. Since our bodies have become the temple of the Holy Spirit, any defilement of the body should not be allowed to stay in the body. Sickness is a defilement and a blemish of the body, which should not be permitted to remain in our bodies, as new creations in Christ, even if it attacks our bodies. Let’s see another proof from the Bible that sin indeed includes all those things. Romans 14:23 says that whatever is not from faith, or is not of faith is sin. Moreover, Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Now, you may ask, “Faith in what?” Faith in the Word of God, or in the Word of Grace, or in the Word of Christ. This Word is the instruction manual of the new creation. Romans 10:17 says the following: Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Everything that is not from faith in the Word of God is sin, and without faith in the Word of God it is impossible for anyone to please God. The first act of faith in the Word is receiving salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8), and entering into the Kingdom of God. However, after entering the Kingdom of God, everything that is not of faith in the Word on this earth, is sin. Accepting sickness and disease in our body is lack of faith in what God’s Word says that healing was purchased for us with Jesus’ blood at the cross. Cultivating stress and worry in our lives is lack of faith in God’s promises of protection and provision. Being fearful or insecure is lack of faith in God’s love. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. When you know with all your being that God loves you and He’s always on your side, you don’t fear anything. Being fearful in any way and being aware of God’s love cannot coexist together. Lust and sexual immorality is lack of faith in what God’s Word says that we have received a spirit of self-control at salvation (2 Timothy 1:7). Romans 6:7, 11 says this: Romans 6:7 (NKJV) 7 For he who has died (in Christ) has been freed from sin. Romans 6:11 (NKJV) 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the light of this comprehensive definition of sin, these passages can also be read and understood in the following way: if we died in Christ, we have been freed from sickness, poverty, stress, depression, fear, insecurity and failure. We need to be aware of the fact that we are dead indeed to sickness, poverty, stress, depression, fear, insecurity and failure, and alive to God in Christ. Let’s see two more passages where we can replace sin with sickness and all the other facets of death: Romans 6:14 (NKJV) 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 8:2 (NKJV) 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Sickness, lack, debt, stress, and failure will not have dominion over us, because we are under grace. Grace includes healing, blessing, success, rest, peace, joy, and wisdom. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sickness and death, or the law of poverty and death, and so on. You can put in these passages any of the attributes of death instead of the word “sin,” as they are equivalent. This understanding changes everything, isn’t it? It certainly did change everything for me. It strengthened my resolve and determination to remove sickness, lack, stress, and worry from my life at any cost, because these effects of death are illegal for believers in Christ. Although sickness, poverty, stress, worry and fear are considered as a normal part of life by most people, they are not normal for Christians at all. The new creation in Christ is not a mere human, but a supernatural being. Now, by including all the manifestations of the sinful nature, like sickness and poverty, in the definition of sin, we can access new insights about our sinful behaviors and addictions as well. The first insight is that God is not offended, angry, or upset by our sinful behaviors in the same way He is not offended when we are sick or in lack. He cannot be angry anymore with our sinful deeds, because all His wrath for our offences was poured once and for all on Jesus Christ at the cross. Our sinful behaviors don’t change God’s heart of love towards us the same way sickness and lack don’t change His heart towards us. Our sinful behaviors make us suffer and destroy us the same way sickness and lack bring suffering. Moreover, our blessings are not affected in any way from God’s side by our sinful deeds, because He is not granting them in time, depending on our level of holiness, but He has already given them all free in Christ. Not lastly, our eternal security of salvation is not affected by our sinful deeds the same way it is not affected by sickness and lack. That doesn’t mean God is not grieved when we do sinful deeds the same way He is grieved when we are sick, in lack, depressed, or stressed out. According to Ephesians 4:30, the Holy Spirit is grieved by sin. However, grief is not anger or wrath, but rather pain of the heart caused by love that God experiences when He sees us destroying ourselves and our destinies through sinful behaviors and addictions, the same way He feels as a Father, when He sees us suffering unnecessarily of sickness, lack, depression, and fear, especially when He has already provided a powerful solution to all these types of death in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is grieved when we don’t take advantage of the grace He has granted to us in Christ. God’s justice and righteousness are not affected in any way by our sins, His heart towards us is not affected, and neither His fellowship with us. However, we are affected in a negative way by the sinful deeds, because we allow death to infiltrate our beings and minimize our faith ability to materialize all the inheritance God has left us in the spiritual realm. Sin affects the quality of our life here on earth. The second insight is that the natural and supernatural means of behavioral change and sanctification can overlap and complement each other only up to a point, the same way it happens with sickness. When you are sick, depending on the type of disease, you can employ some natural means to get well again, like medical treatments or surgeries, which God can bless. These methods can remedy various health problems, either temporarily or permanently. However, there is also a better way, a supernatural way of healing by faith and grace alone, that doesn’t necessarily conflict or cancel the natural medical ways, yet is also effective in curing incurable diseases and any type of bodily affections that the medical world cannot, such as: cancer, HIV, diabetes, blindness, deafness, infertility, and various other conditions. When facing these impossible situations, we have no other option but simply believe in God’s Word about healing, with perseverance and patience until divine healing is manifested. We cannot add any human effort to these healings, except keeping our mind focused on what God’s said about our healing, until grace is released and our condition removed. Likewise, when it comes to sinful deeds and behaviors, some of these can be changed by natural means through your own efforts, although that change is not always guaranteed for the long-term. The most effective way to long-lasting change and sanctification is grace through simple faith, especially when it comes to all kinds of addictions and areas of your life where you’ve been weak and struggling for a long time. I am talking about those areas in which you might have tried everything you knew to be free, without any significant and permanent victory, those areas in which you feel hopeless and feel like you will never be able to be free. In the same way you cannot do anything about a sickness for which there is no medical remedy, but only believe in the power of the cross, likewise you need to approach your sanctification. Most of the times, we rush into trying to change ourselves morally, because we feel that the means and decisions to become better are readily at our disposal and we don’t insist on learning how to use the means of faith to release grace in those areas, that will produce supernatural lasting changes. Many people rely on their strong will and resolutions to correct moral faults or vices, which can be efficient for some time, though it involves human effort and it’s a struggle for short-term results most of the times. The better and God-given solution to any behavioral change is faith and perseverance in grace. You might not see immediate results like you do when using your will, because it takes time for faith and conviction in the Word to grow, but once grace is released, the change is effortless. I will have a separate chapter on sanctification later on, but I just wanted to touch a little bit here on this subtle nuance from our life of faith. After reading all these things about the concept of sin, can you begin to grasp how far we drifted off, as a body of Christ, from the life God intended for us believers to live here on earth? We dream about and focus so much on the life after death that we miss out the life that we are supposed to live here one earth, in righteousness to the full. Can you also see how impossible is for us believers to try to live righteousness through our own efforts? We can only mime it maybe, without actually living in that divine authentic righteousness that flows only by faith. Walking in righteousness is a supernatural task that requires faith. Living in righteousness it’s not struggling and focusing consciously on how to be better morally or do more good works. That is why the only type of life pleasing to God is the one lived by grace through faith. In order to live by faith on a regular basis, we need to expose ourselves as much as possible to the Word of God, meditate on it, declare it, and pray in tongues, until our mental processes, thought life, and emotions are so altered and in tune with the Holy Spirit that grace and power flow through us continuously and cause us to walk in righteousness unconsciously and effortlessly.
22 minutes | 2 months ago
Session 9 - What Is Righteousness? (The Glory of Righteousness)
What Is Righteousness?We’ve been talking so much about righteousness and about the fact that our new spirit has become the righteousness of God in Christ. But what is righteousness really? You may or may not have asked yourself that question before. Righteousness is that nature of God that defines His character and His ways of doing all things. It’s the character of God to always be right and perfect in everything. It’s about who He is. How He thinks is always right. What He says is always right. What He does is always right, because He is God. We can also call it the quality of rightness. It’s the rightness of God. He is never wrong. He is always right no matter what any other being might say. He could never be wrong. When it comes to the things of this world, if God says to a flower “You’re a tree,” that flower will have no choice but turn into a tree, because God can never lie and He has to be always right. When God said in Genesis: “Light be!,” light came into existence. When Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark 11 and decreed over it: “May no one ever eat fruit from you again,” the fig tree had no choice but to comply and wither away. That is power. He creates and curses with His words. He imposes His reality into things and circumstances. However, when it comes to people, God’s righteous words will never infringe people’s free will and authority. God’s words referring to people need to be first freely accepted by them through faith before they come to pass in their lives. In other words, people have the choice and they decide whether a righteous word from God will come to pass in their lives or not. When God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:5 “I have made you a father of many nations” and He even changed his name from Abram to Abraham to reflect that reality, what God said eventually came to pass, but not without Abraham’s cooperation of faith. When God said to believers in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that they have become His righteousness in Christ when they received Christ into their lives by faith, what God said came into being. When God said to believers in 1 Peter 2:24 that they were healed, that righteous word comes to pass in their lives, only when they freely choose to accept it by faith. When this righteousness of God is imparted into our spirit at the new birth, it gives us right standing with God, because there is a legal side to righteousness as well. However, first and foremost, righteousness is a nature the same way sin is a nature. When we were born physically in this world, we were born sinners before we did anything bad, because of the sinful nature we inherited from Adam. That sinful nature carried along with it the legal guilty standing before God as well. Likewise, when we were born again from the Spirit, we received a new nature of righteousness by faith, before doing anything good. Our good deeds didn’t make us righteousness the same way our sinful deeds didn’t make us sinners. But our righteousness nature prompts us to good works while our sinner nature makes us do sinful deeds. Our actions are vastly influenced by our nature. When Adam entered spiritual death, he became sin both legally and vitally. His spirit’s nature was altered, he entered death, and his legal standing with God became that of a condemned person. Because of him, the whole human race died in its nature as well. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 5:15-19 that Christ, who is the last Adam, not only canceled what the first Adam did, by reconciling us back to God legally, but did much more. He gave us the free gift of righteousness as a nature. Let’s read this whole passage together: Romans 5:15–19 (NKJV) 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense, judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act, the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Christ should have accomplished at least what Adam did, right? Otherwise, He would have been less powerful than Adam. Of course, what Christ did was towards spiritual life, and not to spiritual death. But Christ had to perform an alteration in both the legal status and the vital state of believers and put them back in the position of righteousness in which Adam was, right? The interesting part is that Christ did something much better than what Adam did. The position and nature of Adam before the Fall was one of positive righteousness maintained by and conditioned on Adam’s obedience to God’s command. It was not a fixed, eternal, and unconditional righteousness independent of his deeds. If Jesus Christ were to just undo what Adam did, that meant that people who were going to believe in Him, would have only been brought back from minus to zero, having a clean slate and a temporary conditional righteousness. People in that position would have had to earn unconditional and fixed righteousness on their own by their obedience to God’s laws and commands. But Jesus didn’t leave believers in that position. He has undone what Adam did, but He also earned unconditional eternal righteousness by His obedience to the Law during His life, and then gave it as a gift to believers. That is amazing!!! Romans 5:19 says that, since through Adam, humans were made sinners both legally and in their nature, through Christ, the born again Christians were also made righteous both legally and in their spirit’s nature. That’s reciprocity. If they were not made righteous in nature as well as legally, Christ would have been less powerful than Adam and that is not biblical. Since sin (or spiritual death) was not just imputed legally to Adam and to the rest of the human race, now righteousness (or spiritual life) is not just imputed legally to Christians. However, Christ did much more than that. He freely gave believers God’s unconditional eternal righteousness that He earned on earth by His irreproachable obedience to the Law. The quality of His righteousness is superior to the one Adam had initially. Jesus didn’t let believers earn it on their own by their obedience as Adam was supposed to do before the Fall. That is amazing! Jesus obeyed and fulfilled all the commands and conditions of God from Deuteronomy 28 and gave that obedience to believers as a gift. It’s exactly this righteousness of Jesus Christ present in the reborn spirit of the new creation that gives Christians the legal right to health and prosperity on this earth. That is why they are no longer subject to the law of sin and death, but live by the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). They are immune to sickness, disease, and lack, if they start believing that they have Jesus’ righteousness. That is why sin, with all its negative effects, no longer has dominion over believers (Romans 6:14). And it doesn’t have anything to do with their good deeds or their sanctification, but it’s only based on Jesus’ righteousness. Before the cross, Abraham was only credited righteousness (Romans 4); it was given to him just legally in advance; it was imputed to him because of his faith, but his nature was still a sinner’s nature and it wasn’t yet righteousness. However, after the cross, when we are born again, we are no longer given righteousness just legally. We are born into righteousness; we are born righteous. Eternal life is given to us as a gift because of righteousness. Human beings are not given the human nature and life in general as a gift after they are born. They are simply born as humans. In the same way, the new creations in Christ are born righteous in their spirit’s nature. Before the cross, righteousness was given and imputed to sinful people only legally, based on their faith or obedience to the Law. However, after the cross, righteousness is imparted to born-again believers as a nature, as well. Christians have the exact same nature as God Himself, here on earth, just as Jesus had. They have the ability in their spirit, through the Holy Spirit, to think right, talk right, be in the right places at the right time, and do the right things, even unconsciously. They are the wisdom of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). They are led by the Holy Spirit even unconsciously if they choose to believe in this righteousness and are aware of it. When you believe and declare “I am holy” or “I am righteous,” based on what the Word says, despite your sinful behaviors, you don’t deny the presence of those sinful deeds in your life. You are not arrogant or not humble enough. You rather deny the right of the sinful actions to remain in your life. You dictate change to your sinful actions, because you are righteousness and you cannot lie, exactly like God. Just as God decreed "Let there be light" to the darkness that covered the earth, so are you dictating the Word of God to your emotions or circumstances and your reality has to obey and align with those words of righteousness. If you feel depressed and you begin saying that you are full of peace and joy (Romans 14:17), you don’t deny your depression, but you deny its right to stay. Depression has to leave and convert into peace and joy in your soul and emotions, because you have decreed with your mouth what is true in your spirit and what you want to have instead of depression. Peace has to manifest in your emotions. Your emotional state has to adjust according to your words, because they are the words of a king and words of righteousness: Ecclesiastes 8:4 (NKJV) 4 Where the word of a king is, there is power. When you are sick or feel any pain and begin declaring the Word, that you have been healed by His stripes (1 Peter 2:24), you don’t deny the presence of that pain, but you deny its right to stay. You command to your body to adjust its state according to righteousness. If your body was sick, now it has to become healed because of your righteous words. The same thing happens when you declare words of prosperity over your life: what you say has to come into being because it’s based on the Word. Notice that you cannot just declare or command anything that comes to your mind, but only what is based on the Word, and only what is included in your rights and inheritance in Christ. Moreover, you cannot impose things or command things over other people, because they have a free will and authority like you as well, especially other believers. Positional vs. Practical RighteousnessNow let’s talk a little bit about positional vs. practical righteousness. The fact that they still do sinful actions after they were born again, bewilders believers. On the one hand, the Bible says that Christians ARE ALREADY righteous, but on the other hand, in reality, they don’t see that righteousness MANIFESTING YET completely. There is a tension between ”the already” and ”the not yet,” and there is a so-called positional righteousness vs. practical (or behavioral) righteousness theory. The way these two types of righteousness are usually understood is the following: believers are still sinners in their spirit’s nature, and only their legal standing with God changed. In other words, God just considers believers to be righteous from a legal standpoint, but they are not righteous in reality in their nature as well. That’s the definition of positional righteousness. Then these believers have to prefect their righteousness by improving their external behavior. They accomplish that by trying to be as moral as possible – that is, reading the Word to see what God expects from them morally and then trying to implement it in their lives. That’s the definition of practical righteousness. However, these two terms create the false assumptions that I’ve just described unconsciously in believers’ minds and don’t depict accurately what is the actual truth. That happens also because of a lack of understanding of the concepts of spirit, soul, and body. A better terminology for the two types of righteousness would be the following one: innate righteousness vs. activated righteousness. These new designations create better assumptions that are closer to reality, because it’s not just the legal standing of believers that has changed into righteousness, but the nature of most important part of their identity (that is, their spirit) has become righteousness in its essence as well. Has Adam’s spirit been affected only legally when he sinned in his body? Did he only exchange legal positions? No, his spirit was tangibly affected and changed in its essence. His spirit became death. In the same way, the spirit of Christians has become righteousness in essence. Only their minds and bodies have to catch up with the change that took place in their spirit and their mind needs to be renewed. The so-called positional righteousness should cover or describe the change both in the legal standing (status) and the vital state of the spirit. The practical (or behavioral) righteousness should cover or refer to the renewal of the mind in all aspects, not just morally. We can use a smartphone with all its potentialities as a comparison to better illustrate the innate righteousness and activated righteousness. The embedded possibilities that the smartphone comes with can be likened to innate righteousness, while learning how to use the smartphone in our daily lives (learning about apps for different needs, installing them and then using them) can be compared to the activated righteousness. Meditation on the Word and renewal of the mind is the process of activating righteousness. For instance, 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse in the area of temptations and self-control that needs to be meditated upon, personalized, and applied. 1 Peter 2:24 is a verse in the area of divine physical healing that should be used for meditation, personalization, and application in our daily lives. Likewise, 3 John 1:2 is a passage in the area of prosperity in all areas of life, and 2 Corinthians 8:9 as well as 2 Corinthians 9:8 are two passages in the area of prosperity as well, but more specifically related to finances (that is, wealth, debts, and loans). Newborn babies have all the potentialities of the human nature in them at birth (i.e. playing instruments, swimming, painting, engineering, driving cars, manufacturing, etc.), but they need to grow, develop their potentialities, and learn some of these skills by practicing them until they are activated and become an integral part of them. They become automatic as part of their being at the subconscious level. In the beginning of learning a new habit or skill, the process is difficult (i.e. learning to drive a car), but through practice, it becomes easy as second nature. People born of God are the same. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand so that we would walk in them. On one hand, believers were created perfect and complete, that is, in their spirits and that is shown in verses like Hebrews 10:14 and 12:23: Hebrews 10:14 (NKJV) 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 12:23 (NKJV) 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect. On the other hand, they are also being perfected in faith, love, and holiness in their minds (that is, in their reasoning, thinking, will, emotions, speech, conscience) and in their bodies (that is, in their actions). We can see that illustrated in James 2:22, 1 Peter 5:10, and 1 John 4:12: James 2:22 (NKJV) 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV) 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 John 4:12 (NKJV) 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. There is one more passage in 2 Corinthians 7:1 that talks about perfecting holiness, but also about the possibility of a spirit to be defiled and we need to explain that. Let’s read the passage: 2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV) 1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let’s cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. You may wonder how can a spirit be defiled since we just learnt that it’s righteous? First, in the same way that defilement of the body doesn’t change the nature of the body, the defilement of the spirit doesn’t change the nature of the spirit. Second, defilement of the body is generally related to sexual immorality in the Scripture, while defilement of the spirit is related to idolatry and wrong worship. That makes sense when we also think about the kind of worship God likes – in spirit and truth (John 4:23). Furthermore, the context of 2 Corinthians 7:1 verse, meaning chapter 6, is about being yoked with unbelievers and about worship of idols in Corinth. Those things can defile the spirit, but cannot change the righteousness of the spirit’s nature, or cause the loss of salvation.
23 minutes | 3 months ago
Session 8 - The Mirror Principle (The Glory of Righteousness)
The Mirror PrincipleLet’s read James 1:21-25: James 1:21–25 (NKJV) 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty (namely the Gospel) and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. Most Christians read this passage and interpret the mirror as being the moral Law of God, in which you have to look continually to see your flaws and sins. In other words, you see what you need to change and then go try changing it, without forgetting the moral flaws that you saw in the mirror, until those issues are removed out of your life. Only THEN will you be blessed in what you do. There are multiple problems with this interpretation. First, the mirror is the perfect law of liberty, and not the moral Law or the Ten Commandments. What is the perfect law of liberty? The perfect law of liberty is the Gospel or the Word of His grace. The perfect law of liberty is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). That law stipulates that we are dead to sin (Romans 6:11) and no longer under sin’s dominion (Romans 6:14), that God loves us (John 16:27), that we are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), that all possible blessings are already established and granted to us in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), that even when we sin we are not condemned anymore (Romans 8:1), that we have power to live in holiness (1 Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 4:13), that we have been healed (1 Peter 2:24), that we are a success (Psalm 1:3), that we are prosperous (2 Corinthians 8:9), victorious (Romans 8:37), above failure, and protected. This is the Gospel and the perfect law of liberty that we need to be doers of, meaning believing these things and walking in them. In the New Testament, the act of doing the Word is believing the Word about you and acting accordingly. The act of doing the Word is not obeying a set of moral rules like in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, you will not be blessed BECAUSE you obey the moral Law. Obedience is no longer a condition for God to bless you, like in the Old Testament. You are blessed regardless of your level of obedience. The more you believe the Word of grace about the perfect being that you have become in your spirit, the more grace is released in your life, and the more blessings manifest themselves from the inside out into the material world. When you come to realize how blessed you are, then the blessing begins to flow in everything you do. You are blessed even before you believe it, once you have come in Christ. But when you believe that you have been blessed, that blessing starts manifesting in your life physically and emotionally. Notice that verse 21 says that the Word is already implanted in you and able to save your soul. What does that mean? It means that your new spirit is the Word Itself, because it has been born of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23), and consequently, you have become the Word of God in your spirit. That Word is just locked inside of you and blocked by your mind. When you look in the mirror of the Word, you see yourself, the Word. When your mind receives the revelation of who you really are inside, and accepts it by believing it, that’s when you begin putting “flesh” to the Word inside, the same way Jesus was the incarnated Word. That is the moment when you bring the Word out and manifest it to make your soul immune to the works of darkness on this earth. The works of darkness are: sickness, depression, confusion, lack of peace and joy, failure, anger, lack of wisdom, etc. This is how your soul is saved by the implanted Word of God in you. The salvation of your soul in this context does not refer to the salvation from hell in the future life, but to the salvation of your whole being here in earth from sin and from all its effects that entered the world together with it. Renewal of the mind is not refreshing your mind with the moral Law of God, or the Ten Commandments. The moral Law of God has already been written into your conscience since you were born on this earth. We know good and evil because of the Fall. We don’t need to refresh that knowledge because it’s already in us and in all people. That’s why you have moral people that have never been born again, and neither heard or tried to keep the Ten Commandments, yet behave at the highest moral standards and sometimes better than some born-again believers. That is why you have Greek Orthodox and Catholic people, that are mostly not born again, going regularly to confess their sins to the priests. The conscience is always working in everyone, either we like it or not, and it doesn’t need our help. Renewal of the mind means to renew your thinking about your new identity and nature, to focus and meditate on that, and be aware of that. The new identity is not something obvious to the eyes, but something that you need to behold with the eyes of the Spirit, and refresh your mind with it constantly. Your new nature is what you should not forget about and be a doer of. Then your soul (mind, will, conscience, and emotions) and body will be transformed into, and align to, the same image of Christ, in which your spirit has already been reborn. In the mirror, you don’t see your old self, the sinner, or your sinful deeds. Instead, you see Christ, Who is glory, Who is the Word of God incarnated, and that’s who you are as well in Him. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 is also a passage about the mirror that goes along here and it says: 2 Corinthians 3:17–18 (NKJV) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 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 by the Spirit of the Lord. The way to be transformed into the image of the Lord is to behold the glory of the Lord, that is, to focus on who Christ is in you and who you are in Christ. You do this by reading and meditating on the Word of God and by listening to sermons and biblical teachings. This is how you look into the perfect law of liberty and see who you are and who you have become – the very glory of the Lord. The new creation is no longer fallen short of the glory of God as Romans 3:23 says. That is the state of unbelievers. The new creation in Christ is the fullness of the glory of God here on earth (John 1:16; John 17:22). Most of the times, believers read the Bible with an Old Testament perspective, instead of reading it with a New Testament mindset. They read the New Testament in the light and through the lens of the Old Testament, rather than reading the Old Testament in the light and through the lens of the New Testament. The grace and the glory that came after Jesus’ death and resurrection are the culmination of the entire Bible. Everything else is included in that grace as an intermediate stage to the unfolding final plan of grace: the election of one man, Abraham, the election of one nation, Israel, the giving of the Law, and the period of the prophets. Those were shadows of the real to come. God had to announce the birth of Jesus and what He was going to accomplish at the cross through the mouth of His prophets, so that He would have man’s authority to bring Jesus on earth. That is probably why it took hundreds and thousands of years until the promises about the seed of Christ given to Eve and to Abraham came into being. In the same time, God had to be very cryptic in those announcements, so that the devil and the princes of this world would not understand His secret plan of salvation. Otherwise, they would have never crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8). Can you imagine that? The devil would have never crucified Jesus if he knew that by one man’s death, more sons of God like Him would come into being. God had to work in the Old Testament in stages to reveal His plan progressively and carefully, but grace is what unifies and makes sense of all those phases together. That is why some truths that were a present reality in the Old Testament cannot become principles of interpretation over the entire Bible, and especially of the New Testament. It’s rather the other way around: the New Testament has to interpret the Old Testament. There are present truths that pertain to the new creation in Christ and past truths that don’t apply to believers today, although they paved the way to Christ and applied to the people that lived in those times and contexts. That is why the Bible contains an OLD testament and a NEW testament. Many things in the Old Testament prepared people through symbols and analogies, so that they would understand what was going to happen at the cross. Let’s look at a few examples of reading the New Testament with Old Testament assumptions. In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 we read: Deuteronomy 11:26–28 (NKJV) 26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. Then when we read James 1:21-25, we assume that the passage is talking about the same thing like in Deuteronomy: James 1:21–25 (NKJV) 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. The general past truth revealed in the Deuteronomy passage we’ve just read, as well as in many other places in the Old Testament, is this: if you obey God’s commandments (namely the Law), God will bless you; if you don’t obey His commandments, God will curse you or punish you. The general present truth revealed in the James passage we’ve just read, as well as in many other places in the New Testament, is this: God has already blessed you and made you holy by faith in the spirit realm, independent of your obedience and deeds; now go and do the things pertaining to your new nature, and you (not God) will convert the spiritual blessings into earthly ones. Another example: in the Old Testament, the power of God and the Holy Spirit came down to help God’s people from time to time and would remain with them for a while, as long as the people obeyed the Law or humbled themselves with fasting and praying. They had to implore God to come help them in their battles, through their obedience and fasting. And that was true for them because Christ had not died yet and they were not yet part of God’s family. They were servants, not sons and daughters. They didn’t have any legal right to God’s power. They relied only on God’s mercy that would overlook their sins until Christ would come. However, believers in the New Testament apply the same principles to the gift of the Holy Spirit, thinking that they need to cleanse themselves first, then humble themselves through prayer and fasting, and then tarry for an indefinite time in a state of begging God to send His promised Holy Spirit, until they feel something spectacular physically or emotionally. That’s how they know they received the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, they conclude that they were not holy enough, or they didn’t pray and fast enough, or simply God didn’t want yet to give His Holy Spirit to them. So, they try harder to sanctify themselves. They apply the same principle if they need a healing in their body, or if they want God to move with power in their lives and with signs and wonders, especially when they read, for example, 2 Timothy 2:21, where Paul tells Timothy to cleanse himself so that he would be a vessel of honor. However, that passage covers a different context of qualifications for public ministry in front of people, and not a condition for receiving the Holy Spirit. Most believers made out of the Holy Spirit, of the power of God, and of healing, a reward for their good behavior. Or they made out of those things something that can be experienced only when they get to a certain spiritual height. ”Why do we need the Holy Spirit then, since we have to be perfect before He can come? How can He help us?” The Holy Spirit came exactly for this purpose: to help us, to sanctify us, to teach us how to be spiritual, and to move in us with power, so that we would be a blessing for people. Many Christians even believe that, depending on their obedience, the Holy Spirit comes and goes as He did in the Old Testament, based on what king David said in Psalm 51:11: “Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” The first truth that is a past reality in this example is that, in the Old Testament, God would do everything for His people as a response to their obedience to the Law and to prayer and fasting. The present truth is that God has already given His people everything they need freely by faith (His Son, His Word, His Holy Spirit and His fullness of power) and now His people must use what they have and have been given. Neither God nor Jesus are moved or respond in any way because of believers’ level of sanctification or because of their fasting. Fasting doesn’t move God; fasting changes us. Jesus sat down at the right hand of God after He finished His work (Hebrews 10:12) and He now waits for believers to bring all the enemies of sickness, poverty, and addictions under His feet, in their own lives and the lives of other people. Another past reality is that in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come only partially and temporarily over some people to accomplish certain tasks, based on their obedience. The present truth is that the Holy Spirit is received in its fullness and without measure (John 3:34; John 20:21) by any born-again person through a simple prayer of faith, exactly like salvation. The Holy Spirit is the gift that God wanted to give freely to His people all along, ever since Abraham. The Holy Spirit is the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:14) and that is why Jesus had to die first, so that the new creations would have the right to receive the Holy Spirit. Moreover, in John 14:16, Jesus said that once the Holy Spirit came, He would be with the believers forever, without specifying any conditions. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go anymore when we feel we are not holy enough in our eyes. Finally, we see God in the Old Testament sending sometimes sickness, curse, or calamity over His people because of their transgressions, as He promised in Deuteronomy 28. Then, believers come to Hebrews 12, where they read about the so-called discipline of the Lord and conclude that God still punishes His children sometimes with sickness or curse or He allows it, so that He would discipline them, teach them something, or force them to come back from their wicked ways. However, the present truth in the New Testament is that God can never send or allow sickness and curse on His children as a consequence of their wrong ways. Believers are the ones allowing them in their lives through unbelief. According to Galatians 3:13, Christ became a curse for all humanity’s wrong doings and took all curse and sickness on Him (1 Peter 2:24). Does God allow some people not to be saved and go to hell? Of course not, but they allow it themselves through their unbelief. Moreover, it is His Holy Spirit who teaches believers all things and guides them into all truth (John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27), rather than the devil’s tools. Furthermore, the Scripture is inspired by God to teach, reproof, correct, and train in righteousness those who are in Christ (2 Timothy 3:16) and not calamity and curse. Now let’s look at a few examples of how to read the Old Testament with a new creation mindset. Proverbs 8:18 says: Proverbs 8:18 (NKJV) 18 Riches and honor are with me (wisdom), enduring riches and righteousness. We know from king Solomon’s life how wisdom brought him riches and honor. However, in the New Testament, we see that Christ has become wisdom from God for the new creation (1 Corinthians 1:30), that the new creation has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), and that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). With that perspective in mind, now we can understand that if we are in Christ, we are way more advantaged than king Solomon, we have access to all the wisdom and knowledge, and consequently, we can experience enduring riches and honor in our lives. It is a sure promise. Proverbs 18:21 says: Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. With the New Testament knowledge, we know that we can alter the course of our life for the better, through words that we say by faith, which are aligned to the Word of grace. Likewise, we can change the course of our lives when we also allow the rivers of living water to flow freely through our mouth by speaking and praying in tongues (John 7:38, James 3:2-7). With the New Testament mindset, now we know that it matters what we believe and what we speak with our mouth and that death and life are indeed in the power of the tongue.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
Session 7 - The Mind Renewal Process (The Glory of Righteousness)
The Mind Renewal ProcessIn Romans 12:1-2, it says: Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV) 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Verse 2 says not to be conformed to the world. The word “conformed” means “to be poured into a mold.” In other words, there will always be pressure from the world, from the devil, from unbelievers and from circumstances to make you conform to them. You cannot go through life without being pressured and melted one way or another, but you can choose what mold to fit in. You don’t have to be bitter like the world, and you don’t have to experience the defeat this world offers you either. Don’t be conformed and poured into the mold of this world, but be transformed. The word “transformed” in Greek is metamorphoo, from where we have the word “metamorphosis,” which is the transformation of a worm from a cocoon into a butterfly. If you want that kind of transformation where you are changed in your physical and emotional realm from a bitter and hurtful person into a loving and joyful one, from a sick person into a healed one, from a defeated person into the victorious person God wants you to be, then you need to renew your mind. Your spirit is perfect. The body just goes with the flow and it goes along for the ride. But what you think with your mind determines whether you experience the life of God or death and defeat in the natural realm. The renewing of your mind changes all that. The renewing of your mind produces your transformation and that transformation approves and confirms the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God in your life. How does this happen? The good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God for you—revealed in the Gospel— is that you would have life in abundance, peace, joy, health, prosperity, and victory over sin. All these things, that represent the will of God for you, are already present in your born-again spirit. The moment you begin to be transformed outwardly and when what is inside of you becomes visible on the outside, you prove to the world that what God said about you and what God has put in your spirit is true and real. Your transformation certifies and confirms what God has already accomplished in you. The verb ”prove” in Romans 12:2 comes from the Greek word dokimazo, which means ”to approve something or someone, to examine or test something or someone and prove him or it reliable and trustworthy, to determine, to certify, or to confirm” (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Lexicon by Kittle and Friedrich Gerhard and Geoffrey William Bromiley). The exact same Greek word is used in 1 Corinthians 16:3 as well, where apostle Paul says: 1 Corinthians 16:3 (NKJV) 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. Paul says that he will send the Corinthians’ gifts to Jerusalem through people that have been tested by the church in Corinth and approved as reliable to carry such gifts. Now, returning to Romans 12:1-2, some more interpretive translations of the Bible (ESV, NRSV) have rendered the Greek word dokimazo as “discern.” The verb “to discern” in the English language is defined as “to find out, to distinguish, to detect, or to perceive” creating the following connotation in your mind when reading Romans 12:2: “that by renewing your mind with the moral laws of God from the Bible regularly, you will learn to discern good and evil or what God likes and dislikes, which actually represents the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Is this interpretation correct? As we have already learned, our mind doesn’t need additional refreshes of the moral laws of God (namely the Ten Commandments), because our conscience already knows good and evil very well and it reminds them to us on a regular basis, either we like it or not. Also, as I will explain later in more details, the renewing of the mind does not consist in looking continually in the moral Law of Moses to see our flaws and sins and then try to improve ourselves morally. Therefore, the translation of the Greek verb dokimazo as “prove” in the literal translations of the Bible (KJV, NKJV, NASB, LEB) is more accurate, because it correctly portrays the mind renewal process as an assimilation of a new identity, and not as a merely moral improvement of your old person. By the transformation that results from your identity replacement with Christ’s identity, you can confirm the will of God, which is not only morality, but righteousness, life, and power in all aspects of your life. How do you renew your mind? It’s through the Word of God which tells you what is spiritually true and gives you a new mindset. You then have to conform yourself to what God’s Word has to say about you. Acts 20:32 (NKJV) 32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Apostle Paul says that the Word of His grace is able to build you up and give you an inheritance; it helps you enter in the possession of it. The Word of God or the Word of His grace is the instruction manual for the new creation. The New Testament contains most of those instructions and principles pertaining to the new creation and to the righteousness of God, but the Old Testament contains such instructions as well, because the Law and the Prophets greeted from a far the grace that was going to come to us. Allow me to share with you some other Scriptures that will bring even more clarity to what has happened in you. They will illustrate the truths about the change that took place in your spirit. In Ephesians 4:17 it says: Ephesians 4:17 (NKJV) 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind. The word “Gentiles” here refers to non-Jews. In that context, Paul was referring to people that were not in covenant with God. The way he would probably express the same thing today would be something like the following: “Don’t walk like lost people and like people that don’t have a relationship with God.” In other words, don’t just let your mind be controlled and dominated by carnal physical things. If you don’t begin to think spiritually and be spiritually-minded instead of carnally-minded, then you will shut off the flow of the life of God through you. A Scripture that reflects this well is Romans 8:6, where it says: Romans 8:6 (NKJV) 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Carnal mindedness doesn’t mean sinful mindedness necessarily. Yes, it’s true that all sin is carnal, but not all carnality is sin. The word “carnal” literally means “everything you perceive through the five senses.” In other words, don’t let your mind be dominated only by what you can see, taste, hear, smell, and feel. You can also perceive realities that exist beyond the senses, as your soul believes the Word of God. In the physical realm, you already can believe things that you cannot see with your physical eyes. For instance, we’ve come to realize that there are invisible germs all around us that can be seen only under the microscope. Because of that, we wash our hands even though we don’t see those microscopic germs with our physical eyes. Likewise, there is the electrical power, radio waves, television signals, internet wireless networks and bank transactions all around us right now whether we are in the car or home. We don’t see all these with our physical eyes, but we see their effects in our daily lives and we benefit from them. We’ve come to realize that there are things we cannot see, taste, hear, smell, or feel, but they are real nevertheless. And this is only the physical and natural realm that we’re talking about, but if we transition to the spiritual realm, there is a whole spiritual world all around us that is real. In Ephesians, the Bible calls that spiritual world the heavenly places. Moreover, there are also certain spiritual realities present in you, in your born-again spirit. I am referring here to the spiritual part of you that you cannot perceive through your senses, but you can believe it as you discover it in the Word of God. Begin to use your mind as the Word of God instructs you, and not like the Gentiles, being controlled just by the flesh, because if you’re carnally minded, meaning dominated by senses, that is death. But to be spiritually-minded is life and peace. The verse in Romans 8:6 that we’ve just read didn’t say that spiritual mindedness tends towards life and peace or that it helps in some way to push you in that direction. No, it said that spiritual mindedness is life and peace. In other words, you could consider these statements as being a mathematical formula: spiritual mindedness equals life plus peace, while carnal mindedness equals death. This isn’t talking just about physical death. Death is anything that results from sin, whether it’s the physical death of your body or the slow death of depression, emotional sadness, loneliness, boredom, unbelief, hopelessness, bitterness, anger, lack of any kind, poverty, and sickness. Carnal mindedness produces death. Period! What is spiritual mindedness? Let’s read John 6:63 where it says: John 6:63 (NKJV) 63 It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. Spiritual mindedness is Word-mindedness. If you’re dominated by what God’s Word has to say instead of what your physical senses tell you, then you’re spiritually-minded, and that will produce only life and peace. Another Scripture that talks about the same thing is Isaiah 26:3 where it says: Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) 3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Notice again here how the Word links peace to the way you think. If you have a lack of peace, you may say it’s because of certain circumstances or because of what someone else did to you, but that’s not really your problem. The problem is that you have allowed your mind to be dominated by what you can see, taste, hear, smell, and feel. If you keep your mind stayed upon God regardless of your physical circumstances, He will keep you in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Your spirit is always in perfect peace. But, if your mind is stayed on your problems, if you look at them and think about the potential negative consequences those problems might have and about what they have done to other people in similar situations, then even though you have the perfect peace of God in your spirit, you won’t experience it in your soul. Not because it’s not there in your spirit, but because you didn’t release it; you didn’t draw it out from your spirit and enforce it to your emotions. That valve that we were talking about earlier is closed and the life that is in your spirit is not flowing on the outside. Let’s go back for a moment to Ephesians 4:17 and read also verse 18: Ephesians 4:17–18 (NKJV) 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. Verse 18 talks about our understanding being darkened if we walk like mere humans. That refers to our mind again. If you don’t use your mind to study the Word of God and if you don’t renew your mind, then it will automatically gravitate towards what you can see, taste, hear, smell, and feel and what that will do, is darken your understanding. Allow me to underline the importance of “understanding” or of perceiving things, in the following way as well: we all know that the knowledge of God’s Word is essential and you need to have it. However, you also need the correct understanding of that knowledge and the application of it in your day-to-day life through various associations and connections. Understanding is the personalization of knowledge. In other words, knowledge is like taking food and putting it in your mouth. That’s the first step. But do you know what? You actually need to swallow that food and your body needs to start digesting it before all of the nutrients and the benefits in that food begin to be released into your body. The knowledge of God is important, but it reaches its potential only if you can understand it right and if you can release the life that it’s in it. And this verse says that, if you are walking and living like Gentiles or like lost people, you are not seeing the spiritual truths, but you are just being dominated by your carnal mind and carnal thinking, and all you get as a result is death. Verse 18 continues by saying that you get alienated from the life of God when your living is dominated by the physical world. In other words, the life of God is still there, but you are alienated and separated from it, because of your ignorance, again referring to the mind and the way the mind thinks. If the physical and natural things dominate you instead of the spiritual and supernatural truths, you alienate yourself from the life of God. That doesn’t mean you lose your eternal salvation, but you don’t benefit from the life of God here on earth. And this is what’s happening to most of us unfortunately, because we don’t think the way God thinks. God says: “You have been healed by Jesus’ stripes” (1 Peter 2:24), but we look in the mirror and say, “Oh, is that cancer? That bump looks like a tumor.” When we don’t see the healing and we still feel pain because of some sickness or if we’re emotionally drained and fearful over that sickness, then we might say something like: “Well, God says I’ve been healed, but I’m not; I mean I looked in the mirror and I’m not.” And so we begin to think carnally and adopt the current physical manifestation of our reality through the words that we speak, which are contrary to the Word of God, being dominated by the five senses. Because of that, the physical reality will continue its course even though we have the life of God and the resurrection power in us. God’s life will not manifest itself in our physical circumstance. If we want things to change, even if we still feel the pain and the symptoms of the sickness (whatever that might be – cancer, diabetes, different viruses, etc.), in the midst of it and preferably before it appears, we need to work on our conviction level about what the Word of God says on healing by continuing to renew our mind with that Word, by continuing to believe it and say it with our mouth until we make it work, and we see the results of healing or recovery manifested in the physical realm. That is how we work out our salvation (according to Philippians 2:12) from our inside spirit into our soul and body, converting a spiritual invisible reality into a physical visible one. We first change our thinking from a carnal one into a spiritual one, by aligning it to the Word of God, and that takes time. It doesn’t happen over night. Changing our convictions, from being based on the visible five senses to being based on the invisible spiritual realities, takes time, effort, intentionality, repetition, and perseverance. But slowly, we will begin to make the shift and think spiritually and then adopt the spiritual reality that is supposed to manifest in the physical realm by the words we speak, which are now aligned to the Word of God and are dominated by it. Let’s take another area of our lives and see how mind renewal works. God says in His Word: “Through Jesus’ poverty, you have been made rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9) and “You should have enough of everything at all times” (2 Corinthians 9:8) and “You should prosper in all things and be in health” (3 John 1:2) and “You will not lack anything and you will not want anything that you cannot have because the Lord is your shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) and “Everything you do, prospers” (Psalm 1:3), but we look at our bills and our debts and say something like: “I am behind with my payments again and cannot pay my bills in time; I guess I will be a poor person all of my life; in the current state and with my current job, I will never be able to have enough to pay all my debts and loans, to have a house, and then have some extra to enjoy in vacations or to help others; God says I’ve been made rich and prosperous, but look at me, I can barely make it from paycheck to paycheck.” As long as we keep thinking carnally in that area and adopt the current precarious financial situation through the words that we speak, which are contrary to the Word of God, poverty and lack will continue its course, even though we have all the prosperity and life of God inside us. That life will not manifest itself in our finances. On top of that, a vast majority of Christians today even believe poverty is the will of God for them and they raise poverty and lack to the level of virtue, although God didn’t say and neither implied that anywhere in the Bible. The Gospel of Christ is not a Gospel of poverty and lack, but of prosperity and blessing. If we ever hope to change our financial situation for the better, we need to begin aligning our thinking, convictions, and speech to what the Word of God says about our finances and what other people say. What about addictions and repeated sinful behaviors like drinking, drugs, sexual immorality of any kind, gossiping, anger fists, or overeating? The same thing applies. God says: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man and I will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bare” (1 Corinthians 10:13) and “Sin shall not have dominion over you because you are under grace” (Romans 6:14) and “You are dead to sin” (Romans 6:11) and “You have received a spirit of self-control and of discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7), but we look at our lusts and urges and say something like: “God says I am dead to sin, but it’s not really so; He says that my spirit has self-control and self-discipline, but I can still feel the temptations in such a strong way that I don’t think I will be ever be free of this; I tried everything I knew and although I want to get rid of my addiction so bad, I simply cannot do it.” If we want freedom from these behaviors, then right in the midst of those temptations and preferably before we enter the temptations, we need to keep believing and saying what the Word of God says, disregarding the pressures we feel because of the temptations, the same way we would do with a sickness when we still feel its symptoms. This is how we will get free of those issues in our soul, mind, and emotions. In this way, the self-control power from the inside will kick-in on the outside and result in our freedom. What does the Bible say about our salvation from hell? God says: “By grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). In this area, most believers are strong and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will go to heaven when they die, even though they’ve never seen heaven or hell. That is a good thing and we should transfer the same kind of conviction and faith to all the other areas that we’ve just talked about, because if, for instance, we don’t make healing work through faith here on earth, what makes us think that our salvation from hell is real or that heaven is real? After all, we don’t have any physical proof of the existence of hell and both salvation from hell and physical healing have been included in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and in the same Word of God. The same goes for sanctification and prosperity, exactly like in healing. If all these things are in the Word of God and work by the same principle, then if one is true and real, all of them should be true and real and manifest in our lives, right? If salvation from hell is real and if heaven is real, then also sanctification, and healing, and prosperity, and raising the dead, and self-control, and peace, and joy, all of them are real and true. Why is it so easy to believe the Word of God about heaven, but not so easy when it comes to believing the same Word of God regarding our life here on earth? Have you ever wondered this? I always make this parallel because it helps me to go back to the simplicity of faith in all areas. I’ve come to realize that there are at least two reasons behind this phenomenon: (1) when it comes to salvation from hell, we don’t have to prove anything right now and neither we’re put face to face with the need to see the tangible manifestation of that salvation right now, because heaven is in the future, after death; (2) when it comes to salvation from hell, we don’t really have another option if salvation from hell is not real, or heaven is not real, so we throw ourselves into that belief with everything we are and with everything we have, although we don’t have any empirical proof that God exists, or that heaven and hell are real. That is exactly how we should believe also for healing, prosperity, and freedom from addictions. However, when it comes to these things, we are confronted with the need to see the proof of manifestation right now, and many times that proof is not visible immediately, probably because of a lack of revelation or a lack of understanding properly the new creation’s rights and the way faith works. Plus, most of the times we have so many other options. When it comes to sanctification, we can always appeal to our own efforts and to morality. When it comes to prosperity, we can always try something humanly through our own strength. When it comes to sickness, we have access to so many hospitals, diagnosis, and remedies. Maybe that is why it’s more difficult to believe for these things here on earth than for heaven. Maybe that is why in other countries, more divine healings happen, because those people don’t have another option and don’t have access to hospitals and modern medicine. They either believe the Word of God for healing or die. This doesn’t mean that medicine is bad and that we should remove it completely, because it pursues the same good goal of healing, but it’s limited, and because of that sometimes it does to us more harm than good because it drains us of all our faith in the supernatural through its negative and naturally limited reports. Romans 8:32 says: Romans 8:32 (NKJV) 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? If God didn’t spare His greatest possession – His only Son, Jesus Christ – but sacrificed Him for us, why wouldn’t He want to freely give us all the other things like healing, prosperity, peace, joy, and sanctification? Let’s not forget that He also gave us His other greater possession – the Holy Spirit. Are healing and prosperity by any chance more precious to God than Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit? Since God was able to save us from hell and completely recreate our spirit in a second at the moment of our salvation just through a simple prayer of faith, does healing and prosperity require more power than what was exerted at the moment of salvation? Of course not! Our faith in salvation from hell should strengthen our faith in all the other things, until we see them manifested in our physical realm. Once we see them manifested, then our faith in both the future salvation from hell and present salvation from sickness, poverty and addictions will be strengthen. Next time we will face another giant of sickness or financial pressure, it will be much easier for us to defeat it because of the faith we gained from our past negative experience that we overcame, and not just endured. Most people allow feelings to run their course and dominate their personality. Feelings should be like the caboose on a train. They do exist, but they should not be the engine; they should rather follow along. Feelings should follow the way you think. For most of us, feelings have become the engine that drives us instead of us driving them through the engine of godly thinking.
25 minutes | 4 months ago
Session 6 - Who Are You in the Spirit? (The Glory of Righteousness)
Cleansing the Conscience of SinsWho Are You in the Spirit?The diagram of three rings in a row like a chain also illustrates the lack of a direct link between the spirit and the body. That’s why everything that comes out from your spirit into your body must go through your mental-emotional part. With the pipes diagram below, one side of the pipe represents your spirit and the other your body. Your soul acts as a valve in between the two. When you open the valve, what’s in your spirit can flow through your soul to your body. Depending upon how open it is, the flow of life can be just a trickle, a small stream, or rivers (John 7:38). When the valve is closed, the flow from spirit to body shuts off. That’s a great illustration of how a born-again believer functions!The spirit is encapsulated inside the soul and it doesn’t have direct access to the physical body. It has to go through the soul. Romans 8:11 says that the same Spirit and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead already indwells every born-again believer. But if your mind is closed to this truth and it doesn’t embrace it, that resurrection life cannot flow through you. If what you see in the spiritual mirror doesn’t become more real to your mind than what you see in the physical realm, then it’s possible for this resurrection life that is in your spirit to be completely shut off and made of no effect, just like you would shut the valve to a pipe. You can get to a point where you are totally dominated by what you feel and you say: “But I feel sick, my body hurts. The doctor says I am dying. Here is my medical record.” And if those things dominate you, then even though you have the raising-from-the-dead life of God in your spirit, your soul can shut off that power, so that not one drop of God’s life-giving power ever touches your physical body. And you can die sick having the resurrection life of God on the inside of you. It would be like dying of thirst while leaning against a well full of life-giving water! And of course you can apply that to every area of your life. You can have depression, you can have anger and bitterness in you when the whole time in your spirit there is love, joy, and peace. So the critical part in releasing the resurrection life is your soul. Your spirit is always for God, always like God, and it has everything in it that God has. Your body is really neither good nor bad; it’s not moral or immoral; it’s amoral. Your body doesn’t really dictate or control anything. Your soul is the one controlling what happens to your body. Your spirit is always for God, while your body is going to go with the flow. If the soul doesn’t influence it, then your body is going to go by just what it sees, tastes, hears, smells, or feels. On one hand, if you get your soul in agreement with your spirit, then it’s two entities fighting alongside against the physical one and the life of God that is in your spirit will manifest itself in your physical body much quicker and easier. It will produce healing, deliverance, victory, and power. On the other hand, if your soul gets in agreement with what your physical body senses to the point that you cannot believe anything that you cannot perceive with your five senses, then you will shut off the life of God that is in your spirit. It’s sad to say this, but this is where a large number of Christians are. And the major reason for this state of things is because most Christians don’t have a functional working revelation of spirit, soul, and body. They really don’t understand that a radical change has already happened in their spirit and they are not fully aware of who they are in Christ, thinking that if they cannot see, taste, hear, smell, or feel something, then it’s not real. Their intention is not to be liars or hypocrites by ignoring their senses; they are just trying to be real and honest. They search their physical and emotional realms and if they cannot perceive in some way the power of God with their five senses, then they think: “Well, it’s not here.” But the truth is that if you have made Jesus your Lord, there was a change that took place inside of you. You became a brand new you. Old things passed away, all things have become new. And this is the beginning place of victory in your relationship with the Lord. I cannot overstate enough how important this understanding is. What this did for me is that it transformed my life and my thinking, because I have also experienced from time to time the power of God at my physical and emotional levels like you probably did too. But after the emotion of that power wore off, I thought that it was gone. I knew that God was real and all the things that He promised were real, but I didn’t think that they were in me. And because of that, I went through periods of frustration, desperation, and discouragement, not because of sin, but because of the desire to live for God and experience His best. I felt like I could not get there. This happens a lot with many Christians that experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit at one time, they receive the power, and then because they don’t feel anything in their bodies anymore, they believe it’s gone, or that they have to wait and pray again for it, or that they have to sanctify themselves and fast to get it. But all the while, the power is there, it just needs to be stirred up and activated, by mind renewal, worship, and praying in tongues. In your born-again spirit, you already have all the power of God. It’s just a matter of releasing what you have, not going and trying to get something from God. This concept revolutionized my life and I hope it will do the same for your life. Once you are born again, the Christian life is not a process of getting things from God, but rather a process of renewing the mind to where you just learn to release what you have already received. It’s so much easier to release something that you already have received rather than trying to get something that you don’t have. The process of attempting to get something that you don’t have and it’s not a reality for you, it already has an element of doubt in it. In other words, you believe it’s possible, but you don’t believe that it’s already a done-deal reality. Your perspective is one of trying to head towards it, to start believing God for healing, for joy, for victory, for power, for prosperity, and for holiness. This perspective has already an element of doubt. You believe it’s possible, but you don’t believe it’s already done for you and in you. But once you believe it’s already done, how can you doubt that you are going to get something that you already have? In practice, you don’t doubt that you will get a car if you already have it, right? Likewise, a job or a house, right? And I know that some of you are thinking: “Well, of course you don’t doubt. Why would you doubt that you are going to get something that you already have?” Well, that’s the point that I’m making. I’m trying to make an illustration here. In the natural, we don’t do that. If you already got it, you don’t doubt that you will get it. But if you say: “I’m believing God for healing” and then you start struggling and saying: “I cast down that thought of doubt. I believe that I am going to receive. God is going to heal me. I will receive my miracle from God,” you are in the same situation. One of the reasons why you doubt is that you don’t believe you’ve already got the healing. You believe you can get it, but you don’t believe you do have it already. This is exactly what happened at the moment of salvation, which will further emphasize my point: when I confessed Jesus as my Lord, I was instantly changed and my spirit became totally brand new. My spirit is not in the process of changing, it’s not growing up, and it’s not maturing. In my spirit, I am totally changed and complete and the rest of the Christian life it’s not learning how to get from God, but it’s rather learning how to release the life that He has already placed in me instantaneously through that new birth. What a radical truth! Let’s read Philemon 1:6 where it says the following: Philemon 6 (NKJV) 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. The word “sharing” in this verse means to release and to transfer. So, the release of your faith becomes effective (or active, effectual), or faith begins to work and to be productive when you start acknowledging every good thing that is in you in Christ Jesus. Paul didn’t say that your faith begins to work by getting a new anointing from God, a double portion, or from getting more of God. Those are concepts that you’ll hear often, but the truth is that’s not a New Testament reality. You’ll hear people say things like, ”In the Old Testament, Elisha had a double portion of what Elijah had. This is the double portion night. Come on, people, we’re going to pray for you to get twice as much from God.” That is an Old Testament principle. Elijah and Elisha were not born again, they didn’t have the Holy Spirit in them without measure and the fullness of God in them like we do. They had the Spirit over them in small portions and for a short time. That’s why Elisha could have twice as much as Elijah. But in the New Testament the Scripture says in John 1:16 that: John 1:16 (NKJV) 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. Moreover, Colossians 2:9-10 says that we are complete in Him in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead: Colossians 2:9–10 (NKJV) 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power. Then John 3:34 and John 20:21 say the following: John 3:34 (NKJV) 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God doesn’t give the Spirit by measure. John 20:21 (NKJV) 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” In the same way God sent His Son Jesus having the Spirit without measure, He sent us. In the New Testament, you don’t get just a little bit of God and somebody else has a little bit more of God. The truth is that every born-again believer became totally brand new, old things passed away, and all things became new. In our spirit, we are identical to one another, we all received the same measure of faith, we all received the same power, the same wisdom, and the same ability. Our spirits are all identical to the Lord Jesus Christ in every way. 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV) 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Your spirit has become one spirit with the Lord. Your spirit is not in the process of growing and becoming better. You’ve already have everything. The way your faith becomes effectual in your Christian life is by acknowledging the good things that God has given you in your spirit. Even that word “acknowledge” is important. You cannot acknowledge something that is not a reality. You can only acknowledge things that already exist. Your faith begins to work when you acknowledge, when you recognize that all of these great things already exist in you in Christ Jesus. Again, most people have the concept that God can do anything. Christians who received salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, believe they have access to God and that through their prayers God can release His power to them. But they believe it’s conditional on a lot of things: holiness, prayer, fasting, study of the Word, etc. They believe something along these lines: “Even though God has that power and it’s available to us, it’s conditional on us doing a lot of things to have it come to us.” Those doubts and conditions keep them from really experiencing the power of God. We believe that God has the power, but we don’t believe that it’s already in us. We believe that it’s out there and we have to do things to obtain it or earn it. But when I start believing that it’s already a reality in my spirit, it will be easier for me to flow and release God’s life. At the moment of salvation, God put His same power and anointing, His victory, His joy, and His peace in me. His everything is already in me in abundance. And the only reason it doesn’t manifest itself in my emotions or my physical body is not because God didn’t give it to me, but because of an un-renewed mind. I am still looking in the physical mirror instead of looking in the spiritual mirror of the Word. One third of your salvation is already complete. Your spirit is as saved, as sanctified, as holy, as empowered, as it will ever be throughout all eternity. You will get a new body, and your soul will be fully renewed, but your spirit will not improve in any way. Your current spirit will accompany you throughout eternity. Your soul and body are in the process of change and at the second coming of the Lord, your body and soul will be completely changed as well. All three will be perfect at that time. But right now, your spirit is as perfect and as complete as it will ever be and the rest of the Christian life is a process of renewing your mind. And as you do that, the physical body will experience the benefits too. Let’s read Ephesians 4:20-24 and see how is this new spirit created at the new birth: Ephesians 4:20–24 (NKJV) 20 But you haven’t so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Verse 24 says to put on the new man (that new birth, the spirit part of you) which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Did you know that when you were born physically you didn’t start to exist and then ten years later you became a real person? You were already a person from the moment of inception. You were created that way. Likewise, when you got born again, you were created as the righteousness of God in Him. You were created righteous and truly holy. This is not pride, but confidence and faith in what God said, and that is ultimately true humility: agreeing with what God said about you and not having your own better opinion based on how you feel. Most Christians have this concept that they are becoming righteous in time and that they are getting holier by the day, but what they refer to is their actions and their behavior. They are looking on the outward physical realm. And it’s true that Christians vary in their actions, vary in the degree of morality that they live outwardly. But in their spirit, they were created righteous and truly holy. And this is so vital. John 4:24 says this: John 4:24 (NKJV) 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” This verse didn’t say that you might worship in spirit and truth or that you should worship that way because that it’s preferable. No, it said that you must worship Him in spirit and truth. Why is that? Because when you get born again, your spirit is completely changed and is instantly recreated righteous. If you don’t understand this and approach God based on how you’re acting in your physical body and on how your thought life is at that moment, you are not worthy to come into His presence, even at your very best performance. You are still falling short of doing everything that you should. Even when you are at your best state emotionally and you’ve been seeking God, you still have negative thoughts and things in your mind that are impure and God is holy. So how can a holy God fellowship with unholy people? Even at your very best, you still fall short of God’s standards and perfection. When you put your faith in Jesus and become born again, your spirit becomes a brand new creature that is righteous and holy and able to fellowship with God and worship a holy God. You are as pure and as holy in your spirit as Jesus is, because it’s His righteousness that has been given unto you. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 it says: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NKJV) 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— Jesus has become our righteousness. Praise God! What a radical truth! When a person says, “All my righteousness is as filthy rags,” that’s a quotation from Isaiah 64:6. It’s true that in the Old Testament, your righteousness was as filthy rags, but you’re not in the Old Testament anymore. The Old Testament people were not born again, they didn’t have a new spirit that was created in righteousness and true holiness. Regardless of how good they lived in their physical body and their soulish mind, they still came short of the glory of God as it said in Romans 3:23. All of us have. So if you’re just looking at the physical, natural outward part of you, all of your righteousness is like a filthy rag. That’s true. But when you get born again, you are no longer just physical and you are no longer short of the glory of God. The glory that Jesus had, He has given it to us (John 17:22). This is the whole point I am trying to get across. In the spirit, you are a brand new person, a new species that never existed before. For a New-Testament believer to say that his or her righteousness is like filthy rags, is no longer accurate. It’s not the present truth. In a sense, it would be like calling Jesus a filthy rag, because Jesus has become your righteousness. Now it’s true that in your physical realm you need to improve in your actions, emotions and thoughts in holiness, but in that realm you are always in a process, you will never arrive. You just head into that direction. But in the spirit, you are not in a process of becoming righteous, you were already created righteous and truly holy. And since God is a spirit (John 4:24) and He looks at your spirit and relates to you based on your spirit’s status, this is the reason that you must worship Him in spirit and in truth. You must believe the realities about your spirit and the truth about your spirit revealed in the Word when you approach God. That’s the only way God can accept you. According to John 1:12-13, the new creation is born of God Himself and not of blood or flesh. That can happen only at the spirit level: John 1:12–13 (NKJV) 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Then in 1 John 4:17 the Bible says: 1 John 4:17 (NKJV) 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. Notice that this passage didn’t say that as He is, so are we going to be in the next world, but so are we in this world. If you look into a physical mirror, you might see wrinkles, baldness, bulges and all kinds of things and then start wondering: “Am I really like Jesus is?” You know Jesus is not like that. Then you search your emotional realm and find out that you have depression, discouragement, anger and bitterness. If you look just at your emotional realm and try to reconcile that with 1 John 4:17, you’ll probably come to a place where you will say: “The Bible is so hard to understand, and I just can’t understand what it means. Anybody can tell by just looking at me that I am not as Jesus is.” So you move into unbelief and let your senses continue to dominate you. But if you understand spirit, soul, and body and understand that this is your spirit that is talking about, this is the only way that you can be as Jesus is right now in this world.
27 minutes | 4 months ago
Session 5 - Spirit, Soul, and Body (The Glory of Righteousness)
Cleansing the Conscience of SinsAs I mentioned briefly earlier, the conscience can be cleansed or it can remain clean by not violating it in the first place. However, when you sin and violate it, the conscience can be cleansed of the guilt of that sin by remembering, meditating, believing, and even speaking out loud four things: (1) you were made righteous in your spirit’s nature forever at the moment of your salvation; (2) you are free of condemnation forever even when you still do sinful deeds; (3) your past, present, and future sins have been completely removed at the moment of your salvation; (4) in the reality of the spirit, if you were truly born again, you cannot even commit another sin ever again. Spirit, Soul, and BodyA good understanding about the spirit, soul, and body of the human being, and about their particular roles, is of vital importance in the process of cleansing our conscience, and in growing spiritually. This teaching has revolutionized my personal life and eliminated some of the frustrations and confusion that I experienced when I read and studied the Word of God. It provided a firm foundation for everything else that the Lord revealed to me along the years about righteousness, conscience, confession of sins, eternal security of salvation, and sanctification. It also helped me get rid of a lot of wrong thinking in my life. I pray that it will do the same for you while reading this book. I would like to begin this section by reading 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that clearly illustrates the three parts of a human being. People are spirits that have a soul and live in a body. There are many Scriptures that reveal the trichotomy of the human being, but 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is the most clear passage in that direction that doesn’t need any other proof: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is so obvious that I don’t think there can be any credible argument against the fact that we, humans, are made up of a spirit, soul, and body. This is very important because there are some theologies that actually believe man is only made up of two parts, which is body and soul. That is probably not a dominant theological position, but as far as practice goes, as far as people in their day-to-day living goes, very few people understand the concepts of spirit, soul, and body. Most people confuse soul and spirit as being the same thing and acknowledge only two parts of them: a physical part and a mental-emotional inner part that most people refer to as their personality. As a matter of fact, if you will take a look in the Strong’s Concordance, which is one of the main concordances that people use to look up Greek words in the New Testament, it even defines the word “spirit” (“pneuma” in Greek) as being ”the immortal soul” and it doesn’t make a distinction between those two. My study of the Word of God has revealed that there is a very distinct difference between spirit and soul, so I cannot agree with that Greek definition of what the word “pneuma” means. It means more than the immortal soul; it’s talking about the spirit man, the inner part of us. There are three distinct parts: spirit, soul, and body. Now the body is obvious. If you go look in a mirror, that is the part you see immediately. If you were talking to me face to face right now, you would be looking at my body, but you would be speaking to my soul, which is my mental and emotional part. Some people define the soul as being made of mind, will, and emotions and I think that is certainly true. However, I don’t think that is all inclusive, there is more to it. I believe that our conscience is also a part of our soul. The soul is basically the personality of a human being. If I were to touch your physical body, you can feel that. But I can also touch you by words. For instance, through this book, without me touching you physically at all, I am speaking to your soul and it can touch your emotions. It can either make you glad, sad, or angry. You can also say words and hurt people without physically touching them. Every person is in touch with their soulish part as they are with their body part. It’s easy for you to search and check how you feel, whether you are happy or depressed. The body and the soul are two areas that everyone is in touch with constantly and we really don’t need a lot of explanation on that. But the spirit part is a totally different matter. In John 3:1-8, when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the synagogue who came to Him by night, Jesus told him that he had to be born again. Nicodemus responded: “How can this be? How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” In the process of explaining this to him, Jesus said: “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh. And that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” And what He was saying was that spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh, and there is no direct connection between the two. They are inter-related and I am going to explain some of that in just a moment, but spirit is spirit, and flesh is flesh. You cannot feel your spirit in a physical and natural way. Again, if you want to know how your body is, all you have to do is just think and your body instantly tells you if it’s tired, or pumped up and your adrenaline is flowing, or if you are excited and ready to go for a run. You can pull an inventory instantly and find out exactly how your body is. You don’t even have to think about it, you are constantly being fed that information. You can also pull an inventory on your soulish realm and you can know whether you are glad or sad, whether depression is your problem or fear, or if you are worn-out mentally and need to take a rest. You are instantly in touch with all that. But you cannot contact your spirit through your emotions or through any physical way. The spirit cannot be accessed in any natural way and herein lies one of the great problems in the Christian life: the spirit is the part of us that was radically changed at the moment of salvation. The spirit is the part of us that God communicates with and the spirit is the part of us that all the life and power of God flows through. You cannot just feel and discern spiritual reality and truths through your normal senses. And if you don’t understand that, then when the Scripture says that you have the same power in you that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11), or that you can do the same works that Jesus did (John 14:12), or that you are a completely brand new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), then you will search your physical body and your mental-emotional personality part, and if you cannot see, taste, hear, smell, or feel what the Bible says about you, then immediately you will perceive it as a contradiction and feel conflicted. You will start thinking that the Bible is so hard to understand, you will see the disparity between your experience and what God’s Word says, and you might want to throw up your hands in the air and conclude that it’s just not true what the Bible says. One of the greatest keys to walking with the Lord for me has been to understand this reality of spirit, soul, and body, and that the spirit realm cannot be seen or felt. The only way to discern and define spiritual truths is through the Bible. You just need to believe that what God says in His Word about you is true, without trying to access those truths through your senses. Jesus said this in John 6:63, John 6:63 (NKJV) 63 It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. The Word of God is spirit and life. The Word of God reveals to us the spiritual reality. If you want to know what your spirit is like, then you have to go to God’s Word to find it out. You cannot just go by an emotion, or some type of perception. You have to go to God’s Word. Here is another passage of Scripture in James 1:23-25 that says: James 1:23–25 (NKJV) 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty (namely the Gospel) and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. This passage of Scripture is likening the Bible with a mirror that you look into, not to see your physical face but to see your spiritual face, to see what you are and who you are in the spirit. When you want to see if your hair is combed, what do you do? Did you know that you have never seen your hair? You have never seen your face either. If you are a woman, you put on makeup in front of a mirror; you are not really looking at your face. What you are doing is looking at a representation, a reflection of your face in a mirror. The truth is that you, with your eyes, have never looked directly into your face. You have always looked at a reflection or a representation, but you got to a place where you trusted that. The Word of God is a perfect reflection of your new spirit. When you want to see if your hair is combed and your face looks nice, you don’t just go by how you feel. You cannot just sit there and say: “Well, I feel that all my makeup is on and my face looks nice and when I touch my hair, it feels that is combed and I am ready to go.” You cannot go by how you feel or think. You have to go look in that mirror and then you trust what you see. It’s the same thing with the Word of God. The Word of God gives you a perfect picture of who you are in your spirit – that you are the Word made flesh exactly like Jesus was. And it’s the only way. You cannot just say: “Well, if I had the power of God on the inside of me, I would know it.” No, you wouldn’t. Samson didn’t know when the Spirit of God together with his strength had departed from him. That shows us he didn’t feel anything special when the power was over him, but he was seeing just the manifestation of it. He didn’t feel his power. That which is spirit is spirit and that which is flesh is flesh. You cannot perceive the spirit or the power through your fleshly senses. It would be like someone saying: “Well if my makeup was on, I would know it, I would feel it.” You cannot feel that, you have to look at it and go by what you see. It’s the exact same thing with the Word of God and your spirit: you have to look at your new spirit through the mirror of the Word, not through your five senses or emotions. Who Are You in the Spirit?A total transformation has taken place on the inside of every person who has been born again. You can see that in many places in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:17 being the cornerstone Scripture in that direction: 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. This verse is saying that the Lord has totally changed you once you came into Christ. It doesn’t say that all things are becoming new or that they have the potential of becoming new. It rather says in the past tense that all things HAVE BECOME new. If you don’t understand the concept of spirit, soul, and body, you are instantly setting yourself up for confusion, frustration, and ultimately, unbelief. That happens because you can tell by process of elimination this is not talking about your physical body. If you were fat before you got saved, you will still be fat after you get saved. Your body didn’t instantly pass away and neither all things have become new with it. This is pretty obvious for everybody. The Scripture reveals in 1 Corinthians 15 that the corruptible must put on the incorruptible and this mortal body must put on the immortal one. This passage in 1 Corinthians 15 refers to your physical body. Jesus died for the salvation of your body as well, and there is a time coming, in the future, when you are going to receive a glorified body. But at this moment, your body hasn’t been saved or renewed. It has been purchased, but not yet redeemed. It’s like Groupon coupons. You purchase them, but then you have to redeem them later on. You don’t really want those vouchers, you only keep them so that you can later on redeem them and take advantage of the things you have purchased through them. Your body has been purchased. Your glorified body has already been purchased through the death of the Lord Jesus, but you are still waiting for the redemption of the purchaser’s possession. The body has been purchased, the payment has been made, but you still have a corrupted body and you are waiting on an immortal incorruptible body. Your soul - with its mind, will, emotions, and conscience - is also not the part of you that got saved. There is a lot of confusion on this because you will hear people often say: “Well, man, I am a soul winner. I came to see a soul saved.” In the New Testament, there are only two places talking about souls’ salvation (James 1:21 and 1 Peter 1:9), and those are not talking about the born-again experience. For instance, if a person is discouraged and in her soulish realm - in her emotions - she feels defeated and discouraged, but then she gets into the Word of God and begins to believe, she receives the peace and the joy of the Lord. This is soul salvation. But when it comes to being born again, your soul is not the part that gets saved. Our soul can be changed to the degree that we renew our mind, resulting in a change of our attitude and values by the Word of God, but salvation hasn’t already happened completely. The soul is being saved, it’s in the process of happening, and it’s contingent upon us renewing our mind. So, you can see that your soul is not part of what has passed away and of the things that have become new. If you were depressed before you got saved, you will still be depressed after you get saved, unless you begin to believe the Word of God and change the way your soul thinks. That certainly can happen and it should happen, but it doesn’t happen automatically. Let me state it this way: if you didn’t know math before you got saved, then you won’t instantly know math after you get saved. Old things, like lack of knowledge, didn’t pass away, and all things in your soul realm didn’t become new instantly. The soul is not changed instantly, but it’s in the process of changing. And yet, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if any person is in Christ, she is right now, in the present tense, here on earth, a new creation. This is a fact, it’s the reality, it’s not a promise. The literal translation from Greek of the expression “new creation” is “a new species of being that never existed before.” It’s talking about a total transformation. Old things have passed away - past tense -, all things have become new. It doesn’t say they will pass away in the future if we struggle enough or pray and fast enough. This Scripture is describing a change that takes place through the new birth, which is not still in process, but it’s already done. It’s an accomplished fact, a done deal. So, by process of elimination you can see that it’s not your body and it’s not your soul either that is being changed in this way. That leaves your spirit. Your spirit is the part of you that got totally changed at salvation. When people make Jesus Christ their Lord, there is an instantaneous change that takes place in their spirit. Typically, their body and soul are touched and impacted by the change that has taken place in the spirit, but not in a total and complete way. And if you don’t understand this, then you will experience disappointment. “I thought I was a new person, I thought I was changed, I thought Jesus was going to change everything.” If you don’t understand that this change takes place in the spirit and has to work its way out into the soul and body, then you immediately fall into unbelief and begin to say: “Nothing changed, I am still the same.” This may cause some people to seriously doubt whether they were ever saved. The key to all that is to understand that it’s the spirit that was totally changed. It’s already done. Everything you will ever need in your Christian life is already in your spirit. That is a radical truth. It took me many years to grab hold of this revelation, but you are not in the process of getting anything from God. In your born-again spirit, you have everything you will ever need. It’s already there in its entirety, in its maturity, and in its completeness. Your spirit is perfect and complete. Your spirit is exactly the same this moment as it will be throughout eternity. You are not going to get a new spirit when you go to heaven. Your spirit is right now as perfect, as mature, as complete, as Jesus is. And the rest of the Christian life is learning to believe that, by looking into the spiritual mirror of the Word of God and believing what It says about you. That is the process of renewing your mind. And as you get your soul in agreement and alignment with what is already present in your spirit, then you will see the physical benefits. You are made up of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. Your spirit is always for God; it’s already created in the likeness and the image of God. It has everything that God has. Then you have your soul and your body, as well. If your soul gets in agreement with your spirit, then there are two against one. Those two parts in agreement will dominate the third part - the physical body. The physical body will then experience the life, victory, and power that is in your spirit. But, if your soul goes in agreement with the physical body and it’s dominated by what it can see, taste, hear, smell or feel, then it will stop the life that is in your spirit from ever manifesting itself into the physical realm. Your soul needs to perceive and align itself with what has taken place on the inside of you, meaning in your spirit, so that your spirit can flow through your soul to get into your body and then into the physical world. Here is a functional diagram that depicts the spirit, soul, and body as three concentric circles. This diagram is an effort to better illustrate the relationship between spirit, soul, and body. The outer circle is your body. It’s the part you can see and fill. Then in the second inner circle you have a part that can’t be seen but can be felt. That’s your soul. Notice how your soul touches both your body and spirit. Your spirit is the third inner circle. Although it’s the center of who you are, it can’t be seen or felt. Most people don’t recognize the fact that their spirit is the core of their being. They function primarily out of the soulish part of them, believing that what they think and feel is reality. To them, something is just not “real” if it can’t be perceived through their five natural senses. Attempting to be “honest,” they search their physical, emotional, and mental realms for God’s power. If they can’t perceive the power at those levels, then they conclude that they must not have it. They may perceive their souls to be the core of who they are, but God’s Word says differently. Your spirit is the real you! James 2:26 (NKJV) 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. The life-giving part of you is the spirit. The spirit is where your life comes from. When God created Adam, He breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) and he became a “living” soul. The word “breathe” in the Hebrew is the word for “wind” (ruach) and it was literally translated “spirit” in other places like Job 26:4 and Proverbs 20:27. We use this word for ”spirit.” God created the physical and everything was there, but it didn’t have any life until He breathed into him and imparted spirit into Adam’s body. The spirit is your life-giving part (John 6:63; 1 Corinthians 15:45). Since your life comes from your spirit, it’s the innermost circle of the three. Notice also how your spirit is completely surrounded by your soul. It has no direct access to your physical body.
16 minutes | 4 months ago
Session 4 - The Consciousness of Sins and of Dead Works (The Glory of Righteousness)
The Consciousness of Sins and of Dead WorksNow that we have come to the Lord and we were born again, God doesn’t want us to have an evil conscience anymore, but a good and perfect conscience. He doesn’t want us to be conscience-ruled. He wants us to purge and cleanse ourselves from an evil conscience. There is a better way to relate to the Lord. Now, let’s see how our conscience in conjunction with our behavior can generate two types of consciousness that are both detrimental to us: a consciousness of dead works and a consciousness of sin. As we already know, our conscience announces us when we did something wrong. When the conscience is quiet for a longer period of time because maybe we do some good works, we are moral, or maybe we don’t violate most of God’s commands, we may begin to think and feel, without even realizing, that we have become worthy of God’s favor and entitled to His blessings and power because of our works. In that moment, we have formed a consciousness or an awareness of our good works. The Bible calls that the consciousness of dead works and I will explain better in a moment what dead works are. Likewise, when the conscience tells us repeatedly for a longer period of time (and we allow it to do so) that we did wrong, that we sinned before God, and that we failed, it makes us feel condemned and unworthy of God’s favor, blessings, and power. In that moment, we have formed a consciousness and an awareness of sin, a mentality that we are still sinners. Neither of these two types of consciousness are good. A perfect conscience is a conscience that we don’t allow it to rely on good works for approval before God, neither to condemn us because of sin. The book of Hebrews covers both of these cases in chapters 9 and 10. Let’s read first the passage in chapter 9: Hebrews 9:9–14 (NKJV) 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? If we put together verses 9 and 14, we can notice that to be made perfect in regard to conscience is to have our conscience cleansed of dead works. The Old Testament Law of sacrifices could not do that. What are dead works? Dead works are either good works done with a wrong motive, or good works that we rely on as righteousness before God. For example, the Pharisees and the Sadducees didn’t see themselves as sinners, but as righteous, because they obeyed the external Law, they focused on the exterior, and in their minds they didn’t violate their conscience. They were moral and good people in their eyes. Their conscience didn’t accuse them, but boosted their self-confidence. They didn’t have a consciousness of sins, but a consciousness of dead works. In other words, they were more conscious of their good works than the multitude of their sins. When believers in Christ think that because they fasted and prayed much, or because they didn’t do immoral things, or because they did some work of service for God, God should bless them or work with power through them, then their conscience is evil and full of dead works that needs to be cleansed of. Believers need to have the consciousness of Christ’s righteousness, and be aware of the fact that their approval before God, the favor of God, and the blessings of God are based only on Christ’s righteousness and not on their good works or spiritual disciplines. Not being conscious of our good works doesn’t mean that there is no absolute good in the world; it doesn’t mean that we should be oblivious to any good work or deny that good exists. Good works are good, God loves them and we should pursue them in greater measures. In fact, God is the One that has already prepared many good works in advance for us in Christ, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10), for which He will also reward us at the end. However, not being conscious of our good works means to not rely on those good works in our mind as a basis for receiving something from God. The same is with spiritual disciplines like fasting, praying, worshipping, or meditating on the Word. They are all very good and need to be done, because they change us and our mind to release greater faith in our lives, which will materialize more blessings for us into the natural world. However, these disciplines don’t change God, neither make Him do anything for us. He has already done everything for us and given us everything. The disciplines just help us to acquire faster and in a greater measure what God has already given us. Now let’s read about the other case of consciousness in Hebrews 10: Hebrews 10:1–4 (NKJV) 1 For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it’s not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. This passage talks about not having a consciousness of sins anymore. That has been accomplished in Christ, but it could not have been accomplished during the Law. Atonement in the Old Testament just covered the sins temporarily. The blood of Jesus didn’t just cover our sins when it made atonement for us, but cleansed us from all our sins forever. Our sins – both past and present as well as future ones - have all been removed and taken away once and for all. That is why we should no longer be conscious of our sins. We shouldn’t see ourselves as sinners anymore, even when we still sin, because our future sins have been removed as well. Not being conscious of our sins doesn’t mean that sin is not sin anymore, that evil doesn’t exist, or that God has became softer with sin; it rather means not to focus on our sinful deeds, but on Christ’s righteousness. It means that on a continuous basis, when our conscience condemns us of something that we did wrong, we don’t dwell on our conscience’s condemnation, but come quickly in agreement with what the Word of God says about us, that we are still righteous through Christ, because the blood of Jesus has already removed that sinful deed. I heard some preachers saying that in the New Covenant, not having a consciousness of sins means that there is no real good or evil anymore in the face of God, but only the Holy Spirit is now the One deciding what is good or evil, even though some of those decisions and deeds might have been considered evil in the Old Testament. For instance, lying is clearly a sin in the Bible, but in certain circumstances, it could be viewed not as a sin. If the government persecutes the church and they ask us to tell them where our brothers and sisters are hidden, what do we do? Do we tell them or do we lie that we don’t know? Some say that lying in this case is not a sin because it’s done out of love for the brethren. Is it really so? In other words, the purpose justifies the means. What if there is another option that we haven’t seen yet, where we both protect our brothers and sisters and we don’t have to lie either? If we think about the instance when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, humanly speaking, it seemed that Jesus had no way of escape out of that dilemma. On one hand, if He said, “Don’t kill her,” He would have been against the Law and would have attracted people’s rage. On the other hand, if He said, “Kill her,” then nobody would have believed anymore in His message of love and mercy. However, in God’s wisdom, Jesus came up with a third alternative that nobody thought of, where He preserved both the Law and His message of love. He succeeded in harmonizing two apparent contradictory things: the justice of the Law with the love of the Father. In the same way, not having a consciousness of sins doesn’t mean that good can become evil and evil can become good, based on the circumstances. Good is still good, and evil is still evil; but we have to focus on Jesus’ righteousness that fulfilled all the good and paid for the punishment of all evil. In Him, justice and love embraced each other, truth and mercy have met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other, as it’s written in Psalm 85:10: Psalm 85:10 (NKJV) 10 Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. It’s so sad to see today that in most churches the consciousness of sins is cultivated instead of the consciousness of righteousness. “Oh, we need to search our hearts, examine ourselves and our deeds, and make sure that we are right with God. We need to make sure we confess all our sins,” when in fact, God expects us to not even think about sin, since we have been purified once and for all, as Hebrews 10:2 says. Let me give you an example. If you borrowed money from someone, is it not true that every time you meet your lender you will have your debt on your conscience? You will have a sense of debt. By the way, before lending money to anyone, think twice, because there is a high chance of losing that relationship. Either you can bless that person with the money instead of lending if you can, or maybe you don’t lend it at all. As long as you have that sense of debt, it will make you avoid the presence of your lender. In the same way, if you always have a sense of debt before God (and that is what sin-consciousness is), you will want to avoid God as much as possible, you will run away from Him, because He reminds you of your debt. However, if you have no consciousness of sins, then you can come anytime freely before God. The reminder of sins every year in the Old Testament is opposite to their complete removal in the New Testament. Let’s say you go to your favorite restaurant and order everything you like, and when you go to pay, the waiter tells you that someone else paid the bill for you and that he just wanted you to enjoy it. Now, if the waiter didn’t tell you that someone else paid, was it still paid? YES. If the waiter didn’t tell you that someone else paid, wouldn’t that bill be still on you? YES. That is exactly the problem with the world today. Jesus had paid for all our sins, but the waiters are not informing us of the full payment of our debt. Self-righteousness is born from a conscience full of sins. We are trying to atone for our sins, but Jesus’ death gave us a conscience that is free from sins. Verses 1 and 2 of Hebrews 10 say that the Law was a shadow of the good things to come; and the good things to come were these: (1) the worshippers would be cleansed once and for all; (2) they would cease to offer repeated sacrifices; (3) and they would no longer have a consciousness of sins. Has Jesus’ sacrifice worked? If it worked, then we should no longer have any consciousness of sins. Every time we are sin-conscious, we insult the payment of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the One who received the payment – that is God, the Father. This is the truth even though maybe it’s hard to hear it, especially after many years in which maybe we viewed these things in a different perspective. When we are sin-conscious, we are actually saying that God was not satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice. If all our debt was paid, but we don’t know it or we don’t believe it, then this will affect us negatively. If we keep the sin debt on our conscience, it can produce sickness, disease, depression, a never-ending cycle of sin, condemnation, and ultimately early physical death. Why are Christians today still so sin-conscious? Because sin-consciousness is preached many times from the pulpit thinking that it will help believers not to sin. Even though the preachers might be well-intended, this is wrong. It’s exactly the sin-consciousness that will make Christians sin more. Now, let’s see how we can cleanse our conscience of sins and become free of the consciousness of sins.
18 minutes | 4 months ago
Session 3 - The Conscience and the Law of Moses (The Glory of Righteousness)
The Conscience and the Law of MosesHere we arrive to a major point that can change your relationship with God in a significant way if you understand this concept properly. The reason why God gave the Law was to bring your conscience back to a proper place, to the way that God intended it to function; back to the standard of God. The Law was an attempt to ”reset” and recalibrate the conscience. This was the purpose of the Law, namely The Ten Commandments. However, religion has missed the point and has propagated the idea that the reason God said “you shall not do this and that,” was because He wanted you to fulfill and obey all these commands, in order for you to be right with Him. But nobody can keep the Law. Nobody has ever kept the Law. That might be a radical statement to many people. Some of you may still think that God gave the Law to people so that they would keep it. It’s not true. You can never keep the Law. The Law was not given for you to keep. The Law was given to show you God’s standard of morality and perfection. If you yield to it, instantly it will cause your conscience to start functioning right, it would calibrate and tune your “internal moral monitoring system.” Imagine yourself for a moment as standing in quicksand and sinking and having everybody else around you in the same quicksand. If everybody is sinking at the same rate, most of those people will not notice it and the sinking rate will be relative, because everybody compares themselves with the others. However, if you have a pillar on solid ground with markers on it, even though everybody is sinking at the same rate, you can look at that pole and realize: “I am sinking, this is getting serious.” In this case, you have a fixed and immovable reference point. In the same way, the Law with the Ten Commandments was God’s immovable standard of right and wrong, and the reason God gave it was to re-activate your conscience and bring you back to where you would not have a dull, evil, and defiled conscience anymore, or a conscience that has been skewed by comparing yourself with other people. The Law was given to show you right and wrong, and to condemn you. The Law was not given to set you free, but to condemn you. 2 Corinthians 3:7–9 (NKJV) 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. The Ten Commandments were the only ones written and engraved in stones as this is mentioned in verse 7. Those Ten Commandments are called the ministry of death in verse 7 and the ministry of condemnation in verse 9. In the New Testament, Jesus came to give us life and Satan came to give us death: John 10:10 (NKJV) 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. In the New Testament, Jesus made you free of condemnation, but the devil and your conscience continue to condemn you. The conscience is like a robot that knows only good and evil. The conscience knows only when you sinned, but it doesn’t know about the higher wisdom and righteousness of God in Christ that have already removed those sins that the conscience is condemning you with: Romans 8:1 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Jesus, Who fulfilled all the Law, and Whose life was in complete unison with the Law, is not condemning you when you sin; yet the Law condemns you and it has always been a ministry of condemnation. Jesus is not the One condemning you when you sin, but your conscience fueled by the Law. 1 Corinthians 15:56 (NKJV) 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. This passage tells us that sin produces death and that the strength of sin is the Law. Before I talk about sin and the Law, I would like to explain a little about what does sting of death mean. I personally didn’t understand this expression for years and I am sure that there are other Christians in the same situation. How does death sting people, including believers, through sin and what does that mean practically? When people sin, death itself stings them. It is similar to a scorpion sting or to an injection with a venom dose into their being. Once the sting happens, death begins to affect their personality, mind, thoughts, feelings, moods, and their physical body without them even realizing it, because death’s effects might not manifest immediately. How does death manifest in their lives? They will not lose their salvation if they are true believers, but death will affect the quality of their life here on earth. Sin brings condemnation and guilt that paralyze believers’ ability to serve God and people with full joy and peace, because their conscience is tainted by sin. They might begin to feel confused, depressed, discouraged, overwhelmed, or hopeless with no reason, and they will wonder why those things happened to them. Also, they will lose their peace, joy, and become weak in faith when it comes to facing various life situations. One reason for that is that death infiltrated their being through their sinful deeds and it began to affect them negatively. Similarly, the physical body is slowly affected by death. Those believers might experience certain sicknesses all of a sudden, age faster, and even die prematurely. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were stung by death, and from that moment onward, death started to work in them. Although not all the effects of death were seen immediately, slowly every part of their being was affected by it, until they finally died even physically. The rate of your sinning accelerates or slows down the manifestations of death in your life. That is one reason why we, as believers in Christ, are interested in walking in holiness, so that we would live longer, healthier, happier, and richer lives and fulfill the calling and the destiny that God has planned for us. Now, let’s come back to the second part of the verse that we read earlier, where it talked about sin and the Law. The Law didn’t strengthen you in your battle against sin; it rather strengthened sin in its battle against you. How? Well, on one hand the Law raised the standard of right and wrong, and increased the sensitivity of your conscience. On the other hand, because of your spirit’s sinful nature inherited from Adam, when your dead spirit came in contact with a perfect and holy Law, it caused you to fail every time. As a result, it created in you the consciousness of a failing sinner in need of God. That is how the Law strengthened sin: it gave you both the conscience back, as well as a sinner-consciousness. Consciousness is a little different from conscience. Consciousness is a mindset, a way of thinking, or a framework of all the things that you are aware of in the present time. Consciousness answers the questions, “What do you know? What are you aware of that influences your life’s decisions?,” while conscience answers the question, “What is right and what is wrong?.” This process of how sin was strengthened against you is explained in Romans 7:5 this way: Romans 7:5 (NKJV) 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the Law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. In other words, the Law revealed the sin and the principle of evil that was already present in people, like a chemical reaction. Most Christians believe that God gave the Law to help us. True, it did help us when, as a human race, we had skewed our conscience, by comparing ourselves with other people and lowering our moral standards to a degraded state. In those instances, when God said “You shall not …,” your conscience was brought back to where it should have been, and you became aware that you were a sinner to the core. That was a good thing that God intended through the Law. However, the downside of the Law was that it also condemned you, killed you, caused you shame, and fear, the same way it happened with Adam and Eve when they got the conscience in the first place, resulting in all these negative effects. Therefore, on one hand, it was necessary for God to give the Law for the sake of the conscience, but on the other hand, through the Law, your conscience began condemning you and it continues to condemn you today. The conscience never tells you anything encouraging, neither praises you for something that you did well. If you did ninety-nine things right and only one thing wrong, your conscience will only show you the one thing that you did wrong. It will never tell you: “You are doing well; you are doing better; you are getting closer.” The conscience is there to condemn you and show you what is wrong. The conscience has all these negative effects, but in the New Covenant we have something better than the conscience and a better way of dealing with morality, although the conscience is something that we still need today. At this point, you might argue: “If everything you are saying is true and we are living in the New Testament, maybe we should remove the Ten Commandments from the courts and from all the public places, because now we have a greater law, something better.” Not really, because not everybody is a born-again believer in Christ. Not everybody has the Holy Spirit and is following the Him, including believers. But especially for people that don’t know God, their conscience is the only restraint that they have against total ungodliness. 1 Timothy 1:8–9 (NKJV) 8 But we know that the Law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the Law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers. The Law is good if it’s used properly and in the right context. We need the Law; we need to have this perfect standard of morality, but as for us Christians, we can cleanse our conscience and we can move beyond it to even a greater way of relating to God and people. Who is a righteous person? The born-again Christian. At the moment of salvation, Christians become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). People that are not born again in Christ, they need to know the standard of right and wrong, what is godly and what is ungodly. In the New Testament, God didn’t change the standard; He just fulfilled it through Jesus, and has made us clean not based on our adherence to the Law, but based on the shed blood of Christ and based on our faith in Him. The Law was not given to make us right with God, but to amplify our conscience and to point to us good and evil, which can only strengthen sin and condemn us further. Romans 3:19–20 (NKJV) 19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin. Verse 19 describes the purpose of the Law, that the Law was given to stop all excuses of men, and that the whole world may become guilty before God. Today people would say: “Oh yeah, I have done some wrongs, but I was raised in an abusive family, and I was taken advantage of when I was a child.” Therefore, we blame it on anybody and anything else. However, the Law does not give any allowances for why you did what you did. If you broke the standard, you are guilty. The Law does not have any mercy in it; it stopped all your excuses and made you guilty before God. The Law gave you both the knowledge of sin and the awareness of sin in your life. The Law gave you a sin-consciousness. This means that the Law made you aware continuously of your sinful nature. However, in the New Testament we have something better than the conscience. We, as believers, are not supposed to relate to God based on a list of DOs and DON’Ts and based on whether we measure up to those rules or not. If we allow the Law and the conscience to condemn us, we will continue to be entrapped in a vicious cycle of sinning. Yes, it’s true that the nature of our spirit, the core of our being, is no longer sinful. We no longer have that predisposition towards evil in us anymore at the level of our spirit and because of that, when we come in contact with the Law, it should not strengthen sin in us any longer as it did in the past, right? But, between the Law and our new reborn spirit is the soul with a mind, that has been programmed according to the sinful spirit we had before. Our habits, beliefs, and emotions have been ingrained with a consciousness of sin and because of that, when the soul comes in contact with the Law, it still makes us sin, until we manage to renew our minds with an awareness of righteousness, with an awareness of our changed nature. Moreover, we as Christians still live in a fallen world and still have a conscience that constantly has a natural tendency towards sin-consciousness and towards living under the Law. However, the truth is that now our new spirit is completely aligned and in unity with the Law. There is no conflict between them anymore. Only the mind is the one that needs to catch up and align itself with what has happened inside of us.
26 minutes | 5 months ago
Session 2 - The Purpose and the Effects of Conscience (The Glory of Righteousness)
The Human ConscienceThe Purpose and the Effects of ConscienceIn Romans 1:18-20, we are shown that every person has a conscience. It’s impossible for you not to have a conscience. Romans 1:18–20 (NKJV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them (not to them), for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen (not vague), being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Some people believe that there are human beings that don’t have a conscience, don’t have any conviction over sin, and that it’s only religion that imposed this knowledge of right and wrong upon people. Some say that all things would be so much better if there weren’t any religious people telling everybody what is right and what is wrong. However, this passage indicates that this knowledge is placed by God in everybody. It’s like a homing device telling you constantly that you are failing. Even though this is painful and none of us like it, it’s necessary for us. In order to receive salvation, you must first be aware of your need for salvation. A question might arise here in some people’s minds concerning Jesus and the conscience. Since Adam received the conscience after he sinned, and Jesus was born without sin, did Jesus have a conscience? Did He need one, since He never sinned? Of course, He had a conscience. First, He had a conscience because He had to retain all the attributes of humanity, except the sin nature. He had to be a man in all aspects, so that His sacrifice would be meaningful, and that humanity would be able to identify with Him in His death, as a payment for its sins. Second, having a conscience does not make one sinful. The conscience is holy, because it reflects God’s nature and moral standard. Jesus had a conscience because He was human, but He never violated it. The inquiring minds might go further with the questions and this is a very good thing. I always encourage questions from the Word of God. The next possible question is this: “Since Jesus had a conscience and He was also God, doesn’t that mean that God, the Father, or the Holy Spirit had a conscience too? After all, Genesis 3:22 shows us that the whole Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – had the knowledge of good and evil. In that passage, God said: ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.’ If God, the Father, knew good and evil, doesn’t that mean that He had a conscience too?” Well, not really. Ask yourself this question: “Does God, the Father, really need a conscience?” I believe that God, the Father, has never had a conscience and that is why He didn’t create man with a conscience in the first place. At this point, you might really get alarmed: “What? Isn’t that heresy?” Well, I encourage you to be calm for a moment and think a little deeper about this together with me. God is righteous. He exists in righteousness and His very nature is righteousness. He does not have a moral compass that governs Him. By His very nature, God is right all the time. Everything God says and does is right and just. The concept of good and evil is so deeply ingrained in us, as human beings, that it is difficult to understand a perspective where good and evil do not exist. It is a human perspective to see God as the ultimate symbol of moral goodness. However, God is much more than that. He is righteousness. There is a difference between the two, and I will explain why. For instance, if you see God as simply moral, then His laws are open for moral debate. Moral standards change over time. What is immoral for one culture is acceptable in another. You can debate morality forever, and never come to a point of agreement. This is particularly evident in the issue of same-sex marriage. God defined marriage only between a man and a woman. It is not open for discussion, but people have made it a moral and ethical argument. “How can two people who love each other not be allowed to marry? Who cares that they are same sex gendered?” Although I understand the logic behind this argument, it doesn’t matter, because God’s law is not ethical or moral – it is righteous. Therefore, God is right and there is no discussion. Simply the fact that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was that an immoral thing? No, not at all according to moral standards. What is so bad in eating the fruit of a tree? However, it was a capital sin and something immoral because God said so. Was something immoral the fact that Moses hit the rock the second time instead of speaking to it? No, it wasn’t a sinful thing in itself. However, it was a serious sin for which Moses was harshly punished by God, because God had told him to speak to the rock, and not hit it. Do you see the difference between a moral compass and righteousness? Now, let’s try to define evil based on what we’ve said so far. Because God is righteous, there are only two possible responses from humans to what God says. Obey God and live. Rebel against God and die. Anything that leads to death, distress, or judgment is what the Bible defines as evil. Evil is not an objective entity that is opposite to God. Evil is anything that leads to death, distress, or judgment, because it is rebellion against God. For man, this is a matter of moral choice: obey God, which is good, and live; reject God, which is evil, and die. However, for God, it’s a matter of truth. God said the wages of sin is death, thus when you sin you will surely die. God knows good and evil, not through a conscience, and neither because He experienced evil Himself, but because evil is anything that God isn’t. Evil is anything contrary to God’s nature, and contrary to His decrees which are truth. As I mentioned briefly earlier, when man ate from the forbidden tree, two things happened. First, man’s spirit died and became separated from God’s righteousness. Second, he received the conscience to distinguish between good and evil. Man’s spirit didn’t die because of the fruit in itself in the sense that the fruit imparted death to him. Man died simply because He disobeyed God’s command to not eat from that tree. When man violated God’s command, he became evil and knew evil, just because he came against the righteous command that God had given him. If the tree of knowledge of good and evil had imparted death and evil to man, then it should have been called the tree of death, or the tree of evil. After all, the other important tree was called the tree of life because it would have imparted eternal life to Adam’s body. However, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil imparted something to man - the conscience. Think about this for a moment. This is amazing! God is so smart. When God gave man the command to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God actually gave man the option to rebel against Him, and become evil, so that man would have freedom of choice. However, in the same time, God embedded the conscience in the very fruit of the forbidden tree. Conscience is the ability to distinguish between good and evil; it is a footprint of God’s righteousness, which reveals a little bit of God’s own nature. Man needed the conscience so that he would know immediately that he rebelled against God, and he would realize the magnitude of his sinful act. Otherwise, he would have moved on with his life and would have never realized what he did. Furthermore, the conscience was going to keep in check the dead spirit of man until the full righteousness in Christ would come. That is why man didn’t become pure evil like the devil who also rebelled against God. This whole strategy in itself, reveals something extraordinary about God. It reveals that He prepared for the possibility of man disobeying Him, by placing a conscience in the fruit of that tree instead of death. God could have created the tree of life and the tree of death, and when man would have eaten from the tree of death, that would have been his end. Man would have entered death forever and become unredeemable like the devil, while God would have let man remain in death, and create maybe another world. That would have been righteous for God, and nobody could have blamed Him for it. After all, He told man that the day he would eat from that tree, he would die. However, here we see God’s extravagant love for us and His magnificent wisdom! Praise the Lord! Now, let’s come back to the purpose and the effects of the conscience. Your conscience is the part of you that condemns you. Yes, it is true that there is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). But we have to believe that verse in order to get rid of the condemnation that comes from our conscience. We have to take the Word of God and purge our conscience with it, cleanse our conscience, and wash it with the water of the Word. There are two ways to cleanse our conscience. Let’s read first Hebrews 9:14 and Hebrews 10:22: Hebrews 9:14 (NKJV) 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV) 22 Let’s draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. As these passages illustrate, one way to cleanse our conscience is to apply the blood of Christ on the sinful things that our conscience condemns us of, and to declare the truth of the Word of God about us and our identity, even in the middle of condemning feelings. Another, more efficient way to cleanse our conscience, is to not violate it in the first place. 1 Timothy 1:19 says that we make our faith shipwreck if we don’t keep a good conscience: 1 Timothy 1:19 (NKJV) 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck. The same thing is found in 1 Timothy 3:9: 1 Timothy 3:9 (NKJV) 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. We see in these passages the contrast between a good, pure conscience and an evil, defiled conscience. A good and pure conscience is one that hasn’t been violated, while an evil and defiled conscience is one that has been transgressed by something wrong that we did, and now that conscience is condemning us. As much as we can, we should not violate our conscience because that affects our faith in a negative way. It destroys our faith even in other things from the Word of God and in other areas of ministry and life. It will be more difficult for us to pray for a sick person to be healed when we have an evil conscience that condemns us. We can cleanse that conscience by using what the Word of God says about us, but it’s even better when we keep a pure conscience on a regular basis without breaking it. 1 John 3:21 says this: 1 John 3:21 (NKJV) 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. Confidence, and keeping your confidence strong towards God, is very important in exercising faith in any area of your life. Hebrews 10:35 says: Hebrews 10:35 (NKJV) 35 Therefore don’t cast away your confidence, which has great reward. This is one of the reasons why many people in the body of Christ don’t see greater manifestations of the power of God. It is because their own heart, and their conscience, is condemning them. It is because they are constantly violating what God told them to do or to not do. Romans 2:15 describes the function of the conscience this way: Romans 2:15 (NKJV) 15 who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. The conscience is the part of you that either accuses you or excuses you, the part that either condemns you or gives you confidence. Your conscience can actually build you up or it can tear you down, depending whether it’s a good conscience or an evil conscience. Many people don’t understand this and don’t know how to deal with their conscience in a proper way so that they will be continually built up in faith and ready for every good work. Now, another important thing about the conscience is that the conscience is not a perfect guide and you cannot depend only on it. The conscience can be influenced; it can be seared (1 Timothy 4:2); it can be defiled; it can be skewed; it can be weak (1 Corinthians 8:7) or strong; and it can be good or evil. Let’s see a few examples: 1 Corinthians 8:4–9 (NKJV) 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but One. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is One God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we for Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and through Whom we live. 7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we don’t eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. From what we see in this passage, a weak conscience seems to be one that has less knowledge and revelation of the reality of the Word of God, and as a result has more rules imposed to it than necessary. This passage also shows us again that a conscience can be defiled by infringing one of those rules it has. A conscience is not defiled only with bad, immoral things, but also with things that go beyond our self-imposed limits and rules, that are based on our level of knowledge and revelation. The above passage described an issue existing in the first century church. Many people had been idol-worshippers before becoming Christians and had trouble with meat purchased from the markets that had been offered unto idols. Some of those idol-worshippers would feel condemned: “Well, for me to eat this meat that has been sacrificed to an idol means that I would also participate in that idol worship.” However, other people understood the grace of God in a deeper way and would think differently: “That idol is nothing for me, the meat is not defiled, and nothing will happen if I go ahead and buy and eat the meat that had been sacrificed and offered to idols.” It was probably cheaper as well, so it was more convenient. Romans 14:20-23 describes a similar instance: Romans 14:20–23 (NKJV) 20 Don’t destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it’s evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It’s good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. What we learn from this illustration is that human conscience can make one feel guilty about things that there is nothing wrong with. I was once in a vacation with my family to the beach and while we were there, we went to a local church on a Sunday morning. The pastor there started preaching that Christians should not drink coffee or go to the beach. Here we were - all tanned from the sun and enjoying our lives. Of course, everyone’s eyes were on us, while this was going on. Not to mention that they were all living near the beach! Imagine that: to live near the beach and never use it! What I am trying to say is that your conscience can change depending on your background, your upbringing, and on different other things. Of course, every person is born with a basic conscience and a core intuitive knowledge of good and evil. However, that basic conscience can be either expanded to become super sensitive by adding more rules to it, or it can also be shrunk to a dull and insensitive conscience, that no longer works properly. To understand better how the conscience works we can compare it to a monitoring application. In my line of work, we have monitoring applications that monitor databases and the resources from the company’s computers. For instance, they monitor the space usage on storage, processor usage, the occurrence of different errors or corruptions, etc. Whenever such an event occurs or a predefined threshold is crossed, an email alert notification is sent to my phone and then I can intervene and check what the problem is. These monitoring systems come with a predefined set of alerts that are most important and basic. From there you can delete some of those predefined basic alerts, modify their thresholds, or you can add more alerts and thresholds. Any monitoring system needs to have its alerts tuned so that the system it’s not overly sensitive, but neither too loose. On one hand, if the monitoring system is overly sensitive, you will receive email alerts all the time, your inbox will be flooded, and you might miss critical alerts. On the other hand, if the monitoring system is too loose, then you will receive less alerts, or not at all. In this case, you have a higher chance of not being alerted when a real critical issue occurs. The human conscience functions in the exact same way. It comes with a predefined set of basic moral guidelines. On one hand, we can make that conscience more sensitive by imposing new rules to our minds consciously or unconsciously. Depending on the culture or type of church in which we grew up, some new human-made rules might have been passed down to us without us even being aware of them. Those rules might not be necessarily bad, but the downside of a hyper-sensitive conscience is more condemnation and guilt. On the other hand, we can make that conscience dull by constantly violating it. The downside of this state is that we slowly lose the ability of seeing as evil some things, deeds, or behaviors that are actually evil or immoral. Let’s move a step further and see another important fact about conscience. We can also skew our conscience by comparing ourselves with others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us about this: 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV) 12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. What this is talking about is that you can skew the judgment of your conscience by just comparing yourself with other people. This is how many people arrive at their standard of right or wrong. We have an intuitive knowledge of right and wrong, but the Scripture did say that we can defile it, we can make it dull, which makes it an unreliable guide. Many people establish their standard of morality by just looking around and taking the average of morality of those around them in such a way that they are not the worst nor the best. As long as they come close to the average, most people consider that to be sufficient. Watching movies or shows that contain immorality and adultery in them affects our standard of right and wrong in a negative way. This is exactly what Hollywood is trying to accomplish lately in a more intensive way by squeezing in every new movie a scene involving homosexuality – which, most of the times, has nothing to do with the plot of the movie. It’s there with only one purpose: to skew and accustom people’s standard of morality in that area, to make their conscience dull to it, and to bring those behaviors to a level of normality and of average morality. The conscience cannot be our absolute guide. We cannot ignore it either because we all have it. If you ignore it just because it’s not a reliable guide, that is to your detriment too, because then it becomes dull and hardened. However, we cannot let it reign in our lives and let it have the final word either. So how do we deal with it? We have to deal with it in a proper way as believers in Christ, so that we don’t ignore it, neither let it dominate us, but use it to our advantage. The apostle Paul says the following about his conscience in Acts 23:1 and Acts 24:16: Acts 23:1 (NKJV) 1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Acts 24:16 (NKJV) 16 This being so I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. God gave us a conscience so that there would be an awareness on the inside of us of right and wrong, and that it would show us our need for Him. It would bring us to our knees and make us call out to God for help. However, as we have seen, our conscience can be corrupted and defiled when we compare ourselves with each other. So how do we deal with this?
23 minutes | 6 months ago
Session 1 - The Origin of Conscience (The Glory of Righteousness)
IntroductionDo believers in Christ need to confess their sins? If yes, how should it be done and what is the importance of it? If they don’t need to confess their sins, why not? Can genuine born-again believers ever lose their salvation? In this series, we will have an extended discussion about the practice of confession of sins, conscience, righteousness, eternal security, and about overcoming temptations and living in holiness. Now, I have to admit and provide a little warning to my listeners that some of the things that I am going to share here are usually challenging and difficult to accept for a vast majority of Christians. However, I still encourage you to listen to the end and as you listen, put aside the things that you don’t understand temporarily, or things that you are not ready to accept yet. The Holy Spirit will teach you all things (John 14:26), He will guide you into all truth (John 16:13), and He will give you peace. The challenges of these topics don’t derive from the fact that I am looking to share something new, out of the ordinary, and shocking. The challenges come from the fact that these topics are quite different from the way they have been approached and practiced by the mainstream Christianity in general, especially when it comes to confession of sins, righteousness, and eternal security. However, they are things that I was convinced of by the Holy Spirit from the Word of God, and about which I cannot stay silent. What is presented in this book is what the Holy Spirit has revealed directly to my wife and I, ‘precept upon precept,’ over a period of about thirteen years. These revelations were also shaped, refined, and confirmed by the teachings of various pastors and teachers from the body of Christ like Joseph Prince, Chris Oyakhilome, Curry Blake, Andrew Wommack, and Ryan Rufus. I am eternally grateful and thankful for these people through which God has worked so mightily in our lives and brought so much revelation, freedom, and peace. I want to give God and them the credit they so much deserve, as well as to attempt to pass on to others this powerful message of grace and righteousness to the best of my ability. As a general principle, a lie does not become truth just because it has been propagated for hundreds of years throughout history, or because the majority of people has accepted it as truth. From time to time, people of God need to re-evaluate some of the existing doctrines in Christendom to see if they are really in line with the Word of God. A good friend of mine shared with me a funny story from his family when he got married and used to go to his wife’s family for different holiday dinners. He noticed that while this family was preparing to do some roasted pork legs they would always cut and throw away a good part of the pork legs. My friend started asking the ladies who were cooking why did they do that. The answer that he got was that they always did it that way, because that’s what the recipe called for. So he began a little investigation on his own in his wife’s family to find out why they did it that way and threw away such good meat. He asked his wife, his sisters-in-law, and his mother-in-law, until he found out the reason behind it: his wife’s great-grandmother first cut that part of the pork legs because they didn’t fit in her cooking tray. Wow! That is quite a reason, isn’t it? It’s hilarious, I know, how a silly habit can be passed down from generation to generation without ever being questioned. But it’s true, it happens a lot of times and in many areas of our lives. I am sure you have your own examples of the kind. Some of the beliefs that you hold today as a Christian might have been simply taken from your parents, pastors, friends, and teachers without ever being challenged or questioned in a constructive way. You’re probably not even aware of this. You don’t need to believe everything I say here or take my word for it, but consider this time while you read, a season of re-evaluation of some of your beliefs, and check again for yourself from the Scripture and with an open mind if what I am saying is according to the Scripture or not. I would like to begin creating the context for the discussion about confession of sins and righteousness by first talking about the human conscience and its purpose. The Human ConscienceThe Origin of ConscienceGenesis 2:15–17 (NKJV) 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God gives here a command to Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that he would eat, he would surely die. Then Satan comes and tempts Eve with deception, by bringing doubt about the word of God that was spoken to them. As we all know, Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree and something interesting happened to them when they did, besides the fact that their spirit died instantly and was separated from God. Let’s read it in Genesis 3:6-7: Genesis 3:6–7 (NKJV) 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. This passage tells us that the moment they ate from the fruit, their eyes were opened. What eyes? Didn’t they see before? Of course, they have been seeing perfectly before, but they have been walking and seeing by faith. They were dominated more by the spiritual world in their inner vision and perception. The spiritual things were more real to them than the physical things. However, when they ate of that fruit, their perception of spiritual things diminished, and their perception of the physical things became dominant. We consider it to be normal today the way you and I see, feel, and think right now, but it’s actually abnormal compared to the way God created us initially. And through the new birth, we receive a new spirit inside of us that is capable again to walk by faith and not by sight. Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, 17 the following: 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. We are called to walk by faith in what the Word says about our new identity and not walk by what we see with our physical eyes. We can behold and perceive that all things have become new for us through the eyes of the new spirit. We, as New Testament believers, should go back to the way Adam and Eve were intended to be. The spiritual realm together with what the new spirit holds inside of us should be more real to us than anything else. That has to become more real to us than this natural, physical, and tangible realm. It’s so sad that very few Christians today live in and from the spiritual realm. We are physical carnal beings that are controlled and dominated by what we see, taste, hear, smell, and feel. In 2 Kings 6:15-17, Elisha’s servant had his spiritual eyes closed and Elisha prayed that his spiritual eyes would be opened. Let’s read: 2 Kings 6:15–17 (NKJV) 15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Don’t fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. In this instance, it was the exact opposite of what happened to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve have been walking by faith prior to their fall; but when they ate of the tree, the eyes of their heart were closed to spiritual things and opened to physical ones. Here on the other hand, Elisha’s servant had the eyes of his heart closed to spiritual things and open to the natural ones. But when Elisha prayed for him, God opened the servant’s spiritual eyes so that he was able to see by faith what Elisha was already seeing. Coming back to Genesis 3:7 now, it says there that the eyes of both Adam and Eve were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Let’s continue reading up to verse 11: Genesis 3:8–11 (NKJV) 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Let’s focus on verse 11 for a minute and think about it: Who told you that you were naked? This is not talking about just being without clothes. Who told you that you were defeated? Who told you that you were sick? All these things that came because of sin, where did you get this knowledge from? Who told you all these things? This is important! Where did you get this knowledge? Here comes into play the human conscience. First, Satan didn’t tell Adam and Eve that they were naked. There is no Scripture to indicate that. When they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they intuitively and automatically recognized their nakedness, their sin, and their failure. Immediately, fear and shame came as a result. And the very fact that God asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?,” shows that God was not the One who told them. He was the One that asked them the question. God didn’t tell them that they were naked. Where did they get this from? How did they know that they were naked, so that they would go and hide from God? Think about this: the Lord has never given them a reason to be afraid of Him. He created the perfect environment, the perfect world, and everything was awesome. There was no reason for them to be fearful towards God in the sense of feeling threatened by Him. It’s obvious that this knowledge came from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God knew that they were naked before. They were not clothed in the glory of God or in a robe of righteousness, as some people preach. We can clearly see this in Genesis 2:25: Genesis 2:25 (NKJV) 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. If they had been clothed in some kind of robe of glory, or light, or righteousness, then they would not have been naked. This would have been an incorrect statement. But the Bible says that they were both naked, the man and his wife. God knew that they were naked, but He never mentioned it to them. He never wanted them to be aware of that. He didn’t create us, the human beings, with a conscience. The conscience is defined as the faculty of being able to discern right and wrong in one’s own actions. God didn’t create us with this ability to sit down and judge ourselves, and constantly evaluating whether we are right or wrong. He created us innocent. Adam and Eve were completely naked and they were not ashamed. Now, let’s think about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for a moment. The name of that tree is descriptive of our conscience, isn’t it? When Adam and Eve ate of that tree, that must have been the place and the time when they received a conscience. It was either God created them with an inactive conscience, which was activated when they ate of the tree, or the tree actually gave them a conscience. I am not exactly sure which way was it, but I tend to believe that the tree is what actually gave them the conscience. The reason I say this is because of what the Bible says about the tree of life in comparison with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: Genesis 3:22–23 (NKJV) 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. Clearly, this passage compares the two trees and the result of eating from their fruit. Both trees were imparting something. The tree of life would have imparted eternal life to man, while the tree of the knowledge of good and evil imparted the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, this last tree has imparted something to Adam and Eve as well. God didn’t create Adam and Eve with a conscience. That came because of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What was the fruit of the conscience? The very first fruit that came was what we already saw in Genesis 3:6-7, that their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. The conscience immediately has made them self-conscious, and it focused their attention on themselves. Adam and Eve were not one bit more naked after they sinned, than how they were before they sinned. Nothing changed in the natural; it was only their perception that changed. The conscience does this today as well: it makes us self-aware. Adam and Eve were naked before sinning, but they didn’t even notice it because they were God-conscious. That’s amazing! And in the New Testament we’re supposed to walk exactly like that: by faith and not by sight, to be more God-conscious than self-conscious. However, allow me to add this: even if you get so God-conscious that you don’t notice whether you have clothes on you or not, please have mercy on the rest of us that are still carnal and wear clothes! Adam and Eve were so God-conscious that they didn’t even know that they were naked. But this changed when they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They became self-aware and fixated on their self when they received the conscience. Shame came on them. They weren’t ashamed before, but all of a sudden the conscience brought shame over them and fear of punishment. Did you know God never wanted us to experience such emotions? He never wanted us to be afraid. He didn’t create us for rejection, but for fellowship. He didn’t intend for things to be this way, but after Adam and Eve sinned, it became necessary to have a conscience. You might say now that it would be nice if we could get rid of our conscience. Well, not really. Do you know why? Because for a lost and fallen human being a conscience is a necessary evil. Your conscience makes you aware of your sin and shows you your need for forgiveness. God had to give us a free choice to serve Him by freedom of choice; otherwise we would not have been true free moral agents. We would have been serving and loving Him only because there was no other option. He had to give us the option, and I don’t believe that the alternative to the tree of life was by accident the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The moment they ate of that tree, they received a conscience, which even though had all these negative effects, such as shame, and fear, it also provided a good function: to show them and us that we have sinned and have come short of the glory of God, and that we need forgiveness. I believe that God planned all of this. It says in Revelation 13:8 that: Revelation 13:8 (NKJV) 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship Him, whose names haven’t been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This verse shows that God had a plan in place even in case we were going to rebel at Him and sin against Him (which we did), and Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Long before He even created us, He had already put a plan in place for that route and Jesus had already accepted that plan to come down to earth and redeem us. That is extraordinary! Imagine this for a moment: you were God and you were going to create humankind. If you knew that there was a possibility for man to rebel against you, and that they were going to do all these terrible things - the Holocaust and all the atrocities happening in the world, the divorces, the ungodliness, the hatred, the hurt, and the pain that entered the human race - would you still have done it? Probably not. The only way I can understand this is that God saw you and me - those who would accept His payment for sin and who would become new creatures, those who would be born again in His likeness. He looked at us and thought that you and I were worth all the pain and all the suffering involved. The value of something is measured by what you are willing to pay for it. You may look at you and at the world and think that we are not worth much, but the very fact that God Almighty was willing to send His Son to die for us, put a huge value on us. The Scripture here said that He was slain from the foundation of the world. God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, with a purpose: in case we were going to violate His instructions, we would receive the conscience that immediately would start condemning us. In the next section, I will share a few consequences of the conscience, as well as how does the conscience affect us.
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28 minutes | a year ago
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12 minutes | a year ago
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24 minutes | a year ago
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32 minutes | a year ago
Session 1 - Tithing in the New Testament (Part 1)
Is tithing for the New Testament believers? If yes, why should believers tithe and what are the benefits? How much is the tithe? These are the questions that this session is trying to answer.
39 minutes | a year ago
Session 2 - Tithing in the New Testament (Part 2)
When and where should believers tithe? Should believers still tithe while in debt? What if they don't tithe? Are they cursed? Do healing and prosperity depend on tithing? Will God pay believers back their tithe multiplied? These are the questions that this session is trying to answer.
27 minutes | a year ago
The Power of the Lord's Supper (Individual Messages)
In this message we discuss about the worthy manner in which we should partake of the Lord's Supper, about the right way of discerning the Lord's body, and about the correct examination of ourselves.
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