Saturday, September 20, 2014

Just a Thought "20"

Paul’s great desire was to know Christ in his resurrection power, because that same power that raised Christ from among the dead was operating or energizing in Paul and it’s energizing in us. Religion is filled with lots of people who would rather beg God to fix their suffering circumstances rather than to thank God for his enabling grace that is sufficient for every suffering saint, that energizing power. Most of Paul’s pain and suffering came from making the right decisions. Paul desired to be found in Christ, not with a righteous record that could be gauged as having come from Paul as the source, but with righteousness that had God at it’s source, a gift declaration of rightness before God.

Our justified standing with God is something that cannot be handed back to God as some teach today, because it depends not on the believer’s promise or performance, but solely upon Christ’s faithfulness and his faithfulness along. We cannot give it back, because it is dependent upon Christ faithfulness and we are sealed at the point we take God at his word concerning what his son accomplished. God’s integrity is at stake in doing what he promised he would do, we can have security of mind that we have Christ’s test score written on our paper in Heaven.

What is given in exchange for another as the price of their redemption. If the ransom was for all, then the payment was made for all. The price was paid for all and through that payment Christ redeemed the entire human race from the sin barrier that separated the world from God. It is up to those of the world to either accept or reject their redeemer, but that does no less make him their redeemer. Those who reject the gift are thumbing their noses at the one who paid that price for their redemption. Those who reject their redeemer will face the ultimate consequences of that rejection.

The belt of truth challenges us to be mentally active, not passive, because unlike our day-to-day emotions, which are the product of our day-to-day thought life, the emotional baggage from the past is always there. Years of exposure and experience in life have etched emotional grooves inside us, which produce a decided reaction when a certain topic is introduced.

When a present event activates one those emotional grooves, we believe what we feel instead of believing what is true. Perceiving those events from the perspective of our new identity, which God sealed in Christ, is what starts the process of healing those damaged emotions, because we have the privilege of evaluating our past experience in the light of who we are now, as opposed to who we were then.

We must learn how to resolve previous conflicts or the emotional baggage will accumulate as we continue to withdraw from life, the past will control our life as our options for handling it continue to decrease. Those who have had major traumas and have learned to resolve them by wearing the belt of truth, know how devastating the past can be to present reality. When we do not understand the doctrinal truths Paul taught pertaining to our sealed position in Christ, we have no ground for success in the practical arena.

Prayer is indeed a powerful tool that God has given us, but was prayer given for the purpose of prodding God, pleading with God to alter the circumstances of our everyday lives, or was prayer given for the purpose of providing peace to the mind of the troubled saint. There is a tremendous difference in one who believes they can influence God and therefore, alter their circumstances because they are a believer with prayer in hand, and a believer who acknowledges that God is in absolute control and is already doing what is best on behalf of every believer, no matter how unfortunate the circumstance that is at hand.

Reigning in life does not mean the absence of problems!Yet, many think that being a believer affords them the opportunity to get their unpleasant circumstances altered. Religious circles of our society believe that they reign in life over the circumstances in their life, in that God has empowered them with a tool called prayer, in order that they might have God alter the negative circumstances that come their way. We trust God to know what is good for us even in the face of all of our adverse circumstances, God is not waiting for us to pray, so that he can decide what to do and then make the decision whether that would be good for us or not good for us.

The reality is, that we continue to suffer, it is not health, wealth, and prosperity in this life as the popular money-mongering ministers of righteousness would have us believe today. God’s purpose was to allow us to suffer, and there is a reason for that, so that we can put our hope on display to those who know nothing about our hope. Our hope is not glorification here, not health, wealth, and prosperity on this planet, but a future glorification, because we are going to have a new body with that life God gave to Jesus - John 5:26. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Just a Thought "19"

Paul takes us away from chastisement and judgment and he leads us toward the reality of our position in Jesus Christ. Paul told us how we were at the point of our belief identified with Christ through God’s power from on high’s identification transaction called Baptism. Not a ritual performed by human hands, but the operation of God, whereby we become fully identified with our Savior, in union with him, so that we actually become a part of him. Two becoming one flesh from the standpoint of God, being fully identified with Jesus Christ means that we died when Christ died. Grace comes along and tells us that being identified with Christ’s resurrection life, we now have an everlasting life we do not deserve and could never earn.

God did not establish a new law for the age of grace and place believers under that law, so that he would have a new way to measure our righteous performance for the purpose of permitting a heavenly entrance. God works in us through his word written to and about us. God’s thinking, as we take his word as true is therefore capable of transforming our thinking, it is a new operating system. It is not about perfecting the flesh, it is about crucifying the flesh in our minds and allowing God to do his work through his word in our lives. God cannot produce his work through us apart from the transforming work his word accomplishes in us.

It was the new identity Christ accomplished for Paul that made such a great impact upon Paul. It is not striving to become a better someone, it is recognizing the someone God has already made us to be. It is understanding our new position in Christ. When we come to fully understand and appreciate that new position, the striving can end. When we trusted Christ as Savior, something happened that took place outside the realm of our sensation, outside the realm of our feelings. God’s power from on high baptized us, immersed us by joining us to Jesus Christ. God’s power from on high places every believer into Jesus Christ, this is what Paul was talking about when he used the expression “baptized into Jesus Christ”.

In our position in Christ, now we can bear fruit unto God, but it is only in our position in Christ, not through this fleshly body in which we dwell. Only when we come to see ourselves as God sees us and are able to fully appreciate and understand who God has already made us to be and who he’s made us to be in Christ, can we become in our behavior what he wants us to be in that aspect of our lives. We need to be less interested in trying to become something, or trying to do something, and we need to become a whole lot more interested in learning about who we already are, that is the key.

We can rejoice and we can give all the glory and the praise to God and to our savior Jesus Christ for the fact that even though that sinful nature is strapped onto our fleshly backs like a rotting corpse, God does not see us in our flesh from his judicial perspective. Our fleshly bodies will never be worthy of heaven in that they will never be able to perform to the measure of the righteousness that is true of God. As we understand what God accomplished for us through his son, we build upon that foundation the truths of who he has made us to be when he placed us into his son, we begin to view ourselves as God views us, and there is great security to be found in doing so.

If we misunderstand justification, we are going to have a difficult time understanding sanctification. Since people link a justified standing before God with performance of their own, they also link a sanctified standing before God with their own performance. If we think our relationship with God is of a fluctuating nature, we never know where we stand. So, people’s minds are up and down and all around, an emotional roller-coaster as to where does on stand with God. We are alive because of our position, not at all because of our practice. God no longer views us in our human flesh, he views us in our position in the second Adam (Jesus Christ), he views us in our glorified identity.

God’s power put into operation as believers are baptized into the savior, the same power that raised Christ from among the dead, is the power exercised to place us into the body of Christ, we were fused with Christ himself at the instance we believe. When we feel insecure, whatever the reason, Paul tells us to re-focus on our security, this is a security we can not lose. We are not in the process of becoming something new and different. We are at the very instance of our belief a brand new creation, God sees us in a brand new way.

Sainthood is not earned at all. Sainthood is not something to be sought after as though it could be attained to or something that only comes for a select few. Freedom from God’s condemnation is a reality for every single believer, not because of any new found performance capabilities, but because we are made the righteousness of God in our union with his perfectly righteous son. As believers, we do not possess the life that Jesus got when God raised him from among the dead as an inherent quality, any more than we possess God’s righteousness as a property in our own nature.

Just as in the midst of our sinfulness, we are righteous, so in the midst of our self-evident morality, we are going to get the life God gave to Jesus. As a result of our being sealed in Christ, we are what we are not. In ourselves, we are not righteous and not immortal, but in Christ, we are both righteous and immortal. We must understand that God has predetermined to glorify us. In fact, God has predestined us to that glorification. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Just a Thought "18"

What a ludicrous way for us to be thinking, placing ourselves back under the law for righteousness before God. The lunacy of desiring to be under the law, in order to perfect our righteousness in God’s sight. Is it not a foolish notion to suppose that our righteous works can enhance the righteousness that belongs to Jesus Christ, to whom we have been joined. Can a person’s righteous works be added to the righteousness belonging to Jesus Christ himself, in order to arrive at a greater degree of righteousness than the righteousness already belonging to our Savior. Is God requiring that we add our righteous works to Christ’s righteousness that we might become righteous indeed or is Christ’s righteousness the only righteousness from God’s perspective his saints will ever need.

Pride insists upon attributing success to self, we are either under the jurisdiction of the law which requires performance for righteousness or we are under the jurisdiction of Jesus Christ and our position in him is our righteousness, we can not have it both ways. Grace and Law are polar opposites and God will share no one joined to his son with the law. Human righteousness comes from self-interest motivation, it’s self-glorifying, and while it may be of earthly benefit, that won’t cut it when it comes to meeting the demands of God’s perfect justice.

According to Paul, we have how much forgiveness, total forgiveness! If we want God to view us today, we got to be in his son. At the point of our belief in what Christ accomplished where our sins are concerned, we are as closely associated with Christ as anyone could be, we are joined to him. God has kept the fingerprints of the guilt-worthy off of the righteousness he designed for the guilt-worthy. God is not patiently waiting for us to change our mind about what we do, many have done that, thinking it gains salvation. God views us in our glorified identity, he sees us as being joined to his son.

Remember, we were given our righteous standing as a free gift. It’s a grace gift given by God, and we receive it the instant we place our faith in Christ having resolved God’s justice for our sins. This gift decree of righteousness comes totally apart from any and all human promise or all human performance or all human production. No human merit whatsoever for this free gift, God will never consider our works as a payment for God’s justifying declaration. When a person changes their lifestyle after salvation, it is because that person is attempting to set themselves apart from their former lifestyle. Unbelievers are fully capable of setting themselves apart, people are doing that every day and to varying degrees.

The flesh is never capable of performance to the standard of the perfection belonging to God himself, no matter how set apart we try to become. Some believers quit drinking, some say when they quit drinking that God took it away from them. Non-believers quit drinking, did God take it away from them? God sets every believer apart, not some more so than others, but everyone who has believed what his son accomplished is set apart by God himself. God is the sanctifier, not the person, and it comes regardless of how those believers set themselves apart. Our righteous standing before God is accomplished through our being set-apart, the only way we can ever be made totally and perfectly as righteous as God himself is for that believer to be joined to God’s son.

God has set us apart and he calls us righteous based not upon what we do or what we abstain from doing where he’s concerned, or not upon any promise we might make along those lines, but upon Christ’s righteousness and our faith in Christ’s faithful sacrifice on our behalf, because it is at that point of our belief that God’s power from high set us apart. God alters our identity be removing us judicially in God’s mind from an identification with Adam, and now we are judicially identified with Jesus Christ. God places us into Christ, we have been made part of Jesus Christ’s body, part of his flesh, and part of his bones according to Paul.

God planned that his son become sin for the world, which his son did indeed become, but when it comes to being made the righteousness of God in Christ, what response is necessary in order for a person to be made the righteousness of God, by being placed into Christ? Belief in what God’s son accomplished, where sins are concerned, is that required response. It is very simple when we understand the difference in Reconciliation and Righteousness. Not everyone has been baptized into Christ even though Christ’s blood purged his or her sins, when his blood dripped on the Mercy Seat of God’s Ark. If Christ purged only the sins of believers, then Christ did not become a ransom for all.

All believers, we are all alike in this respect, we all continue to struggle with that issue of sins in our lives. Not only do we continue to have the propensity to sin, we do in fact do those things that come short of the glory of God far more often than any of us would like. Paul is not telling us that we will no longer be inclined to do wrong things or to think wrong things, or even that believers will more often than not always choose to do the right thing. What Paul is telling us, is that sin shall not conquer us. Sin shall not have dominion over us because we are not living under the law program, we are living under grace. The victory has already been won and who won it? Jesus Christ won it.

When we get our eyes off our new identity, and try to produce in our daily experience the acceptance God has already extended to us, we will struggle, because the enemy will try to convince us that we are an unworthy, unacceptable, sin-sick person who will never amount to anything in God’s eyes. We are saints whom God has declared righteous, believing the enemies lie will lock us into a defeated, fruitless life, but believing God’s truth about who we are, will set us free. It is imperative to our growth and maturity that we believe God’s truth about who we are in Christ. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Just a Thought "17"

Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? There are two reasons given in response in the hallways of religion, judgment and chastisement. Those are the traditional answers as to why Christians should not think they should continue to sin. Yet, Paul gives two entirely different reasons to that very same question, identity and slavery, Paul does not side with religion. If we continue to yield the members of our body to serve the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, we can fall into a snare in that we become addicted to the manner in which we satisfy those lusts. 

We are going to become enslaved to that which we choose to put ourselves in servitude. Choose to serve sin, and we can soon become addicted to the manner in which we have chosen to serve sin, is the principle. Paul is not talking about a believer losing salvation, he is talking about what those who pursue the satisfaction of the sinful lusts, we reap what we sow, not from God, but through that to which we are reaping. The sin nature within us loves sin. There is something attractive about sin to mankind, something that is pleasin’ for a season when it comes to that issue of sin, something that appeals to the flesh. 

Does God want us to set ourselves apart unto righteous behavior in order that he might have cause to consider us to be righteous? A quest for righteousness before God through performance is the wrong motivation for doing the things that Paul calls on every believer to do and for abstaining from the particular behavior Paul would have us avoid. We all miss the mark, we all come short, some of us may come closer to it than others, but none of us completely and consistently eliminate sin in our lives.

Most people think that victory over the law’s demands can only be achieved by obedience to the law’s demands. We that believed Paul’s good news, our being set apart is not contingent upon the degree to which we set ourselves apart. The only ones who can take up any piece of God’s armor, and the only ones who are involved in this struggle against the enemy, are those who have been placed into Christ. The fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that the enemies blows are directed at the believer’s security and assurance of being placed into Christ. Two dangerous edges of the enemies broadsword are discouragement and doubt.

With the helmet of salvation firmly on, we see ourselves for who we really are, and when our faith in God’s omnipotence and care is strong, it is impossible for the enemy to break through our shield of faith and land an attack. Our enemies are actively involved in trying to distract us by peppering our mind with their thoughts and ideas. They are always hurling their fiery darts of fear, doubt, and worry in our direction, but the only time they can his us is when we let our shield of faith down. A shield deflects, it keeps the darts of the enemy away from our mind, the shield moves with the attack.

Our understanding of the identity that Adam had before the fall, that identity has been restored to us, that restored identity is the critical foundation for our belief structure and our behavior patterns. It is absolutely vital that we put on the breastplate of righteousness, so that we can resist the persistent accusation of the enemy, they never give up trying to get us down and keep us down by hurling one false accusation after another. Wholeness and meaning in life are not the products of what we have or do not have, what we have done or have not done, we are already a whole person and possess a life of infinite meaning and purpose because of who we are in Christ.

The inevitable result of God’s grace to the believer is true peace because every believer is without blame before him in love. If we fail to understand that we are blameless and what being blameless is all about; God sees us in Christ and Christ was blameless. To be positionally in Christ makes a person a saint, because we have the very righteousness of God himself freely attributed to our account. It is difficult for the human mind to lay hold of the magnitude of what the grace of God is all about and what that grace has accomplished on behalf of every signal person who has trusted what Christ accomplished.

For a person to have to make his own peace with God would be nothing more than an exercise in futility, it could never be done. To say that any person could make their own peace with God would be to limit God to his mercy. Every miss deed, every miss step, if we are making our own peace with God, every failure no matter how large or small to our way of thinking would require a new act of mercy on the part of God. Mercy simply withholds that which is due, mercy simply withholds that which we deserve. Grace on the other hand, bestows freely that which we could never earn and could never deserve.

We need to cease attributing our righteous standing before God to our performance and keep our mind focused solely on how God views us IN Christ, that is what grace-life is all about, and we will be victorious in that God’s power can now produce it’s fruit in our life. There is a glory that belongs to God’s grace, and it is to be praised on the bases on what God’s grace has accomplished. What an ingenious salvation plan, to take someone else that is righteous and join us to that person. God has a purpose for those who believe, he predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his son. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just a Thought "16"

You know how giving earnest money works when it comes to making a purchase today. When a person gives earnest money in connection with a purchase, that person is guaranteeing, through that which is given in advance their intention of following through on that which they have promised. Well, according to the apostle Paul, the indwelling of God’s power from on high is both God’s seal and his deposited pledge that all believers are forever his and are destined to inherit eternal life. The security all believers have in that the indwelling of God’s power from on high guarantees that those who have believed Paul’s good news can never be lost, they belong to God.

The word “sealed” means sealed for preservation. The seal is the safeguarding device, the securing device, used to preserve the contents. God’s power from on high is the seal that God uses to secure all who believe in this dispensation of grace. The word “earnest” means a pledge in the sense that an advance deposit has been made as the security guaranteeing the fulfillment of that which has been promised to those who have been sealed. We were not sealed on the basis of our behavior, but upon the basis of (and at the point of) our belief, that is a seal we can fully depend upon.

Understand that repentance in the earthly kingdom program was not about turning away from their sins and not sinning anymore. Repentance was about changing one’s mind when it came to earning a righteous standing with God through their performance. God wanted them to change their minds about how faithful they had been and how faithful they could hope to be, when it came to meriting his acceptance through adherence to the law contract. We can see how how mixing the two programs along with improperly interpreting the Scripture for that program, can lead to misguided thinking when it comes to the issue of eternal security.  

The fact that mankind is unable to do anything to alter their sinful condition, human reasoning would say, “Give us something that we can do. Give us some way to perform. Give us a few balls of our own to hit, so that we might earn back what we lost through Adam.” God’s reasoning said, “Impossible!” The Law that God gave to Israel was a measure of what mankind would have to perform to be accepted by God. God did not give Israel a law they could keep. God gave Israel a law impossible for those with a sin-nature to obey perfectly, in order to teach them their need of a Savior. 

Most people think that victory over the law’s demands can only be achieved by obedience to the law’s demands. If they do not want to undergo the penalty of death as the law demands, they had better obey the law. They are out there trying and sometimes with much sincerity to obey in order to gain the victory. Well, that is not how it is done according to the apostle Paul anymore, it is about what has already been done for them, and why continue to wallow in the mud from which they have been rescued. Paul takes us away from chastisement and judgment and he leads us toward the reality of our position.

You see, the victory belongs to us right now. It’s always belonged to us. It’s something we have always had. It is not something we have to strive for, something we gain through our performance through time. Paul wants us to know that our position in Christ means that we are already victorious! Nothing in the law can stake its claim on us, the believer ever again. Being joined to the perfectly righteous Savior means that the law can never again point to our lack of righteousness. Victory over the law, victory over sin and victory over death are ours to enjoy right this very moment. We cannot become more victorious than that through anything we do, we cannot add to that. There is no greater victory over sin that can be gained by mankind than the victory already achieved by Jesus Christ. 

For those who have a knowledge of sin, death is particularly painful. What is it that gives sin its power to generate this heightened fear in those who understand their lack of righteousness before God? The Law! In fact, the law is the exact measure of the righteousness required by God through performance in order to gain righteousness through performance. It is the law that proves people’s unrighteous condition. When the law is held up against the best that any person can do, the law proves all people are lacking the righteousness necessary to dwell with God.

Paul moves those who are believers away from condition and takes us to position. It is the law that gives death the power to bring heightened pain to those who understand their sinful condition. God designed the law to make sin show its hand, to make sin abound, so that people could look at that picture of the law and look at themselves and could see that their sin was exceedingly sinful. The truth is, the law brought forth sin, it incites the pride-nature to rebellion. Performance of the flesh must be removed from the picture when it comes to the righteousness necessary for a relationship with God. It is a person’s knowledge of their sinful condition, that makes death such a fearful event for the non-believer.

A person must trust that their sin issue was resolved in its entirely in order for God’s power from on high to baptize (identify) that person into Christ with the righteousness that belongs only to the Savior. There can be no further payment for sin as that payment was made by Jesus Christ and it was made once for all, the sin issue became a son issue. To be justified means to receive that gift that came to all mankind, the gift declaration of the very righteousness of God, no one can receive that unless that person is placed into Christ. Being placed into Christ, joined to Christ is the method whereby God justices a person, or righteousifies a person. The issue at the Great White Throne Judgment will be those standing there in their own righteousness. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Just a Thought "15"

Ministers of righteousness use the word reform instead of the word transform, and they would appeal to people to reform, but God does not make that appeal. Transformation is entirely a work of God in the believer. Reformation would be a work of the believer for God. Paul was sent with a brand new message, and Paul would not to have wanted us to mix the message of the 12 Apostles in regard to God’s program to and with the nation Israel, with the message specifically given him for the Gentiles. Many people involved in religion’s domain are dealing with God on the basis of probation, rather than salvation.

God is not testing or proving people today in order to make a final decision as to whether or not to save them, or to keep them saved. All of the saving work that God could possibly do, he has already done through Jesus Christ. God now holds forth the reconciliation that Christ has accomplished, offering people the choice to either accept or reject that gift of salvation. Appreciation based on the reality of salvation, not apprehension based on religion’s message of probation.

The believer today then, is to be based upon appreciation of what Christ has already done, and the security that they have in him, rather than apprehension based upon a supposition of what God may or may not do in the future for them. On the other hand, many continue to hold on to the notion that they have insufficient worth to warrant what Christ’s death accomplished in the first place. Equally as dangerous, the foolish notion that Christ’s shed blood was insufficient to have fully satisfied God where their sins are concerned, thus the continual need for something further required of them to keep God’s justice up to date. The issue with God is the son, not sin, what are they going to believe about what the son accomplished, or do they still think he is counting those sins against them and coming back to haunt them at some point and time.

Unfortunately the gift of salvation will not be accepted by the vast majority of people, but it is their choice to accept or reject it. The reconciliation Paul’s talking about was accomplished by God, he designed it, he provided the means by which it could be accomplished. The vast majority of the people of this earth do not understand what reconciliation is all about, they think that new sin needs a new measure of reconciliation. Is that not the golden thread woven through every denomination out there, it is called religion. The truth is mankind could not obtain an ounce of forgiveness if they tried, because God has already forgiven all mankind. Therefore the assumption is, God is not reconciled when they sin. In their mind they are separating themselves from God by their sin, and Paul is saying, God is already reconciled mankind were their sins are concerned.

The apostle Paul was commissioned to tell people that God is reconciled where the totality of the sin debt of all mankind is concerned, sin is no longer the issue on the table of God’s justice today. Sin has all been forgiven upfront, there is not an ounce of forgiveness to be obtained. The reconciliation that Christ accomplished for mankind was total, complete, everlasting, and unalterable, it will always stand. Jesus did not die to give people a reprieve, he did not die to give people temporary relief. This is not difficult, God said what his son did for mankind was sufficient to absolve every one of their sin debt-past, present, and future, it is gone. 

If the flesh is incapable of producing righteousness, why is it then that Paul exhorts us to do certain things and to avoid other things? The flesh always points us to do that which satisfies the sin nature and brings credit to self. This is true of all of us. We see that we need to die to self, although our salvation is not dependent upon how well we accomplish this. Yet, as ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation our witness is dependent upon how well we accomplish this. Dying to self is not fun or easy, but what is particularly difficult about fighting this tendency is that it is not exactly a behavior or action. It can certainly manifest itself in those forms, but underneath them is an attitude. Dying to self is a real change of mind and attitude towards sin itself and the cause of it. 

The fact that God took sins off the table of his justice through his son’s death, does not righteousify us. We have to believe that message of what happened to our sins, and there’s where ministers of righteousness are having a hay day, because they are keeping the issue of sins on the table of God’s justice, when they are no longer on the table of God’s justice. Rather than asking for forgiveness when we sin, and we all sin, we should thank God every moment of our lives for the forgiveness that was achieved for us when Jesus Christ died for us. In order to dwell with God in eternity future, we have to be as righteous as God, his justice will not allow nothing other. Until we believe what happened to the sins Christ died for, we are not placed into Christ. 

It is a simple message, but very difficult for the pride nature to get past, because people’s pride nature says that if I broke it, I can play a part in fixing it, and we all attempt to do that, and religion is there to give us a hand along the way. We are told by Paul, the good news is what will we do when it comes to our taking God at his word, concerning what Christ accomplished where our sins are concerned. This gift decree from God comes by faith, not by our works, not by our efforts, he can look at the sinning person who believes and call that sinning person a saint, because at the very point of our belief, we are that instant joined to Christ. In God’s eyes we are no longer who we once were, we are now a new creation, having been forever joined to Christ.

Most people have no understanding that there are divisions within God’s word, and those who do understand that God has a plan and purpose for the body of Christ, which is unique and different from his earthly plan and purpose for the nation Israel. Most of those people fail to see where in scripture God put his earthly plan on hold and thus they fail to see where the body of Christ had it’s beginning. Our justification was something accomplished for us by God’s grace. God has already set every believer apart as holy. Every believer strands perfectly righteous or perfectly holy, justified according to God’s gift declaration of righteousness. We that believed Paul’s good news, we have the very righteousness of Jesus Christ himself credited to our account. Our setting apart is not contingent upon the degree to which we set ourselves apart. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Just a Thought "14"

Understanding identity is key! The term “in the flesh” has to do with position, not practice. According to the apostle Paul, “When we were in the flesh”, we that believe were once something, but now we are no longer what we once were. We were dead in sins, because we had our identity in Adam, Adam in rebellion. We now have a brand new identity, “dead to sin” identity. The goal of most believer’s life has been to become disgusted enough with ourselves to try hard enough, so that we can finally win God’s approval. One of the most disturbing things is someone unable to express confidence about whether they can know if they will have eternal life or not. 

From Adam onward, people have been doing what seems right before other people, in regard to having a relationship with God. Not one member of the entire human race has ever lived up to any system of rule-keeping for righteousness. Yet, how many are attempting today, to do what humankind before us was totally unable to do? Does our no-condemnation status with God depend to any degree whatsoever upon our performance? We need to cease attributing our righteous standing before God to our performance and keep our mind focused solely on how God views us in Christ, that is what grace-life is all about.

Many believers spend their entire existence unsuccessfully trying to be someone other than who they really are, paying lip service to the idea that we are accepted because of God’s grace, the struggle for acceptance on the basis of works is epidemic, but the greatest travesty of all, is the lack of understanding about our new identity in Christ. It would be disastrous enough if the reason people did not understand who they are was simply for a lack of information, and the truth is that there is an absence of teaching concerning our new identity and what it means to be new creations in Christ. 

Should we not be grateful today that God no longer recognizes the old man, that he now sees us in our new man identity in Christ! Yet, our flesh will always want to make provision for the flesh. The members of our flesh are like matches, and when we spend a great deal of time striking matches under the curtains, and then we stand there in amazement when the house is burring down. Paul wants us to make the members of our flesh available as weapons of righteousness. When we do not understand the doctrinal truths Paul taught pertaining to our sealed position in Christ, we have no ground for success in the practical arena.

We are capable of transforming our thinking, it is a new operating system, day by day renewal of the mind as to who we are in Christ. It is not about perfecting the flesh, it is about crucifying the flesh in our minds. When we put on the armor of God, we are really putting on Christ, and when we put on Christ, we take ourselves out of the realm of the flesh, where we are vulnerable to attack, it is not wise for us to live on the enemies level. The most dangerous and harmful detriments to our growth is passivity, putting our mind in neutral and coasting, sitting back and waiting for God to do everything is not God’s way to maturity.

We stand firm in the truth by relating everything we do to the truth of God’s word, and when we learn to live in the truth on a daily basis, we will grow to love the truth because we will have nothing to hide. If the enemy can deceive us into believing a lie, they can control our life in that area. God’s protection is that our role is not passive, God requires us to be active participants in the defense that he has provided for us. Our old pattern for thinking and responding to our sin-trained flesh must be transformed by the renewing of our mind, it is our responsibility to change our behavior.

The issue for life everlasting is not what church you attend or to which denomination you belong or how religious you are. The issue in eternity will not be how many sins you have committed or how many sins you have promised God you will abstain from committing. It will not be whether you have walked an aisle, recited a particular prayer, or asked Jesus into you heart. The issue in eternity will be to which man are you related? Do you have your identity in the first Adam, or do you have your identity in the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

Wholeness and meaning in life are not the products of what we have or do not have, what we have done or have not done, we are already a whole person and possess a life of infinite meaning and purpose because of who we are in Christ. Our understanding of the identity that Adam had before the fall, that identity has been restored to us. Those who are in Christ are those who are not walking after the faulty assumption that their righteousness is related to their performance.

God has dealt with that problem of sin, and the issue with sanctification is not about sin, but about perfection. We can rejoice and we can give all the glory and the praise to God for the fact that even though that sinful nature is strapped onto our fleshly backs like a rotting corpse, God does not see us in our flesh from his judicial perspective. God does not relate to us on the basis of our performance in the flesh, but on the basis of our new identification in his son, he views us in our glorified identity, he sees us as being joined to his son.