Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Just a Thought "110"

Conduct becoming a believer comes from a proper understanding of the magnitude of God’s grace and what that grace accomplished for them. Paul doesn’t talk about God’s power from on high giving resurrection life to the believer’s body after it dies. Paul does talk about God’s power from on high making alive the believer’s current physical body. In other words, God through his power from on high will make alive the believer’s current mortal body, so that their current sinful flesh can be used as a channel through which God can accomplish his righteous works through them, his fruit in them. And trust in the fact that that believer also has the capacity to present their members as instruments of righteousness unto God, so that his indwelling power from on high can produce his fruit in that believer’s life.

The image of God in humanity is never associated with a non-material, spiritual soul, but rather with moral and rational capacities. None of these qualities is possessed by animals. What distinguishes people from animals is the fact that human nature inherently has godlike possibilities. By virtue of being created in the image of God, human beings are capable of reflecting his character in their own life. Being created in the image of God means that we must view ourselves as intrinsically valuable and richly invested with meaning, potential, and responsibilities. It means that we have been created to reflect God in our thinking and actions. We are to be and to do on a finite scale what God is and does on an infinite scale.

There can be no doubt that for Paul “the flesh” and “the spirit (God’s power from on high)” stand, not for two separate and opposing parts of human nature, but for two different ethical orientations. This becomes clear when one compares his list of the “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19-20) with that of “the fruits of the spirit (God’s power from on high)” (Gal 5:22-23). The two lists show that “flesh” and “spirit (God’s power from on high)” represent, not two separate and opposing parts of human nature, but two different kinds of lifestyle. Paul tells us in Romans 5:20 that God really gave the law to Israel not to make them good but so that the offense might be made to increase, not to abate, but to abound. Why would God want the offense to increase? Well, the offense was already there. But God gave an opportunity through that law program to really come out and show itself for what it was and for what it is in us.

Shame is often confused with guilt, but they are not the same. When we do something wrong we experience a sense of guilt. Guilt is like a nerve response to sin, an emotion in response to wrong behavior. Those uncomfortable impulses that stab our conscience are meant to turn us away from the wrong we are doing. Guilt is a healthy thing, because guilt comes as a result of something we do and we can change our behavior and the guilty feeling will go away. But shame is not just a feeling, shame is the belief or mindset that something is wrong with you. It’s not that you feel bad about your behavior, it’s that you sense or believe you are defective or worthless as a human being. No matter how many times you get it right, whatever it is according to the standards of your environment, you will never be acceptable. Deep down, you believe something is wrong with you.

We all need an environment where we feel our needs are met because of who we are and not because of what we do. The problem with shame, whether it’s passed on in silence or with loud shouting is that it’s crippling. It’s like a living death and you send your life feeling as though you are not good enough, living according to performance, never measuring up, value and acceptance are earned on the basis of performance. Performance however, always seems to fall short of the standard, giving the message, “You are defective and inadequate.” Eventually, we become ingrained with a need to measure up. What follows is more impotent performance, which generates even more shame.

Far too many believers are feeling dirty, worthless and ashamed of themselves. Shame is a silent, but deadly disease that pollutes the lifeblood of many believers. As a result, we feel unclean and therefore unworthy to approach God and have the living and intimate relationship that he wants to have with us. God’s standard is nothing less than perfection and none of us measure up, if we did or we ever could measure up sufficiently righteous for heaven through our performance, we would not have needed a savior at all. For it is God’s grace, not our striving that makes us accepted and acceptable. It is God’s performance through Jesus, not our trying hard to perform, that eradicates our shame.

Shame is a master of disguise. People make choices for which they are ultimately responsible. In this world’s culture, behavior that violates established social and moral standards is called an infraction of the law. In social settings, actions that do not conform to what is generally expected are called breaches of etiquette or bad taste. People in various areas of society, as well as many families and churches, fail to separate people from their behaviors. In systems that are performance oriented, missing the mark always brings on shame. In a society or circle where any unacceptable behavior is shamed, the offender becomes an expert at heaping shame upon themselves.

For many people, attending church is an extremely shaming experience. Performance based religion shames people for struggling, asking, doubting, and for not complying, reading, giving, attending, or doing. Living as a child of God isn’t about doing, it’s about believing something. And when we believe something and we continue to take in God’s Word, it should change who we are, not change what we are trying to do and trying to become. Never before have there been so many how-to seminars and books in which Christians are told they will find the key to closeness with God. What is it that makes us acceptable, valuable people? We are often taught that acceptability comes from useful religious performance that lives up to the expectations of our particular religious community. And since human performance is an inadequate, false means to acquire value, it always falls short.

Joy for a believer is a state of mind independent of surrounding circumstances. Rejoicing is the exhibit of that inter state of mind. Happiness is related to happenings to the events of the moment. If joy were dependent upon the situation at hand, it would be uncertain as a match lit on a windy day. So the believers attitude needn’t to become victim to uncertainty of adversity. Joy in the Savior has nothing whatsoever to do with the presence or absence of trouble or happiness or event related, but about a mind set. A mind set that can be totally unconnected to circumstances of the moment or the day or even the year. Joy is that state of mind, a rested state of mind, that is developed when doctrine becomes the stabilizing force in your life. Joy has everything to do with trust. Joy is a trust issue. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Just a Thought "109"

Believers don’t owe anything to this flesh. It will never please God. That’s why it’s going on down to the dust and God is going to give the believer a new body. The believers production didn’t gain them their new identity in the last Adam in the first place. It certainly can’t gain them heaven. Jesus accomplished that for the believer. If the works of the believer didn’t contribute to getting them saved, how can the works of the flesh play a part in keeping them saved. Since the believer does not derive their new identity from the output of their flesh, they don’t owe the flesh a thing. If a believer is trying to satisfy God’s justice on a daily basis or however by conforming to a standard of rules and regulations, they are going to find that just the opposite becomes true in their flesh. They are going to find themselves constantly focusing on the flesh.

Listen to the attitude of law orientation; an attitude that comes from a person who is walking after the flesh: “I’m not going to do that because that is bad,” or “I’m, not going to do that because I cannot do that and remain a Christian,” or “I’m going to follow the rules because God will accept me if I follow the rules faithfully.” That’s walking after the flesh according to the Word of God. Now contrast a walking after the flesh attitude with the attitude of one who is walking after the new identity: “I’m not going to do that because that’s not who I am in the last Adam. And that’s not good for me and it’s not good for the other person. Why spend my time wallowing in the mire that caused my Savior to have to die in the first place? Paul was functionally not capable of producing any fruit that God could accept. He died functionally when he tried to apply law-keeping to perfect his flesh. It wouldn’t work.

Living after the flesh, from a functional point of view is taking the credit yourself. Walking after the new identity is recognizing the source of the fruit. God through his power from on high is the source of the only good that comes from you that God can accept. To walk in the new identity is to take the credit away from yourself. The believer realizes that God is not looking at how well they adhere to any standard. He isn’t looking at their production. He isn’t looking at their behavior in order to view them as being in favor with him. He’s looking at their identification with his son and at what his power is producing in them. Does the believers no-condemnation status with God depend on any degree whatsoever upon their performance? Absolutely not. There is absolutely no condemnation whatsoever to those who recognize that it’s not their own righteous conduct but what Jesus accomplished that sets them apart as Holy and acceptable unto God. 

From Adam onward, people have been doing what seems right to a person 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 them was totally unable to do? The pathway of rules and regulations for righteousness, otherwise called religion in the Word of God, seems right to a lot of people today. Yet, when we look at that word in Scripture, we find it used in a negative sense. God gave a religious system to Israel called the Law of Moses. But, the religious system was not for the purpose of giving a person an avenue to righteousness. The law did not work within the religious system God gave to Israel to prove to them the law would not make them righteous. We find that rather than something that worked to produce what the natural mind thought could be produced through the law; the law worked to produce the opposite.

Justification and sanctification go hand in hand. Justification is the believers gift declaration of righteousness. Sanctification is how that judicial degree of righteousness is achieved. Every believer is set apart by God as being holy at the point of that believers belief. God is the one who is performing the setting apart. God accomplishes this sanctification by joining all who believe to his son. Saint is God’s word for a believer. God sets every believer apart, sanctification is about that issue. Paul even called the carnal believers at Corinth saints or set apart ones because even though they were carnal, they had believed Paul’s good news. Paul was not only first in line when it came to dispensing the Grace of God, Paul was also foremost in crime when it came to murdering the saints of the earthly kingdom program and the blasphemy associated with God’s ministry at Pentecost.

God has set the believer apart and he calls them righteous based not upon what they do or what they abstain from doing where God’s concerned, but on Jesus’ righteousness and their faith in Jesus’ faithfulness on their behalf, because it’s at that point of their belief that God set them apart. God alters the believers identity by removing them judicially in God’s mind from an identification with Adam number 1 and now they are judicially identified with Adam number 2. But, throughout human history, people have refused to accept the finality that death brings to life. Death brings an unacceptable, sudden interruption to one’s work, plans, and relationships. After all, the death rate is still one per person. The serpent’s lie, you will not die, has lived on throughout human history to our time.

Jesus’ victory over death affects the believer’s understanding of physical and eternal death. The believer can face physical death with the confidence that Jesus has swallowed up death in victory, because Paul was eagerly awaiting God’s purpose for Paul. The glory that Paul knew would be revealed in him at the manifestation of the sons of God when the sons of God receive their glorified bodies when the believers meet Jesus in the air (not on the earth). For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The day is coming when believers will no longer be capable of being corrupted. They will be incorruptible. There will be no way that they can be corrupted. When believers get their new bodies, they will be bodies that are not subject to corruptibility. It will be impossible for corruption to set in when they get these new bodies. The believer’s hope is based not on the immortality of the soul, but on the resurrection of the body. In Paul’s view, immortality is tied solely to the resurrection of Jesus as the ground and pledge of the believer’s hope. Those who insist in finding the philosophical idea of the immortality of the soul in the Bible, ignore God’s revelation and insert dualistic Greek ideas into God’s Word. It is the resurrection that bestows the gift of immortality on the body, that is, on the whole person of the believer.

Paul’s desire to depart this earthly life for a heavenly life with the Savior is a relational and not an anthropological statement. It is a statement of the relation that exists and continues between the believer and the Savior through death, not a statement of the state of the body and soul between death and the resurrection. Paul did not think the question of the status of the person between death and resurrection was a question that needed to be considered. Their relation with Jesus is one of immediacy, because they have no awareness of the passing of time between their death and resurrection. Paul never alluded to the conscious survival of the soul and its reattachment to the body at the resurrection. clearly shows that such a notion was totally foreign to him and to Scripture as a whole.

The law of sin is nothing more than the ever present moral choice of good and bad that resides in the earthly tabernacle of all God’s earthly human creation given Adam’s rebellion and will continue to remain a part of the believers earthly tent until they receive their new tent. These fleshly tents 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. One of the most horrible, most cruel forms of punishment in Paul’s day was a method employed by the Romans. One of the ways of putting people to death was to take a corpse, someone who had already been executed and to strap that corpse onto the body of a live person. Paul paints that very picture when he illustrates the ever present problem that his moral choice of good and bad presented to him. Paul couldn’t escape the rot of his moral choice of good and bad, no matter how fervently he tried. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Just a Thought "108"

The old man and the moral choice of good and bad are not one and the same. The old man speaks of the believer’s former identity with Adam (Adam in rebellion). That identity is no longer true of believers. So, the old man is a thing of the past, having been crucified with Jesus, and the new man is the new identity belonging to every believer (Jesus, the last Adam). The sad news is that the new man continues to reside in the old tent where the moral choice of good and bad is ever present. The old man has to do with identity. Even though every believer has a new identity in the last Adam (Jesus), every believer suffers the same propensity, the battle against the moral choice of good and bad that the Apostle Paul struggled with himself on a day-by-day basis.

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. Nothing and no  one can take a believers identity in the last Adam away from them, God accomplished that for the believer. Therefore, in light of that, a believer should bring their practical state into harmony with their identity in the last Adam. This is Paul’s admonition for every believer in this dispensation of grace. As sound doctrine is taken in and fully appreciated, believers who takes that doctrine in and appreciates it, and applies it, begin to grow and mature in what they believe. And as believers begin to grow and to mature in what they believe, those believer’s mind is being transformed in the process.

Paul tells us that it was God’s plan that believers be built up or stabilized. Sound doctrine is the means by which God transforms the thinking of those engaged in studying his Word. As we understand what God accomplished for us, and build upon that foundation the truths of who he has made us to be by placing us into his son, we begin to view ourselves as God views us. And there is great security to be found in doing so. Truth designed to give believers stability is truth designed to give believers security. God didn’t intend that believers be insecure, so the security doctrines come first in God’s building process for his grace-age saints. Paul prayed that the love of the Philippian believers would abound in knowledge, so that they would be able to make appropriate decisions based on that knowledge, which in turn would be glorifying and praising God. 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 the last Adam, can we become in our behavior what he wants us to be in that aspect of our lives.

God through his power from on high works through the Word he authored and the people his power indwells. God’s power is God’s seal, for all believers today; therefore God’s power is the security for all believers today. There is no believer in this age of grace who is not indwelt by God’s power from on high. With what are believers consciences to be programmed? With the Word of Truth, that’s how they're to be programmed. Only when believers conscience is programmed with the Word of God can believers conscience bear witness with the author of that Word of God. In the area of conscience God does not lead today independently of the written Word of God he authored.

God’s attitude towards a believer does not fluctuate in response to action. It’s not condition on their behavior. Believers have been justified judicially in the mind of God through the avenue of their faith in Jesus’ faithful performance on their behalf rather than peace based upon their performance toward God results in an unchanging attitude of peace with God for every believer. What Adam brought to the human race was brought about by a single sin but the free gift that provides justification was brought about because of many sins. God provided the free gift of justification because that one sin provoked the many sins of the human race. Since Adam’s one sin affected the entire human race. And, because Adam’s sin resulted in the many sins of the human race, God provided a sufficient gift to solve the dilemma of the human race. Judgment came through one sin, Justification solves the problem where many sins are involved.

To be justified means to receive that gift that came to all the human race. Sealed and earnest speak to the security all believers have in that God’s indwelling power from on high guarantees that those who have believed Paul’s good news can never be lost. They belong to God. Sealed means sealed for preservation. The seal is 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. 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. According to Paul, God’s indwelling 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. 

God predetermined to conform everyone who believes to the image of his son. God in his infinite wisdom pre-decreed that every believer would be joined to his son, fully identified with the last Adam. God pre-decided that the believer would be blessed with all the blessings and privileges of an adopted adult son. God decided in advance that the believer are to be to the praise of the glory of his grace. God has pre-determined all these outcomes for the believer and his mind is not going to be changed on this.

Grace is a much greater motivator than law, but ministers of righteousness hold over the heads of their congregations a little law mixed with the possibility of losing their salvation. They frighten them a bit and they’ll live properly in order to merit heaven and miss the second death. When one breaks this down to it lowest common denominator it’s salvation by works rather than by grace. Conduct becoming a believer does not come through a fear of losing one’s salvation, it comes from a proper understanding of the magnitude of God’s grace and what that grace accomplished for us. Believers are not conditionally secure, they are unequivocally and irrevocably secure and all due to the indwelling of God’s power from on high as God is leading all believers during the dispensation of the grace of God.

Was the Word of God given so that believer could be partially furnished or throughly furnished? That word throughly in 2 timothy 3:16 means fully, through and through furnished unto all good works. Through the book God authored, he has given the believer everything, all inclusive, God knew the believer would need for life and ministry in this age of grace. Yet, believers are not to cleanse themselves in order to gain something from God when it comes to their holy standing before him or to maintain something before God, because believers have been freely given something namely a justified and sanctified identity in the last Adam.

Believers are not to keep themselves on God’s good side,  because God’s already cleansed them judicially by freely crediting them with the righteousness that belongs to his perfectly righteous son. Therefore, nothing can remove believers from God’s good side; what or who shall separate believers from the love of God? The believers calling hasn’t changed. It can not change, so believers should conduct themselves in accordance with their calling. Walk worthy in order to gain your calling. Walk worthy in order to keep your calling. That’s not the idea at all. But walk worthy of the vocation that belongs to the believer, because God has already given it to them. That’s the ideal. How can those who have been justified freely, sanctified or set apart in the last Adam, how should those believers conduct themselves? 

Their are a lot of people who believe that salvation can be lost. They believe their salvation depends upon whether or not they are right with God. This causes the people who believe it to have to play all sorts of little word games in their minds. Sin is not called sin except before salvation, but after salvation, their sins becomes something different. It becomes faults, mistakes, accidents, misunderstandings, a back-slide. One can never be quite sure where, or when, the line is crossed from one to the other. You can see how self-justification has a heavy role to play in the to be made sinless definition of sanctification. Unfortunately, the things that are allowed of self are seldom tolerated in others.

Should the believer not be grateful to know that their salvation depends not upon the amount of sin they lay on the altar of sacrifice, but upon the fact that Jesus took all of their sins and he became their sacrifice? That’s different. There is a tremendous difference in the two. The believer needs to understand that the moral choice of good and bad does not disappear, God does not take it away whether it be at the point of their belief, or, at a point subsequent to their belief. The moral choice of good and bad remains right where it has always been to battle against the new identity and that battle take place between the ears. Satan’s ministers of righteousness use the word reform, they are all about reformed doing and commitments, but they have gotten it wrong according to the apostle Paul. It’s all about transformed thinking. Reformation would be a work of the believer for God, but transformation is entirely a work of God in the believer.