Friday, February 25, 2011

I Have Been Sanctified

Sin has indeed lost its power in our lives once we are truly born again and we receive the Holy Spirit. The battle rages on in our flesh and spirit; but Christ came so that we would overcome. He has given us a way out in every situation. We must choose life or death. Our spiritual resurrection is what causes us to live lives holy and pleasing to God-- our death on our cross is the first step. Those who have been baptized into Christs name, His death, His resurrection, and His spirit are not "sinners saved by grace." "Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning." 1 Corinthians 15:34. You have been bought with a price friends! Your debt of sin has been paid! You no longer are enslaved to sin, but you have been justified and made righteous through the blood of Christ. You have been set free from sin! If only we could grasp that elementary concept we could see that Christ came to save the sinner, to make us new; therefore, we become a new creation. What don't we understand about that new creation concept? We must consider ourselves DEAD TO SIN. We no longer operate under our fleshly desires, but we operate under the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that took residency in Christ is the same Holy Spirit that resides in us. Because we have been made new, we do not continue to sin. Those that do continue to live in sin have not been truly baptized into Christ. We are slaves to righteousness! That means that sin has no authority in our lives. Holiness, purity, and righteousness are chained to your spirit. We are slaves to the name of Christ.

"But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves to God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." We are sanctified through Christ. That clearly means that sin is absent. Does that mean that we do not have the desire to sin? By no means! For even Jesus was tempted-- thus implying that He was human just as much as you and I. But, we overcome the desire and NOT SIN with the help of the Holy Spirit. To say that you can't is denying the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. So many times I hear the, "Well, I am just a sinner saved by grace" statement and that is not even close to being a Biblically sound statement. No! You WERE a sinner that is saved by grace and you have been SANCTIFIED and made righteous.

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and you are justified by grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ." Romans 3:21-24. Sin no longer rules you! You RULE IT. You are in charge of your flesh. You can choose life or death. But you must count the cost of following Christ-- the cost is your entire life. Every single bit of it. If you have not given your whole life to Him, you are not born again. Plain and simple. The justification cleans our debt, and we are made new. We are called to be Holy and righteous. It is simply impossible to do without the Holy Spirit. This sanctification has set us apart. Strong's concordance says that the word for sanctification is "a the state predetermined by God for believers, into which in grace He calls them, and in which they begin their Christian course and so pursue it." In Romans 6:19 the word is defined by Strong's as, "holiness." God has called us to righteousness and holiness. Plain and simple.

My challenge to Christians is this: are we using the excuse of "I am a sinner saved by grace" to continue sinning and justify our flesh? If you are a sinner, you are not one of God's children. So, walk in the newness of life and live through the power of the Holy Spirit, because without it, you will continue to sin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Letter To Religion

Are we buying into false doctrine and abiding in a distorted view of the Gospel? In this post we will examine Jesus' metaphor of leaven.

"How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Matthew 16:11-12

In the earlier scriptures, Jesus rebukes the disciples because of their focus on carnal things: bread itself. I find that interesting because sometimes we focus on the carnal things that do not matter, yet we miss the big picture. But, Jesus was not talking about physical bread. Rather, the spiritual bread which is the Word of God. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Greek word used for leaven in this passage is, "ζύμης." The word literally is "a metaphor of inveterate mental and moral corruption, viewed in its tendency to infect others." Jesus was warning them of the infection that is false teaching. A couple chapters before, the Pharisees and scribes asked Jesus why he was breaking the tradition of elders by not washing their hands before they ate. Jesus responded, "[a]nd why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" This is what Jesus talks about, I believe, when he warns of the corruption of false doctrine. Sometimes, what we are taught all of our lives-- especially the ones of us who grew up in a Christian home-- is not the Spiritual truth. The hard part is coming to the realization that some things that we are taught just are not what God teaches.

There is much debate over what I am about to discuss. But, this is what I believe the Word is trying to teach. Let us not focus on the different interpretations, but let us focus on the Truth.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is getting on to the church in Corinth because they are boasting about how they are handling sexual immorality within the church by "mourning " for the decision of this brother in Christ. Paul then states, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8. The symbol of unleavened bread is the symbol of purity. We are called to be "unleavened Christians," not being conformed to the yeast-- which is sin. The dying on our cross has cleansed out the old leaven-- which may be traditions or sin (both are the same). Christ has been sacrificed; therefore, we are made holy and righteous. Our former lump was infected with traditions, malice, evil-- to put it simply, our old selves were sinners. But, Christ, the perfect sacrifice, has come in and made us pure.

But, the problem is the infection of ourselves. An infection effects the whole body. If we do not see the infection in ourselves, it will overtake us. In order to be diagnosed that we have an infection, we have to humble ourselves and hear God speak. The metaphor of leaven lines directly up with the metaphor of the vine and branches. Any branch that does not bear fruit is thrown into the fire; that is because the branch that does not bear fruit is indeed an infection. Because we are made holy, our old selves have been crucified. That crucifying of ourselves is the 'unleavening' of our ourselves. The cross is our purifier-- it is what allows us to be true Christians. We do not kneel at the cross, we go through the cross.

The question arises again: are we buying into a false doctrine just as the Galatians did? Are we living in sin and justifying it with, "Well, I have forgiveness. God loves me no matter what, and I am just a sinner." What a travesty! The sin is our infection. By living in sin, we buy into the wrong pictures of grace, righteousness, holiness, and purity. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ They cast out demons and prophesied in His name. Yet, He said depart from me. I never knew you. Those people believe that they are saved and on a path to heaven, yet live lives of sin. They have deceived themselves. They built their house on the sand which is false doctrine that leads to self-righteousness and carnal contentment. The Gospel has been disfigured and changed from holiness, righteousness, and purity to a gospel that leads to an end of happiness and self-contentment. The laid foundation, therefore, is the infection that keeps them from fully knowing Christ. This is the infection of current religious circles. We must repent. That is the only way to be made pure. THE ONLY WAY.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Have YOU Sacrificed?

Malachi 1:14-- "Cursed be the cheat who has a male in is flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of Hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations."

Romans 12:1-2-- I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual body. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Do we offer petty things to God that He could care less about? God wants our entire bodies- which is soul, spirit and fleshly body. Those two verses encompass so much; so we will dissect them and try to get to the root of the problem with "cultural Christians" as Wilberforce calls them.

The Greek word for sacrifice is thysia. The word literally means: a sacrifice or victim. I find that interesting-- we are presenting our bodies as victims for the sake of Christ! We are required, as Christians, to deny ourselves and offer our entire man to Him- if thats not being a victim, I do not know what is. We are honoring and glorifying God at the expense of our "own" lives. But, do we find ourselves offering pieces of our body that have no effect on bringing glory to Christ? Are we offering our hair to Christ? Or are we offering our heart and soul-- the very source of our life. The Old Testament is full of sacrifice because that was required until the perfect, holy sacrifice came-- Jesus. But now that Jesus accomplished what He came to do, we are still REQUIRED to sacrifice something. That something is our entire man! But, what does our bodily-- spirit, soul, body-- sacrifice look like?

How do we go about offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God? Paul gives us the answer in verse 2. "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." We are not conformed, or shaped, to this world. The carnal things of life are not our source of life. Rather, we renew our minds daily, and DAILY we become one with Christ-- and that is ONLY through the Holy Spirit. We have been transformed by renewing our minds. That transformation means that we have died-- and that Christ lives in us. But, in order to be transformed, we HAVE to be daily immersed in the Holy Spirit. In order to know the will of God, we must be in tune with the Holy Spirit. I like to think of a guitar. When a guitar is out of tune, the chords sound HORRIBLE. Even if just one string is out of tune. In order to be in tune, we have to daily be immersed into the Holy Spirit. When I say daily, I mean every second. Every second that we walk, we have to be in tune with Him. That one string will throw the chord of God's will for our lives out of tune. That one string may be a secret sin. That one string may be a public sin. But, most of the time that one string is pride. Christ humbled Himself when he came down to this earth to Redeem the sinner who repents. We must do the same thing in order to be in tune with the Holy Ghost. You must listen to the Holy Spirit-- and more importantly than anything else, you must obey. In order to listen, you must SHUT UP. Get on your knees and listen-- try it for once, it actually works. Who would have thought? Getting on our knees does not just mean physically, but, more importantly, spiritually. Getting on our knees spiritually means that we lay aside EVERYTHING that we want and desire and renew our minds in the Holy Spirit. Getting on our knees spiritually is climbing up our cross to our death-- and that death is to the glory of our Father. By renewing our minds, we can walk a life in PERFECT tune with Christ. And if we are in perfect tune with Him, we KNOW what His will is in our lives. By knowing His will in our lives, we can replace His will with ours. That just simply requires our full and perfect obedience.

God, let us be wholly in tune with You. Let us offer our whole man-- not just a piece of it. How much greater can You use the man who offers his everything? Lord, we desire to know You and know Your will. Let us be transformed by the by the renewal of our minds in the Holy Spirit. Let us live in You. Abide in us. Dine with us. Lord, we cry Abba Father. We thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. We are nothing without You, Father. Show us Your ways! We love you.