Back to the Goodnews
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord. (2 Cor 3:18)
Righteousness Apart from the Law
What the Law Says
Rewarded According to Works
The Reward of the Saint
Revealed by Fire
The Free Gift of Grace
The Sovereignty of God
By the Grace of God
Born of the Flesh
The Nature of Love
Legalism, License, or Liberty
The Power in Preaching
The Power of God Unto Salvation
Living From Out of Faith
What Really Matters
Reverence vs. Being Afraid
The Testimony of Jesus
The Evidence of God
Overcoming by the Blood
His Victorious Life
Jesus Christ is Victory
Victory Through Surrender
Normal vs. Abnormal
Seeing Jesus Christ
What is The Mind of Christ?
Enticement to Sin
Temptation vs. Sin
The Way of Escape
Righteousness Apart from Law
But now the righteousness of God completely apart from law keeping is manifested. (Rom. 3:21)
There are thousands of professing Christians today who believe that grace is the desire and power to do God’s will – i.e., the power to keep right with God through works. But unwittingly, they are saying grace puts them back under law – only now with the power to keep it. There are many such errors in the church. Some state this error directly as a doctrine. Others simply think and live that way, without realizing it.
The grace of God is not given as a power to keep God’s law -- so that we can stay right with God by works. In reality, we are right with God solely by His grace through faith completely apart from works. That is because the grace of God is not a power, a thing, or a classification. The grace of God is a Person – Christ Jesus – He is the One who is, “full of grace and Truth.” (John 1:7) And if Christ is in us, then because He is in us, and only because He is in us – we are right with God APART from any law-keeping.
Jesus Christ IS our righteousness. (I Cor. 1:30) Did our works earn us Christ? Can our works add to Christ or subtract from Him as the living righteousness of God in us? Does grace, or faith, merely give us power to keep God’s law so we can keep right with God through our works? Paul said, “The law is not of faith.” (Gal. 3:12) What could be more clear? Read the phrase again: “Righteousness apart from law.” That one phrase tells us that Christ as our righteousness has NO connection to our works whatsoever.
What the Law Says
Now we know that what things the law says, it says to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Gal. 3:19)
What does the law say to those who are trying to keep right with God by obeying it? It says, “You are guilty. In fact, you are dead. So your mouth had better stop speaking about the possibilities of your own righteousness.” The more we try to obey God’s law, the more we are exposed as dead. Why? Because the fundamental problem with man is not simply found in what he does or does not do. The problem is what man IS. The Adam race is spiritually dead – dead to God. You cannot cure a dead person by giving them laws to keep. You have to give him life. Christ, the Life, must give them Himself.
God’s law was given to expose the Truth about us. It was supposed to show us our dead condition so that we would finally realize that it is only through grace in Jesus Christ that we have any hope. What folly, therefore, to continue on, “under the law.”
Rewarded According to Works
There are a number of places in scripture that SEEM to say we are, “rewarded according to works.” But isn’t that contrary to grace? Does God save us solely, “by grace through faith,” only to then put us under another law – a law of earning rewards?
Let’s realize what it would mean to be rewarded according to our works: It would mean that our eternal reward is based upon -- not some of our works; not only upon our good works; but upon ALL of our works – both good and bad. Included must be, yes, outward works, but also inward thoughts, intents, and attitudes. It would mean that for every good work, our reward goes UP. For every bad work, our reward goes DOWN. Ask: How much of a reward do you think you will receive if this is the case? In addition, ask: What is a good work? And how good is good enough? And will God be so grateful to us that He will REWARD us for doing good? If we are honest, we will see that since God has given us all things freely in Christ that nothing we receive can be based on our works. That would be contrary to everything He has revealed in Christ.
A short answer to this question is found in John 6. There Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe….” (John 6:29) This is a play on words. FAITH is like a work – it certainly is a choice -- it is the one, “work,” that pleases God because faith puts aside our works and rests in Christ. All that God has for man is IN Christ – and thus, it is only through faith in Him that we can receive what God has for us.
The Reward of the Saint
Most of us easily agree that we are not saved by works. But many believe that once we are saved, that the amount of our eternal reward is based upon our works. Yet do we realize that the Christian life that would emerge from such thinking is one that would be, “under the law?” Sure. Instead of trying to earn salvation by works we would be trying to earn our eternal reward through works. Either one is outside the Truth.
We find the key to this question in the words of Jesus. He said, “He that would save His life will lose it, but he that loses his life for My sake will find it. (see Matt. 16:24) What is included in this LIFE that we ought to lose? Everything – including any question of reward. In fact, we could rightly substititute the word REWARD in Jesus’ statement in place of the word LIFE – and be absolutely correct in doing so, for LIFE includes any thought of reward. In that case it would read, “He that would try to save his reward will lose it, but he that loses his reward for My sake will find it.” This is, in fact, the principle of Truth that governs everything having to do with this thought of reward.
God has freely given us all things in Christ. Indeed, Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” It is God’s will that we do good works. But if we love Him, we will do them without any strings attached – we will leave any rewards to God. That is what it means to LOSE your life for Christ’s sake. And it is what it means to FREELY GIVE.
Revealed By Fire
Now if any man build upon this foundation (of Christ) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (I Cor. 3:12-14)
In the picture Paul gives, what determines the reward? What the person DID? No. The reward is based on whether what he BUILT is able to abide through the fire. You do build by DOING – by working. But when you are done building, all of the work that went into it is in the past. All that stands at that point is what you have built by what you have done. And in this picture the question is whether what you have built through your works is able to survive this fire – this determines the reward.
What is built is divided into two categories in this picture: That which is of Christ – gold, silver, and precious stone, as opposed to that which is of man (wood, hay, and stubble.) What is of Christ cannot be burned up, indeed, it is all the more purifed by the fire. What is of man will be burnt up – although the person himself is still saved.
Note that the PERSON passes through the fire, not merely his works or service. Thus, this is about the materials of which WE are made. Have we been built up in Christ, or is our Christian life composied of natural materials? Is Christ formed in us? Christ is built if we lose everything that is of US; of man – then He is manifested. His life in us is the work that will survive the fire because that alone is of Christ.
God doesn't merely give us at THING called, "grace." God gives grace in that He gives HIMSELF. Grace is really God's heart attitude towards all. There is actually no basis upon which God deals with us today except grace in His Son.
One of the greatest ironies of all is that God must bring us to the place where we can freely receive what He freely gives. Rather than make us strong, He shows us we are weak. Rather than empower us to be good, He gives us Christ whether we are good or bad. All the while most of us are trying to be righteous, God is seeking to show us that we will never be, but that Christ is our only righteousness.
God saves us solely by His grace in Jesus Christ because that is the only way in which He could save us. Indeed, God created humanity to be recipients of His grace. There was never any other basis upon which God intended to fellowship with man.
Grace is not merely a doctrine or a dispensation. Grace is God -- God has given us grace and Truth in the Person of His Son.
“The Sovereignty of God,” speaks of God’s power to put His hand on anything or anyone and to bring to pass His will. But that same sovereignty means that God can take His hand off and allow human beings to make their own choices. This is what God has done during this age -- within His sovereignty. In fact, God has ordained that within His sovereignty people be allowed to reject Him.
A weak God would have to make sure things come out His way. But an all-powerful, indeed, a loving God, will allow people to reject Him. He will nevertheless have His will, with them, or without them. But He will have it.
Within His sovereignty, God had to give man a free will, including the freedom to reject Him, in order for God to have what He really wants – a voluntary love and worship. To get a voluntary love God must risk a voluntary rejection.
Faith that is pre-programmed is not real faith. Love that is pre-programmed is not love. By definition, all of the values that God is seeking to build in man are voluntary. And the only way they can become voluntary is if we grow to know Him. Thus, God must take the initiative in all of these matters – not to pre-program man – but to bring light and conviction so that we may choose. We will love Him only to the extent that we see His love for us. (I John 4:19)
What God is doing is an amazing thing. He is bringing humanity, through Christ, back to the original design and relationship of a voluntary love and fellowship.
Paul said, "I am what I am by the grace of God." (I Cor. 15:10) In other words, except for the grace of God, Paul would be NOTHING. Can we see that right in this short statement, Paul states what is repeated throughout the NT: All that is of value in a Christian is of Christ -- received from above? Sure. If you are born from above, you have life from above -- Christ within you. And IN CHRIST is all that God has to give; that is of any value whatsoever. Thus, anything we have and anything we are -- that is of value to God -- He has given it in Christ. We did not contribute anything from out of our old man in Adam. Paul also said, "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (II Cor. 13:5) A reprobate is useless. For the believer, all that is of value is in the Christ who has come to dwell in us.
All that is of value is found in Christ, and this is NOT simply because we are saved sinners. It would be true if we never sinned -- it was true for Adam. True Christianity is not about who I am or what I have to offer God. It is about who HE IS and what He has done for me. This is a foundational Truth that today has given way to so much teaching about ME, MYSELF, and I. No. Paul said, "Yet not I, but Christ." (Gal. 2:20)
That which is born of the flesh is flesh. (John 3:6)
In the final analysis, we are all made of the same flesh – that which belongs to the old creation in Adam. Built into that nature is the same potential for sin. But because each of us are born into a different family, into a different environment, and exposed to different situations – with differing temperaments -- we each develop our flesh uniquely. Our personal choices mold and shape our flesh, but in the end, it IS flesh. We each have a unique version of the SAME fallen man or flesh nature. And this is all we can ever have and ever be, as to nature, if left to ourselves.
There are those who are born into a terrible family. They are abused. Perhaps they have a difficult gene pool. Maybe they are born with a strong tendency towards this or that manifestation of the flesh. Others have willfully indulged themselves in those tendencies – they know it is wrong. But the question is NOT whether our, “version,” of the flesh is worse than another. Nor is the question HOW we got there. The question is what we are going to do about it. No matter what damage life has dealt us, and no matter how unfair it is, and no matter how much to blame we are for what ails us, the solution is the same: The renunciation of the old life and the new birth in Jesus Christ.
One of most lame excuses today is that I am the way I am because I was born that way – leading to the conclusion that I should just accept is and indulge myself. No. We are all, “born that way,” in the sense that we are all born with a sin nature and have some version of the flesh. All of us need to be BORN AGAIN. None are excluded.
We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. (I John 4:19-20)
We do not make ourselves disciples – “a taught one” – by loving others. Rather, if we are a discples – somone who has learned Jesus Christ – we are going to want to love others. We can even love someone with God’s love without liking them – we need to put our personal reactions aside – love means we want God’s best for them. The flow of love is first down from God, into our hearts, and then out to others.
The very nature of receiving the love of God is that we will desire that others likewise receive His love, grace, and Truth. If God desires all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the Truth (I Tim. 2:4), then His love in us will desire the same. This will do away completely with any attitude of exclusivity – God has chosen me rather than chosen you; I am better than you; I am holding the love of God to myself, etc. – that is not the Truth, and neither is it ever the nature of love. The love of God is redemptive in nature. It is a commitment to God’s highest for all.
You will often hear that life in Christ is a balance between legalism and license. This is patently false. The Truth is outside of both. Life in Christ is not defined by whether or not you must keep rules. Life is Christ is exactly what the phrase suggests: It is LIFE. But most folks are blind to the fact that Christ is in us, and that He is to be our life – that is, that we are to live from out of Him by faith. And frankly, if I am blind to that I can practice either legalism or license until I am blue in the face and it will avail me absolutely nothing.
Paul said exactly that: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Circumcision was the OT sign that you belonged to God – saved under the Old Covenant. Thus, in Paul’s time, it represented whether you were under the law. You will note that not only does Paul say the circumcision avails nothing, but he says the same thing about uncircumcision. There are lots of folks around who define their Christianity by they they DON’T do. They may not live in blatant license, but they are, in fact, under the law – they are under the law of having no law. The point is, it really doesn’t matter what false gospel we are under – we are living by the means of our own natural strength. Regardless, the solution is the same – a new creation in Christ – Christ must BE our life and our means for living.
Christianity is not a, “life-style,” pattered after the teachings of Jesus. Neither can you solve this problem by sorting out theology. No. We will never have a clue as to how to live by the means of Christ as our life until we come to the end of our own means and own life. We must see and embrace the fact that there is no good in us – and take up the Cross. Then we will begin to, “win Christ, and be found in Him,” (Phil. 3:8-9), not having a righteousness of our own, but begin to learn what it means to have have Christ as our life and our righteousness. It is neither legalism or license, but liberty.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Cor 2:4-5)
Picture Paul, rather weak and trembling, standing before the Corinthians speaking to them the Truth of Jesus Christ. Paul was not faking this to appear humble. Neither was this a style Paul adopted so that God could be powerful through him. No. This was real. Paul WAS weak, and he looked and sounded weak. But this did not weaken God.
The power of God is not found in the words used. It is not increased by any emotionalism – or the lack thereof. Neither is it increased by brain power. God doesn’t need our marketing techniques. The Truth is the Truth, and the gospel of Truth is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. (Rom 1:16)
Why is there so little power today? Because the Truth of Jesus Christ – the entire revelation of which is the gospel – is not preached. Why are there so few miracles today? Many are claimed, but most are an illusion. There are few miracles today because Christ is the power of God and you almost never hear about Christ as the power of God. Instead, we are told that the power of God is in some anointing that floats around in the air.
Today, people have come up with gimmicks to convert people and to grow churches. We have, “the seeker friendly, “churches, and, “the purpose driven, “ movement, and a list of preachers who tell folks that they want to hear. There are also those who use fear and condemnation to try to stampede people to the altar. But read the Bible. Peter gave the first sermon in Acts 2 to the same mob that crucified Christ seven weeks prior – and three thousand people received Christ. This was not because Peter was persuasive or stirred their emotions. It wasn’t because He had come up with a new idea on how to spur church growth. It was because the power of God is in the Truth of Christ. Peter preached Christ.
The Truth of Jesus Christ is more than a message – it is a revelation of Christ that carries the convicting power of God – and can work through one in whom Christ dwells. That power is not of us. It is in the One whom dwells in us and whom we must preach.
For therein (the gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17)
The words in the original language here are much more profound that the English translation. Paul actually says, “The just shall live from OUT OF faith.” Of course, this is the same thing as saying, “The just shall live from OUT OF Christ, by faith.”
What does that mean? It will only make sense if we realize that Christianity is CHRIST IN US – that Jesus Christ has joined us to Himself in resurrection union. This means that CHRIST IS OUR LIFE. Thus, “to live from out of Christ by faith,” means to draw from Christ His life for all that I need and all that I am. His life is resurrection life, which is life that has conquered all – and thus, the implications of drawing from Christ are immense.
I will never draw from Christ by faith if I am still clinging to and trying to hold onto MY life. This is why we must pick up our Cross if we want to follow Christ in the life of faith.
What Really Matters
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Gal 6:15)
During Paul’s time, there was a contention as to whether converts to Christ ought to be circumcised. Under the Old Covenant, circumcision was the sign that you belonged to God. Paul often used circumcision to represent the works of man – anything we could do to the flesh or in the flesh that would supposedly show we belong to Christ.
We must read this verse with that in mind. It does not matter what you do, or what you refuse to do. It doesn’t matter to whom you belong, or refuse to belong. None of that can cure what ails you or gender in you the life of Christ. Neither avails anything because in the end you must be born from above. You must lose all of that as part of losing your life for Jesus’ sake and become a new creature in Christ Jesus.
In Philippians 3, Paul tells us that he had to lose his self-righteousness. This is certainly what this is getting at in this verse – it is deception to think I am being made righteous by what I do or don’t do. I must renounce all of that through the Cross, and become a new creature. A new creature in Christ is a person who has no righteousness of his own – but Jesus Christ is his righteousness. This was the real cure for the false gospel that had bewitched the Galatians.
“The fear of the Lord,” as stated in the Bible, is never, “being afraid of the Lord.” No, being afraid of God is the wrong kind of fear of God. The true, “fear of the Lord,” is a REVERENCE of God.
All of the wrong kind of fear of God goes back to somewhere that I have embraced a lie about Him. The Truth about God is, “God is love.” Furthermore, “there is no fear in love.” (I Jn. 4:18) So there can be nothing about God that could make us afraid. Indeed, perfect love casts OUT fear – and so that means that the presence of God, knowing God, and believing God will cast out fear – rather than bring into us the wrong kind of fear. If I know God in Truth, I will revere Him, but will never be afraid of Him.
Paul wrote, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.“ (2 Tim 1:7) Fear is not merely an emotion – although it can affect our emotions. Fear is a spirit – a spirit that is of the kingdom of darkness. The first impact upon Adam of his sin and alienation from God was fear – he was afraid and hid from God. Being afraid of God makes us want to hide from Him. But reverence for God makes us want to draw near to Him. Paul is saying that the spirit of fear is never from God. Thus, if I am afraid of God, I believe a lie about Him, or I have let in the spirit of fear.
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See you do it not: I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:10)
The testimony of Jesus is evidence of Jesus – it is the manifestation of Him. We are told that the saints have the testimony of Jesus. This means much more that having a story to tell about Him. “Christ in us,” is that testimony – provided that He has come to be manifested in us and through us. If Christ is being formed in us, and being manifested through us, He is our testimony. And we are His living witnesses.
This tells us what Jesus meant when He said, “But you shall receive power, because the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me.“ (Acts 1:8) A witness unto Christ is one who IS a true testimony to Christ. This is the work of the Holy Spirit – to form Christ in us so that we might be living epistles – people who ARE evidence to the Risen Christ.
It also says here that, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” – not prophesy in the sense of foretelling the future -- but prophesy in the sense of proclaiming the Truth. A life of a saint is supposed to be DEFINED by their devotion to, dedication to, and their dependence upon Jesus Christ. The spirit of prophecy is a proclamation – through such a life of faith – of the Truth of Jesus Christ.
You are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:1-3)
What is the testimony that God is writing in and through us? Is it a testimony about US -- or about all WE have done for God? No. A living epistle of Christ is about HIM – and all HE has done for us.
The Spirit of God is writing living epistles – that tell the Truth About Jesus Christ. But in order for this to be genuine, that living epistle must be MADE TRUE TO GOD. This is just another way of saying that we must be changed by the Truth so that we can be evidence of Jesus Christ without the corruption of our own bias, agenda, or flesh.
God writes living epistles through the work of the Cross. The result are people who are, “always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of the Lord Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal bodies.” (II Cor. 4:10) That is how God writes His living epistles. The result is a life that give evidence to who Jesus Christ is TO a person, and IN a person – living epistles who are living witnesses to Him.
The Evidence of God
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God that he has testified of his Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself…and this is the record that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:9-11)
In this passage, the words, “witness,” “testified,” and, “record,” are all from the same Greek word. We could replace each of them with the word EVIDENCE.
Some skeptics demand evidence that Jesus was God and rose from the dead, but God answers them with silence. Have you ever wondered about that? Well, God has a secret – He wants to form the evidence of Christ IN HIS PEOPLE. Jesus Christ IN US is the evidence of God, and if He is formed in us, then we will become His living witnesses of that evidence.
Paul says this directly. He says, “If Christ is in you through faith then you have the evidence of God IN YOU. The evidence of God is CHRIST IN YOU.”
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Rev 12:11)
These are not three methods by which we overcome. They are all the same Truth. They all point to the fact that we overcome, not by fighting Satan, but by coming under the One in Whom is all victory, Jesus Christ. The key to all victory in the Christian life is the losing of my life for Jesus’ sake in order to find Him as my life.
Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mat 16:24-25) This verse from Revelation is this same Truth. Victory is HIS resurrection life. I have to lose mine in order to find HIS.
This verse tells us that overcoming must be based upon the foundation of the Cross; the Blood of the Lamb. This is not a matter of merely believing the doctrine – rather, it is a matter of picking up my cross daily. The access point of Satan is natural man, and the Cross crucifies natural man, completely disarming Satan. “The word of testimony,” in the saint is CHRIST IN US – which is resurrection life. If we lose our lives by picking up the cross daily, there comes a greater release of His life in us -- a living testimony in us of His Son. Against such Satan has no power. Finally, we see the necessity of abandonment to God. If I ask God to do whatever it takes to bring me into the fullness of Christ, and then believe and obey when He does, I am standing upon the One in whom there is already the eternal victory. I have overcome through faith in Christ.
Jesus Christ has finished every victory that will ever need to be won for humanity. This finished victory, however, is not given to us as a THING. It is not merely a legal document. No. The finished victory is the risen Jesus Christ Himself, that is, all victory is found IN HIM – it is HIS LIFE. And He is IN US.
God has given us all things freely IN Jesus Christ. Notice: IN Christ. God has not given us things BECAUSE of Christ – as things apart from Christ. No. God has given us Christ Himself. And all that God has to give is IN the Person of Christ -- fundamental to which is HIS resurrection life: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (Jn. 11:25)
How has God given us life in Christ? By making us One with Him. At salvation, Jesus Christ joined us to Himself – making us one spirit with Him. (I Cor. 6:17) Thus, if Christ is in us, His resurrection life is in us -- all that is in Christ is in us, freely by His grace.
But this does not obliterate our natural man. Rather, it creates a separation between that natural man and our union with Christ. This is the separation of soul from Spirit. It likewise creates the need for the work of the Cross upon our natural man. We must lose our lives under the work of the Cross, so that His resurrection life in us might be formed and released.
So what is the Christian life? What is the overcoming life? The Christian life IS the overcoming life -- because the Christian life is His resurrection life in us. As we lose our old life, Christ is formed within us (Gal. 4:19). The life we find is His resurrection life in which there is all victory.
ALL resurrection life is found in Christ, and if we are joined to Him, that resurrection life is already given to us IN HIM. The necessity of the work of the Cross, and the finding of His life, are not added to Christ. Rather, they are the result of His life in us.
For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)
New life in Christ is victorious by nature – it is life that was raised out of death, having conquered it. A person in whom Christ dwells has His life in them. Thus, if we are in Christ, we have victory over death IN HIM – over all that is earthly. This is why to overcome, we need NOT to fight death or the earthly. No. We need to forsake it – by losing our lives to Christ. Victory is never the result of turning in on ourselves and fighting sin – indeed, this could be unbelief. Rather, victory is a matter of abandoning myself to God and, by faith, losing myself fully into the hands of the Victor.
But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57)
Once we receive Christ as Savior and He joins us to Himself, we are united with Him in both in His death and resurrection. (Rom. 6:4-5) Our resurrection union with Him is the basis for all victory. For through His resurrection, He has destroyed the last enemy – death. Thus, it is in HIS LIFE that His victory is finished for us.
Christ is in us, through the joining of our spirit to His spirit. (I Cor. 6:17) This resurrection union is the new creature in Christ. But if we were to draw an imaginary circle around this new creature, all that is outside of that circle would be our natural man. This distinction is the separation between soul and Spirit within each believer. But it is also the separation between victory IN CHRIST – which resides in our union with Him – and our natural man in which there is no victory.
Here is see why we must LOSE our lives – hand over our natural man to the Cross – in order to experience the victory Jesus has won. Victory in Christ is not handed to us as a THING – merely because we say we believe. No. We must become one with Him in His death in order to be raised with Him in His life. You must LOSE your life in order to find His life -- and the victory that is found in His resurrected life. The potential for this is already in each saint. But in order to experience it, we must pick up the Cross.
We need not win any victory. Rather, we must abandon the life in which there is no victory. For us, victory comes through surrender to Jesus – surrender to the Victor.
Before we see Christ, we know only darkness. Imagine being born into a race of beings that are naturally blind. You would not even know you are blind, because you would not know what it is to see. Blindness would be all you have ever known – and because you are the same as everyone else – to you -- blindness would be NORMAL.
Look around you at your fellow man. Look at the world. Is this NORMAL? To most people it is. And yet, in the eyes of God, fallen man is absolutely ABNORMAL. Thus, what is NORMAL to us, is ABNORMAL to God. And what is NORMAL to God, is ABNORMAL to us.
Jesus is God’s NORMAL – the light of God. And when we begin to know Him, all that is ABNORMAL begins to be exposed because we see it in the Light of Christ. This is why we often do not understand God. We are for the first time seeing the NORMAL. Our eyes are being opened: “Unless you are born again you cannot SEE.” (Jn. 3:3) Seeing Jesus means seeing He who is from above (Jn. 8:23) – God’s true normal.
But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
Natural man cannot receive the things of God – he has no frame of reference --because natural man, left to himself, does not know Jesus Christ. Natural man will instead accept as the Truth whatever his makeup tells him is the Truth.
Natural man will create God in the image of natural man. If I do not allow God to adjust me to fit Christ -- or don’t know to do that -- then I am going to adjust all things to fit myself. This is why there are so many people, including many professing Christians, who believe some of the most blatant errors. There is something in their makeup to which error appeals – either in a positive way or a negative way. The error makes sense to them. It seems to help them. It makes them feel good. So they accept it as the Truth. This is total deception because it is man using himself as the basis to determine the Truth. This is not a matter of brains – but of spiritual darkness.
If natural man cannot see or receive the things of God, then it stands to reason that in order to see you must be born from above – which is exactly what Jesus said. (see John 3:3) There is no value in two blind folks arguing over what they see – neither can see. Until we are born from above – and begin to see Jesus – we can see nothing else. Discernment is the result of knowing Jesus Christ, and thus, seeing the Truth about all else in the light of Him.
But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:10, 16)
Assuming we have a single eye to God and embrace the Truth, the result of the Spirit of Christ revealing to us the Truth is that we will, “have the mind of Christ.” Sure. The purpose of the Spirit of God is to form Christ in us, and if Christ is being formed in us, surely His mind is being formed in us.
But what is, “the mind of Christ?” It is not the brainpower of Christ. No. It is both the perspective of Christ and the intent of Christ. The mind of Christ is the result of Christ being formed in us – as Christ is formed in us, and we grow to know Him, we gain His perspective and have His intent – His mind is formed in us.
The mind of Christ knows the Truth. However, knowing the Truth requires that you be made true unto God. In other words, to know the Truth we must repent of all untruth that is in our hearts. The mind of Christ is based in a heart that is made true to God.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)
The picture here is one of bait in a trap. A creature is not attracted to the bait unless the bait appeals to it in some way. Likewise, the reason we sin is that the bait is able to entice some unresolved sin or ignorance that is in our heart. People sin, and are deceived, because they are attracted to bait that appeals to their natural makeup.
Bait can appeal to us in a positive way by offering us food that seems to please our natural religious makeup. Maybe the bait is that we will be closer to God. Maybe it will offer us a path that makes us feel good, or enhances our self-worth. But bait can also appeal to people in a negative way. Many people are attracted to bait because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t take the bait. But whatever the methods of the enemy, the reason for taking the bait is found in US – sin and error appeals to our natural, religious nature. The only solution is to open ourselves to Jesus Christ so that He can expose those areas of vulnerability and reveal to us the Truth.
Why does God allow such temptation? Well, first of all, it is not a matter of whether we have wrong desires or motives in our makeup. Rather, it is a matter of what kind. Thus, when we encounter bait, the potential for sin is not being created, but rather brought out. Can we see that this is God’s way of exposing us so that we can be set free? That this is God using a temptation to expose our great need for Christ?
This is how God uses Satan. He allows Satan to tempt us on our weak points, so that we might see we are weak and rely upon Christ by faith. Thus, this is one way God turns our weak points into places of strength in Christ. This will, of course, not happen if we continue on a path of darkness and refuse to turn. But it is God’s purpose in allowing temptation, because God is a redemptive God.
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. (James 1:14-15)
Temptation TO sin is not sin. A person can be under great temptation but yet NOT sin. Jesus underwent great temptation in the wilderness and all through His life – He was tempted in all points, yet without sin.
Temptation to sin can be turned into a positive because it not only exposes our weakness, but is an opportunity to turn to Jesus Christ as our victory.
Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:12)
Paul is not exhorting us to make sure we are strong enough to stand. Rather, he is telling us to make sure that our faith is in Jesus Christ -- rather than in ourselves, or in something else. If your faith is in yourself, you may for a time think you stand. But your faith is NOT real. It is fake; a façade. The only real faith is faith in Jesus Christ, because He is the only One who is faithful and true.
God is faithful. Therefore, if our faith is fake – not in Christ – God will be faithful to expose us. He will let the crisis come – and the storm will topple our façade. This might seem terrible, but it is God’s faithfulness to show us the Truth. It is the only way in which we can build faith anew upon the solid Rock.
The trial of faith is like gold tried by fire. (I Peter 1:7) When gold is tried by fire, all of the impurities come to the surface and can be discarded. What remains is a purer gold. In like manner, if our faith is fake, or not pure, God will let a crisis come that is beyond what that fake or impure fake can bear. It will collapse. But God is showing us the Truth so that we can stop putting fake faith in ourselves and begin putting it in His Son.
The Way of Escape
There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)
What is the purpose of, “the way of escape,” within a trial of faith? We might assume that this way of escape is a way to get out of the trial. But this is not what the verse says. It says that the way of escape is so that, “we may be able to BEAR IT.” Does that sound like the way of escape get us out of the trial? No. This is an escape from the effects of the trial -- while we remain IN IT. God will always make THAT possible.
Jesus Christ – our life in Him by faith – is the way of escape. God does not remove the trial from us. Rather, He removes us from the trial – not circumstantially – but by revealing to us His Son in a way that enables us to live in Christ by faith above the trial – so that we might be able to bear it without ill effects to our faith. In short, we ESCAPE the work of the enemy in a trial through the resurrection life of Christ.
Is this not what it means to, “overcome?” We don’t overcome in Christ by avoiding trouble. Neither do we overcome by defeating the trouble. We overcome by, “coming under,” i.e., entering into the death of Christ by losing ourselves to Him. And we escape the death that is in the trial by the resurrection life that is in Him. This happens while we remain in the trial and despite it. In short, we don’t get OUT of the trial – He comes IN.
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