Friday, November 30, 2012

Freedom from sin by receiving the grace of God

I was listening to a message a few weeks ago and I have not been able to get this revelation out of my mind.  It has transformed my thinking on how I view sin and Gods desire for us to find complete and total freedom from the power of it in our lives.  Most of this blog post is from the notes that I took.  Praise God for complete freedom by the power of His blood.

I think in the American church, there are several ways that we approach sin in our lives.  Either we will always struggle with it (Romans 7) or we come under the written code and resort back to legalism.  Paul says it is possible to overcome the power of sin but we need to focus on someone else rather than ourselves. 

In my last post, I talked about the difference between living under the law verse living by the Spirit.  As we simply yield and allow the Holy Spirit to possess more and more of our lives, He will transform us.  It is His job to change us, not our job to muster up self disciple and self-control to resist sin and walk in holiness.  We need to get radical about believing the truth about who we are in Christ.

So, in light of that, what about that sin that clings so closely? The sin that we can't seem to find true freedom from?  For many years, I would counsel people to continue to preserver, to stay in the word, to renew your mind, to get an accountability partner, to pray, the list goes on.  As I look back, I was counseling people to resort back to the law, believing that they had or could do something in order to find freedom.  Humbling.
So how do we find freedom from "that sin"?  We begin to radically accept the grace given to us on the cross. 
I think it is important to note that sin is not an evil action that you do, it is a supernatural power that has the ability to grip you and control you even against your will.  So how do you control something that has the ability to control you even against your will??

"For sin will have NO DOMINION OVER YOU, since you are not under law but UNDER GRACE." Romans 6:14

No dominion over you? Another translation says "no control" over you.  Wow!!  Is that what you are experiencing in your christian life?  Lets make sure that we never base our theology or beliefs based on our experience rather than the word of God.  Lets radically believe the Word even before our experience lines up with it.

In Romans 6:14, Paul is addressing that there are two areas we could be living under.  I believe that any area of your life where you find yourself free from sins power is an area of your life where you have freely received the GRACE OF GOD.  An example of this is when people come to Christ from wild living, sin they were addicted to before Christ is supernaturally broken off.  They no longer have any temptation or desire to participate in that particular sin.  They have received the grace and forgiveness offered to them on Calvary.    

Any area of your life where you find yourself under sins control even when you don't want it to control you, that is an area where you are still living UNDER LAW.

In Romans chapter 7, Paul is describing what life looks like when it is lived under the law.

"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not what is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." Romans 7:18-24

Do you want to know if you are living under the law in any area of your life?  Romans 7 is your number one sign.  If your genuine heart felt repentance does not result in freedom from the sin you are repenting of, then you are living under law!

So how do you find freedom? You begin to radically accept the forgiveness of God.
"Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!!"

"How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify OUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God."  Hebrews 9:14.

Your conscience!!  When you feel guilt or have a heavy conscience, your flesh becomes stirred to try to stop yourself from sinning. Whenever you try to be good, the Holy Spirit backs off and stops working.  His power is no longer moving through you.  When His power is not moving through you, the power of sin takes over.  Dead works is human effort.  Trying to stop ourselves does nothing (Col. 2:20-23).  The impulse of human effort to try to be righteous only produces bondage.  The blood of Jesus removes the guilt from our conscience so we no longer feel guilty.  You freely accept the forgiveness by the blood of Jesus and your conscience gets cleansed from trying all the time and He will heal you.  There is POWER IN THE BLOOD!!      

"There is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1.  When you actually believe that, sin looses it's control over you.

"The law... can never make perfect those who draw near, otherwise there would no longer be any consciousness of sins." Hebrews 10:1-2
Wow!!! How awesome is that!!  It's saying that if you let the blood of Jesus actually do it's work in your life, even the consciousness or inward awareness of the presence of sin in your members will eventually leave your memory.  Praise God. 
"By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with it's legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him."  Colossians 2:14
So in this verse, why would the demons loose their weapons simply because the legal demands were placed on the cross?  First of all, the legal demands is the LAW.  "The power of sin is the law." (1 Corin 15:56).  So once the law becomes nailed to the cross, sin looses it's power.  We know that satan is the accuser of the brother and he accuses us day and night.  His only weapon is lies, as he hurls accusations at us.  "Look at you, your sin is this. Your sin is that.  You'll always be that way."  When the law was nailed to the cross, he lost his weapons, he lost his power!! We cannot be controlled by sin unless we believe his accusations.  Unless we emotionally identify with his accusations, then sin can take hold. 

There is POWER in the blood of Jesus!! Seriously guys!! We need to get radical in believing the truth that His grace is sufficient.  The truth that we are completely forgiven.  There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  We have the righteousness of Christ.  Our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing.  We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.  That is the TRUTH!! Get in the habit of speaking that over your life until you believe it and you see in manifest in your experiences.  He is more than able.  Our God is mighty to save.  Praise Him!!

"What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon this I see, nothing but the blood of Jesus.  For my cleansing this I plea, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace, nothing but the blood of Jesus.  This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus." 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Way of the Spirit vs Way of the Written Code

The past two years, the Lord has taken me on a journey to discover more of who the Holy Spirit is and the role that He plays in my life.  I'm sure I will be diving into more of the revelation that He has shown me in later blog posts, but one of the questions I had at the beginning of my journey was "What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?"  I have learned that is a loaded question and I am daily learning what that means but I hope to share with you one of the revelations the Holy Spirit has recently taught me through books, messages, and time spent with Him.  
We live in a war zone and every day we face many battles.  There is conflict in our homes, our jobs, relationships, etc .  James says that the source of it all is our passions that are at war within us (James 4:1).
So how do we overcome this sinful flesh? Paul exhorts us in Galatians to "walk by the Spirit and you WILL NOT gratify the desires of the flesh (5:16)."  In Romans 7:6, Paul describes two different approaches to walking before God, in "the new way of the SPIRIT..." or the "old way of the WRITTEN CODE."  That is still our choice today.  Either we will walk by the Spirit, or live by the written code.  We cannot do both.  The Spirit only works where there is no law, so he will not tolerate even a hint of mixture.   

The deepest longing of God is to have intimacy with you.   You were created for his own pleasure.  This is His passion and His desire from the beginning of time.  What does it mean to be "one" with God?  How do we enjoy relationship with Him?  I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to consume every part of us.
In Acts 10, we read about the conversion of the first gentile household.  Peter was sent to preach the gospel to them and while he was preaching, the Lord chose to move in power.  "While Peter was still saying things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word (10:44)."  The greek word for "fell" in this verse is "epipito."  The Strongs Concordance says it means "to take possession of."  This language is very similar to the language that we associate with demonic possession.  In the book of Acts, this word is used three times to describe the Spirits baptism.  
Paul uses similar language in the New Testament.  We are called to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18), to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), intercede in the Spirit (Romans 8:26), and to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16).  
Apart from the Spirit, we are truly incapable of drawing near to him.  He has graciously given us the opportunity to freely submit our hearts and minds to him.  Unlike demonic possession, we have the free will to choose.  When we do this, the Holy Spirit gently takes control.  "the mind CONTROLLED by the Spirit is life and peace" Romans 8:6.
Another example of this truth is in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind."  The greek word for "transformed" in this verse is the same word used to describe Jesus glorification on the Mount of Transfiguration.  So another way to put it is to be "transfigured by the renewal of your mind."
This is what it means to walk in intimacy with our Creator.  To allow His Spirit to control or possess every aspect of our being. 
This is a challenging concept because we want to maintain control of our lives.  We are uncomfortable with giving God everything.  We limit our interaction with the Lord to prayer, worship and bible study.  We want to be able to close our bible's after our quiet times and live our lives how we want.  We like to keep God at a controllable distance.  
Yet Jesus taught us that "God is spirit" and "those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24).  This means we must relate to God as a spirit being.  
As we yield to the spirit, He will inhabit our soul.  Our hearts begin to take on the very character of God himself.  Paul tells us that these traits are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22).
This is how we are to grow in godliness.  God has no desire for me to ask him to make me more patient.  What he wanted was for me to live out HIS OWN patience.  The Lord wants us to willingly become channel's through which the very fruit of his nature can be put on display.  "From me comes your fruit." (Hosea 14:6).  Does this make sense?? God wants to live His life THROUGH US.  
He wants to empower us by possessing us with His Spirit so that we might live and minister as we were called.  He has given us supernatural levels of love, joy, patience, self-control and peace.  

A.W. Tozer puts it this way, "The Holy Spirit also wants to possess us Christians.  This Spirit is like Jesus.  Do you want to be possessed by a Spirit that is like Jesus? A Spirit pure, gentle, sane, wise, and loving; for that is exactly what He is like.  The Holy Spirit is pure, for He is the Holy Spirit.  He is wise, for He is the Spirit of Wisdom.  He is true, for He is the Spirit of Truth.  He is like Jesus, for He is the Spirit of Christ.  He is like the Father, for He is the Spirit of the Father.  This Spirit wants to be Lord of your life, and He wants to possess you so that you no longer are in command of the little vessel in which you sail.  You are a passenger on board or one of the crew, but you are definitely not in charge.  Somebody is in charge of the vessel."

So why don't we live this way? For me, I had chosen the Letter over the Spirit.  It's easy to tell ourselves that if we just manage to keep the rules a little better, our walk will be more acceptable to God.  This is the deceptive nature of the Letter.  It has an appearance of godliness but denies the power that brings about real change.  We settle with the excuses like, "I really want to obey God, look how hard I am trying."  Yet we are living like Pharisees.  We have a genuine zeal and passion for God yet we lack the power to break free from the desires of our flesh.  

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do not submit to regulations- "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)- according to human precepts and teaching? These have indeed an APPEARANCE OF WISDOM in promoting self made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they have NO VALUE in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." Colossians 2:21-23.

The law has NO POWER in stopping the flesh.  We need something more.  We need His Spirit.  "I will put my Spirit within you and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes." Ezek 36:27.  
So lets get radical and believe this.  Lets stop believing that it is up to us to change.  That it's up to our commitment to the spiritual disciplines, or our ability to "just say no".    

Lets die to the law and live to the Spirit (Gal 2:19).  Lets give the Spirit total control in our lives.  Lets choose to walk by the Spirit and not by the old way of the written code.  The Holy Spirit wants to be your best friend.  He wants to manifest His presence in your life.  I have found nothing greater in this life than walking in intimacy and communion with the Holy Spirit. 

"Every believer is as full of the Spirit as we actually want to be." A.W. Tozer

Monday, November 26, 2012

Law is valuable

So if sanctification is by grace through faith, then what about all the commands in the new testament?

What is the purpose of the law? Does the law work the same way for a christian as it does for a non christian?

"Through the law comes knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20

"The law was our guardian until Christ came." Galatians 3:24

The law is a sign to lead us to Christ, to lead us to the cross.  I believe that the law works in tandem with the gospel.  The law prepares you for the gospel.  Is the law just the 10 commandments? I think that is what I believed for much of my christian life.  I had also believed that the purpose of the law was only for non christians to lead them to Christ for the first time.  I have been asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and He is showing me that the law is any command.  There is law in both the old testament and the new testament.  There is gospel in the old testament and the new testament.

People in the Old Testament were saved in the same way as they were in the New Testament.  Law did the same thing as it does for us.  They understood that through the blood sacrifice system that sin is not washed away by mans performance but by shedding of blood.

So what does that mean? When I read a command in the New Testament, what is my response?  Typically, my response when I saw problems was to jack myself up, to try to get it together and try harder.  Then I realize that my good works are like filthy rags to him.  He is not impressed when I try harder because I do it in my own strength instead of use that law to lead me to the gospel.

When I read in the law that I should not covet and I am coveting, then I know that I need help.  I know that I need the APPLICATION OF THE GOSPEL, not the application of grit, determination and will power.  I need an experience with God's supernatural mercy to make me what the law could never make me.

Do we really believe that apart from Him we can do nothing? Apart from His Spirit living in us and His power working through us, we can't accomplish anything.  A few weeks ago, I was involved in an outreach to the homeless of Minneapolis.  Typically, when I see a homeless person, I do not have this overwhelming sense of love for them that I believe Jesus would have.  Sure, I can serve them, be nice to them and try to love them, but I do it in my own strength.  The week leading up to this event, my prayer was "Jesus, I can't love these people like you love them.  You tell us to love one another. What we do for the least of these, we do for you.  I acknowledge that in my own strength, I can be nice to them but it is not your love pouring through me.  I need an impartation of your supernatural love.  Let me be an empty vessel that can be used to love these people.  Love them through me."  When we acknowledge that apart from Him, we can do nothing, that is when His power can work mightily through us.  As the day came, and the people walked up, I immediately started crying with tears of compassion and love for these people that I had never met.  I wanted to know everything about them, I would do anything for them.  I can assure you, THAT WAS NOT ME!!  It was the Holy Spirits supernatural love being poured out on these people that He desperately loved and wanted them to come into relationship with Him.
Any command in the New Testament (law), should lead us to the cross as we acknowledge that we need a Savior.  We can't love without Him. We can't serve people without Him. We can't encourage people without Him. We can't pray for people without Him.  Let us truly be lives surrendered down, trusting that the Holy Spirit wants to do the work for us. Yield into Him. Allow Him to work through you.  We need the gospel DAILY!!!
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives His life through me." Galatians 2:20


Sunday, November 25, 2012


The Holy Spirit has recently been showing me that I don’t understand the gospel.  I have lived the majority of my Christian life under the influence of a religious spirit (legalism).  The gospel that I have been preaching and living is a partial gospel, it’s partial good news.  Either God has recently been revealing this to a majority of His global bride, or He is bringing me into contact with people with this exact revelation.  I ran into a preacher who recently deleted over 60 of his messages on His podcast.  It’s not that everything He has preached was wrong, it’s just that he had come to realize that His emphasis was off.

Old emphasis: After we get saved we must work hard and strive to become sanctified so we can experience God.

New emphasis: What God has begun within us by grace, He will complete within us by grace so that we may experience the free gift of union with Him.


There is absolutely nothing that we can do to earn salvation.  It is by grace alone through faith that we are saved.  I get that.

So now what? Do we have to do anything to become intimate with Christ? Do we have to do anything in our sanctification? Is it by our effort that we become more Christ like? To become spiritually mature? To break free from the power of sin?

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now BEING PERFECTED BY THE FLESH?” Galatians 3:3

Guilty.  The majority of my Christian life, I have had a works mindset.  I have believed that now that I am a Christian, I have to do something for my spiritual maturity.  I have to read my bible, I have to pray, I have to be in fellowship, I have to renew my mind.  I have come back under the law.

Just like you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation, you don’t have to do anything for your sanctification (becoming more like Christ).  It is by grace through faith.  You simply need to believe.  
Believe that our righteousness comes from Christ.

It is so easy to believe that we are free from the law but still need our "christian principles" or "christian rules" that are man-made and they set a standard.  The reason we want a standard is so we can measure ourselves and see if we're okay.  That's called righteousness.  We don't get it through measuring ourselves through standards or performing.  It has to come through Christ alone.  

The Holy Spirit is way more committed to your spiritual growth than you are.  Trust that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and PERFECTOR of your faith.”

“This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29

So this probably raises a lot of questions.  I challenge you to go to the Word.  Go to the letters of Paul, especially Galatians and Romans 5-8.  Read them for yourself, not with everything you’ve heard in mind, just read it.  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.     

I will be posting more on this topic the next several days. 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1  

Now my eyes see you

Holy Spirit, I pray that you would give me a spirit of WISDOM and REVELATION in the knowledge of him, having the EYES OF MY HEART enlightened, that I MAY KNOW what is the HOPE to which he has called me, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards me who believes, according to the working of His great might.
 The past 5 months, I have prayed Ephesians 1:17-19 over my life and over my church hundreds of times. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!! Seriously guys.  The Holy Spirit is blowing me away!!!  He is completely reshaping everything that I have ever believed.  I LOVE DIVINE REVELATION!! I love how Job puts it in Job 42:5, "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but NOW MY EYE SEES YOU." 
This morning, Brent Knox was talking about how badly we need the Holy Spirit.  We need Him to be our teacher.  We need Him to illuminate truth.  I could not agree more.  I have heard that the "greatest distance is 12 inches, the distance from our head to our heart".  It is easy to understand truth intellectually but how do we get it into our hearts so that it radically changes our lives??  I believe that its by allowing the Holy Spirit to be our teacher.  
So the next few blog posts, I am going to try to communicate what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me the past months.  It has been BLOWING MY MIND!  It has also produced so my JOY in my life.  He's been teaching me that my theology will get messed up if I walk closely to the Holy Spirit.  God will never do anything to violate His book, but He will violate your understanding of His book.