Set Your Goal

IfYouDontKnowWhereYoureGoing

We would like an easy way. I could set my goal to be something that’s easy to reach. That way, I can be sure that I don’t fail. Is that the way to set a goal?

Know your goal. Some people fail to set a goal. Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Some people fail to set the right goal. They set a random goal. So how do you set a goal?

Get your goal from God. He’s alive, you know. He’s available. He’s ready to lead if you’re willing to follow. You must learn to know His Voice. You must be ready to take the attitude of no compromise. If you read the second and third chapters of Revelation, you’ll find that there are wonderful promises to the overcomers. For those who fail, God doesn’t offer those same promises.

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (verse 11) “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (verse 17) “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. (verses 26, 27, and 28) “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5) “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (verse 12) “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (verse 21)

All of these promises are linked closely to having ears to hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (utterance) of God. Faith gives access to grace. Grace does the righteousness through us. Righteousness leads to holiness.

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” Seek God’s will. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” When we seek God and His will, He often says things we don’t like. He tells us to speak when we don’t want to. He tells us not to speak when we want to. He tells us to speak in love when we want to get even. Human flesh and the Holy Spirit are always at odds. They’re mutually exclusive. It’s a battle to the death.

The enemies are the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. Flesh is the body—and the mind that is under control of the body. The flesh wants to fit it. It wants to get along with all the influences of the world. Flesh runs on emotions and irrational thinking.

The world is the culture.

Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The world consists of the influence of friends who aren’t speaking God’s words or doing God’s will. It consists of people you love. It consists of the media, news, textbooks with half-truths and untruths, opinions on the Internet, movies, movie stars, performers of all sorts, comedians, and many other influences of culture.

The world is also internal. Every experience that each of us has is filtered through our preconceived ideas, our worldviews. Each worldview seems more real than reality to the person who owns that worldview. Everyone has a worldview, a concept of reality. Pardon me for saying something so obvious, but this concept is a concept. It’s not reality.

This is a serious problem with which we all struggle. I struggle with it. Many people don’t even know that they are struggling with it. They fully believe that their own worldviews are reality as it is. They don’t realize that their worldviews are powerful filters.

These filters keep out any parts of reality that conflict with the worldview. They then add the new filtered interpretations of reality to the worldview in the form of confirmation bias. If anyone persists in exposing the errors of the worldview, they perceive such a person as a irrational.

“The devil” refers to principalities and powers.

2 Corinthians 10:4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Set a goal to overcome the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh. There’s only one way to do this through Jesus Christ—that’s by grace, which is through faith. Faith comes by hearing the utterance of God. God leads. Faith comes and gives access to grace. Grace does God’s works. This process changes you.

When God leads you, you see who you are and how you fit into the Body of Christ—not all at once, but by incremental steps. As the fleshly veil is pulled away from your face, you see the glory of Christ in yourself and in your brother and sister. You see this as if looking into a mirror image. As you see this, you’re changed into the same image from glory to ever-exceeding glory. This change is executed by the Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

James 1:25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

You must hear His Voice. That’s where it all starts. How do you hear His Voice?

James 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Draw nigh to God. Seek the Lord, your God, with everything you have. Praise Him. He inhabits the praises of His people. Discern His Body, the Body of Christ. No longer look at people after the flesh but after the spirit. Are they born again. Recognize the Christ in them. When God leads you, submit to Him. Spend time in prayer. Read the Bible daily. Have a family time of worship every day. Attend church weekly. As you read Scripture, the Holy Spirit will counsel you about many other things where you are to cooperate with Him as He moves through you in righteousness.

 

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God Leads You Moment by Moment.

GodLeadsYouMomentByMoment

God leads you moment by moment. He puts impressions into your mind. If you acknowledge Him in all your ways, He reveals the interpretations of your experiences and observations of everything. At the same time, your fleshly nature is also trying to influence you and deceive you, so it’s not always easy to know God’s will. However, at every moment, you are certain of at least one thing that God places before you. What you hand finds to do, do it with your might. Do this while yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit to do righteousness. All righteousness begins with God’s leading and continues with God’s power for righteousness. If you want to work the works of God, you must know the works of God are inspired by the Spirit’s leading and executed by the Spirit, so there are two places where humans can add their part and frustrate the grace of God.

God will give wisdom to you for your business. You will know the answer. When you seek God about this, you will know. If something is contrary to Scripture in itself, God will bring that Scripture to your remembrance, and God will lead you in a new direction. If your current pattern of living puts you into a constant temptation, the Holy Spirit will either lead you out of that pattern or will transform your nature so that you overcome the temptation completely. When you’re in God’s will, He imparts a peace and confidence to you. You have a certainty that you’re in His will. If you can’t find peace, don’t make compromises. Seek God until He reveals what’s wrong. God will lead you a step at a time into His will.

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Works Righteousness

SavedToGoodWorks2

 

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. Ecclesiastes 7:20

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:17

This matter of works, grace, Law, faith, and righteousness can be confusing. Does grace fight the Law or fullfil the Law? Sometimes, theology adds to what God is saying through Scripture or diminishes it. There’s a phrase that you may have heard, “works righteousness.” It’s generally a term that’s used against theologies that claim that one must earn the right to be born again by doing good works. Sometimes, it seems to be used against any notion that Christians are called to good works. Sometimes, it’s a justification for fleshly behavior. I would like to explore this.

Another term, “impute,” means to ascribe (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to someone by virtue of a similar quality in another. The word is used in some translations. It’s only applied to imputing sin, except in the case of Romans 4:22-24, in which case, it is used in regard to imputing righteousness. However, the original language uses an accounting term, a term that means to reckon, count, compute, or calculate. The original language would indicate that we actually take on the attributes of Christ as opposed to having God simply treat us as if we had those attributes.

And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Romans 4:22-24

The original language is to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over, to take into account, to make an account of. It’s not pretending. It’s understanding reality. Christ in us, the hope of glory, is our righteousness. He’s real.

It has been taught that the word, “justification,” means that God treats us “just as if” we were righteous even though we aren’t righteous. The claim is that “God just pretends that we are just.” The problem with this interpretation is that the word, “justification,” doesn’t quite say that.

1344 δικαιοω dikaioo dik-ah-yo’-o
from 1342; TDNT-2:211,168; {See TDNT 192} v
AV-justify 37, be freed 1, be righteous 1, justifier 1; 40
1) to render righteous or such he ought to be
2) to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered
3) to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be

Justification means “to render righteous.” Justification is evincing one to be righteous. Evincing is revealing the presence of righteousness. We know that the presence of this righteousness has nothing to do with human flesh. It has to do with the Presence of the King of kings living and moving within the newborn baby in Christ and every person who follows Christ. It’s also a declaration. When God declares something, that’s how it is. When God says, “Let there be light,” there is light. From this, it seems that God isn’t pretending that we’re righteous. He’s actually making us righteous. Christ is in us. He is righteous. We HAVE a sinful fleshly nature. We ARE the Christ nature. We’ll explore this, but first, there’s another word, “justification.”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word, “tsadaq,” is in the original texts. This word means “to be just; to be righteous.” It’s not about treating the unrighteous as if they were righteous.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:11

When you receive Christ, God renders you righteous. This is justification. Christ now lives in you. You still have a sinful fleshly nature. Your flesh can’t be reconciled to Christ Who lives in you. Christ cannot sin. Your flesh can’t self-generate righteousness. The flesh isn’t just or justified. God has justified you but not your flesh. Your fleshly nature can’t be reformed. It can be controlled by the Holy Spirit as you ignore the demands of the flesh and pay attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you Power to overcome your fleshly nature. You can die to the fleshly nature incrementally if you’re willing to obey the Holy Spirit and disobey the fleshly nature. If you read Romans, you can see that Paul identified with the living Christ dwelling within. He didn’t consider that sinful nature or the sinful temptations generated by that sinful part of himself. The flesh must die incrementally as Christ lives within us. If this sounds different from what you’ve always been taught, I hope that you have patience and look at the Scriptures that are provided and that you take time to ask the Holy Spirit about it.

God is clear, through Scripture, regarding works. They are needed. Faith without works is dead. Good works cannot be self-generated by our fleshly nature. God is the only One Who’s good, so He is the only One Who can do the works through us. He does this by grace through faith.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word [rhema] of God. Romans 10:17

Note how faith comes. It comes by hearing the rhema of God. Note the definition of “rhema” below. It’s an Utterance of God. God speaks through Scripture. The Holy Spirit also brings Scripture to your remembrance. The Holy Spirit also leads you through your conscience. Many other ways that God speaks are mentioned in Scripture. We don’t want to diminish what God is saying through Scripture by artificially eliminating these other means through which God reveals.

4487 ρημα rhema hray’-mah
from 4483; TDNT-4:69,505; {See TDNT 431} n n
AV-word 56, saying 9, thing 3, no thing + 3756 1, not tr 1; 70
1) that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word
1a) any sound produced by the voice and having definite meaning
1b) speech, discourse
1b1) what one has said
1c) a series of words joined together into a sentence (a declaration of one’s mind made in words)
1c1) an utterance
1c2) a saying of any sort as a message, a narrative
1c2a) concerning some occurrence
2) subject matter of speech, thing spoken of
2a) so far forth as it is a matter of narration
2b) so far as it is a matter of command
2c) a matter of dispute, case at law

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6

When we get close to God and submit to His Spirit, He begins to lead us into righteousness. When He leads, faith comes. Faith is not making believe. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the rhema (Utterance) of God. God leads through Scripture and through every means mentioned in Scripture. We must acknowledge Him or faith doesn’t come. God speaks to Atheists through Scripture. He speaks to them through Christians who speak by the Holy Spirit, through Creation, and through other means. However, Atheists refuse to thank God, to give Him glory, or even to acknowledge Him. Faith doesn’t come to them.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:18-21

God is always the first-mover. Jesus said that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws that person. God reveals Himself to every person, but some people refuse to acknowledge Him.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5:17

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14

When any person ceases to acknowledge God’s leading and teaching, that person becomes calloused against God. That person becomes numb to the spiritual realm. However, if we listen to Him, our spiritual senses are exercised by reason of use so that we can discern between good (The Holy Spirit’s desires) and evil (our fleshly desires).

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10

We aren’t saved from good works to sin. We are saved from sin to good works. We aren’t saved from Hell by good works. We’re saved from sin and the resulting destruction by grace through faith that comes by hearing the rhema of God.

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ Romans 3:22a

the faith isn’t really ours. It’s not something we make believe. It’s certainty. It only comes when God speaks to us. Each time God speaks to us, faith builds and becomes greater, that is, providing we respond in submission to Him.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10

Paul didn’t do the works. The grace of God did the works through Paul. Faith gave access to that grace each time. Each time Paul did any righteous work, he did it by grace through faith at the urging of the Holy Spirit. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the rhema of God.

…and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17b

God has nothing against righteousness or holiness. God has nothing against you doing good works. You and I have a problem, however, when we try to self-generate good works. When we do that, they are dead works. They are filthy rags. When Christ does the good works through us, we die to the flesh and Christ is more fully formed in us.

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous 1 John 3:7a

When God warns you not to let anyone deceive you, this is because someone is going to try to deceive you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can have righteousness without doing righteousness. Christ in you is righteous, not your fleshly nature. Christ can’t sin. If you are walking in the Spirit, you aren’t going to follow your flesh. Christ will do His righteousness through you. If you do follow your flesh, you can confess it, and He will forgive you.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? Galatians 5:5-7

We don’t have this righteousness working in us fully. Yet, God has given us the vision of hope for the righteousness we will have in the future through faith. Righteousness is through faith. It’s not pretend righteousness. It’s real. It’s Christ thinking His Thoughts, speaking His Words, and doing His Acts through you. Now, we often fall prey to the desires of the flesh. That won’t be the case forever. There will be total victory. Even now, we have some victory over sin, and Christ is being formed more fully in us. The flesh is dying. Faith has its power in love. Love fulfills all the commands of God.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Galatians 5:5:13-14

Again, God warns us not to use liberty to serve the flesh. If we serve the flesh, we become slaves to the flesh. If we serve the Holy Spirit, we become willing slaves of God.

Likewise reckon [an accounting term–not pretending but counting or calculating reality] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:11-18

You died to sin through Christ. You became alive to Christ, Who now lives within you. Don’t pay attention to the dead man. Listen to the New Man Who is alive within you. Consider the fact that He is the real you. You have two natures in your person. Don’t try to be double-minded, obeying flesh in some areas of your life and Christ in some other areas of your life. Don’t try to think half by fleshly rationalization and half by the leading and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Commit yourself to one Master, Jesus Christ.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Galatians 5:5:16-18

If you walk in the Spirit. How do you walk in the Spirit? While it is called today, hear His Voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My Voice.” He also said, “Whoever is on the side of truth listens to me.” In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. The heathen fail to acknowledge Him. Whoever listens to Him, respects Him, and acknowledges Him, is led by Him. Whoever is led by Him will be given the Power of grace to do His will. This is walking in the Spirit.

 

…having their conscience seared with a hot iron 1 Tim. 4:2

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

You can’t reconcile the flesh to the Spirit. This is a battle to the death. It’s deadly serious. Your flesh is taking it very seriously. You can direct your attention and will wherever you want to. Direct it to Jesus. Spend time with Him. Read Scripture while focusing on what the Holy Spirit is telling you through Scripture. When living your life, listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit moment by moment as He speaks through your conscience. You will then always know right from wrong because He never leaves you nor does He ever forsake you.

Those who resist Him soon find His Voice becoming very faint. They find the voice of the fleshly nature becoming stronger. Eventually, their consciences are seared as with a hot iron. They have an evil conscience. They lose the ability to tell the difference between Divine revelation and human make-believe. That is to say, they can no longer tell the difference between Truth and the made-up rationalizations coming out of their own minds.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:5:22-23

The Spirit bears fruit when we pay attention to God’s leading. Note that this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The flesh has no part in this. The two are at odds. They can’t agree. If you listen to your flesh, it will kill you both spiritually and physically. If you listen to the Holy Spirit in respectful submission, you’ll live. We can’t self-generate works, yet works are needed. They’re the works that the Holy Spirit does through you as the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost.

You have a responsibility in all of this. Your part is to receive (to not reject) the free gift of righteousness. God has left you with the ability to reject Him. He knows what you will do, since He knows all things, but that doesn’t take away your ability to choose. Your part is to cease from resisting the Holy Spirit. Your part is to let go and let God do His Works through you by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:5:24-25

In baptism, your fleshly nature is buried. You are now committed to living in the Spirit. However, you have a responsibility to walk in the Spirit. It would be a contradiction to say that you could somehow walk in the Holy Spirit by your own power and inner strength separated from the Holy Spirit. When you walk in the Spirit, you’re yielding to the Holy Spirit and to the Christ in you. You’re submitting yourself to the free gift of righteousness. Righteousness is really Christ working through you. He’s your righteousness. Your fleshly nature has no righteousness and nothing that it can add to Christ. It can’t help Christ. It’s not going to willingly submit to Christ. The fleshly nature can’t help Christ do righteousness through you. You must turn your will toward Christ and away from your flesh. You must submit. To submit is simply to stop resisting God.

 

And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Galatians 3:12

When Paul was writing of the law, he wasn’t condoning sin. He was noting the weakness of human ability to fulfill the law of God. Since God’s plan is that salvation would be through Christ, trying to get it any other way is rebellion against God. Self-righteousness is extreme pride and disrespect for what God has done.

With the law of Moses, many of the precepts were symbolic of what is fulfilled in Christ. For instance, circumcision is fulfilled in cutting away the fleshly nature from the heart (innermost mind). The Sabbath is fulfilled as we rest from trying to do our own works and allow Christ to do His Works through us. Yet, in these Old Testament precepts, it’s interesting to note that there’s a health benefit.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

 

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. That’s because God does His righteous Works by grace. And grace is through faith. Whoever seeks Christ finds Christ. God rewards the person who seeks Him. The reward is that the person finds Him. That’s the best reward that anyone could have for anything. This seeking is ongoing, since God is infinite and we are finite. After we’re born again, we continue to seek to know Him better and to allow Him to transfigure us to be more like Christ.

…whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Romans 14:23b

Here, Paul is addressing meat offered to idols when He makes this statement that has general application. “Whatever isn’t of faith is sin.” Since faith comes by hearing God’s Utterance, we can’t just do as we like. We need to seek His will and yield to Him so that He does His will through us. This is the opposite of trying to obey rules. The Law is good. It’s an expression of God’s will. Yet, humans can’t obey it perfectly with the perfect attitude. We’re incapable. Under grace, God pardons past sins so we can stand in His Presence. He then leads us. When He leads us, a supernatural belief and trust comes that brings certainty. This supernatural belief and trust is called “faith.” Faith is the substance of things hoped for. That means that it’s substance, meaning part of reality as opposed to concept or theory. It’s the concrete substance of those things we hope for. Hope, in this context, isn’t I-hope-so hope. This is the hope that goes on into the eternities and never ends. It’s a vision from God about what He’s going to do. Hope is absolute and faith is absolute. Faith is also the evidence of things not seen. There are things that we can’t see yet. Faith is the absolute certainty of those things.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word [rhema] of God. Romans 10:17

God speaks. He leads. The Holy Spirit teaches us and leads us into all truth. He guides in the details of our lives. We’re learning to hear Him and to respond in submission.

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Grace is accessed through faith. Notice the relationship. God speaks. Faith comes by hearing God’s Utterance. Grace is accessed by faith. Righteousness is by grace. All of this happens in a microsecond by the Holy Spirit.

 

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: Philippians 3:9

Grace does the works. (1 Corinthians 15:10 quoted above) It’s a huge problem when we, as Christians, try to think up righteous things to do, try to self-generate love, joy, peace, or any of the fruit of the Spirit. The flesh doesn’t self-generate the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The flesh is well able to counterfeit this and every other gift of God. Consider all the self-righteous people who don’t know Jesus Christ. They’re able to live on the level of law. They even know how to make up their own laws to live by and how to judge others by those made-up laws.

If you want to have the fruit of the Spirit, spend time in the Presence of Christ. Read your Bible. Spend time in prayer. Remain in the Spiritual realm when you wake up, when you’re driving, when you’re at work, when you’re with friends, when you’re with family, and when you go to bed at night. Praise Him at all times. Live in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, you’ll hear His Voice directing you and comforting you. Faith will come and give access to grace. The Holy Spirit will flow through you, and these gifts will be evident in your life.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ is our righteousness. Christ, living out through us, is righteousness. We, then, are His Hands extended to a dying world.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16

Notice that we’re justified, that is, made just, by the faith of Jesus Christ. We hear His Voice leading us through the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge Him and submit ourselves to Him. His faith comes, which gives access into His grace. His grace does His righteousness through us. This is the justification with which we are justified.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 2:24

He bore our sins. He died for them. We are pardoned. We have become dead to those sins so that we can live in righteousness. This isn’t our own righteousness, but the free gift of righteousness by grace through faith.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:17

This righteousness is God’s righteousness. Jesus never did His own works. He didn’t say His own words. He only said and did those things that came from the Father. He said plainly, “There’s none good but God.” Of course, Jesus is God, but the Son is in submission to the Father. God is the only One Who can do righteousness. We need to yield to Him.

This faith is incremental. We go from faith to faith. Whatever we are in Christ is by grace through faith. Whatever we do in Christ is by grace through faith. We can’t possibly self-generate righteousness out of the fleshly nature.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Romans 4:3

He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; Romans 4:20

Abraham had faith. He believed God. This faith allowed Abraham to do the will of God and to submit to God’s will. It was counted to Abraham for righteousness. God assessed the situation and determined that it was righteousness. It wasn’t Abraham’s flesh that was righteous. It was the Spirit that was with Abraham that enabled Him to do God’s will.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Paul recognized that it was Christ living in Him that was causing Him to be who he was and to do what he did. He didn’t deny that he had a sinful flesh, but he was living his life by the faith of the Son of God that comes by hearing the Utterance of God.

Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: Romans 3:22

This is the righteousness of God. It’s not human righteousness. It’s a righteousness that’s only available by grace through faith.

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this [is] his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:6

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 1 Corinthians 1:30

Christ is our Righteousness. Note that He is our Wisdom. Other translations are more clear, showing that Righteousness, Sanctification (Holiness), and Redemption (being set free from sin) are attributes of Wisdom. Christ is our Wisdom, so He is our Righteousness. He is also our Holiness. He is also our Redemption.

[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

All of this is dependent on our submission to Him. When we submit, we come closer to Him. When we rebel, and we do that sometimes, we drift away from Him. If we drift away from Him, we step off the Way. We no longer walk by faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin. Sin is stepping off the Way or missing the target. In the original language, we can step off the Way or slip off the Way. However, if we confess our fault, He’s faithful and just to forgive our sin. He brings us back onto the Way. The Way is Jesus Christ. He’s the Way to eternal Life. He’s also the Life. He’s both the Way to the goal and He’s the goal, Life.

For anyone who has been walking in the Spirit for a while, many fleshly things will have already dropped off. However, there will still be strongholds of the enemy.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

These strongholds in our minds are very deceptive and only the spiritual weapons God has provided are able to pull them down. Because they’re in our own minds, we often are unaware that they are strongholds of the enemy. They seem as if they are part of reality. However, they are things that God never said. They are things that an enemy sowed into our minds. They can even insert presuppositions into Scripture as we read it so that we don’t really read Scripture. We become like the people mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3 who have a veil in front of their faces. Read the definition of stronghold below.

3794 οχυρωμα ochuroma okh-oo’-ro-mah
from a remote derivative of 2192 (meaning to fortify, through the idea of holding safely); TDNT-5:590,752; {See TDNT 576} n n
AV-strong hold 1; 1
1) a castle, stronghold, fortress, fastness
2) anything on which one relies
2a) of the arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavours to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent

A castle, a stronghold, a fortress is guarding the way. If something is protected by solid stone walls, it’s difficult to get at it.

A stronghold is fastness–think of a fastener. Think of a big bolt. You can try to get rid of that habit or that thought that you try not to think, but you won’t do it without removing that bolt.

It’s anything on which you rely. It’s all the arguments and reasoning by which you try to fortify your opinion and defend it against anyone who questions you. The problem is that strongholds never seem like opinions to the one with the stronghold. I don’t know what all my strongholds are. Neither do you. These strongholds are opinions that seem just like reality. In fact, they seem more real than real reality.

Yet, God has supplied the Church, the called-out people of God, with weapons. They are powerful. Many of them are not being used. Strongholds are keeping saints of God from exercising the Power of these spiritual weapons. The purpose of this article isn’t to list these weapons. If you’re wondering which weapons you personally aren’t using, think of those parts of the New Testament that “no longer apply” or that “were for just those early Christians.” You have everything you need. However, you must appropriate what God has given. If you do that, you will be counted among the overcomers and you’ll inherit all the promises that are for the overcomers.

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The Fruit of the Spirit

TheFruitOfTheSpirit

Why do humans want to try to self-generate those things that are freely given by God through Christ? God says that it’s because they love darkness rather than light. He says that they refuse to thank Him, glorify Him, or even acknowledge Him. Eventually, they become so calloused against Him that they are past any ability to hear His Voice, see His Face, feel His Touch, taste His Sweetness, or smell His Aroma. They have become separated from Him.

The book, “Reason,” while it uses a debate between Ken Ham (Christian) and Bill Nye (Non-Christian) as a backdrop, is really about choosing to accept God’s good gifts. It’s about submission to the Holy Spirit. It’s about allowing God to lead and guide. It’s about receiving His Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding. It’s about listening to His Voice so that Faith comes, giving certainty of knowledge rather than guesses and made-up stuff.

It has always been popular to believe that humans could self-generate love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, and self-control. In reality, humans can only generate counterfeits of these. The human mind, and demonic entities, are able to counterfeit any of the good things that only come from God. Consider righteousness. Only God is good. He imparts His gift of righteousness to anyone willing to receive it. Yet, so many people try to generate their own righteousness. They end up being self-righteous and proud. Think about knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. All of these come from God. None of them can be received from God without deep, sincere respect from God. Those who are rebellious toward God persist in trying to self-generate knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. They are able to generate some pretty convincing counterfeits and to deceive many people. However, there isn’t any way for human beings to self-generate knowledge. Even Secularists know that they can never have certainty about anything without Divine revelation. However, they then make the insane, dogmatic assertion, based on made-up stuff, that God doesn’t reveal anything to anyone. Since they don’t have any hope of ever having certainty about anything, why are Secularists so dogmatic about this assertion? Because they have decided not to receive God’s goodness. They have submitted themselves to the spirit of Antichrist.

Some Christians also block the mercy and grace of God by trying to self-generate love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, and self-control. They try to self-generate wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. These wonderful things that come to us as we stand in the Presence of the Holy One are not available to those who try to be double-minded. The self-generated counterfeits can never fulfill or bring satisfaction. Yet, every person who seeks Christ finds Christ. Every person who is willing to abide in Christ, seek Him, spend time in His Presence in submission to Him, is given all these wonderful things. They are imparted by God. These are the things that change the person into the Image of Jesus Christ. It’s not enough to want to be like Jesus. We need to lay down our own efforts and allow Him to think His Thoughts, speak His Words, and do His Acts through us with Power for His Righteousness, which leads to Holiness.

In every situation, you and I are faced with the choice of yielding to self-will or God’s will. Why not let yourself go into the wonderful gifts of God and just allow His love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, self-control, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to flow through you?

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Saved To Good Works

FromGloryToGlory3

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17

Only God can do good works. God has called us to this.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

For this reason, God does His Works through us by grace through faith.

Faith comes by hearing. He speaks. We acknowledge Him. He directs our paths. Faith comes and gives access to His grace. Grace does His Works. If we get involved, other than our responsibility to yield our members to His free gift of Righteousness, we would just frustrate the grace of God. God doesn’t need our intervention. He needs our submission, since He won’t force Himself on anyone.

Secularists are people who can’t deal with the reality of the righteousness of God. Because they love darkness rather than light, they reject God and His Righteousness. They then end up rejecting all Divine revelation. Without Divine revelation, pretending is the only other option for interpretation of Scripture, Creation, or experience. That may be a shock, especially to Secularists. It won’t be that much of a shock to any Christ-follower who has tried to reason with a Secularist.

Sound reason requires a true premise and a conclusion that follows from the premise. For a conclusion to follow from a premise, nothing can be added to or diminished from the premise on the way to the conclusion. The Secularist runs into a problem in trying to prove a premise true. Denying Divine revelation, the Secularist doesn’t have that option. The Secularist can simply declare the premise true based on his own or another human authority. This is the axiomatic thinking fallacy. That’s a fancy word for pretending and thinking that make-believe is real. The Secularist can use circular reasoning, infinite regression, personal attacks, or hundreds of other methods to make make-believe seem real.

However, the Secularist isn’t having an intellectual problem other than trying to establish human intellect as a god of some sort. The Secularist is having a righteousness problem. Salvation is to God’s Righteousness and from human sin. Secularists love darkness rather than light. Because all Righteousness must come from God, the Secularist’s human-righteousness is evil and filthy rags. Only repentance and turning to Christ can save them from their insanity.

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Ever Higher In Christ Jesus

EverHigher3

There’s a difference between presupposition and what is empirical. The word, “empirical,” means “by experience.” You see, every person who follows Christ is led and taught by the Holy Spirit moment by moment. That’s my experience, too. We all experience His Divine revelation as it’s imparted. However, without Christ and His revelation, no one can ever truly know the difference between reality and make-believe. It’s not that God doesn’t reveal truth to them. He does or they would quickly die. But the Münchausen trilemma makes them process all thoughts by lumping revelation with presupposition, simply because they refuse to acknowledge God or to be thankful to Him. For this reason, the contrast in thinking is between made-up stuff and Divine revelation. People can, of course, deny Divine revelation. That is a universal negative fallacy based on nothing but an unsupported assertion. You can see the problem with Secularist thinking, can’t you?

Now, God speaks through Scripture and every method mentioned in Scripture. Satan and the human mind work together with counterfeits of everything real that God uses to bring us to His good purpose. How can we avoid being deceived. Here’s the way. Know Him. Whoever seeks Him finds Him. The Father knows how to give good gifts to His children. If you’re looking for a spiritual experience, that’s what you’ll get. However, if you are looking for Christ and His righteousness, then you’ll be satisfied. You’ll receive the Spirit of Christ from the Father.

Most, if not all, of us end up on both sides of this equation. We are impure. We don’t fully desire God’s will. We all have a fleshly nature. The flesh desires comfort, money, power, ecclesiastical success, recognition, respect, honor, prestige, glory, pleasure, independence, and many other things rather than desiring God’s will. The Christ nature, Christ in us, the hope of glory, desires God’s will. Each of us must turn our will toward Christ rather than toward our fleshly nature and our carnal mind. Then, we will be able to seek first the Kingdom of God. That will assure that our hearts will be prepared to hear God’s Voice and to respond in submission.

To be sure, this isn’t an instant fix. God describes it as an experience that goes from glory to glory. As we all with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. There is a veil that is naturally in front of our faces. That veil is the fleshly nature. We must deny it and look into the glass, that mirror, and see the glory of the Lord. Then, we are changed into the same image. He shows us who we are in Him. We see how we fit into the Body of Christ. We see what He is leading us in right at the moment. We’re learning to see better as the flesh dies away. The flesh dies away in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The flesh dies away as we yield the members of our Body to His free gift of righteousness. The very thing that kills the flesh is also building up the Christ and making us alive to Christ. In this way, we make progress moment by moment as we are led by the Holy Spirit and as we yield ourselves to Him in willing submission.

As we become familiar with Christ, we begin to notice differences between self-confidence and the certainty that we call “faith.” We immediately notice the difference between God’s Voice and the demonic voices, but we also begin to discern between human voices and the Divine. We hear the Holy Spirit bringing Scripture to our remembrance to refute the lies of our own minds or the minds of others. We also begin to recognize the difference between the Peace that Jesus gives and the peace that the world, the human mind, the human flesh, or the deceiver gives. ?This is how discernment is imparted and how we are changed.

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Sin Violates Love

EveryViolation

This subject confuses Christians. God clarifies this through Scripture, and yet Christians are confused. The purpose of this post is to try to set things straight. Love is tied to reason in that sin makes us callous to God. Love fulfills the Law. Sin is breaking the Law. When we’re callous toward God, discernment decreases. Without discernment, it’s impossible to tell the difference between reality and make-believe. Submission to the Holy Spirit will result in increasing discernment from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. It results in a mind that is made new, as Romans 12:1-2 mentions.

There are two main distortions of God’s love among Christians. One tries to self-generate love. This is equivalent to trying to self-generate God. It is also equivalent to trying to self-generate righteousness. Self-righteousness frustrates the grace of God. God gives His grace, His free gift of righteousness. When we jump in and try to help, we defile His righteousness with our fleshly efforts. We start with extra-biblical forms, rituals, doctrines, laws, rules, and that sort of thing. We go on to try to do great works for God. We speak visions out of our own hearts (innermost minds). We show contempt for anyone who won’t go along with our foolishness. I say, “we,” because I’m just as guilty. May the Holy Spirit deliver us both.

The second distortion is the target of this meme. There is the notion that “God is love, so God doesn’t care what we do.” It’s the notion that “a loving God doesn’t mind sexual sin, covetousness, stealing, or any other sin that people think will make them happy.” Sometimes, sex outside of marriage is given the false label of “love.” God created sex holy for a specific relationship in a specific order that’s fully defined in Scripture. Distorting sex in any way is not love. It’s the lack of love. When a man and woman violate this by sexual thoughts, speech, or action outside of a life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman, it’s not love. It’s the absence of love. It’s spiritual wickedness that enslaves them to Satan. It destroys the order of the home as God designed it. The order of the home is the basic unit of the Church, so it hurts the Church. It’s very destructive. It even destroys countries and societies. The sins people think will make them happy only make them addicted to those sins. They become increasingly ensnared and enslaved. They lose the ability to know the difference between right and wrong. They can’t tell the difference between reality and make-believe. They can’t reason or sense the Holy Spirit’s leading any more. Sin brings death and judgment. Salvation is salvation from sin and to righteousness.

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” 1 John 3:7

Notice that He warns us not to allow anyone to deceive us. The reason that God warns us in this way is because someone is going to try to deceive us. Imputed righteousness is real righteousness. It’s God thinking His thoughts, speaking His Utterances, and doing His Works through you by His Grace, which is accessed through real Faith, which comes to us as we hear His Voice and yield ourselves to Him. That’s what righteousness is.

Righteousness is walking on the Path or the Way. Christ is the Way. He speaks the Truth to us, which He is. When we walk in the Way, we are walking in the Life of the coming Age, a Life which He is. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Truth is reality. It’s what’s really real.

We walk in this way by hearing and acknowledging the leading of Christ. We can’t self-generate righteousness, but we can will to do His Will rather than our own wills or the wills of other people or the wills of demons. There are many who would like to lead us, including our own minds. Christ may speak through other Christians to lead us. God speaks of that in 1 Corinthians 12. He says that God isn’t like an idol that’s incapable of articulate speech. He’s not dumb, unable to talk. Then, He says that no person can call Jesus accursed by the Holy Spirit and no one can say that Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit. Then, He goes on to name the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit that make Christ visible in His Body of believers. In other Scripture, He explains how those gifts are imparted by the laying on of hands and prophecy of the presbytery.

Sin is stepping or slipping off of this way. Sin is listening to our own leading, turning our will inward toward our own fleshly minds or generating visions out of our own hearts. Sin is listening to those who aren’t speaking by the Spirit of God, ungodly counselors or Christians who are following their own intellects. Sin is listening to the leading of demonic powers by exposing ourselves to that which is filthy, violent, or sensual. This may be conversations where we try to fit in with the ungodly. This may be various forms of media, magazines at the checkout counter, Internet images, TV shows that are increasingly violent and increasingly promote perversions of sex. It includes every misrepresentation of the Good News about what Jesus Christ is doing in and through His Church.

 

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