Category Archives: identity

Free from Me

          Years ago I remember struggling with this one particular sin that I just COULD NOT seem to overcome. I was praying and asking forgiveness for the umpteenth time and being disgusted with myself, I said “LORD, I am such a DIRT BAG!” unexpectedly, the Lord spoke back to me and said: “You sure are. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”

          I was shocked! All I could think about was that the Lord called me a “dirt bag” and then gave me scripture to back it up by quoting Proverbs 23:7 . I was like … Lord!? … for real!?

            It was at that moment that it seemed like He downloaded this huge revelation into my “hard drive” about how we see ourselves. Then I literally heard the Lord chuckle in His heart, as He gave me this brief, and comical biology lesson. 

          As you may know, you are a spirit being, with a mind and soul, and you exist on this earth in a body, your “earth suit” so to speak. Your earth suit is made up of basic elements that are found in dirt. (Remember, God created Adam from the dust of the ground so this should make sense.) Your skin, the largest organ of your body, is the “bag” that all of this “dirt” is contained in. There is just no way out of it! WE ARE ALL DIRT BAGS! Somehow that made me feel better and I began to realize what the Lord was trying to show me.

          What we are mindful of has tremendous impact on our spiritual growth and our ability to walk in the Spirit. Today I saw how it impacts our ability to minister to the needs of others. Romans 8 helps us to understand this.

Romans 8:1-9 ~ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

          (You see, it is not enough to just “be saved” (in Christ Jesus) but you must be “after the Spirit.” Notice the capital S in Spirit? We must be ever conscious of the Holy Spirit and His agenda.)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

          There are two laws mentioned here; the law of the Spirit of life in Christ and the law of sin and death. We are FREE from the second law because God CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH.

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          When the devil is successful in getting you into self-condemnation and thinking of yourself as a “Dirt Bag,” you are in essence saying: “What God did was not enough, I have to condemn sin myself.” This can be as simple as you just focusing on the carnal, fallen nature most of the time instead of being mindful of spiritual things. This renders you helpless and powerless. (Which is the devils goal if he can’t kill you.)

5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

          We understand that actively pursuing sin brings death, but did you know that condemnation does the same thing? Condemnation IS “minding the things of the flesh.” We can’t be effective at helping others with death working in us.

7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

          Having the “Dirt Bag” (carnal) mindset is enmity against God. You cannot please Him. It reminds me of another scripture.

Hebrews 11:6 ~ 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.

          It takes faith to break free of the “Dirt Bag” mentality.

 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

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          Do we really get it? That we are NOT in the flesh? Just because we live in a flesh and bone “earth suit” and walk around in a fallen world does not mean we are a dirtbag. Obviously I did not get that when the Lord spoke this to me.

          Condemnation quenches the Spirit and puts the focus inward instead of upward. It renders the Christian powerless, ineffective. and no threat to the devil. Furthermore, it is not faith, and not pleasing to God.

          We MUST walk in the power of our new identity in Christ. Not for you to execute your own agenda or for you to market it so you can be financially secure. Not to play with or to draw attention to yourself, but to reflect His image upon the earth. This was mans original design and the enemy has been attacking it since the garden of Eden.

The three biggest tricks devil uses to keep you from walking in your new identity is guilt, condemnation, and shame. eryh

Guilt – Is a confession that I am not forgiven.

Condemnation – Is a statement that I my life is worthy of judgment.                                        

Shame – is a profession that it is still who I am.

          He tries to get you so focused on the sin that all you can see is your weakness and failure. Instead of being mindful of spiritual things that can help others, you become only mindful of you, and you can’t even help yourself.

          Focus on God’s love for you. the price that He paid, and the fact that Christ became your sin so you could become His righteousness and stand before God the Father without any sense of guilt, condemnation, or shame. 

And remember, don’t be a dirt bag…

1Corinthians 2:15  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is  judged of no man.

Reflections of Righteousness (poem)

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I look in the mirror and what do I see?

The answer has always been illusive to me.

I see all my failures and mistakes that I’ve made,

And then I remember the price Jesus paid.

 

My past He has covered, and though it seems strange

He died on the cross for a wondrous exchange.

My sins He did bare when I had naught to give,

He gave me His righteousness that through Him I’d live.

 

My struggle to see past the person I’ve been

Is now a fight that I know I can win.

He’s done all the work, this I perceive,

All that is left is for me to believe.

~Jack Coley~

Here is a link to more poetry on this site. Enjoy!

Understanding the power of words.

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          There are many teachings floating around about the power of words as defined by the Bible, but let’s look at it from the point of science, in conjunction with the Bible. Science is not in disagreement with God, on the contrary, science is just man’s way of figuring out how God does things. If we understand this going in, we will see that science and God must always agree. If they do not, then our science is incorrect, or our understanding of God is flawed.

          Let’s start with some scriptures that stress the amazing power that words produce:

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

   …Death and life are produced by our words.

Matthew 12:36-37 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

You will be justified or condemned by our words.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

  …Words contain creative power.

Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

…We are to steward our words carefully.

James 3:2-6   For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

…Words set the course and nature or your life.

          These are just a few scriptures that stress the power and importance of words, there are many, many more. The topic is replete throughout the Bible.

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          Words are the most powerful force available to humanity. They carry immeasurable significance and yet we have a shallow understanding of how they work, and how they affect the quality of our lives, and the lives of those around us. To find out at what words are, and how they function, first we must define exactly what a word is.

          This is my definition from a literal standpoint, in the light God’s word:

A word is a verbal or written communication that carries ideas, creating thoughts and images. The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces.”

          If I say; “Black Labrador Retriever with a red collar,” I just put a specific image in your head. You took what I said, you processed it through your memory and experience, and it produced a specific thought/picture in your mind. It produced an image!

          We must have a preconceived image already present in our thinking for images to form. Unfortunately, we have so much memory and experience of our fallen, carnal nature that these images tend to dominate our thought life and make up our minds in advance that this is who we really are. Jesus didn’t die for us to remain the same and someday go to heaven, He died so that we could be transformed into His IMAGE, so that God’s original purpose for mankind could be restored.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

          We see in this verse that Jesus was not only the express image of God, but He upheld all things by His word. This means that, among other things, the image of the Father was upheld in Him by the power of His words.

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          The point of this teaching is to help you be conformed into what God has created you to be. What you say about yourself is important. Are you saying what God has said about you, or letting life speak louder than truth? What is your “self-image?”?Does it look like the sum of your life experience to this point, or does it look like Jesus? If you don’t see yourself as a son or daughter of God in your heart, you have the ability to change that image through the power of your words.

Protecting your identity in Christ

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          Who am I? That is a valid question. Do you see yourself as the sum-total of your life experiences up to this point, or do you see yourself as God sees you? Have you allowed life to mold you and shape you into the person you are? Or are you exercising faith in God’s word and embracing what He has called you to be?

          Life’s experience has a loud voice. If we are not careful, we can allow life to speak louder than truth, and let life define who we are, instead of what God has called us to be. Who we are, is determined by what we believe, and what we believe is subject to change according to the voices we allow to speak into our life.

          The voices we allow in our life, determines the realm of influence we are subject to. We will serve the strongest and most influential voices that are speaking in our life. This is our created design. It is therefore, extremely important what, and who we allow to influence us. We must be very selective of the voices we allow access in our lives.

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          We are created to believe; therefore, we will believe in something, it is our nature. We are hard-wired by our creator as people of faith. Faith can unites us to something greater than ourselves, it brings us under the service and mastery of something greater than we are as individuals. Faith enables us to become what we believe.

          We choose what to believe, and this alone determines who we serve. There are only two basic choices. Serve God, or serve our self, believe that He knows best, or believe that we know best. Who we serve determines who we are. It is the master that determines what his servant will be, the servant does not define himself, his master chooses his role, his service, his function, his work, and determines the quality of the servant’s life. Therefore, we must choose our master well. Our identity is determined by our master’s voice.

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          Confusion comes when we serve ourselves, trying to fill the role of servant and master at the same time. We cannot fill the role of both master, and servant. Instead of serving God, and becoming a part of something greater than our self, we become an island, cut off from the transforming work of grace, and the supply of the Spirit. By allowing our selfish desires to rule us, we give voices other than our creator’s access to our life.

 

The Righteousness of God – pt.2

The Mystery of the Two Natures

          When making reference to the “nature” of something, it refers to its inherent fundamental qualities. In the case of mankind, his nature is the hereditary physical and spiritual characteristics that drive his thoughts and actions and influences the direction of his life.

          God’s original design was for man to have the nature and image of God.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

          When Adam sinned, his nature changed, and the image of God in man was lost. Now fallen man had the nature and image of the devil. The nature and image of God is love, the nature, and image of the devil is carnal, prideful, and selfish. They are polar opposites.

          Man went from being love (God’s image) to needing love (selfish, self-centered). He lost his dominion and authority and he lost his created purpose which was to manifest/reflect the image of God. He was cut off from the Holy Spirit and lost the peace that kept him in perfect unity with the Father. His intimacy with the God was compromised and now his fellowship with his creator was only available from a distance, it was almost non-existent. He stepped out of the kingdom of light and into the kingdom of darkness. He chose the “kingdom of me” over the Kingdom of God and it produced a separation in relationship.

          This wasn’t just a sad day for Adam, but for all mankind, for every human being born on this earth is born into sin and death because of Adam’s sin.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned.

          We are born with a fallen, carnal nature by no fault of our own. God knew this, so He sent Jesus to pay the price that no man could pay. He redeemed man from sin and death and restored the possibility of the nature and image of God back to mankind. For man to enjoy this restoration of the nature and image of God he must be born of Adam, (natural birth) and born of the Spirit.(born again)

John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

          We are, by default, born of the first Adam, born with a fallen, corrupt, and carnal nature. When we are born again, we suddenly have a new nature on the scene that is diametrically opposed to the old carnal nature, Now we have the chore of stewarding these two opposite natures. This is the biggest challenge that faces us in our Christian walk because we were never created to live with two natures. We were created to have the nature and image of God.

          We find in scripture a description of the two natures and the results of yielding to each.

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

          We see here that yielding to one nature produces death, and yielding to the other produces life and peace. At first glance, we see the obvious choice, life and peace. It seems so simple, yet the obvious choice is not the easy choice.

Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

          There is a tug of war inside of us, a great battle going on between our two natures. Each nature operates according to very different spiritual laws. Because of this opposition within us, we find ourselves not doing the things that we know to be right. The apostle Paul saw this struggle in his own life and ministry and writes about it in his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 7:15-17 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

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          Notice Paul’s perspective here. He identifies himself with the new man, the born again man. He views the fallen man as a completely different person, to the point that when he sees sin rearing its ugly head in his life, he says; “it is no longer I that sins.” He sees it as a different person committing the act of sin. Paul refuses to identify with the fallen nature, instead, he chooses to embrace his new identity which is the righteousness of God.

          Paul’s response to the new nature dictates his response to the old nature. Most folks have that backwards. They allow the old carnal man, (that should be dead) to dictate how they respond to God’s amazing gift of righteousness. Paul understood that the man he used to be, is not the man he now is. Look at Romans 6 again in the Message;

Romans 6:2  If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?

          The place we used to be, is not the place we belong. Pack up and leave that old house for good! Sin will always call us back to live in the place we were redeemed from, but when we know who we are NOW, we can’t be seduced by who we WERE. We need to let who we are get bigger in our heart than who we were. When we settle that in our life, transformation and fulfillment will follow.

          If you sin, how do you respond to it? Do you look at the act like it wasn’t even you who did it? Do you say to yourself, and to God, “that wasn’t me, that is not who I am. I thank you Lord for opening my eyes, I am the righteousness of God in Christ, and I thank you Lord that you see me as holy in your sight. I thank you for fathering me and showing me who I am in you, for producing the fruit of holiness in my life so that I don’t stumble”? This is what “confession of sin” should look like according to the New Testament. To confess means to say the same thing about it that God says. Say what God says about you and it will change your desires, your behavior, your thought processes, and eventually, YOUR IMAGE.

          I think most of us respond to sin with being disappointed in ourselves, crying out to God for forgiveness, weeping and wailing and filled with regret that we missed it again. We become ashamed, disgusted with ourselves, condemning ourselves, and judging ourselves unworthy, unrighteous, and unqualified. We open the door to condemnation and turn inward instead of running toward God. We respond from the place of the dead man, identifying ourselves with the sin and therefore giving it power over our lives to bring us into slavery. This response to sin opens the door for the Devil’s tricks and torments. It reactivates the law of sin and death being activated in your life.

          It’s all about perspective. Seeing ourselves from the position of sin prevents us from realizing who we are created to be. It sends a message that we are not righteous and Christ’s sacrifice was not enough. It is an affront to the work of the cross and a denial of your position in Christ as a child of the living God and a citizen of His Kingdom.

          The Jews at Rome had this same problem. Look what Paul says about it:

Romans 10:2-4 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

          Righteousness must be submitted to. It has nothing to do with our performance, it has everything to do with what we believe, and who we believe. This is the righteousness of faith. Righteousness has already been established by Jesus Christ, there is nothing we can do to make it more or less.

          If we respond from a place of guilt and condemnation it says that we don’t believe, or don’t understand, that the cross was enough to make us right before the Father. We say in our heart that Christ has to come from heaven and be sacrificed again and be raised from the dead again because the last time he did was not quite enough.(Romans 10:6-7) This is the response of the fallen nature, the one we must put to death.

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          The response of the new nature is one of faith and life, declaring the great work that Christ has done in you. It responds as a righteous son, a worthy heir with head held high in gratitude for the completed work of the cross. It responds by running to the Father and taking the seat beside Him which was prepared for you before you were born. It responds with the truth that “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” This response produces the fruit of holiness without us trying to be holy.

Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

For the next lesson in this series, CLICK HERE> The Righteousness Of God pt.3