Spiritual Warfare #19 A Kingdom Divided

          This is a topic that the Lord has been highlighting to me for the past few years. He has relentlessly brought it to my attention until I finally made it a focus of my study and prayer. At first, I searched the internet to see what the “theologians” had to say about it and nothing that I found bore witness with what the Lord was showing me. I knew that there was a part of this mystery that myself, and the Church had been blinded to, so I asked the Lord what He was trying to show us. I believe He answered me.

That being said, I have found that there are too many “theological positions” on most of the major doctrines in the Bible. From the Trinity, to the gifts of the Spirit, to water baptism, you name it. Sometimes we find as many as three or four different opinions and interpretations from highly respected Bible scholars and they write volumes of books to defend their position. Are they all right? Is only one right? or is it possible, that on some subjects, they are all wrong? We should all judge these things carefully..

This is going to run crossways of most peoples beliefs on this subject, but I really believe that this is from the Lord. I don’t feel the need to be right about this. In fact, if I am wrong, I pray God corrects me or sends someone to help me understand it better. I know before posting this that my revelation of this subject is incomplete, yet I think I have enough to articulate what the Lord is showing me. I will likely be making updates to this teaching as the Lord brings more clarity. I would love it if someone would help me with this.

The word of God is too precious to trust its interpretation wholly to another individual. Quite frankly, in my pursuit of answers on this subject I lost a lot of confidence in other men’s opinions, even from the brightest theologians that I still love and respect. Furthermore, I do not trust myself. I do trust the Holy Spirit however, and I have full confidence in Him to lead us into all truth.

After over two years of seeking God on this topic I have found the “Unpardonable Sin,” also known as “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” to be one of the most misunderstood topics in the New Testament. I believe that Satan has blinded most of the Church from this truth for over two thousand years because it is one of the most significant revelations concerning our faith and our identity in Christ. I believe it to be a key component as to why we do not see the demonstration of the kingdom of God at the level we see in the Bible.

          In the gospels we have three accounts of Jesus teaching this truth. (Matthew 12:22-37, Mark 3:22-30, and Luke 12:10). Any time we see all three synoptic gospels recording a teaching, we really need to pay attention and make sure we “get it.”

          Matthew’s account of this interaction is the most complete so I will use that text for the purpose of this teaching. It is a long text, so I will unpack it as we read, making comments as we go.

Matthew 12:22-37 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

          The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by the authority of the devil. They were saying that the power in Jesus to bring about deliverance and healing was by the same power that bound the demonized man.

          Many make the mistake of assuming that the Pharisees were the ones committing the unpardonable sin, when actually, they were accusing Jesus of committing it. Pay close attention to what Jesus emphasized in His response to this accusation. The underlined portions of scripture gives us important insight into what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit looks like.

25 But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 

          Jesus was not rebuking the Pharisees for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, He was correcting them and explaining to them why their accusation of Him was not possible and made no sense. He was teaching them, and us, about a divided kingdom. Specifically, a kingdom divided against ITSELF.

          Jesus made it clear up front that they were accusing Him of performing miracles through a divided kingdom. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit has to do with a divided kingdom, a divided city, and a divided house.

          Although Jesus Himself is the kingdom, city, and house He is referring to in this passage of scripture, we are now “in Him” as born again believers. We now have the kingdom of God abiding in us. We are the kingdom, the city, and the house that Jesus is referring to. If that kingdom inside of us becomes divided, it will not stand.

The key to this entire passage is the statement “A divided kingdom will not stand.” The unpardonable sin has to do with the kingdom of God inside us being a divided kingdom. It is the reason the Church has become virtually powerless and does not walk in the authority of the kingdom of God. Jesus repeatedly said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” when he healed someone or cast out a devil. If we do not see the fruit of the kingdom of God coming upon people, we should ask ourselves; Is it possible that our kingdom is divided?

Many of us have wondered why the Church lacks the demonstration of signs, miracles and wonders that we all know are available. Where is the disconnect? What is lacking? Is God a withholder? Or are we trying to “do Christianity” from a divided kingdom? In the kingdom of God there can never be two opposing powers.

Lets read on.

29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 

          Who is this “strongman” that Jesus is referring to? Remember, He is still talking about a kingdom divided against itself. Self, is the strongman. The word plunder is used twice in this verse and literally means to seize. Have we really allowed God to seize our hearts and take over our house? Are we allowing His kingdom to grow in our hearts, or are we willfully withholding some of our selfish desires that we refuse to let go of? Have we completely submitted our will to the will of the Father, or are we living our Christian life on our terms?

The strength of our fallen nature is our own free will. If our will is not completely submitted to the will of the Father, we are a kingdom divided. Free will represents the sovereignty of self, and it must be bound before the Holy Spirit can seize our house and take control. The kingdom of “self” must be bound before the kingdom of God can have full reign in God’s temple.

We see in the Old Testament temple and the tent of meeting that God is very particular about where He abides. He is Holy, and must be revered as such.

Next verse.

30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

          Why does Jesus make the comment, “he who is not with me is against me?” Is He talking about the Pharisees that are speaking against Him, or is He still talking about what is inside of Him and by what power He does these miracles?

When we are born again, suddenly we have two persons, with two wills, inhabiting one body, which is now God’s temple. Two persons, two wills, one kingdom. Our will must be submitted to the Holy Spirit’s will for the kingdom to stand.

          Jesus has a free will. As a man, He has always had the ability to say no to the Father. We see Him struggle with that in prayer before He went to the cross. He asked the Father if there was any possible way let this cup to pass from Him, but He said, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” He had to submit His free will to the Father, just like you and me. If Jesus did not have the free will to choose sin, He would not have had the power to destroy sin in the flesh.

          Consider how hard it must have been for Jesus to know what was about to happen to Him at the cross and still submit to it. Even after an angel came and strengthened Him, He was still in agony to the point of sweating blood! (Luke22:43-44) This was His greatest battle between choosing His will over the Father’s. Had He chosen His will, He would have been guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Praise God He didn’t!

          The reason we see Him function in full kingdom authority and power is because He laid down His free will and never picked it up. He allowed the Holy Spirit to bind the strongman. He could do nothing of Himself. He only did what He saw the Father do. The kingdom of God inside Him was never divided and never stopped increasing.

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

         Jesus laid aside His sovereignty as God to take on the sovereignty of man. He then cast the crown of man’s sovereignty at the feet of the Father and refused to pick it up again. This was an act of complete submission. It is how Jesus was able to do what He did. Furthermore, He said, “Follow Me.” Meaning, we have the ability to do the same.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

What did Jesus say to do before we could follow Him? Deny himself, then pick up your cross and follow me.

Luke 17:21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The Garden of Eden is the Old Testament type of the kingdom of God, and there are still two trees in the garden of our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the tree of life. Our free will is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s instruction for the garden still applies to the kingdom of God within us.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

          Did Adam fall and die when he ate of the tree? No, he lost the glory of God that clothed him and broke the oneness of relationship with God that empowered and sustained him. Spiritual death is separation from oneness with our Father.

          God gave us our free will and our creativity to express our love for Him and serve His purposes. We are here for His good pleasure, not ours. When we use those astounding gifts for selfish reasons that oppose God, we are a house divided and guilty of the unpardonable sin. Willful disobedience is the fruit of unbelief. When we operate in selfishness, we eat from the tree of our own free will and we are demonstrating our unbelief. On some level, it breaks down our relationship with the Father and separates us from the life of God that is only found through intimacy with Him .

          Moving on…

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

         This is the portion of scripture that trips people up. The phrase, “it will not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come,” has Christians wondering and worrying if they have committed the unpardonable sin and have lost their salvation.

          Just to be clear, only Christians can commit the unpardonable sin, but it does not cause us to lose our salvation.

          We see an example of this in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul was correcting the Church at Corinth about them allowing a man that was committing adultery with his mother to remain in the congregation. Obviously, if one is committing adultery with his mother there is a kingdom divided. Paul gave some specific instructions to the Church on how to deal with this man that gives us insight into the scope and the judgment of the unpardonable sin.

1 Corinthians 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Even though this man was clearly guilty of practicing gross sin and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Paul said deliver him to Satan, meaning banish him from the fellowship of Christ’s body, so that his carnal self could be destroyed, and his spirit saved at the coming of the Lord. The kingdom in him did not stand. He lost fellowship with the Lord and the body of Christ but clearly, did not lose His salvation.

We need to ask ourselves why we haven’t seen this level of spiritual authority or righteous judgment practiced in the Church lately?

          The unpardonable sin has nothing to do with losing our salvation or going to hell. It has nothing to do with the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20. Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God on earth, which is in our hearts, and the Judgment Seat of Christ that we will face in Heaven where our works will be tried with fire. Any works that we perform in the name of the Lord and for His kingdom while we have a divided kingdom in our heart, we will have no rewards for.

          What does He mean by not being forgiven in this age?

          When we refuse to embrace the new life that God has purchased for us by the blood of Jesus, we are guilty of blasphemy. When we deny God’s right to inhabit and seize our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit we are preferring the bondage and depravity that Christ has set us free from and we are guilty of blasphemy. When we walk in the kind of unbelief that the Israelites did in the wilderness, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we succumb to pride and take credit for God’s work through us, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

          The children of Israel and their journey in the wilderness are a type of the Church today, and the biggest example of the unpardonable sin. Did God forgive Israel of their unbelief and allow them to enter the promise land anyway? NO! Neither will He forgive us for having a divided kingdom and allow us access to all the promises of the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 

          If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to bind the strongman of SELF and keep it nailed to the cross, we will be denied kingdom privileges, and not be trusted with the powers of the age to come. Our promise land is not an external location, the kingdom of God is within us. If the kingdom within us is divided, the authority and power of that kingdom WILL NOT STAND.

          We do not lose our citizenship in Heaven; but we are denied the authority and power of the kingdom of God on Earth. God cannot forgive this kind of unbelief and grant us the powers of the age to come. A house divided will not stand in the kingdom of God.

          Conscious and hardened resistance to the Holy Spirit leads us away from humility and repentance to pursue our own desires.

A Tree Known by Its Fruit

          Here is the conclusion of Jesus teaching and rebuking the Pharisees over their comment.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 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.”

          Blasphemy is to speak or act against. We must align our actions and our language to agree with the work of the Holy Spirit. Our complete submission to the Father is required for full kingdom authority.

          Our actions and words bear the fruit of what we believe. We must guard both to “make the tree good.”

          The words we speak are far more significant and powerful than we understand. The Bible is replete with teaching on the power of words. Words are expressions of what we believe and create images that accompany those beliefs.

          To make our tree good we must plant ourselves by the river of living water. We do this by delighting in His word, keeping it before our eyes, in our mouths, and planting its incorruptible seed in our hearts. It takes only 75-80 hours to read or listen to the entire Bible, yet most Christians have never done either. It reveals how little we read the Bible and exposes our lack of reverence for what God has to say.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Examples of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

          Any New Testament doctrine must be found and verified in the Old Testament by scriptural precedent, or example. The Old Testament is full of examples, and we find it in the New Testament as well. Studying these examples will help us better understand blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and confirm what is being taught here. The following are just a few of those examples.

Old Testament types of the unpardonable sin

          Moses and Aaron not being allowed into the promised land because of their blasphemy at the waters of Meribah is a great example. Numbers 20:6-13

         God called it unbelief and said they failed to sanctify Him as holy in the sight of the people. They sanctified themselves in front of the people instead. (This goes on in churches all the time.)

          Moses had a moment of pride in the sight of God’s people. He said, “shall we bring water from the rock?” (Meaning him and Aaron) and didn’t speak to the rock like God commanded him, but struck it like he did the first time, trying to reproduce what God did before.

          God called it unbelief because Moses didn’t hold Him alone up as holy, instead he held himself and Aaron up in the sight of the congregation. This disqualified both Moses and Aaron from entering the Promise Land on Earth. It was unforgivable. Later, Moses pleaded with God to let him enter the Promised land and God said, “no, and don’t bring it up again.” It didn’t keep them out of Heaven, but we can surmise that they would get no rewards for leading God’s people to the promised land because of this incident.

           In the Church today, we like to take credit for the things God does through us. Instead, we should take full responsibility for obedience and reverence, but take no credit for the results. After all, it is for His great name and His glory.

          Nadab and Abihu is another example. Leviticus 10. They offered strange fire before they Lord. “strange” means unauthorized, foreign, or profane. They just decided to do their own thing. God not only rejected their sacrifice; He found it so offensive that He consumed the two men with fire. (Leviticus 10:2)

How many times have Christian leaders stepped out to do their own thing? 

          A New Testament example is Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They “lied” to the Holy Spirit and died on the spot! I can only surmise that this stark example was put in the New Testament so we could see the seriousness of blasphemy against Holy Spirit. In Exodus 33 we see the explanation of what happened to them.

Exodus 33:1-3 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

          This is shocking! God was going to send them to the promised land with supernatural protection and provision… But He wasn’t going with them because He didn’t want to consume them. This is the condition of the Church today.

          God was abiding in the early Church when this happened to Ananias and Sapphira. Therefore their blasphemy brought instant judgment. I used to wonder why this happened to them, but we don’t see instances of it in the Church today. It is obvious to me now. God moves upon His church from time to time, just like He did with the children of Israel, He just doesn’t abide in her in fullness because He loves her and doesn’t want to see her destroyed. It breaks my heart!

          The Spirit in us is HOLY. I think we fail to understand what holiness is in God’s eyes. God will not forgive us in this age for our lack of reverence and allow us to operate in the powers of the age to come. The few supernatural things we see in operation in the Church is much like the children of Israel in the wilderness. (Which is possibly the greatest example of the unpardonable sin) They saw the provision and power of God daily for forty years and still did not believe God for more than a minute. God put them in the wilderness to test them, to see if they were worthy of the promise of His abiding presence.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

          When we receive the Holy Spirit and willfully continue to practice lawlessness, it is blasphemy. Anything we accomplish in the name of the Lord while practicing lawlessness, doing things for selfish, prideful, and deceitful reasons, disqualifies us from the full power of the kingdom of God on Earth. and disqualifies us for any rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

          God will not forgive this type of behavior and allow us to operate in His full power and authority. God is merciful and works with us as much as He can because He is good, and He loves us. However, anything supernatural that we accomplish when our heart is impure disqualifies us from any rewards for those accomplishments at the judgment seat of Christ. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “this sin will not forgiven in the age to come.”

I Never Knew You

Matthew 7:22-27 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

An obedient disciple is a house built on the Rock

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

A disobedient disciple is a house that will not stand

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Obedience is the “love language of God.” Disobedience is and act of unbelief and an act of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

          As we honor God’s word, the kingdom within us grows, so does our authority and His influence through us. We must learn to reverence the work of Holy Spirit in us if we are to follow Jesus’s example and live in the fullness of the Spirit. He would not have said “follow Me” if it wasn’t possible. We must not war against the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in us. The only way we can avoid the unpardonable sin is to remain in complete submission to the Father.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #18 ~ Reckon Yourself Dead

Romans 6:11 Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

          So, what does it mean to “reckon yourself to be dead indeed to sin?” Many translations render this phrase “consider yourself to be dead,” but what does that look like?

          Another good word for “reckon” is “believe.” We must believe that we are dead to sin. But that is not the end of the verse. We must also reckon (believe) that we are alive to God in Christ Jesus. It means we need to stop believing and thinking of ourselves as “sinners,” and start believing and thinking of ourselves as forgiven, redeemed sons and daughters of God. The problem is, thinking and believing does not change automatically, it is changed by what we continually look at and meditate on.

Without daily intimacy with the Lord and continual exposure to His living word, we will stay focused on our failures and shortcomings, never actually becoming all that Jesus paid for. Reading and hearing the Word of God, fellowship with other believers, and listening to good preaching are all good things. However, nothing will transform us faster than spending time with God when no one else is looking. Intimacy is where the greatest transformation takes place. It is where grace has its perfect work.

          Intimacy with the Father builds faith, dispels doubt, and corrects wrong thinking. Beholding Him and His glory shapes our perspectives, confirming and strengthening our identity by changing the way we see Him.

          The Bible says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 Matthew 12:33-37)

          What is in our heart and mind (believer and thinker) will eventually come out of our mouth, and that is the other thing that must change.

          We will never be free from sin while keeping it in our conversation and our thought life.

          We must not talk about how normal it is for us to sin. Saying things like; “We all sin, everybody sins, we are always going to sin,” strengthens a sin consciousness and reinforces the strongholds of wrong thinking and wrong believing.

There is a time and place to confess our sins and weaknesses to others for the purpose of needed ministry, restoration, and accountability. However, talking about the sins of others and filling our prayer life with wrong declarations of how sinful and unworthy we have been is counterproductive and anti-finished work.

That is not humility, it is BLASPHEMY! He made you worthy.

          Talking and thinking that way is “reckoning” ourselves alive to sin. It is saying that sin still has power over us, and therefore suggests that the finished work of Jesus did not actually accomplish anything for us.

Sin only has power over us if we empower it.

          If we do miss it and sin, run to God, and declare:

“Lord, I thank you for your mercy. I am sorry, that is no longer who I am Lord. That is certainly not what You look like in me. Thank you for making me clean and transforming me into your image. Thank you for perfecting your work in me and bringing me to the place where this is not an issue anymore. Thank you for your blood! Thank you for redeeming me. Thank you for Fathering me.”

           Understand that we have a healthy new identity that was purchased by the blood of Christ. Without our constant exposure to God’s presence and His Word, we will never find out who we are, and who we were created to be. Here are some scriptures that affirms who we are in Christ.

“We are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10)

“We have been perfected.” (Hebrews 10:14)

“We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“We are holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” (Colossians 1:22)

“We are chosen by God, without blame, an adopted son, accepted, redeemed by His blood and forgiven by His grace.” (Ephesians 1:4-7)

          To truly live the abundant life in Christ we must die to our fallen, carnal nature. For us to be successful at this we will need intimacy with Him, and constant intake and exposure to His Word.  

Our intimacy with the Father is the key to dying to sin and self.

When we give ourselves to intimacy with Him and give ourselves to reading and studying His word, we lay ourselves on the great potter’s wheel allow Him to shape us into everything we were created to be.

If we don’t embrace the finished work of Christ and believe that sin has been dealt with, we the enemy opportunity to deceive us. The primary way he does this is through guilt, condemnation, and shame.

Guilt ~ A subconscious belief that I am not forgiven

Condemnation ~ A subconscious belief that I am worthy of judgment.

Shame ~ A subconscious belief that I am still the old person I used to be before Christ.

These three lies are Satan’s counterfeit to Godly conviction, Godly sorrow, and a Godly perspective on our new identity in Christ.

Romans 14:22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

For those that struggle with sin, it is a dead give away that they have yet to understand the gospel message and the completed work of Jesus Christ that we are to abide in. Personally, I struggle with it for decades until I began to see my deception. Even then, it took some time to overcome the strongholds of wrong believing. The thing that helped me the most was the book of Romans.

I found that reading Romans in the Message paraphrase of the New Testament helped me gain the right perspective on my redemption. It helped me move from trying so hard to be “sold out to God,” to understanding that I have been “bought out completely!” God purchased me with His own blood, knowing that I was a sinner, knowing that I had a fallen nature, knowing I would make mistakes, and knowing that I could not fix myself. Still he bought me!

Once I realized I could do nothing about fixing my sin, and understanding that only He could, I just quit thinking about it. Now I wake up every day to pursue Him and trust that He is perfecting the work that He started. I believe that God knows what He is doing, and I am thoroughly convinced that I do not.

As we seek God’s face our old carnal man dies, because no man can look into the face of God and live.

Exodus 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 

We can look into the Father’s face because we are Christ’s. We have His Holy Spirit abiding in us. As we behold Him and His holiness, those things that are unholy and unworthy die. This is how we die to self.

We must believe that we are dead to sin, not giving sin another thought, not giving it the time of day. If we keep it out of our thoughts and out of our mouth, all the time and energy we previously wasted on trying to “do better,” or “clean ourselves up,” can be spent with Him.

The most important thing for us to remember about “reckoning ourselves dead to sin,” is believing that we are alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #17 ~ Exposing the Itchy Ear

John 8:31-32 So, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

          Freedom comes from knowing the truth, and that comes from abiding in relationship with the truth of His written word. It does not come from abiding in the teachings of men, the sermons of men, the doctrines of men, the interpretations of men, the latest revelations of our favorite bible teachers, or any other way that seems right to man. (Proverbs 14:12) This only comes from personal, intimate relationship with the Father and constant exposure to the His written word.

Listening to other teachers is important, but this should be a supplement to our own personal pursuit of God through His written word. Through reading, study, and meditation on the Bible for ourselves, we consume the unleavened bread of Christ, the pure living word. If we primarily listen to others teach about the Bible and read very little ourselves, its like taking vitamins and supplements and eating almost no real food. This is not healthy.

We MUST pursue Him through His word for ourselves.

2 Timothy 4:3-5 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

          The time isn’t coming folks, the time is NOW!

          We have become the church with the itchy ears. Consider this; There are over 200 Christian denominations in the U.S.A. alone and we are all arrogant enough to believe we have it right. The lack of humility is mind boggling.

It is very easy to slip into an itchy eared mindset. All we have to do is pick all the scriptures, teachers and doctrines that makes us happy, and gravitate toward those while neglecting the ones that challenge us and demand change. How do I know? I have been guilty more than most I think.

Consider this; It only takes a slow reader approximately 90 hours to read the Bible from cover to cover, and yet few Christians have ever read the entire Bible, even leaders in the Church that have been saved for decades. Furthermore, it only takes about 75 hours to listen to the Bible by audio recording. Currently we have resources available like Biblegateway that we can read, or listen to God’s word in almost any translation we choose and in multiple languages as well.

This reveals how little we read the word, how little we esteem the word, and much we trust in the opinions of men and allow them to spoon-feed us their opinions. We are in a very dangerous season in the history of the Church. The end of this age is upon us and we don’t have a clue who we are, what we believe. or why we believe it.

I know there are men and women of God that have not fallen into this deception, but I would venture to say that they are very few. It is time that these few stand up and begin to lead others into a relationship with the Father that births a hunger and desire for the manifestation of the kingdom of God and the truth of His word.

The Parable of Revealed Light

Luke 8:16-18 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 Therefore take heed how you hearFor whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Most of us are familiar with the first part of this parable, but verse 18 has the word “Therefore” that ties hiding the light that is in us with how, and what we hear. When we are constantly exposed to wrong doctrine, the result is that strongholds of wrong thinking and wrong believing increase, (we get more added) and our light gets progressively hidden. (what we seem to have is taken away) No one intentionally does this, it comes from the deception of the enemy and catering to selfish desires.

We must all ask ourselves this question; What is the primary way that I learn about God and His word? Through the teachings of other believers, (leavened bread) or through reading and listening to the Bible for ourselves? (unleavened bread)

         Only by the sharpness of the living word can we rightly discern and divide truth. If we avoid the portions of God’s word that cuts, pierces, prunes and separates, we quickly slip into error and deception. Our light gets hidden and our witness to the world becomes diminished.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Many would say, “It is hard to read the Bible, I don’t understand it.” I would say to those people, “walking and talking was hard too, until we learned how to do it. Now it comes natural.” Our pastors, or favorite teachers cannot walk or talk for us. Neither can they feed us anything more than leavened bread. We need the unleavened bread, and the sincere milk of God’s word. and we need to learn to feed ourselves.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Notice that Peter said, “as new born babes?” He isn’t pointing out baby Christians, he is saying that our hunger and desire for the word of God should be like an infant that cries for the life giving milk every few hours. Mature and immature Christians alike.

Ask yourself, “what am I hungry for? Am I hungry for God’s holy word, or for the latest preaching and teaching from my favorite ministers?” They are not even close to being the same.

Matthew 23:9-10 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 

That may seem to be a contradiction since the Lord Jesus himself gave us teachers in the form of the “five-fold ministry gifts” mentioned in Ephesians 4, but it is not. All of the five-fold ministry gifts have one purpose, to equip the saints for the work of ministry. All five teach and equip in different ways, but those teachings must be filtered through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and our personal relationship with God and His written word.

1 John 2:26-27  These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

The Lord showed me recently that if we abide in wrong doctrine, even out of ignorance, we partner with the adversary, building strongholds of wrong thinking and wrong believing in our own hearts and minds. We actually assist the enemy in his plan of deception by building the strongholds that bind us. Unfortunately, its an evil deception that most of us fall for at one time or another.

These strongholds are not just reinforced belief systems, they are encampments in our own minds that the enemy hides behind. As we speak about, and act on the things we believe we reveal to Satan the best strategies to keep us in our deception. One of the ways he does this is to keep us running in the same circle of believers and despising the beliefs of other denominations. Denominational divisions were never God’s plan, and now they are an effective tool that the enemy uses against us.

          To be truly free, we must be very selective about what we are hearing and what are we beholding, who we are listening to, and how much we are doing it. Without the filter of our own personal relationship with God and His word, we lack the ability to properly discern sound doctrine. Truth becomes obscured with the leaven of religious doctrine that appeases the carnal mind and satisfies our selfish desires. Self is the very thing we need to be freed from and freedom from self will not come until we die to it by renewing our minds to the holiness of God’s word.

Again, are we really abiding in His word or just reading the latest books and listening to the latest sermons? Do we really desire the sincere milk of the word, or do we lust for the leaven of a self serving gospel that doesn’t challenge us or strengthen us for trials and testing?

Our itchy ears, and the lust for leavened bread binds us and blinds us from truth. There is a reason the apostle James wrote, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment..” (James 3:1)

          Let us abide in His word, seek Him when no one is looking, cultivate a hunger for the sincere milk of God’s word and become everything the blood of Christ has paid for us to be.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #16 ~ Sin Distorts

In spiritual warfare it is important to know what battles have already been won so we don’t get confused and waste our energy on battles that we already have the victory in.

         For this lesson I will share a prophetic experience I had early in my Christian walk. I must confess it took me years before I actually understood what the Lord was teaching me through this experience, but I have found it to be one of the key revelations that should govern the life of every believer, and a necessary understanding to be effective at spiritual warfare.

The Lord woke me in the middle of the night and said, “get a pen and paper and write down everything I tell you.” I quietly rolled out of bed and did as He instructed.

          As soon as I sat down the Lord began to speak to me about my life and ministry. After a page and a half of correction, instruction, and exhortation, the Lord made this final statement to me,

“Don’t let sin distort your reflection of Me. I will confirm this word with a sign following to seal it in your heart.”

          Seven days later while starting my daily routine, I was taking a prayer walk around a nearby lake. It was summer in central Florida and the sun was barely up. As I was walking around the lake, fellowshipping with the Lord, He instructed me to go sit on a certain bench that was facing the lake. As I sat down on the bench and looked out across the lake, I was mesmerized by what I saw.

          The lake was completely still, not a ripple or a wave of any kind. It was a perfect mirror. Being a fisherman, I have been on many bodies of water early in the morning and seen water so still that you almost didn’t want to touch it and disturb its beauty. This was something more. It was still like a glass of water sitting on the counter. I have never seen anything like it, before or since.

          As I looked across the 20 acre lake with the sun behind me, I could see the shoreline on the other side. I saw the rich green grass rising from the edge of the water with huge Live Oak trees on the other side topped off by a beautiful blue sky with a few puffy white clouds. As I looked at this scene, I saw that the reflection in the lake was a perfect mirror image of what I was seeing on the shore.

          As I focused on the absolute perfect reflection in the water I realized that this reflected image was a perfect representation of the real thing. If I didn’t know this was a reflection from the lake I would not be able to tell the difference.

          As I was having this thought, amazed at this perfect reflection, a tiny fish jumped in the middle of the lake, right in my line of sight. I sat there for over ten minutes and watched as the ripples from that tiny fish slowly spread over the entire lake, distorting that perfect reflection that I was admiring.

          Then the Lord spoke, and said the same words He said a week earlier, “Don’t let sin distort your reflection of Me.” This was the sign that He promised me to seal the things He spoke to me in my heart. This was a prophetic word to make warfare with. It changed my life.

I won’t share the other things He said to me, but they were very precise in defining who He called me to be and I focused on these things that spoke to my identity instead of focusing on the sign and trying to gain understanding. This was a grave mistake on my part and cost me years of struggle with sin.

That is the point of this lesson. We have not only been freed from the consequences of sin, but freed from the struggle with sin as well.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ GAVE us victory over spiritual death and sin. It is a free gift! It was easy for me to believe that I have the victory over spiritual death and was going to heaven, but having faith to believe that I was completely freed from sin was just too hard to swallow. After all, I know me. I know my weaknesses. I know how many times I have fallen in the same area, so I battled against sin in my life for years not realizing that the battle had already been won.

This lack of understanding caused me to backslide repeatedly. I would get so wore out and so frustrated from trying not to sin that I would loose hope and give up on God, going back to my old sinful ways. I am so thankful God never gave up on me.

Romans 6:6-7  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 

I was free from the slavery of sin and didn’t know it! My old carnal self was crucified with Him when I made Jesus the Lord of my life. The enemy made me believe that I would never be free from sinning and tricked me into fighting a battle that Jesus had already won.

I know I am not alone. I see this problem in the lives of many believers. Hopefully this will shed some light on why some of us struggle with sin.

          God’s grace will transform us and restore us back into His image. If we make a mistake and fall into sin, we must quickly repent and forget it just like He does.

Hebrews 8:12  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.

Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

Notice that God blots out our sins and chooses not to remember them? He doesn’t do this for us. He does this for His own sake! He calls us to do the same, for our sake and His as well.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Admit it, quit it, and forget it! If we are diligent to practice this, we stop the ripple effects of sin before it distorts the reflection of His image, in and through our lives. Un-repented sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we can possibly pay.

If we don’t deal with sin immediately, we give sin a voice and a platform for expression that causes us to dwell on sin, repeat the sin, and develop a sin consciousness.

It is impossible to reflect the clear image of God with a sin consciousness. Sin has been dealt with by the only one ever qualified to deal with it, Jesus Christ.

We live in this incredible paradox of having two natures, but once we take on the nature of God we die to that old carnal nature. We no longer have to be slaves to sin. Instead, we have the privilege of waking up every day in Him, understanding that we are righteous in His sight and allow His amazing grace to reshape us and mold us into His image.

There is a modern paraphrase of the bible called “The Message” written by Eugene H. Peterson, an American theologian. He wrote this paraphrase so his young grandchildren would have a translation of the Bible that could be easily understood. While this is not a word for word translation and many people reject his writing, I believe he captures the heart of God and spirit of truth on revelations concerning sin and righteousness. Here is a wonderful passage in Romans that teaches this truth beautifully.

Romans 6:1-14  So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! 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? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer captive to sin’s demands! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

12-14 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

We can’t let sin distort the image of God in us. We will never experience the freedom from sin that Christ died for if we keep it in our language and in our thoughts.

If we take all the energy that we expend on “doing better, resisting temptation, and struggling to clean ourselves up,” and use it to pursue Him in relationship, He will remove all things that are not pleasing to Him and are hurting His child. He is a good Father. We can be confident that He will complete the work He started in us if we will just cooperate and believe what He said is true.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #15 ~ Finger In The Sand

Some of the most powerful teachings of Jesus are when the religious leaders are trying to catch Him in His words to bring an accusation against Him. He always seems to use those opportunities to demonstrate the kingdom of God that He is ushering in. This is one of my favorites.

In John 8 we see Jesus teaching in the temple and the Pharisees interrupt His reading to bring Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. Pay attention to how Jesus deals with this.

John 8:2-8 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 

          They were testing Jesus. They were squeezing Him, hoping for something to come out of Him that they could use against Him.

Our heart is revealed through testing. When we get squeezed by life and circumstance, what is inside of us comes out.

        There is much to be learned from this passage, but there are two key phrases in this verse that we will focus on; “they said to test Him,” and “He bent down and wrote on the ground.” How are they related? What was Jesus doing when He bent down to write on the ground? What is the Lord saying to us through this encounter?

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 

Being slow to speak is just one of the many valuable lessons to learn here. When Jesus got squeezed, what did He do? He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. Giving us a living example of how to deal with testing, and how to find the answers we need when our feet are being held to the fire.

Most teachers would be quick to get angry for bursting into the temple and interrupting the service. They would be quick to rebuke and correct such brash and irreverent actions, but that is not what Jesus did.

          Instead of answering out of anger and His own understanding, Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground, focusing on what the Spirit had to say. I doubt that Jesus was writing anything significant on the ground. I believe He was simply checking what the Father had to say about it, how He should respond, and what He should do. I believe He was seeking wisdom and understanding.

They continued to pressure Him, we don’t know how long, but when He finally stood up He had the heart of the Father, and the Spirit gave Him the words to say. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” Then once more, He bent back down and wrote on the ground, waiting for further instruction asking the Father about the next step, waiting for those powerful words to have their full effect.

Proverbs 4:7-9 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

The principle thing in every test, every battle, and every encounter is getting wisdom and getting understanding. Wisdom and understanding are always available to us if we ask, seek, and wait. Many times we don’t think about waiting and speak before we seek. We try to answer or act from the shallow well of our limited understanding instead waiting , watching, and listening for direction from the Holy Spirit.

James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 

          Testing will always come, and we are to count it all joy when it does. The closer we get to Him, the greater our testing will be. What comes forth from us during testing and trials indicates what we believe and who we trust. Testing is an essential part of the gospel. It causes us to grow spiritually and increase in our authority in the kingdom of God.

          We know from scripture that in Jesus’s mind, He could do nothing of Himself. Since He is our model for Christian living, it would behoove us to adopt the same line of thinking. The life of Jesus is perfect theology. What we see Him doing, we should be practicing in our churches and in our personal lives. If we cannot see it in the life of Jesus, it doesn’t belong in ours.

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Luke 12:11-12 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

          Jesus modeled this passage in Luke 12 in His encounter with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus always modeled the word that He preached.

          Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus separated Himself in between times of ministry to pray and fellowship with the Father. Without this component in our lives, we will not be mindful enough, or strong enough to keep our finger in the sand when difficult tests arise.

The world is watching all of us that profess to be Christians to see our true character. Our response to trials and testing should produce wisdom and grace, seasoned with salt and in step with God’s character.

If we are not intimate with the Father, we will not produce the fruit of who He is when it counts the most.

Lets keep our sword in our hand, and our finger in the sand, remembering that a test of character usually comes in the form of a “pop quiz.”

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC