Tag Archives: free from a sin consciousness

Spiritual Warfare # 20 The Mark of a True Disciple

          What is a disciple? If someone asked you; Are you are a disciple of Jesus? What would you say? Do you believe that you are a disciple?

          I was convicted strongly by the Holy Spirit that we throw that word around and don’t seem to stop and consider what a true disciple of Christ really is. Websters definition of disciple is, “a pupil or follower of any teacher or school.” But what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

          We can easily look at the lives of the twelve disciples of Jesus and look at the life of the apostle Paul. That may help us understand what it means to be a true disciple, but what does the Bible say about it?

John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

          Abiding in God’s word is the mark of a true disciple. According to this passage, the fruit of being a true disciple is knowledge of the truth and freedom. In other words, being a disciple has a specific fruit attached to it. It is measurable.

We must ask ourselves these two very sobering questions.

Am I truly abiding in God’s word?

          Do I hunger and thirst for the word like a baby desires its milk?

1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby

          True disciples have this in common, they all have an insatiable desire for God’s word. Spiritual hunger and spiritual growth are also measurable fruit of being a true disciple.

Am I truly free?

          Am I free from the bondage of sin? Or am I still bound by the same old habits, addictions, emotions, and carnal tendencies I was last year? Is my transformation into Christ-likeness obvious to me and others, or am I stuck in religious practices that makes me feel better about myself but doesn’t change me?

          Do I understand that Truth is a person and not just words on a page? Am I growing in my relationship with that person and following Him?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

          Being a true disciple is to abide in truth until it dawns on our heart and mind that truth is a living person, not simply words in a book. Abiding in truth causes Truth to set us free, and whom the Truth sets free, is free indeed. Freedom is the fruit of knowing Him.

          As we abide in the truth of God’s word, that Word becomes flesh in our lives. We become the truth we abide in. We become what we behold.

          This is how we follow Him.

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 #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

What Defines A Mature Christian?

growing baby

          Is it possible to be a faithful church attender, serve in the ministry for years, teach others about the gospel, be a leader within our church community, even be a pastor and still be a babe? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. 
         The Church has developed some un-biblical ideas about what defines a mature Christian. Because of these twisted beliefs we have fallen into the trap of “thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought,” (Romans 12:3).
          Young children always think they are more “grown up” than they actually are. Boys compare themselves with other boys to see who is bigger and stronger. Girls compare each other to see who has the most grown up stuff in their purse, who gets their ears pierced first, who gets to wear make-up first, etc. This thought process produces a belief system that makes them think they are more than they are, and they carry that into adulthood. It is not a healthy thing. It lacks humility and darkens the perspective about their identity.
          It is time for the body of Christ to humble themselves and acknowledge their immaturity. It is the only way to move forward and grow spiritually. If a person thinks they are more mature than they really are, it hinders their spiritual development because they are trying to start from a place that they are not.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
          If we are to learn algebra, we must first have a clear understanding of basic math. Without a solid foundation of basic math, algebra will remain a mystery. There are certain rules and laws of math that must be understand clearly before we can advance into algebra. Growing up spiritually is the same way. There are a few things we must understand about ourselves before we can grow into a mature believer.
grow big.jpg

          Spiritual maturity is much like physical maturity, and just like the physical, spiritual maturity can be measured by stages of growth. We see three stages represented in the New Testament. Babes, children, and mature. For this lesson we will look at what causes Christians to remain a babe.

Spiritual Immaturity

Hebrews 5:12-14 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Notice the phrase “unskilled in the word of righteousness.”

A clear understanding of righteousness will cause us to grow beyond being a baby Christian.

The word unskilled here means to be ignorant. It means: without knowledge of, unaware of, unconscious of, oblivious to, incognizant of, unfamiliar with, unacquainted with, uninformed about, unenlightened about, inexperienced with, naïve. You get the picture?
growing babe.jpg

          Being ignorant of our righteousness is one of the greatest tragedies in Christianity. Not knowing who we are prevents us from becoming what Christ paid for. If we never understand we are righteous children, we will serve God FOR approval instead of serving God from a place OF approval.

Galatians 4:1-2 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

          Many of us are claiming our rightful inheritance of healing, blessing, prosperity, favor, etc. but until we embrace our righteousness and establish our identity as sons and daughters, we will not grow up enough to receive much of our inheritance. We will remain under guardians and stewards and remain a servant, a slave, a babe. Many times the reason we don’t grow up is because the “guardians and stewards” (pastors and leaders) we are under don’t have this revelation themselves so they can’t teach it. This produces a lot of frustration and discouragement in the body of Christ.

We will never grow beyond being the revelation of our identity, the understanding of our righteousness.

          We have a tremendous inheritance through Christ, but our inheritance won’t come to us in fullness until we catch this revelation. We will live a life no different from a slave, because in some ways, we will still be a slave to sin. The revelation of righteousness sets us free from sin and legalism which wars against Christ’s transforming work in us.
          Living without a revelation of righteousness is living a life of bondage and slavery to sin. It keeps us from the freedom and intimacy of relationship with our Father. This is why it is such a big deal. We can be zealous and hungry for God and miss the whole point of the Gospel. Listen to Paul’s heart for his fellow Jews.

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 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.
          What is Paul saying here? The Jews are zealous for God but they are ignorant of the fact that righteousness has been provided for them. IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS! Ignorance can get us destroyed. Ignorance can keep us from receiving God’s promises. Ignorance can stunt our spiritual growth and keep us from developing beyond a babe in Christ.
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          We must submit to righteousness. This means that we must set ourselves in agreement with what God has said about us. Stop talking sin and death and begin speaking life and righteousness. We can’t be free from a sin consciousness and keep it in our language. We need to submit to the the gift of righteousness.
         God sees us sinless. When we begin to believe that righteous and holy is the only way He sees us, then we will begin to see ourselves that way too. This opens the door for His grace to flood our lives and transform us so that we actually begin to produce righteous and holy fruit. If we try to live righteous and holy in our own strength, we have already set ourselves up for failure. That is what the Jews were, and still are doing. We can’t make ourselves righteous, so we must agree with God that He has already made us that way and His grace will empower us live that way.

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;

          Christ started the work by giving us the gift of righteousness. Believe what He said is truth and grace is released to perfect the work.
          When we begin to believe that we are righteous, we leave no room for the enemy to touch our lives. Being settled in our identity will cause our motives, thoughts, intentions, and even our actions to be pure. Submitting to righteousness is the key to spiritual maturity and transformation. Righteousness isn’t just who we are in His sight. It is a promise to transform us, by the grace of God, into a person that actually lives a righteous life. We just have to believe what God has said about us is true.

Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are righteous? Because we know us!

          Let the weak say “I am strong!” (Joel 3:10) Let the Christian that struggles with sin say, “I am righteous!”
          Righteousness is not a lesson we learn and move on to something else. This must be focused on, cultivated, and exercised constantly. Its something we continue to grow into. when we develop a hunger and thirst for this revelation we will be filled with all the fullness of God.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.

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

JC

Old Testament Law – Made to be Broken?

law

          Understanding the purpose of Old Testament Law is the beginning of understanding your imputed righteousness in Christ.
I’m going to make a statement that may be foreign to most Christians.

“God never gave man the Law to keep, He gave man the Law to break.”

          Does that sound contradictory or confusing? It shouldn’t. No man in history was able to keep the Law, except Jesus Christ. Never has any man succeeded in making himself acceptable to God by keeping the Law. Didn’t God know this? Of course He did. So why did God give us a Law that we are unable to keep? So that we would come face to face with the fact that we are incapable of doing anything right or just apart from His grace.Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
          The Law exposes our true nature apart from God. It teaches us that we need something far greater than our own strength and will to please God. The Law helps us to see our inadequacies so that we can be honest with ourselves and say: “I am a sinner through and through, and of myself I can do nothing to please a holy God.”
          The Law was not given with the expectation of us keeping it. It was given in the full knowledge that we would break it; and when we have broken it so completely as to be convinced of our absolute need for a Savior, then the Law has served its purpose. It has fulfilled the role of a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so the He may Himself fulfill it.
Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
          We are all sinners by nature because of Adam’s transgression. The Law makes that sinful nature manifest. When a holy Law is applied to a sinful man, then that sinfulness comes out in full display making the fallen nature of that man manifest.
          God knows who we are. the trouble is, WE don’t know who we are. The Law brings us to a place where we see who we are apart from Him and shows us our utter helplessness under the Law, and our need to be saved from it. If not for the Law we would never see how weak we are apart from Christ. We would continue in the futile pursuit of trying to please God with our own righteousness.
The Law was given to make us lawbreakers, to expose our sin, not to the world, but to ourselves.
Romans 7:7-9 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
          We need to have our weaknesses proved to ourselves beyond a shadow of doubt. It is at that point we are able to understand our need for deliverance from the Law. We must be delivered from the Law to receive the free gift of the righteousness of God.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

“The Law shows us our need to be free from it. Free from our own works of righteousness so that we can see our need to embrace the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.”

Law vs. Grace

          In a nutshell, Law means that I do something for God. Grace means that God does something for me. If Law means that God requires something from me for it’s fulfillment, then grace means that He no longer requires it from me, but He provides it for me Himself.
          Where we fall into trouble is our tendency to live by Law. We are far more comfortable with a “quid pro quo,” mentality. Do this to receive that, receive something for doing something. This is rational and easy to wrap our head around, but it is not faith. Faith doesn’t come natural because with faith, we don’t have the ability to understand everything. We feel the need to do something to earn what we have been given.
Galatians 3:19-25 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
          Once faith in Christ has come, we no longer have need of the Law. We then must transition from operating under the Law of sin and death, to the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
          Old habits can be hard to break. We are born and raised under the Law of sin and death. Faith in Christ, in His imputed righteousness, in our change of status from slaves of sin to adopted children of God takes a concentrated effort. Learning to live by the new Law of the Spirit is a process. We are born into this new life as infants, and for us to mature properly and thrive under this new Law we must reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God by what Jesus did on the cross.

Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
          So why do we continue to try and live by the Law? Because we don’t understand that the Law was never intended for us to keep. It was intended to show us how futile our efforts are to keep it, and to expose our fallen nature to such a degree that our only option is to believe in our Savior.
JC