The Kingdom of God – pt.3


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         We do not hear much taught on the conscience. This is a revelation that the apostle Paul had, and I believe it to be of vital importance if we are to be a people of faith. Understanding the function of our conscience will help keep us out of the “kingdom of me.”

Conscience is commonly defined as the voice of the soul.

          The apostle Paul was aware that a clear conscience is essential to our relationship with God. He makes reference to its importance throughout the New Testament. In the book of Acts Paul makes this statement:

Acts 24:10 “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

          When we are feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit, that simply means that our conscience has been offended. We have done something that is in direct disobedience to the Lord. Be it a sin of commission, or omission, the bottom line is, when we violate the King’s word, our conscience knows it and communicates that in the form of conviction.

          If we are not a born-again citizens of the Kingdom of God, our conscience cannot always be trusted because our perception of everything is based solely on our natural senses and life experience.

A better definition of conscience is: Co-Perception or Co-Perceiver.

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          If we are born again, our spirit man has been transformed, recreated with a new nature, a new moral compass. Our spirit is now one with the Holy Spirit and can be trusted to keep us walking in the Kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (Amp) Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].

          Our conscience is no longer limited by our senses and experience. It has been altered because we have been born again. We now have a co-perceiver. The Holy Spirit perceives the mind and will of God and communicates that to our conscience. Our conscience perceives the amount of light and revelation that we have and holds us accountable for walking in that light. They work together to give us a co-perception.

          Let me explain the function of conscience in a little more depth. Let’s look at two scriptures from Proverbs:

          These two verses are tied together. In Proverbs 20:27 the word lamp could also be translated candle. In modern terms, we would use the word flashlight. God uses our spirit like a flashlight so we can search for His council by the Holy Spirit in our inner man. (co-perception)

          Our inner man consists of our spirit, our soul, and our mind. These three parts of our being are spiritual. I think we miss that truth sometimes. Words are spiritual, therefore thoughts, your mind, and your soul are spiritual. They need to be in the proper spiritual environment and fed the proper spiritual food to rise to the place God intended. Our conscience resides in our soul, our mind.

          Our spirit is incorruptible, our soul and mind are not. They can be corrupted. When corruption takes place in these areas we have a breakdown in communication between us and the King. Our conscience is our protection against corruption and deception in these areas.

          When the Holy Spirit communicates something to our spirit, that information is then processed through the filters of our mind and emotions. This is why it is so important to be constantly renewing our mind to God’s word. If the filters are unclean, the communication becomes tainted, cloudy, and obscure. When the line of communication breaks down, it cuts us off from receiving instruction and correction. It makes it very difficult for us to stay on the course that God has laid out for us.

          Most cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. are internal combustion engines. They are basically air machines. The more air they can push through the engine, the more power they can produce. You can have the largest, most powerful racing engine in the world, but if it can’t breathe the air properly all that power is never realized.

           My lawn mower has an air filter that I have to clean several times a year. If I don’t clean the grass and dirt out regularly the mower loses power and becomes hard to start, and eventually quits until it can breathe again.

          The word for spirit in the bible can also be translated breath. The Holy Spirit breathes life giving communication to our spirit. That breath of God is then filtered through our soul and mind. If those filters are not continually renewed, and washed by the Word of God, we will slowly but surely lose power and eventually stop moving forward altogether.

          We must discipline ourselves to constantly renew our mind to the Word of God. Read it, study it, meditate on it, speak it, and pray it out over our lives and circumstances. When we do this, our conscience becomes an internal compass that can be relied upon to lead us through this life supernaturally, and into God’s will and purpose for our life.

          The Holy Spirit always guides us into truth, (John 16:13) therefore our conscience can always be trusted. If we continually give heed to our conscience, we will become sensitive to the voice of the Spirit. When we live this way, supernatural encounters with God and a knowing of the future are the natural byproduct.

John 16:13 (Amp) But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future].

          The account of the Pharisees and scribes bringing a woman caught in adultery before Jesus and “testing Him” to see if He would violate the law is a great example of how our conscience works. When Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” something amazing happened.

John 8:7-9 (NKJV) So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again, He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

          I find it interesting that the oldest began to leave first, and then on down to the youngest. The older ones had enough experience to know that they could not keep the law, they had tried. The Pharisees and scribes had violated the law so much that their conscience was desensitized, calloused, and seared.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (KJV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

          Their seared conscience made them legalistic and judgmental. They could not keep the law themselves, so they tried to hold everyone else accountable to it. Yet when Jesus spoke the truth, their conscience immediately responded in a right way. Jesus is the Light, the Word, and the Truth. He was speaking the word of truth and shining a light on their sin. Even their seared conscience wasn’t calloused enough keep them from doing what was right.

        The conscience, when exposed to the light of truth, will hold you accountable for walking in that light. This is the primary function of our conscience.

        If you know anything about cooking a good steak, you know that you must put a good “sear” on both sides of the meat. It creates a barrier to hold in all the flavorful juices and helps to keep the meat from drying out.

          When our conscience is seared it also creates a barrier. That barrier holds inside the destructive sin that brings death and darkness and hinders the light of God’s word from entering in.

          When Jesus confronted them with His profound statement “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” the candle of their spirit burned bright and exposed their sin. They dropped the rocks that they were so eager to throw and turned away from their sin because of their conscience convicting them.

      James says the Word of God is like a mirror.

James 1:22-24 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

          When our conscience is confronted with the truth, it will always make us look at our self, as if in a mirror. It will point to what is right, true, and just, as well as what is wrong and needs to be changed. If we willfully and continually violate our conscience, it becomes seared, desensitized, and numb. The more it is seared, the more indistinct the voice of our spirit becomes, and being led by the Spirit becomes increasingly difficult. It is an extremely dangerous place to be.

Avoiding shipwrecks

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          In 1 Timothy we see a powerful truth about faith, and how its function is tied directly to our conscience.

1 Timothy 1:19 (NIV) Cling to your faith in Christ and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

          You may be familiar with the term “shipwrecked faith”, but are you aware that this shipwrecked condition comes from a violation of conscience? Oh, how important it is to listen to our conscience! It is our direct line to the Holy Spirit.

          When our conscience is violated we lose peace, and carry around a strong sense of emptiness and conviction. Our heart is telling us that we have missed it, we have gotten off track, we have violated a Kingdom command. Our faith then becomes shaken, and our confidence in God’s ability and provision is compromised.

        We believe with the heart and the mind. If our heart is in perfect harmony with God, faith comes easy, but a violated conscience will not allow our own heart to believe. We may still agree with it and acknowledge it in our mind, but in our heart, we don’t have the ability to believe because of a violated conscience. Look at what John says about how our heart works.

1 John 3:20-22 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

          Our confidence in God comes from knowing in our heart that we are in good standing with God. When we walk in willful disobedience, we try to function outside of kingdom principles and cast away our confidence.

Hebrews 10:35,36 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

          To violate our conscience and not address its conviction is to cast away our confidence in the King, and our faith becomes shipwrecked. Our clear conscience keeps our faith ship sailing smooth.

The Righteousness of God – pt.3


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Righteousness has a Voice

Romans 10:6-13 (NKJV) But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

          Righteousness has a voice, a specific way of speaking. There are laws that govern the way righteousness is expressed verbally. If we adhere to these laws it builds a stronghold of faith and we become established in righteousness. This, in turn, produces the fruit of holiness in our lives.

          Notice in the above passage that the first thing righteousness does… is to NOT SAY in your heart. Words are not used in this instance but our thoughts and actions tell what we are saying in our heart.

          When we act like sin still has a hold on us, that it still has a stain, a voice, a judgment, and an impact, we act as if the sacrifice Jesus made was not enough. This is garden variety unbelief. It stops the grace of God from molding and shaping us into His image. Notice, this is done without speaking a word, simply thinking we are less than what God paid for, saying in our heart that we are not worthy,(condemnation) believing we are still sinners, (shame) thinking we are worthy of judgment (guilt). This is the very definition of having a sin consciousness. This is the same consciousness of sin they had in the Old Testament because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away their sins.

Hebrews 10:2-4 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

          The good news is that the blood of Christ CAN take away our sins, and HAS taken away our sins. Past, present and future! Glory to God! He took our sins to the grave AND LEFT THEM THERE! We should do the same, becoming dead indeed to sin, leaving our old man buried with Christ.

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

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          To “reckon” means to think, or imagine. How we think about ourselves determines how we act and how we speak. When our actions and words speak against righteousness, it produces a sin consciousness and is an affront to the work of the cross.

          When it comes to operating in faith, it is just as important to know what NOT to say, as knowing what we SHOULD SAY. Faith always has a voice, a specific language. When we align our speech with the language of faith it makes our faith active, alive and fruitful. It activates grace and all of its transforming power in our life.

          The importance of our words are stressed throughout the entire bible. We have the same type of creative ability that God has. In fact, we are co-creators with Him. He has given us the building blocks, the raw material if you will, of His word. When we put His word in our mouth we release creative power.

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         The righteousness of faith only speaks what God has said about us. It only speaks of our Son-ship, our righteousness, our position as an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ. It speaks of us being holy and blameless children of the King. It doesn’t even acknowledge the old dead man. Not with our thoughts, not with our actions, and certainly not with our words. Look at this passage a little closer;

Romans 10:8-12 But what does it say?The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

          What does the righteousness of faith say? …THE WORD! Specifically, THE WORD OF FAITH.

          We have made Romans 10:9,10 the “go to” scriptures that we share with people when we are convincing them to give their life to the Lord. Unfortunately, we have reduced this to just praying a prayer to go to heaven someday. When we read the entire passage, we see that it is not talking about saving us from hell, but saving us from the law of sin and death. Its emphasis is more about living a transformed life than it is going to heaven. Look at verse 10 again.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.

          We are capable of believing ourselves into actually living righteous and holy. Not by doing, and not doing, not by works, and struggling to live right, but by submitting to the finished work of Christ.

“We must start where He finished and believe Him to produce the fruit of holiness in our lives, even in the face of sin.”

          If we really believe that what God said is true, we will confess that it is true, and this leads to salvation. Salvation from what? From sin and death, from the carnal nature!

          Yes, we are saved from hell, but the entire book of Romans is about living unto righteousness and being free from sin and its effects. It is about being alive to God and embracing the work of the cross. It’s about us becoming who God created us to be. It’s about us being transformed into His image.

          How does this transformation take place? How do we die to sin and come alive to righteousness? By speaking righteousness, by the spirit of faith, and with the power of words!

Before we learn how to speak, think about this:

          What is a word? Why are words so powerful? Why, according to Proverbs 18:21, is death and life in the power of the tongue?

“A word is a verbal or written expression that carries ideas and creates IMAGES. The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces.”

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          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 in you.

          If we read the Bible, keep it before our eyes and in our thoughts, we will have a good idea of what the image of God is because Jesus was the express image of God.

The whole reason He was able to redeem man from sin was that He was the Image of God.

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. God’s image IN YOU is upheld by the power of His word SPOKEN BY YOU!

          This brings us full circle, back to our original text in Romans 10. We looked at what the righteousness of faith doesn’t say, now let’s look at what the righteousness of faith DOES say.

Choosing a Master

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Romans 6:19-22 (NIV) I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

          We see in this scripture that being a slave to righteousness, in other words, serving the master of righteousness, yields the fruit of holiness without you trying to be holy! Glory to God! This way the Lord gets all the glory, and no one can lay claim to being a “Super Christian.”

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          We are to be DEAD to sin, but ALIVE to righteousness. The one we choose to serve (verse 19), sin or righteousness, causes us to be dead to the other. If we are alive to sin, we are “free” from the control and influence of righteousness. The results are death according to Romans 6:20. However, if we present ourselves as an offering to serve righteousness, we are free from the control of our carnal sin nature (verse 22). This enables the etching tool of God’s grace to mold and shape you into what you are believing….RIGHTEOUSNESS!

          We cast our vote for who will be our master by our confession. Confession means to agree with, to acknowledge, to say the same thing as. We must acknowledge and agree with what the Bible says about us if righteousness is to be our master.

          Righteousness must be appropriated by faith, not by works. The righteousness of the law DOES, but the righteousness of faith SPEAKS. The law is about doing, whereas faith is about believing and speaking.

2 Corinthians 4:13 (NKJV) And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

          It’s not enough for us to understand the concept of righteousness and mentally agree with it, we must open our mouths and SPEAK IT. LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD SAY SO!

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV) Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

          It doesn’t matter how many books we’ve read on righteousness, or how many sermons we have heard. We must believe it and speak it if we want it to become a reality in our lives.

          If we sin and fall short of the glory of God, we must not respond like Adam, hiding and blaming others for our mistakes. Instead, we run to God and say something like; “I thank you Father for exposing that act of sin and helping me to see that it is not who I am. I thank you Father for paying the price for sin and clothing me in your righteousness. I thank you for delivering me out of the kingdom of darkness and translating me into the kingdom of your Son Jesus. I am free from sin and death and I thank You for Your great mercy. Where would I be if you didn’t love me and Father me? I am so thankful that you redeemed me.”

          When we respond to sin like that, God’s grace acts as an etching tool to mold and shape us into His image. We are saying in our heart that we submit to His transforming work of grace and we believe that He is working on us to produce the fruit of holiness in our life, removing even the desire to sin. This is how we become righteous conscious.

           When the righteousness of faith speaks like this; it shuts the door in the enemy’s face and prevents him from seducing us into condemnation, guilt, and shame, producing a sin consciousness.

“Once you know who you are, you can’t be seduced by who you were.”

           Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters. We must be consistent in the confession of who we are in Christ, even in the face of falling short. Habitual declaration of our right standing with God gives no entrance to the enemies deception.

        When we get attacked by the devil, he is never after the NEW man because he is no match for someone who knows who they are IN CHRIST. He is after the “OLD” man (that should be dead) so he can resurrect old things, old habits, and old thoughts, to disturb the new man, and trick him into giving up his dominion, keeping him from flourishing and producing the fruit of holiness. This is what happened to Adam.

        Don’t let a moment of weakness, or a misstep, or a hundred missteps, break the habit of your declaration of righteousness. Hold fast to your confessionn and God is faithful to continue and complete His transforming work in you. Your confession of righteousness keeps the potter’s wheel spinning, and His shaping hand of grace on your life.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

           In conclusion: God has forever removed the barrier of sin. He has, through the offering of His Son Jesus, gained us access to His transforming power by making us the Righteousness of God IN CHRIST. He did this because we are so valuable to Him. He did this so that we may enter the sanctification process and be restored back to our created purpose, His image. He did this because He loves us.

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.