Category Archives: Righteousness

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 your church community, even be a pastor and still be a babe? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. In fact most of the body of Christ, including most church leaders are what the bible calls a “babe.”
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,” and have deceived ourselves.
Think about it, 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, something they are not, and they carry that into adulthood. It is not a healthy thing. It lacks humility and darkens their 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 you are learning a subject such as algebra, you must first have a clear understanding of basic math. You must first lay a solid foundation of the basics or algebra will remain a mystery to you. There are certain rules and laws of math that you must understand clearly before you can advance into algebra. Growing up spiritually is the same way. There are a few things you must understand about yourself before you can grow into a mature believer.
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Spiritual maturity is much like physical maturity, and much 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.”

Your understanding, awareness, and belief about your righteousness is THE ONLY THING that will cause you 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?
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Being ignorant of our righteousness is one of the greatest tragedies in Christianity. It is the whole point of the Gospel and the foundation for our identity in Christ. Not knowing who we are prevents us from becoming what Christ paid for. If we never realize 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.
Christians are claiming there rightful inheritance of healing, blessing, prosperity, favor, etc. but until they embrace their righteousness and establish their identity as sons they will not grow up enough to receive their inheritance. They will remain under guardians and stewards and remain a servant, a slave, A BABE! The reason they don’t grow up is because the “guardians and stewards” (pastors and leaders) they 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.

The truth is, we will never grow beyond being a babe until we understand and receive a specific revelation concerning our identity, the revelation of righteousness.

We have a tremendous inheritance through Christ, but our inheritance won’t come to us in fullness until we catch this revelation. Because if we don’t see ourselves as righteous we will never grow beyond a babe. We will live a life no different from a slave, because we are, in some ways, still a slave to sin. The revelation of righteousness sets you free from sin and legalism which wars against Christ’s transforming work in you.
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. You 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 you destroyed. Ignorance can keep you from receiving God’s promises. Ignorance can stunt your spiritual growth and keep you from developing beyond a babe in Christ.
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You have to submit to righteousness! This means that you must set yourself in agreement with what God has said you are IN HIM. Stop talking sin and death and begin speaking life and righteousness. You can’t be free from a sin consciousness and keep it in your language. Submit to the truth that He has given you the FREE GIFT of righteousness.
God sees you sinless! When you begin to believe that righteous and holy is the only way He sees you, then you will begin to see yourself that way too. This opens the door for His grace to flood your life and transform you so that you actually begin to produce righteous and holy fruit. If you try to live righteous and holy in your own strength you have already set yourself up for failure. That is what the Jews were, and still are doing. You can’t make yourself righteous, so agree with God that He has ALREADY made you that way and His grace will empower you 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 He 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 you learn and move on to something else. This must be focused on, cultivated, and exercised constantly. Its something you continue to grow into. Develop a hunger and thirst for this revelation and you 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.

The Fight for Your Identity

good tree, bad tree

What kind of tree am I anyway?

Matthew 12:33 “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.

          This is an amazing formula for faith, and a great example of the faith principle in Romans 4 of “calling things that are not as though they were.”

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

          The quotation in Romans 4:17 refers to Genesis 17:5. God spoke this over Abram when He was 99 years old and childless. At the same time God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. In changing the names, God forced them to say the same thing about themselves that He had just said about them. Abraham means, (“Father of a multitude,” Sarah means, “Mother of nations.”) In the name change, God was showing Abraham and all who would follow after him, the principle of faith that God Himself operates by. He speaks things into existence.

          Let’s apply this to the good and bad tree.

          If you see a tree that has apples and avocados growing on it, what would you call it? An apple tree? An avocado tree? A hybrid? Would you just make up a name? The truth is, you wouldn’t know what to call it.

         The Bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that we are “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.”

          When we look at ourselves and behold the fruit of our lives, we see our mistakes, our bad habits, our inconsistencies, our failures, our secret sins, and we think “I must be a bad tree.” But then we look closer and say, “Wait a minute, not all the fruit in my life is bad. I help people, I am faithful to my church family, I serve in different areas in the ministry, I love people, I am generous with my time and resources, so not all the fruit in my life is bad. I am confused! What kind of tree am I?”

          We see the good and bad fruit in our lives and gravitate towards walking by sight and living by feelings. The Bible says that we are NOT to live our lives this way.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

          We cannot allow our physical senses to dictate our identity. We must set ourselves in agreement with what God has spoken about us and not be moved by our feelings and our fallen experience. What we see, feel and experience must never be a consideration in light of what God has said about us. Abraham, the father of faith, has set the example for us.

Romans 4:19-22 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

          Abraham refused to consider the weakness in his flesh, but was fully convinced that what God said about him, God would bring to pass.

          So the question is: What has God said about us?

Romans 5:17  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

          God says that He has made us righteous, holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Although we may not look like that in our sight we must not consider what we see and believe what He said about us is true.

          How we refer to ourselves, the words we say about ourselves should align in agreement with what God says about us. When we begin to speak what God says about us, the grace of God is released in our lives to transform us into what He has spoken. When we align our words with His words, the fruit of what He said will start growing in our life. This is how we make our tree good. This is how we fight the good fight of faith. This is what produces transformation in our life.

          The Old Testament is full of stories about natural battles. We must look at those physical battles and learn how to apply them spiritually to our lives. For the most part, we see two ways that God calls his people to battle.

  1. He gives His people specific instruction on what, when and how to conquer the enemy. When Gods people follow the instruction, He is with them in battle and the victory comes easy.
  2. He tells His people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He fights the battle for us and the victory is ours.

         When fighting to be free from our sin nature, to live righteous and holy, we tend to try and do this by our own works. We struggle against our sin, our bad habits, wrong thinking and destructive cycles of failure and disappointment. This type of behavior will only produce a sin consciousness that insures failure. The Old Testament has already proved that no one can become righteous by works.

          Submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us places us in a powerful position to be transformed and overcome the sin nature. We must call ourselves righteous and holy, believing that He is at work in us to bring that to pass. We follow Abraham’s example and call things that are not manifest as though they were.

           Confess that you are righteous, confess that you are holy. Thank God for freeing you from sin and transforming you into His image. And if you stumble and fall, run to God and say “I am sorry Father that is not me! That is certainly not You in me! I thank You for the Spirit of grace that is transforming me and shaping me into Your image, removing that junk from my life and molding me into everything You have created me to be. Thank You for fathering me! Thank you for loving me, for believing in me, for being patient with me. Thank you for completing the work that you began in me. Where would I be if You didn’t father me.”   

 hold fast         This is a good example of biblical confession. This type of confession sets you in agreement with His work and His plan for your life. This will produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness in your life.

          In the battle for our identity we are supposed to follow the example of our father Abraham and set ourselves in agreement with His word, letting the Spirit of grace shape us and mold us into His image. We are not to consider the weakness of our flesh, but stand strong in faith, trusting that God is able to bring His word to pass in our lives.

So hold fast to the confession of who you are in Him and trust that He will complete the work that he began in your life.

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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;

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

Your Sovereignty, Free Will, and Saying NO to God

authority

GREEK: Exousia ~ THE RIGHT TO INFLUENCE, COMMAND, CONTROL AND DELEGATE.

          When man was created, God established His authority over the earth and delegated it to Adam for a season. Adam was God’s steward over the earth, and He gave Adam specific instructions for his stewardship. We find Adam’s instructions in Genesis 1 and 2.

Genesis 1:27-28  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 2:15-17 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 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.”

           When God created Adam, He made him a sovereign being giving Adam His own personal authority to use in making decisions and fulfilling God’s instructions for His stewardship. This sovereign authority is called FREE WILL.

Sovereignty – the quality or state of being sovereign, or of having supreme power or authority. The status, dominion, power, or authority of a sovereign; royal rank or position; royalty. Supreme power, especially over a body politic, freedom from external control, autonomy

fw1          Free will was given to man so he could willingly choose, without any coercion or pressure, how he would serve his creator. Free will allowed man to express himself freely and creatively as he learned and grew in knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, it also gave man the power, and the right, to say NO to God. this makes man sovereign.

Free will can potentially be the most destructive thing to the Kingdom of God, as well as your life! Exercising your free will in saying NO to God will limit God’s influence and power in your life. 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD, or THE KINGDOM OF ME?

 

          The Kingdom of God has boundaries. Operating within those boundaries enables God’s influence and power to flow into your life to meet your needs and the needs of others. You violate authority when your choices don’t align with the will of the authority you are under. When you violate authority it cuts off the influence and power of that authority. Not just in your own life, but in the lives of those you are involved with.

          We must walk in HIS ways, not OUR ways if we want the promises of God, and the power of God to be a reality in our life. God’s power only flows under the covering of his authority. His authority can only be exercised within the confines of His Kingdom. When you exit the covering of the Kingdom, you exit the flow of power. When you say NO to God, in essence, you establish another kingdom, I call it: The Kingdom of ME.

The Kingdom of Me is established when selfishness rears its ugly head and provokes you to willfully say no to God.

no1           Saying “NO” to your Lord means that He is not your Lord in that area of your life, and if He is not Lord in one area, He is not Lord in any. Being Lord of your life means that He is the Master of ALL areas of your life. God will not invade and overthrow your kingdom, it is out of His jurisdiction. It would be a violation of your free will. If you say no to Him in any area, you are declaring that YOU are the master of that area….and you cannot serve two masters.

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

          Say “NO” to God, and you’ve set up boundaries to keep God out of your kingdom. It is your own free will that determines the boundaries for both the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Me. How you steward your will determines the basis of authority that you operate from.

HONOR RELEASES THE POWER THAT AUTHORITY CONTAINS.

hon          Eternal salvation comes from your Savior, but the power to live this life, and the authority to subdue and conquer it comes from your Lord. When you honor Jesus Christ as your Lord, all of His authority is released into your life. If you fail to honor His authority as Lord, His power stays contained. Honoring authority releases the power that authority contains.

           The extent of Kingdom authority in your life is determined by your stewardship of free will. If your will is completely submitted to God, you have truly laid down your life, you have denied yourself, your old man has died and you can now truly walk in the highest authority in the universe, the authority of God. This is your original design and purpose. This is what was lost at the fall of Adam. This is what Jesus Christ paid for you to become.

JC

The Gift of Righteousness

  giftof right        How do we become righteous, holy and blameless in His sight? The simple answer is “by faith,” but what does that look like? How do I exercise faith to become what God says about me?

        Salvation, grace, righteousness. These are all gifts. Not something we deserve, not something we work towards. These are gifts, they cannot be earned, they must be received.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

        We don’t seem to have a problem believing that Christ has made us all these thing positionally, we have a hard time believing that we ARE these things ACTUALLY.

        God said He made us righteous. This is not just a declaration of our position in the Kingdom of God and our right standing with the King, but also a promise to become righteous in thought and deed. We tend to follow Abram and try to help God out by trying to do good, behave better, sin less, etc. and in doing so, we become so aware of sin and conscious of our own shortcomings and our ability fail, that we walk around with a sin consciousness and actually war against the grace of God that is meant to change us.

We must believe that God has made us righteous, not just in theory, not just positionally, but actually righteous in behavior and thought, even in the face recent, or even ongoing sin.

        By believing this, we are actually laying ourselves down on the great Potter’s wheel so that grace can mold us and shape us into that very image. This is not a denial of sin, nor does it accommodate sin.

 Romans 5:17  For if by the one man’s  offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

        God’s word contains the creative power within itself to become a reality if we will set ourselves in agreement with it. This takes the stewardship of our thoughts and words, speaking only faith and refusing to speak words of doubt and unbelief.

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        Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace. God’s grace never encourages us to live in sin; nor does it make room for us to stay the same, on the contrary, it empowers us to change so we can say no to sin and yes to truth.

 

Faith To Become What Jesus Paid For

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          What are you using your faith for? To receive a blessing, or obtain your healing? To lead your family to Christ? To build a business? To get out of debt, or prosper financially? These things are all well and good but they must not be the main focus and predominant use of your faith.

          Falling into the trap of believing for “stuff” is a common occurrence in the body of Christ. We get so caught up in applying faith principles to all areas of our life that we forget, the primary role of faith is to be used in our relationship with our creator. More specifically, we should be exercising our faith to become what He paid for us to be.

We should be exercising our faith to become what He paid for us to be.”

          The primary use of the phrases, “the faith, or the gospel,” in the New Testament always refers to your imputed righteousness, and the good news that you are now free from the curse of the Law and free from sin.

           “The Gospel,” refers to the good news that Peace has been made between God and man. We can now come before God without guilt, condemnation, or shame.

          “The Faith,” refers to our belief that we are righteous sons, regardless of our past or present performance. When we present ourselves to God as holy by faith , it produces the fruit righteousness and holiness in our lives with the help of Holy Spirit. It opens us up to divine influence (grace) that causes transformation. It places us on the potters wheel so He can shape us into what He paid for.

           The Church has reduced “The Gospel,” to meaning, “good news that we don’t have to be sick or poor any more,” and “The Faith,” has been redefined as a method of getting our barns and vats full.

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

          Not understanding what “The Gospel” is, and believing that faith is a vehicle to get the things we need from God, is a subtle deception of the enemy to keep us focused on who we were, and not on becoming what He paid for us to be.

become

Don’t get too busy dwelling on who you were

and miss believing to become what He paid for.

 

 

JC

 

 

 

Make Your Tree Good!

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A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

Luke 6:43-45  For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

          Fruit comes out of the heart, good or bad, through our words and actions. Our mouth plays an integral part in what kind of fruit we bear, for out of our mouth comes the fruit of our tree. Whatever is in us in abundance will eventually come out as fruit in the form of words and actions.

          Fruit is intended for consumption and nourishment.  We are the ones that consume most of the fruit that we bear. Our minds must be renewed so that we will be transformed into a good tree.

Matthew 12:33 “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.

          Make the tree good and its fruit will be good. When the fruit is good, we increase our ability to nourish, increase and sustain our spiritual health and growth.

          The key is: WE MUST MAKE OUR TREE GOOD! Spiritual growth and development is not automatic. We must cooperate with our Father to grow into the child that He paid for. We have been adopted, and that adoption came at a great price. He paid for our past and gave us a down payment on the future, the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Ephesians 1:13  In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

          The Holy Spirit is here as a helper, and advocate, an intercessor. To help us embrace the life and nature of God that now dwells in us as believers. It is our cooperation with the Holy Spirit that makes us good trees, bearing the fruit of holiness.

Isaiah 61:3 calls us; “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. That He may be glorified.” We have been grafted in to the root of THE good Tree. Because of that, we ARE righteous, holy, and blameless in his sight. We have been made righteous by the blood of Christ! When we set ourselves in agreement with that truth, and believe that we are righteous in spite of our performance, we make the tree good, and the righteous tree is empowered to produce righteous fruit. Until you agree with what god has said about you, you will not be empowered to live out the righteousness that Christ paid for.

root.jpgColossians 1:21-22  And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight

          The fruit that you see is ALWAYS a result of the ROOT that you cannot see. We tap into the life in the root by keeping God’s word in our hearts and minds and being obedient to what we learn. Looking into God’s word, and obeying it, is like looking into a mirror. If you stop looking in the mirror, you will forget that you are a good tree.

James 1:23-24 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; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

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.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 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

Are you bound by Legalism, and a Sin Consciousness?

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  Legalism is a system of thought where rules, expectations and regulations promise God’s love in return for human effort and obedience. Legalism is an attempt by man to justify God’s Love. Under the cloak of Christianity, legalism offers salvation and God’s Love as a reward for performance. Legalism is a spiritually toxic virus, spread by religion, best treated by God’s unconditional and amazing grace.

If your heart is full of bitterness towards others and self-condemnation, could it
 be that you have been going about living the Christian life all wrong?  God desperately wants to set His people free from legalism. God loves legalists. He hates legalism.

   Could you be a legalist and not even know it? Why do Christians fall prey to performance-based religion? Are you convinced that God is mad at you and the only way you can make him happy is by being a better person? Are you convinced that your obedience and performance has some bearing on your salvation? Are you tired of trying harder because it seems that trying harder is never good enough?

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I purposely didn’t include any teaching on GRACE in this blog. That is covered in other teachings on this site. I think it important to first face the fact that WE ALL may be guilty of legalism to one degree or another.

So, If you are brave, and prepared to be honest with yourself, take the Legalist test and see how you do.

You might be a Legalist if:

1) God’s love for you depends on what you do, instead of who you are.

2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in your congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.

3) You believe that if you don’t tithe, your other 90% will be cursed.

4) You try hard to obey God and it irritates you that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication and commitment that you have.

5) You fall short because you don’t have enough faith, or because you haven’t prayed enough, or because you just need to be a better person.

6) God is predisposed to be angry with you because you are a sinner and He knows that YOU know you can do better.

7) Your sense of spiritual well-being is tied to a Christian leader and their opinion, or membership in your church rather than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

8) You tell your children not to do something in church or around other Christian families that you allow in your home.

9) You believe that what people wear, hairstyles, piercings or tattoos, is a clear indication of that person’s spirituality and character.

10) After being around Christians for a while you feel drained because you are weary of putting up a false front.

11) When you happen to miss a service or activity of your church, even if it is a valid excuse, you feel guilty.

12) If your ability to receive a blessing from God, such as healing, depends on how you have been performing.

13) If you see Christ as more of a judge than a Savior.

14) If you believe God’s love for you depends on how much love you have shown Him.

15) If you know God’s law but not God Himself.

16) If you think you MUST take a Sabbath once a week.

          So, how did you do? Did you find some of these comments describing you? Legalism has been a danger to the church from the very start. it is addressed in the New Testament repeatedly and the book of Galatians is written, almost entirely, to address this point.

          We are all susceptible to legalism and we must ever guard ourselves from falling into this trap of wrong thinking.

          God’s love is unconditional. Christ has redeemed us from every curse of the law. We are to live a life of the Spirit. laying down our lives daily and taking up God’s agenda, being an instrument of righteousness and an expression of His image….Just like Jesus. This is the path to freedom from legalistic thinking.

Freedom from legalism will only come from relationship with your Father. The greatest thing Jesus did was restore our ability to come before God without guilt or shame. He changed our identity from sinners, to sons and daughters.

          Some believers think that having a sin consciousness will help them avoid sin. If they think about their wrong doing, feel the shame of it, carry the guilt of it, then it will deter them from repeating those things. That is purely Legalistic, Old Covenant thinking. That didn’t even work in the Old Covenant. At best sin consciousness only leads to more sinning!

         What you focus on you move towards. What you are conscious of, and what you think about, is the reality you create. No wonder we struggle so much with sin. Our mind is constantly focused on it.

         Why don’t we try focusing on righteousness? On Christ’s perfect gift of righteousness that He has imputed to us. When we focus on righteousness, grace comes on the scene and moves us towards right living.

         Legalism and a sin consciousness is a result of having a law based, legalistic mind. Romans 3 says that by the law is the knowledge of sin. When our mind is law based we will live sin conscious. The focus will be on our flesh, our ability, and our self. Being “self-focused” is in direct opposition to the love of God.

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         We can’t overcome sin this way? Grace is the answer! Grace is divine influence. As we focus on Christ we open the door for God to influence us. We place our heart on the great potter’s wheel and He gives it a spin, molding us and shaping us into His image. This is faith. This is how we walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This is how we make a draw on His ability Instead of struggling to overcome sin in our own strength.

         If we focus on relationship with Him, practice spending time with Him. Focus on how we can fill your hearts and minds with the word of God. That He has forgiven all our sins, past present and future. That He has made us perfectly righteous with His own righteousness and no sin can make us unrighteous. That He has brought you completely out of a law based relationship with Him and into a grace based relationship with Him. That His love and acceptance of us is not based on our performance but on Christ perfect performance on our behalf. That we have a new nature, God’s very own nature. That we are sons, not sinners. Our consciousness of Him, and His righteousness in us, will grow to a place that crushes our consciousness of sin and delivers us from legalistic thinking.

Our focus should always be on relationship, not works. If we can learn to make that one adjustment, we will flourish in the Kingdom of God.

 

~ Free from a Sin Consciousness ~

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          Why are good, well-meaning Christians still bound by old habits, and old thought patterns, unhappy, depressed, fearful, and full of unbelief? That shouldn’t be!Why are the promises of God seemingly illusive and hard to obtain?

          Why are we so acutely aware of our faults and shortcomings? What is it that makes us focus on the fallen nature and distracts us from focusing on our new, redeemed nature?

          This is not a prayer problem, its a truth problem. We suffer from a lack of understanding of who we are, and what we have become because of the blood of Christ. We are a sin conscious people, lacking a revelation of the magnificent gift that has been given to us by our Heavenly Father.

          Our ignorance comes, primarily from a weak relationship with our God. Most Christians are satisfied to come to church once or twice a week and leave the praying and the heavy spiritual lifting to the pastors and other ministers. After all, that IS their job, their calling, right? WRONG!

sin11          There is NOTHING that can replace your own personal relationship with the Lord. Something amazing takes place when YOU, all by yourself, when no one else is looking, worship God and spend time with Him. This is your primary expression of faith. 

James 4:8a Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

          The greatest of all the benefits of salvation is our ability to have intimate relationship with the Lord. The thing that was standing in the way of our relationship (SIN), has been removed, abolished, taken away. Jesus Christ became our sin so the He could give us His righteousness, that we could stand before God without any sense of guilt, condemnation, or shame.

Guilt – Is a belief that you are not forgiven.

Condemnation – Is belief that your life is worthy of judgment.

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

          The Old Testament Law is a belief system, and that belief system is based on the premise that “what I do determines my level of righteousness.” This thought process comes natural to the fallen man.

          God sent His Son to free us from the old belief system; the Law of Sin and Death. He abolished sin in His body (Eph 2:15) to fulfill the Old Testament law, so He could establish the new belief system, The New Testament. God made us righteous so that we would be free from that old way of believing, but the only way to be free from it, is to die to it and embrace the new belief system of the New Testament. It is the new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that embraces the identity that we ARE the righteousness of God, holy and blameless in His sight.

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—  23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard,…

       Some great revelations in this passage of scripture:

          According to verse 21, we should no longer be enemies in our mind because ofsin12 sin (wicked works) because we have been reconciled. Even if we stumble and fall into sin, it doesn’t change the way He sees us, which is holy and blameless in His sight. What happens is, if we sin, we tend to revert back to the old belief system and we become “enemies in our mind” because of the sin, and become a landing strip for guilt, condemnation and shame which alienates us from God. We revert back to the law of sin and death and abandon our true identity which is based solely on what God says about us according to the gospel.

          What does the gospel say? I’m glad you asked!

Romans 3:24  You are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 

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. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

Galatians 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

sin14          These are only a few scriptures that describe how God sees us. God always sees our potential, He sees the end from the beginning, He doesn’t look upon our weakness, He sees us for who we are created to be, He believes the best of us even when we are at our worst.

          He makes us right positionally FIRST, so that we have the ability to become right in our behavior. If we first believe what He says about us is true, it empowers us to become what we believe. We must first believe that we ARE righteous, then works of righteousness and the fruit of holiness follow, delivering us from the sting of sin, the pull of sin, and even the acts of sin.

Romans 6:20-22  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

          This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 12 when He said, first “make the tree good and the fruit will be good.”

Matthew 12:33  “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 

          Sin consciousness makes the tree bad, and therefore it continues to produce bad fruit, sin3bad thought patterns, cycles of repeating sin, and constant struggling with the old belief system of sin and death.

          Righteous consciousness makes the tree good, enabling the transforming power of God’s grace, bearing righteous fruit, producing holiness without us struggling to be holy. This way God gets all the glory and we can’t boast about being a “Super Christian.”

Defining a Sin Consciousness

          To be conscious of something is to be very aware of it. Many believers think that the awareness of sin, (having a sin consciousness) will help avoid sin. If we think about our wrong doing, feel the shame of it, carry the guilt of it then it will deter us from repeating those things. What New Covenant scriptures is that based on? That is the old belief system, Old Testament thinking. The problem is, that didn’t even work in the Old Testament. At best sin consciousness will only lead to more sinning!

          Sin consciousness is a result of having a legalistic mind. It’s the Old Testament belief system. Romans 3 says that by the law is the knowledge of sin. When our mind is law based we will live with a constant awareness of sin. The focus will be on our flesh, and our abilities. How on earth are we going to overcome sin this way? We can’t keep doing the same thing year after year having the same failed results and stay convinced that it’s the answer! No, grace is the answer! Grace will lead us to focus on Christ.

          Grace is all about His ability! Grace takes the focus off ourself and puts it on Christ. This is how we live by faith and not by sight. This is how we walk in the Spirit. This is how we step into His ability. Instead of trying to overcome sin, rather focus on how we can fill our hearts and minds with the word of God and the grace of God that declares He has forgiven all our sins, past present and future, that He has made us perfectly righteous with His own righteousness and no sin can make us unrighteous.

         What we focus on we move towards. What we think about all day is the atmosphere we create around ourself. Do we really want a sin atmosphere around us all day? And we wonder why we struggle so much with sin. It’s because our mind is constantly focused on it.

          If we meditate on the grace of God and fill our heart with Christ consciousness and righteous consciousness, even if we do sin, keep the focus on Christ, and we will see the desire and pull of sin diminishing in our life with very little effort, and the life of God expanding in our life! When we think right and believe right, living right will follow.

I will leave you with these thoughts:

Doing is the second step, and Being is the first.

What we do is determined by what we are.

Acknowledge what we are, and the corresponding actions will follow.

Make the tree good, and it will eventually bear good fruit.

Believing we are righteous and holy causes righteous and holy fruit to grow in our life.

The fruit will be true to the tree, so make the tree good and the let tree do its thing.

          JC

 

The Significance of SAYING

          Are you a good communicator? Careful, tactful and wise with your words? Or are you one of the many people that need to carry around a roll of Duct Tape to keep you from sinning with your mouth and saying things you regret? 

          Oh, I am not pointing fingers at anyone, I have been known to need some of that miracle-working, silver sticky stuff myself.

          If you truly are a servant of Christ, you immediately feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit when you say something that hurts people or tears them down. If you go for long periods of time and don’t experience those little pricks of conviction and correction in your heart, I would suggest to you that you are not even trying.

          We all have room to grow in this department; I don’t care how mature we are. One of the most important things we can learned is to trust our heart. Our heart (spirit man) has a direct line to God’s heart and mind, and the source of all wisdom and knowledge. If we take a moment to check up on the inside before we speak, we would see an immediate change in the quality of our communication, as well as the quality of our relationships. This is a principle that Proverbs makes very clear.

Proverbs 15:28 ~ The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

In others words, give your heart a little time to tell your mouth what to say. 🙂


          Our words carry enormous weight, and can carry severe consequences. More than we sometimes think. They have the ability to impact people for a very long time, shaping and molding who they are and influencing the direction and path that they take. The bible says that faith comes by hearing, (Romans 10:17) So we should ask ourselves; “what are my words making people believe about themselves, and how are my words shaping my own beliefs?

          Words can build courage and strength or they can discourage and weaken. They can minister grace and life, or pain and death. They can build and edify, or they can tear down and destroy. They not only communicate, they also create. 

Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

          What treasure have you been storing away in your heart? Did you even know that you had a store? Whether you know it or not, your heart is being filled with something. The things that you give attention to, look at, and hear fills your heart, and whatever you are full of comes out when you speak. A minister once told me, ” When you get squeezed with problems, what’s inside you WILL come out.” It is so true. So, when a Christian gets squeezed Christ should come out.

          God’s Word is the obvious choice if we are to store treasure in our heart. His Words are spirit and life, they are health and medicine, they are full of grace and they are truth. When you are full of God’s Word your communications carry a part of HIM with it. Your speech becomes a tool that God can use to build you up and impart grace to others.

Ephesians 4:29 ~ Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

The best definition of grace is:

“The divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life.”

          There are few things more rewarding than to know that you have been used by God to influence another person for HIM. To impart His grace and leave that person better off than before you spoke to them. Man! It just doesn’t get any better!

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“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Every day, we are shaping reality for ourselves, and others who hear our words. The choice is ours. How will our words impact others? How will your words impact YOU and your family? Are you determined to make progress in this area? Do you see the need?

I have a little saying that I try to live by. As my wife will attest, I don’t always do it, but I’m still growing, PRAISE GOD! The saying is this:

“Before you speak, make sure it is an improvement on silence.”

          Just doing that one little thing will keep you from all kinds of grief.

          The Word of God is full of commands to keep His word before our eyes and in our mouth. It’s clear that words must be treated as a stewardship. I will leave you with two of my favorite scriptures on the importance of stewarding words. Be blessed!

Joshua 1:8 ~ This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Proverbs 4:20-22 – My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.