Tag Archives: Christianity

Christian Leadership Development #2

Leadership Mentoring Development

            Not all followers of Christ are qualified to lead and not all potential leaders are qualified to lead now. Being a leader requires two main things, development of Christ-like character and development of leadership skills. Character without leadership skills causes frustration and discontent from the body and with other leaders. Skill swithout character produces animosity and mistrust from the body and other leaders. Both situations can set the leader up for failure and hinders the growth, development and fruitfulness of the body.

            Developing both character and skills ensures the leader will become a pillar in the church and not a stumbling block.

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Character

            Character reflects nature. It is the nature of God being expressed in our lives that is the ultimate goal. This applies to all believers, not just leaders. The character and nature of God is what all leaders are leading others to. You can’t lead another person to a place you have never been. God’s nature must be established in a leader before they are qualified to lead.

Love is God’s Nature

1st John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1st John 4:16 (NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1st Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

            According to John, love isn’t just the nature of God, love is the embodiment of God. God IS love.

fruit6.jpg           In 1st Corinthians 13 we see how God (love) behaves. These behaviors must be developed and continually strengthened in a leader so that God’s nature can be evident to all. Embracing love (the nature of God) will bear the fruit of the Spirit.

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Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

            In Matthew 12:33 it tells us that a tree is known by its fruit, so let’s take a closer look at the fruit that should be hanging from the tree of a leader.

1) Love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. A leader lays down his life for others, sacrificing self in favor of another. It should never be about you.

2) Joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy not only brings strength to the leader but to those around him. A good leader enjoys what he is doing and others enjoy working with him.

3) Peace. Peacemakers create an atmosphere that promotes healthy relationships with God and others. They avoid unfruitful confrontation and diffuse strife and contentious situations. A leader will find common ground to build on and will magnify the positive, not the negative.

4) Patience. Patience makes room for others to grow in their gifts and calling, providing a safe environment that allows them to make mistakes without the danger of condemnation and shame. Patience doesn’t just see the individual but has a view of what that individual will look like when completely submitted to God.

5) Goodness. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Being good to people even when it costs you and doing the right thing even when it is not convenient causes people to turn to God and away from self-centered living.

6) Gentleness. 2nd Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.

Being mindful of proper etiquette and the emotional state of those you are dealing with, using kind words and expressing genuine concern for the individual creates a platform that you can minister from and gives you the influence to speak effectively into the lives of others.

7) Faithfulness. 1st Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

Leadership is a stewardship from God. Being steadfast, reliable, honorable and consistent speaks volumes about the heart and character of the leader.

8) Meekness. Meekness is not being a pushover, it is the humility of controlled strength. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man in all the earth and yet he was the one used most in the earth at that time. There is a connection between meekness and a vessel that God can use.

9) Self-control. This can’t be accomplished without a healthy prayer life. You don’t have the ability to control yourself without the Fathers help. The more intimate time you spend with God when no one else is looking, the easier self-control will be. A robust prayer life creates constant awareness of God that makes it easy to resist temptation and make right decisions.

Question: As a leader, are you stronger in your character or your skillset?

Question: Do you, or did you have strong leaders to mentor you and help you develop as a leader?

Question: What are you a steward over right now, and what would you like to be a steward over in the future?

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank you faithfulness?

JC

Christian Leadership Development #1

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Christian Leadership Development Series

Introduction

          What is a Christian Leader? The New Testament has some established guidelines for choosing leaders and if we don’t have these standards in place first we undermine our entire leadership culture. The other side of leadership, which is many times neglected, is developing skillsets that enable a leader to mentor and equip others for the work of the ministry. If these two thought processes are in place it provides a foundation for success that brings out the very best in all those involved.

lead.jpg          I see many churches that hold their leaders to a high standard of character and behavior but they have very low standards when choosing a leader. It is not fair to put a person in a place of leadership that requires strong character when their character has not yet been developed. I see it all the time. A person is chosen for a position of leadership simply because of availability or an obvious gifting, or even worse, people are placed in positions of leadership because of their financial contributions to the ministry with no consideration of character or maturity. It is a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

Here are a few questions to consider before choosing leaders:

  • Is the individual a devoted follower of Christ?
  • Have they proven themselves faithful or are they recent converts?
  • Do they pursue Jesus passionately and have an obvious intimate relationship with God?
  • Do they have a robust prayer life?
  • Does the individual have a good knowledge of God’s Word?
  • Are they able to encourage people to take steps to spiritual maturity?
  • Do they possess self-control?  
  • Are they gentle, hospitable, upright, holy, and disciplined?
  • Is their life an example to the flock?

          If you look at this list and fall under conviction, it’s ok. Maybe this applies to you or a person you have placed in a leadership role and you realize you have missed the mark. Don’t fret. Correction is a part of leadership, receiving it and giving it. We will address these questions in light of scripture in the following lessons and will also give you an action plan to correct any mistakes of the past and rebuild a leadership team.

          The goal of this series is to help ministries create a culture of excellence in leadership and mentoring that glorifies God and equips people and ministries to succeed.

Qualifications For Leadership

            I’m so thankful that God took out the guesswork in qualifying church leaders. The Bible lays out some very specific guidelines for choosing leaders and these guidelines are the foundation for leadership, mentoring, and ministry success. Understand that this is God’s prescribed method of choosing leaders. It is His way of determining who is, and is not qualified to lead. Being mindful of this and honoring this process inspires faith, produces strength, promotes success, prevents problems, and establishes structure and boundaries. If we adopt any other method of vetting leaders we subvert God’s plan and bring a reproach on Christ. I know that may sound harsh, but it is the harsh reality that we are faced with.

            Let’s start with qualifications for Deacons and Elders and define their roles in the church. The roles of Deacons and Elders encompass all of the qualified leader positions in the church. All others should be in a position of being groomed and mentored for these offices.

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Elders:

            Elders are the spiritual leaders of the church. They serve as pastors, associate pastors and teachers they provide general oversight on organizational, financial, and spiritual matters. Elders can be 5 fold ministry gifts that have matured in their gifting and have proven themselves faithful in ministry, serving under the authority of other leaders. Elders are not limited to 5-fold ministry gifts but should live a life in such submission to Christ that they can readily embody the expression of the 5-fold ministry at any given moment They understand that Christ is the embodiment of the 5-fold ministry and if Christ chooses to move through them as a Prophet, an Evangelist, or any other gift they yield to that expression.

            Leaders don’t find their identity in the office that they occupy, but in Christ alone. In other words, Pastor, or Teacher in not who I am, it is how I serve. A seasoned Elder will wake up every day and be willing to serve others in whatever capacity God chooses.

          An Elder understands that they exist to love and serve others, that their life is not their own and selfishness is never an option.

Deacons:

            The biblical requirements of deacons are very similar to that of elders, but there is a clear distinction between the offices. The role of a deacon may include a variety of services and differs from denomination to denomination. In general deacons function as servants, ministering to the body in practical ways. They may serve as a lead usher, oversee the benevolence outreach, lead a home group, or lead the hospitality department.

             No matter how they serve, scripture is clear that office of a deacon is a rewarding and honorable calling in the church and a necessary role for elders to function in their office. The ministry of deacons is vital to the success of the elders, it frees them up to focus on prayer, studying God’s Word, and pastoral care. It is a great example of how one body part depends on the other. Deacons are Elders in training.

Leadership requirements for Elders:

Titus 1:5-9 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

1Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Leadership requirements for Deacons:

1 Timothy 3:8-13 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

lead1            These scriptures are not overly complicated, in fact they are very straight forward and leave no room for misinterpretation. I believe God made it simple for us so we wouldn’t mess it up. If we deviate from these simple guidelines and place an unqualified elder or deacon in a leadership role we have created a recipe for disaster.

            Placing an unqualified leader in one of these roles devalues the office in the eyes of the flock as well as the other leaders. These offices should be held in high esteem and the people in them should be honorable, above reproach, and worthy of respect. This creates structure and boundaries with the body of Christ that are clearly defined and easily understood. It shows people that there is a defined structure of authority that is from God and sends a clear message that the leadership are here for their benefit.

Question: What is one thing you could change right now to make you a more effective leader?

Question: Do you hold your leadership team to a higher standard than what you are living yourself?

Question: How much time do you spend with the Lord in prayer daily?

Question: Do you spend as much time in prayer waiting and listening as you do talking?

JC

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

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         Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, perceived success, speaking skills, etc. but the main reason people follow a Christian leader is because of their relationship with the God.

          All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuine intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all. The reason Jesus did what He did was to restore man back to intimacy with God. The message of the Gospel is one of reconciliation and restoration of relationship, the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, walking in, and living out this truth, he/she is not qualified to lead others anywhere.

          A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with God. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. You can’t lead anyone to a place you’ve never been.

          Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principles that we see Him practice in the gospels. Intimacy with God.

          There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it takes time, discipline, effort and commitment. Intimacy with the Father is the greatest investment you can make in yourself and others.

Gifts are free, but Maturity is expensive.

          Intimacy leads to maturity and intimacy is a result of continuous fellowship. Many Christians follow others because of their “Spiritual Gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

          Our identity is not found in our gifting but in our relationship with the Father. Pastor, Teacher, Prophet is not who I am, it is how I serve. We must find our identity in loving and serving, not gifting.

          The goal of a leader is to reproduce themselves and nothing is reproduced without intimacy. First priority is relationship with the Father. Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable but it is always necessary.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace reading the Bible and studying with being alone with God and communing with Him. The problem is, you can only learn about God from reading the Bible and studying. To truly know Him you must spend time with Him, commune with Him, listen to Him.

          If I read your biography I can learn a lot about you but I can’t honestly say that I know you. I can only know you by spending time with you. It is the same with God. When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading and studying takes on a whole new dimension and bears much more fruit. While reading the written word you see them through His divine nature, you look at them with eyes and a heart of love that makes you more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures really begin to come alive.

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          The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am and I would like to share it with you.

          I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day and she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor, I have been offered ordination and refused it because I am not a Pastor.” The Lord then spoke to me and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”

          God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who I am, He does. I was limiting His expression through my life because my words were stout against Him and I had a limited idea of who I am.

maturty3.jpg          Who you think you are must come second to who He wants to be in you at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the fivefold ministry and if I will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through me and touch lives in a way that I could never do through my own strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith (P)and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

JC

The Discipline of Watching

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Understanding Watchfulness

         What did Jesus mean when He said “Watch and Pray?”

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

          Just what are we watching for?

         I remember going to a store one day and remaining in the car while my friends went in to do some shopping. In the car next to me was this little dog sitting in the driver’s seat staring intently at the door of the store. This little dog would not take his eyes off that door. Every time the automatic doors would slide open the little dog’s ears would perk up. He would stand with his front paws on the steering wheel panting, wide eyed and tail wagging expectantly. Time and time again people would come out of the door that was not his master and the dog would return to his intense watchful position, not disappointed, but with an obvious understanding that one of these times it will be his master, he had only to wait patiently.

watch3.png         As I watched this dog the Lord showed me through this simple illustration that this is what He is talking about when He said “watch.” Eventually the little dog’s master did exit the door. His excitement and enthusiasm came unhinged! I could hear his happy little whines and yelps as he watched his master walk strait to the car. His love and appreciation for his owner was unquestionable.

         They could not have been apart for more than 30 minutes, yet the dog greeted his owner like he had been missing him for a month. To this dog, his master was the most precious person on the planet, and could not bear to be apart from him for any length of time. It was so obvious this dog loved his master with everything that was in him.

         What would it be like if we saw our Heavenly Father this way? What difference would it make in our lives? How would it affect our relationship with Him? What would it do to our perception of life? How would it affect our joy? Our peace? Our faith?

         After seeing this little dog I am convinced that we often take the Lord for granted. That we don’t really relate to Him like He is the creator of the universe, the master of ALL. Our hearts are divided, our minds are distracted and we allow other things matter more than what should matter most.

         The Bible says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all our needs will be met. (Matt 6:33) Yet we continue to approach God with our laundry list of needs and wants like He wasn’t serious when He said that.

         The gospel of Jesus Christ is about living a life with a very narrow, focused perspective. To maintain that perspective we must be imitators of Jesus. Jesus said this:

John 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

         Jesus ONLY did what He saw. Jesus was able to do what He did because He constantly practiced watching the Father. He truly did “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Could this be a big reason that we don’t see the level of supernatural life that we read about in the book of Acts?

         The discipline of watching moves us from being a child/servant to a mature son. It is only the mature sons that can receive an inheritance. (Gal 4:1-2)

         The discipline of watching creates an awareness of God that puts all of life in proper perspective. The more we keep our attention and focus on Him, the clearer we become on who He really is and who we really are to Him.

         The discipline of watching produces an integrity of heart that makes resisting temptation easy.

         The discipline of watching keeps you prepared to face anything that life would dish out to you.

         The discipline of watching produces humility and He gives His grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5James 4:6-7)

         The discipline of watching may be the most important part of prayer. When we practice watching, we know what to pray for and how to pray. We know what to do and how to do it. We position ourselves to be a trusted vessel that the Father can use to flow through.

JC

Revelation of Righteousness (poem)

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I look in the mirror and what do I see?

The answer is always illusive to me.

I see all my failures and mistakes that I made,

And then I remember the price Jesus paid.

 

My sin He has covered and though it seems strange,

He died on the cross for a wondrous exchange.

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

He then made me righteous that through Him I’d live.

 

My struggle to see past the person I’ve been

Is now a good fight that I know I can win.

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

Now all that is left is for me to believe.

~Jack Coley~

Maintaining an Awareness of God

awareness

          Have you looked back on your life and realized that there were times that you felt closer to God, the anointing was stronger, God seemed to be moving more in your life and you were noticeably more focused on Him? I have experienced this myself and questioned God about it. His answer was simple, yet profound. He said: “At those times you were more aware of Me, more conscious of Me.”

          I began to see the importance of maintaining a high level of “God Awareness.” Furthermore, I realized that the responsibility of maintaining that awareness fell to me. With that realization I began to think about what produces and awareness of God and what pulls me out of that awareness.

          2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The principle is this: “WE BECOME WHAT WE BEHOLD.”

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          We draw power, influence and identity from the things we are most conscious of. One of the sneakiest tricks of the Devil is to make us, and keep us Sin Conscious. The price for sin has been paid and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from a consciousness of sin. It doesn’t cleanse us from our ability to sin. This is where the Devil tries to get a foothold in our mind. He brings thoughts and memories of past mistakes and uses that to draw our attention to our weakness instead of God’s goodness. If we don’t control this thought process we end up in guilt, condemnation and shame and draw our identity from our ability to sin and not Christ. Our awareness of our weakness becomes greater than our awareness of God. This is why it is so important to continually cultivate our revelation of righteousness.

          Righteousness is the foundation of our identity in Christ. As our identity in Christ becomes grounded, our awareness of God increases. If we can keep this truth before our eyes we rob the enemy of many of his tricks to deceive. If he can keep us from realizing who we are, he can keep us from functioning in the power of the Spirit. If he can keep our attention on ourselves, he can keep our attention off of God. 

Matthew 6:22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, (single, clear) your whole body will be full of light. 

          Again we see that what we look at has a profound effect on our lives. We must be narrowly focused on what we allow ourselves to behold. Our perspective determines the amount of light we have, how bright we shine, and how full of light we really are.

Presence vs. Principle

          Another trick the enemy uses is to get us to substitute knowing God, for knowing about God.

1 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

          The word “knowledge” in the above verse indicates an intimate knowledge that unites you with the object or person it is talking about. It indicates a personal experience with instead of merely knowing about. There is a HUGE difference.

          If you read a biography on the life of any given person, you can acquire a great deal of knowledge about that person, but unless you actually spend time with the person you can’t honestly say that you know them.

          As a people, Christians have been duped into believing that knowledge of God’s word is the equivalent of knowing Him personally. We understand the principles and grasp the concepts of faith but we don’t really know God because we don’t spend time with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, quietly meditating on who He is so that He can expand our hearts and minds to receive the awesome revelation of His eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, being. We can’t begin to wrap our head around who He is by only reading His word. We must also spend time in the light of His presence. Both are needed to mature, and both are needed to effectively live and walk by faith.

          We learn the principles of God’s amazing Word and then we try to live by these principles in our own strength. If we will spend as much time with God as we do learning about God our awareness of His abiding presence will produce an effortless walk of faith that keeps us living and abiding in holiness. Instant obedience becomes a natural thing. Resisting temptation to sin becomes effortless.

          Think about it, if Jesus Himself was physically with you every minute of every day, walking with you, standing right beside you, would you have a problem resisting sin? Would have a problem obeying His word? You would be so acutely aware of your every action and word  that you would only do and say those things that pleased Him. This is how Jesus lived His life. He set the example for us to follow.

John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 

John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

John 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

awareness exper.jpg          The more time we spend alone with our Heavenly Father, the more awareness of His presence we will walk in throughout our day.

          Awareness of God births the character of God, the nature of God, and the faith of God within us. Awareness of His abiding presence makes us more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading. Awareness of God helps us to see others how God sees them and therefore opens the door for us to minister Christ to them more effectively.

JC

 

 

What Defines A Mature Christian?

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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 Power Of Stillness

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          One of the hardest things you will ever do in your prayer life is …NOTHING! Ok, NOTHING isn’t quite the word we are looking for. Silent waiting is a better way to say it.

          Waiting in silent expectation of God revealing Himself to you is a powerful, and fruitful endeavor. Quietly meditating on who He is and what He has spoken to you by the Spirit or in His word is an amazing exercise of our faith and is very pleasing to God.

Psalm 23:2-3 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

          The Good Shepherd, by the Holy Spirit, is always trying to lead us to a place of peace and stillness. It is a place of refreshing and restoration. It is a place to find direction and discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

Stillness-is-power

          Waiting on God renews our strength.

The practice of silent meditation upon God and His word fills up our spiritual gas tanks and empowers us to run well.

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

          It is in the Stillness that God is known. Reading God’s word and listening to preaching and teaching helps us to know about God, but spending time in His presence  is what we need to actually know Him intimately. God is raising up a people in this generation that will live life from the outflow of the presence of God, rather than merely living by the principles of God. In our stillness before Him, He prepares us to host His presence.

Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:5-6 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.

          Silently waiting on God anchors your soul. When life throws us a curve ball, when things get tough and it seems like we are pressed on every side with problems, difficulties and even attacks of the enemy. Silently waiting on God and thinking about His goodness, His greatness, His faithfulness and His amazing love for us gives us strength to stand in faith and trust in His tender mercies and his power to deliver us out of all our troubles.

Isaiah 30:15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not,

          Quietness and stillness should be practiced individually and corporately to keep us from trusting in the world and its systems. The Lord is speaking through Isaiah a strong word of correction to His people for trusting in Egypt for their strength and salvation instead of Him. Unfortunately, they would not have it.

          In this age of distractions and constant movement it is vitally important that we practice stillness in God’s presence.

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“Peace is the frequency of God. We must tune in to this channel of stillness to hear the still small voice of the Spirit.”

JC

 

 

 

Submission and Authority

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Rom. 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

1 Peter 2:13-17 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme. 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

          We must settle in our hearts that all governing authority comes from God, in whatever form. Not just our spiritual authority that we see in church leadership, (pastors, associate pastors, ministry department leaders, etc.) but the natural governing authorities as well. (Local government, state government, the president, law enforcement, commanding officers, bosses, teachers, parents, landlords, etc.)

          All of these people are appointed and anointed to fulfil a certain role in the lives of people. Not just Christians, but all people. Whether we agree with that authority or not, it doesn’t change the fact that God put them there for a specific purpose, to fulfil a specific role, and we are to honor that person as God’s representative. His delegated authority. Yes, even the ones that you didn’t vote for, and the ones you think are evil.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

          In the last 60-70 years we have lost so much concerning honor and respect for authority that in our society today, people have no problem speaking evil about the President, parents, teachers, law enforcement, or anyone else that they don’t agree with. It is pathetic, dishonorable, and shows the absolute depravity of our generation.

          It is amazing to me how many “Christians” believe that they have rights. The right to automatic respected, the right to speak any way, about anyone they choose. The fact is, you can be right in your position and sacrifice your righteousness. Being right and being righteous are not always the same.

          If you truly give your life to Christ, you lay down your personal rights. It’s no longer about you, it’s about God and others. It’s about Love that never seeks its own benefit or agenda. Being born again means that you were purchased, paid for, redeemed.

          If you buy a house and pay for it in full, you have the right to move in and do what you wish with the house. God the Father purchased you with the precious blood of Christ so that He could come and live in. He sent the Holy Spirit to clean up the house and prepare it for His habitation.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

          Obedience to God’s authority is what enables you to host the presence of God. Look at what Jesus said to His disciples just before the crucifixion.

John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

FAITH WORKS BY LOVE!

submission3.png          You can’t be completely submitted to Christ and refuse to submit to authority. They go hand in hand. To be submitted to one you must be submitted to the other. If you don’t submit to one, you are not submitted to the other. They are the same.

          If we don’t come to this realization we will live a powerless, frustrated Christian life. The measure of Christ’s authority expressed in our life is in direct proportion to the authority we understand and are submitted to. If we are not under authority, we will have no authority.

          Submission to authority is not submission to a person. It is submission to God. It is an act of love and honor for God and His appointed/delegated authority, as well as the anointing upon that person. It is an act of faith that shows your trust in God’s way of doing things.

1 Peter 2:18-19 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

          Many Christians believe that they are submitted to authority and yet they speak negatively about their President, other government officials, law enforcement, their boss, their pastors or leaders, and think its ok. It is not! When you speak against authority, you speak against God Himself! You actually subvert your own authority when you speak against those over you.

          You may say, “I didn’t vote for that person so I don’t recognize their authority.” That just means that you don’t understand submission, you don’t understand authority, and you don’t understand who you are, and who’s you are.

          Until you disagree with authority you don’t have the opportunity to practice submission. Submission can only occur when you don’t see things the same way your authority sees them. Disagreement is when submission is tested.

          To believe is to obey. Obedience is the act of faith. Disobedience is the act unbelief. Until you submit to authority, you will never have true spiritual authority. That means authority over sickness, devils, poverty, oppression, the elements, nature. Jesus had authority because He was in perfect submission. Even unto death!

          God has called us not only to receive life through faith, but also to maintain His authority through obedience. God’s plan for us in the church is for us to submit to His authority and to all the authorities He has established. This covers our home, our government, our school, the church, and so forth. He does not want to specifically mark out whom we should submit to. As long as we have met God’s authority in the Lord, we should learn to submit to authority.

          Jesus established God’s Kingdom through submission. Whatever the Lord did onsubmission2 earth was entirely based on submission. He did nothing that opposed God’s authority. Everything was in submission and perfect cooperation with the authority of God. In this way the Lord set up the Kingdom of God and executed His authority. The church today must also allow God’s authority to have its way and manifest His kingdom through our submission.

          There is no authority that is not of God. To resist authority is to resist God. God will not overlook this. Those who oppose will bring judgment on themselves according to Romans 13:2.

          Faith in God is made evident by honoring His position as creator, His authority as our Lord, and by obedience to His word. When these conditions are met, the power of God becomes readily available, and easily accessible.

Honor releases the power that authority contains!

Authority creates boundaries and establishes identity.

Our submission defines our Authority

Submitting to authority empowers us to thrive.

Willing obedience to the King expands and increases the Kingdom within.

Opposition to ANY authority is opposition to God.

Understanding authority, and functioning within authority enables great faith in God’s authority.

Submission to authority is simply coming into agreement with the authority above us.

All of man’s problems are due to living outside the realm of God’s authority.

Only those who submit to authority will have great faith.

When we disregard, despise, speak against, or deny authority, we sacrifice and subvert our own authority.

If the matter of authority is not settled, all other matters will remain unsettled.

The One above us is now INSIDE us because we declared belief in Christ. If we now refuse to submit to the authority inside us it is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

The Unpardonable Sin

          One of the basic principles in warfare is “divide and conquer.” Division causes weakness and creates vulnerability. In spiritual warfare the same principles apply and the Devil knows it.

          What a misunderstood subject this is. Its not surprising that this revelation has been swept under the rug and taken for granted. So many people with legitimate questions and concerns are confused about the meaning of this passage of scripture, and if they look to Google for answers they see misguided opinions and wrong interpretations everywhere. The internet is absolutely full of wrong doctrine on this subject.

          Satan is sneaky, but we don’t have to be ignorant of his devices. Whenever there is ignorance or misunderstanding about the word of God. Satan will use that to bring God’s people into bondage and deceive them. So I feel it necessary to bring some understanding to a subject that seems to always come up in Christian circles of all denominations. I can’t count the number of people I have encountered that were concerned that they have committed it and were going to hell, when in fact, it has nothing to do with going to hell and everything to do with your identity, your imputed righteousness which is the core message of the gospel.

         We find references to the unpardonable sin in Mark 3, Luke 10, and Matthew 12. We will be focusing on Matthews account for this teaching because it is the most complete, and gives us the proper context to interpret this passage.

          First of all, to establish something as a sound, biblical New Testament doctrine you must have scriptural precedent, and a scriptural type in the Old Testament. These will both be provided in this teaching.

Defining the Kingdoms

          To understand the unpardonable sin, it helps to understand the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven. In short, the Kingdom of Heaven is the place where God the Father dwells. It is our eternal destination if we are born again. It is a specific place.

          The Kingdom of God, on the other hand, is on the earth, and in our heart. (Luke 17:21) It is the place in which, at any given time, Jesus Christ’s rule and reign is acknowledged. Jesus will eventually deliver this Kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24) and both Kingdoms will then become congruent.

Romans 14:17 says: “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

         So the Kingdom of God is IN the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is inside us if we are born again.

What the unpardonable sin is not

          These passages are referring to the promise of the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Heaven, and yes, for this dispensation, there is a difference.

          A common teaching is that a true Christian cannot commit the unpardonable sin, that denying Jesus is the only thing that is unforgivable. This is certainly true, but it’s not what Jesus is talking about. When you look at His audience (Pharisees) and consider the entire context of what Jesus is saying, you will see that ONLY a Christian can commit such a sin. I will clarify this in the following paragraphs.

         First, let’s look at the entire passage in Matthew that puts this whole thing in context. (All scripture will be from the New King James Bible unless noted otherwise.)

A Kingdom Divided

Matthew 12:25-37 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

The Unpardonable Sin

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

A Tree Known by Its Fruit

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

          This entire passage starts off with the Pharisees questioning the authority by which Jesus is doing His mighty works. The said the He cast out devils by the prince of devils. He had just healed a demon possessed, blind and mute man. The miracle could not be denied, so they questioned the authority that Jesus was under to perform such a healing. They knew that true power only comes from authority and they refused to believe that His authority came from God.

         The unpardonable sin is the main topic of this whole passage. Since Jesus starts off talking about a Kingdom divided, we know that the unpardonable sin has to do with a divided Kingdom.

         Notice that the context of the unpardonable sin is sandwiched between the His explanation of “a kingdom divided,” and His comments on “the good and bad trees.” In verse 31, immediately following the explanation of a kingdom divided, Jesus says “Therefore I say to you…” In other words, Jesus is saying, “because of what I just told you, I also say this about it,” and He proceeds to tell them about the unpardonable sin.

          In verse 33, He follows right in to the parable of the good and bad trees, which is instruction on how to prevent a divided kingdom. This tells us that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is clearly a matter of having a divided Kingdom. So let’s break this down.

This passage is about embracing our identity in Christ.

         The unpardonable sin has to do with NOT submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit to rule and reign in our lives. We have been bought and paid for by the precious blood of the Lamb. We are not our own and submission to the Spirit of God is not just expected, but it is required if we are to function in His Kingdom.

          His Kingdom within us must be undivided, congruent, and in total agreement with the Holy Spirit. This passage is teaching us about accepting the fact that we are righteous and holy, being single minded about who we are in Him. It’s about making our tree good so that good fruit will be produced.

Let’s start by defining some terminology in verses 31, and 32.

          The Greek word for blasphemy is; blasphēmía. It comes from ( blax, “sluggish/slow,” and phḗmē, “reputation, fame”) – blasphemy – literally means, slow to call something good (that really is good) – and slow to identify what is truly bad (that really is evil). Blasphemy also means “to speak against.” It is primarily a sin of the mouth but can be expressed in actions as well.

          Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit takes the faith principle of calling things that are not as though they were, (Romans 4:17) and twists it. Instead of speaking faith and eternal truth over something that is in opposition to truth, instead of speaking life to something that is dead, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit despises (lightly esteems) the Holy Spirit’s work and continues to speak unbelief instead of speaking words of faith. It calls things that were as though they still are, instead of calling things that are not yet manifest as though they already 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;

           If the words and actions of a “believer” do not line up with Gods word, that means they don’t believe, regardless of what they think. To call yourself a believer and deny the truth that you have been made the righteousness of God is being a house divided, it’s calling the good tree bad. This is the blasphemy that Jesus is talking about. Jesus has made your tree good. For you to call your tree bad, even in the face of a recent gross sin, is blasphemy and causes you to have a house divided.

          The Pharisees that Jesus was talking to were NOT believers. The instruction He was giving them was not about them, but about Himself. They were not capable of committing the unpardonable sin. This is why He said in verses 34 “How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Jesus was telling them that they weren’t even capable of speaking faith because of what was in them.

          It is when we speak against the Holy Spirit in us that blasphemy occurs. The most common occurrence of this sin happens when we speak directly against God’s accomplished work and fail to recognize the righteousness that was imputed to us. We deny Christ’s redemptive work through the way we talk about ourselves. In essence, we despise our complete salvation and say in our heart that “What Christ did was not enough.” We do this by continuing to live by the law of sin and death, after Jesus has delivered us from it. This is offensive behavior to God, and there is nothing more He can do to deliver us from this deception. There is no other sacrifice that He can make to convince you to get on board with Him in faith, so the transforming power of His grace can actually produce good fruit in your life.

          If we could just bring ourselves to agree with the truth that He has made us worthy, righteous, and holy through His blood sacrifice, the Holy Spirit would be released to transform us into the reality of that truth. Our good trees would begin to bear the good fruit. If we don’t set ourselves in agreement with His completed work by what we say and how we act, we treat the blood of Jesus as common, insulting the Spirit of grace, and blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

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

          The sin of blasphemy can be expressed in a couple of ways. The most common way is to remain conscious of sin, allowing guilt, condemnation, and shame to rule our lives, rule our speech, and hinder us in our relationship with God. It is blatant unbelief in Christ’s accomplished work. I think this unbelief comes mainly from ignorance, not from a wrong heart. This part of the Gospel does not seem to get the attention that it should. Yet, when you read the New Testament, you will see that almost every epistle focuses in part, on this topic. The books of Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, and 1st and 2nd Corinthians are devoted almost entirely to addressing this.

          When we try to justify ourselves by our works (performance) after we have been born again, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We say, by our actions, that Jesus was not enough to make me righteous, and the Holy Spirit is not at work to change me. This is why it is so important to continually renew our mind to God’s word. This is a revelation that we should constantly revisit and strengthen.

          Most Christians don’t understand the work of redemption, which changes who they are. God intends for us to start our new life where Jesus finished His. We must start where He finished and be raised up together with Him as a new creation. Dead to sin, and alive to God.

          We have reduced the gospel to a prayer that gets us to heaven, and completely ignored the truth that we can NOW have a transformed life through relationship with the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God. This is the hope of the gospel.

Colossians 1:21-23 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 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

          The issue is, most Christians have not heard, or do not understand this hope of the gospel. The hope that we were made righteous and holy in the sight of God, so we could be restored in relationship to Him. The hope that sin has been dealt with and no longer is a barrier to that relationship. Not understanding what Christ did, and who we are in God’s sight prevents us from embracing the power of the gospel. We are NOW “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed we continue in the faith”

          In the next two passages, we see this “hope of the gospel” mentioned again.

Hebrews 10:19-23  Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

          So how does this tie to a house, or kingdom being divided? First, we need to understand that we are NOW Christ’s house, the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit MUST live in a holy temple.

1Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

          We let sin separate us from our Father, AFTER He has paid the FULL price to remove that obstacle. When we allow sin to dictate our behavior by fighting against it in our own strength, we are saying in our hearts that what He did was not enough. In our heart, we speak against the Holy Spirit denying Him the access to change us and our Kingdom is divided. We attempt to stand with one foot in the Kingdom of God, and one foot still in darkness. We try to serve the master, Jesus, and the master of the law of sin and death. You can’t serve both. Jesus knew this, so he fulfilled the law and did away with it, and where no law is, there is no transgression (sin).

Romans 4:14-15 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 5:13 For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

          These two passages make it clear that sin is still present, yet we are not judged for it because there is no law to transgress IF we live by faith. There is only the law of love, which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is the law that makes us free. The law that makes our house undivided and our tree good. This law sets us in agreement with God’s transforming power of grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4 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. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

          When we live with guilt, condemnation, and shame, it means we have a sin consciousness. It means we are living by the Old Testament law of Sin and Death and not by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. This is having a house divided and being guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Sin consciousness establishes your identity as unforgiven, guilty, and worthy of judgment. It believes you still have the need for redemption. It sends a message that Jesus sacrifice was not enough to buy you back from the fall of man. It denies the holiness of the temple (you) where the Holy Spirit dwells. It says that Jesus was not enough to make you holy. Blasphemy!

          Now let us address what Jesus said about not being forgiven in the age to come. This is the key portion of scripture that has Christians all twisted up in their understanding. Let’s start by reviewing our main text;

Matthew 12:25-37 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

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

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

          Let’s start with the phrase that we see in Matthew 12:32.  “Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” 

            This throws people for a loop because they immediately think of losing salvation, or missing out on heaven. First, we will look at the New Testament and see what has been accomplished through Jesus sacrifice, and then we will look at the Old Testament for scriptural precedent, and example of the unpardonable sin. Any principle that you find about Christ or His Kingdom in the New Testament, you will also be able to find in the Old, in type or example. The Old Testament was written to tutor us to faith in Christ Galatians 3:24 , so the type and shadow of what Jesus is talking about can always be found in the Old Testament in some form.

          The King James version says “neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” The second word; “world” (KJV) or the second word; “age” (NKJV) is not in the original Greek text. The Young’s Literal Translation is fairly accurate. It says; “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is coming.” The Original Greek uses the word “mello” for the last phrase, which implies an expectation of something intended or promised, so it should read something like this:

Matthew 12:32 (my paraphrase) And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it can be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, not in this age, and in that which is promised to come.

          The age to come” is talking about heaven, but not eternal judgment of hell. It’s talking about the judgment seat of Christ. The promise of reward that is attained by faith from operating within the Kingdom of God on earth. Only works that are done in faith will receive rewards in heaven.

           Here is what this looks like: You faithfully attend church, give of your time, talent, and resources, you are faithful to the work of the ministry and even help to bear fruit in the Kingdom of God leading people to Christ. This would appear to be worthy of heavenly reward. In fact, you are waiting to hear the Lord say, “well done good and faithful servant,” but if you have denied the work of the Holy Spirit in your own heart and continue to live your life by law and works, believing that your reward is based on your performance, you will have no reward at the judgment seat of Christ because your works were done in the flesh and not in faith.

          Not submitting to the righteousness of God is denying the Holy Spirit’s work in you and is blasphemy against Him. This will not be forgiven when you stand before Christ at His judgment seat. You will go to Heaven, but you will not go with rewards. You can be a zealous Christian and still miss it when it comes to submitting to righteousness and cooperating with the Holy Spirit. This has been a common problem for the Church from the very beginning. Look at what Paul said about the Jews in Romans 10.

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

          Obviously, Paul’s heart was going out to these Jews because he saw that they were sincere in their zeal and love for God, but they were ignorant of the righteousness of God that was given to us through Christ. Not knowing that righteousness was available to them as a gift, they continued to try and establish their own righteousness through the works of the Law. They tried to behave themselves into righteousness.

          There are too many well-meaning, sincere Christians that are in the same boat as these Jews. They are ignorant of the fact that they have been made righteous, and that sin no longer has power over them unless they allow it. They still believe that how close they are to God depends on how good they perform. Through trying to be good, and do good, struggling to NOT sin, they try to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God and letting Him change their behavior. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. There is no other sacrifice that can make them any more righteous. They are holy and blameless in God’s sight, just not in their sight.

          The problem is that they don’t believe they are actually holy and blameless. They believe that if they fall into sin they are worthy of judgment and have fallen from righteousness. They allow their self to be condemned and they become a landing strip for demonic activity that keeps them deceived and oppressed with the lie that they are not good enough. The truth is, they are good enough, not because of what they do, but because of what Jesus did. To refuse to believe that Jesus sacrifice was enough to make them righteous is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It is being a house divided, it is the cycle of sin consciousness.

“Unbelief in what God has said about you is blasphemy. When you refuse to believe your creator, you are in essence, calling Him a liar. When God says, “I have removed the sin problem” and you still live as though sin determines your ability to approach God, you have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.”

          Let’s settle this terrible lie once and for all with the scriptures.

Romans 11:27  For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.

1 John 3:5  And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 

          Here is the picture the scapegoat that was led out into the wilderness, never to return.  Jesus is our scapegoat for sins, yet he was resurrected from the dead.

Jeremiah 31:34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 10:17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

          God has perfect forgetfulness!  If He forgets them, why should we continue to allow the devil to condemn us or why should we continue to condemn ourselves?

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

         God did this for His sake! So that he could once again have intimate relationship with His children.

Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

          The stain of breaking God’s law is completely removed.  It was transferred from us to Jesus on the cross.

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.

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

          The word “propitiation” speaks of Jesus being a substitute. Jesus offered himself as one sacrifice forever for our sins.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

1 John 3:9 whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Ephesians 2:14 -16 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

          Sin has been condemned, abolished, removed, taken away. We must learn to live our lives unto God as though sin does not exist. This is the first step in living unto righteousness. This is making the tree good. This is submitting to God and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us to the point that even the desire to act out in sin gets removed from our life. This is living righteous conscious and not sin conscious. This is why Christ died.

          If we don’t settle in our hearts the revelation that the sin problem has been taken care of, we will not be able to function in our Kingdom authority. We will continue to trust in our own ability to live righteous, and by default, we will blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

          Sin consciousness establishes our identity as unforgiven, guilty, and worthy of judgment. It belief that we still have the need for redemption. It sends a message that Jesus sacrifice was not enough to buy us back from the fall of man. It inevitably leads us to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. If we continue to live like this, we may still do works for the Kingdom of God, but it will be in our own strength, through our own righteousness, and when we get to the judgment seat of Christ, this will not be forgiven. We will lose our rewards.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Romans 14:10-12 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

 2 Corinthians 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

          The judgment seat of Christ, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ. The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be judged or condemned for them (Romans 8:1). The judgment seat of Christ is not God judging our sins, but rather Jesus judging our faith in what He accomplished. (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5)

          So many Christians “serve” in the church without ever understanding love. Love will never be understood without intimacy with the Father. The greatest thing about salvation is the ability to get close to God and become one with Him, just like a marriage. Until we begin to pursue that kind of relationship, we don’t truly understand faith and we will gravitate towards doing thing for God and call that love. It is a deception that is rampant throughout the church. The truth is, you can be a Pastor, a faithful giver, prophesy in Jesus name, cast out devils, heal the sick, and still miss the whole point of why you are saved. The purpose of your salvation is to know Him and be transformed into His likeness.

Israel’s blasphemy

          The first Old Testament example of the Unpardonable Sin is Israel, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and not entering into the Promised Land. This is just one of the many “types” in the Old Testament of blasphemy and not being forgiven in this world or the world to come. They were delivered from the bondage of slavery with a promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. They started the journey, they began the process of entering the Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, (blasphemy) brought judgment upon themselves and never entered in to the fullness of what God had promised them. They never received their reward, even though it was promised. Why? The Bible says that their words were stout against God. (blasphemy)

Malachi 3:13-14 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?

          This brings us back to our main text. In the last portion, Matthew 12:37. It says: “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Israel condemned themselves by speaking blasphemy against God. It caused them to wander aimlessly for 40 years in a dry desert on a trip that should have taken less than two weeks.

          Every Jew from that generation died without obtaining the promise from God. Entering the Promised Land was their right. God gave them His infallible, unchangeable Word, yet through their unbelief, they disqualified themselves from entering that promise. God repeatedly confirmed that they were His chosen, favored people, the children that He loved with all His heart. Children that He prepared a wonderful inheritance for. The Promise Land is where God’s abundant provision, protection, and favor are accessible. The place where God’s children enter, and receive their full inheritance, but because of their words and actions of unbelief, judgment came instead. They never walked in what they were destined for.

          Israel started out strong, confident, with great expectation, but when hardship arose, or it seemed to take too long, they cast away their confidence and spoke against the promise.

          This is a clear picture of the present-day church. Christians are faced with the same dilemma today. The Kingdom of God is the Promised Land. It’s where the King’s resources, healing, protection, provision, and power are available. Not believing that He loves us, that He has changed us, and that He is for us, shows up in the way we talk and act, and it keeps us from entering the Promised Land.

The Promised Land is not a physical place, but a spiritual Kingdom that resides within you. It is the realm of the King that is in your heart. It is the place within your heart and mind that God has absolute rule, complete authority.

          Israel saw God’s manifested presence and provision constantly and yet they continued to question God and declare that they wanted to return to the place they were delivered from, SLAVERY! Countless times they disobeyed and despised God’s leading and provision. They spoke against God and His leaders, never believing that God was going to do what He said. They were faithless, even in the sight of some of the most spectacular signs and miracles ever recorded. They constantly “spoke against” (blasphemy) God and his leaders. Even though they had a promise of a new and wonderful land, they died before ever walking in it because of their blasphemy.

        Israel is a type of the modern Church, and the Promised Land is a type of the Kingdom of God. Christians that get saved and try to “be good” in their own strength will continue to indulge in their old lifestyle, gravitate to old habits and old thought patterns, and eventually desire their old life more than God. By not counting themselves dead to sin and alive to God, engaging Him in relationship, they blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Instead of embracing the relationship of sons and daughters, we gravitate to the religion and legalism of hired servants. This is not God’s plan. It is denying the faith. It is blaspheme.”

Galatians 4:6-10  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

          Just like Israel, some Christians will want to turn back to the slavery of sin. Why is that? Because they haven’t submitted to the righteousness of God. Instead, they try to establish their own righteousness by struggling to do and be good. Not realizing that they have embarked on an impossible task, they soon become discouraged and downcast because of the complete futility of their endeavor. They look at the bad fruit on their tree and get confused, calling their tree bad, and blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

          You are a good tree. Jesus made you that way at the new birth. As long as you keep calling the tree good you are not capable of producing bad fruit because the blood of Christ continually cleanses you from ALL sin.

1 John 1:5-7 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

          Remember, where there is no law, there is no transgression. (Romans 4:15) However, if you choose to live by the law anyway, you will be judged by the law and you will be calling the tree bad after Jesus has made it good. You blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Moses blasphemy

          Now consider Moses, the leader of God’s people, God’s chosen man. A man of tremendous faith and power. The Bible says that he didn’t sanctify God in the sight of God’s people.

Numbers 20:8-12 Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him.

10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.

12 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

          Moses was punished for blasphemy. Striking the rock instead of speaking to it is symbolic of what Christians do today. The Rock is Jesus, the water is a type of Holy Spirit. Striking the rock is a type of Jesus being stricken, smitten of God, wounded for our transgressions. (Isaiah 53:4-5) and Jesus only had to make that sacrifice ONCE!

Hebrews 10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 

Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

          When Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, it was a type of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The rock was struck years before. This time Moses was commanded to speak to the rock, but struck it again instead. This is a type of wounding Jesus a second time for our sins to bring the water of the Holy Spirit into our lives. It is a type of the Church not believing that Jesus blood was enough to make us holy and acceptable the first time.

Hebrews 6:4-6  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Numbers 20:10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”

          Notice the words “shall we.” Moses is acting as if He and Aaron are the responsible party for the miracles rather than acknowledging God as the cause. They are taking the credit when the credit belongs to God. Shall we bring you water from this rock yet again? This is blasphemy against the God. This blasphemy was not forgiven. Moses paid for this sin by not being allowed into the Promised Land. Moses lost his promised reward just like the children of Israel did. When we try to take credit for our own righteousness, we do the same thing. When we choose to live by slavery to the bondage of sin instead of by the Spirit, we do the same thing. These are just a few Old Testament types of the unpardonable sin.

          It is also why Jesus never takes credit for His miracles, but acknowledges that nothing He does is of Himself. He says the power is not His. Instead He points to the Father as the reason for all that He says and all that He has done. He claims that the Spirit is within him. He says the Father is with Him and He does the works. Jesus shows us what it looks like to be completely submitted to the authority of the Holy Spirit.

Make the Tree Good

            In Matthew 12:33 Jesus gives us instruction on how to prevent us from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

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 is a huge deal, the words we say about ourselves should align in agreement with what God says about us. The Righteousness of Faith speaks a certain way. There are things that says, and things that faith doesn’t say.

Romans 10:6-10 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) or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 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): 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.

          Now, I know that Romans 10:9-10 are our “go-to” scriptures when ministering the message of salvation, but salvation is far more than our ticket to heaven. It is our promise of transformation here on earth. We can experience a whole bunch of heaven before we ever get there if we will align our belief and our words with the Spirit of grace inside 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.

Winning the Battle for Your Identity

          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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

          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.

            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. 

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

          We are ruled by our confession. Death and life are in the power of our tongue!Proverbs 18:20-21 A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

lets pray

          Confess that you are righteous. Confess that you are holy. Thank God for freeing you from sin and transforming you into His image. If you happen to stumble and fall into weakness, let godly sorrow grip your heart and then 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 changing me from the inside out so that my behavior becomes more like you every day. 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.”

          This prayer is a good example of biblical confession. This type of confession sets you in agreement with His work and His plan for your life. When you begin believe and speak this way, almost immediately it will begin to produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness in your life.

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

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

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;

            The Unpardonable Sin is all about us NOT submitting to the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in our life.

          If you are a Christian you have probably committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit at some point. Only a Christian can commit this sin. But if you are endeavoring to walk by the Spirit and making progress in this area, you have nothing to worry about, you are maturing into a son or daughter and God honors a sincere and willing heart. It is when you live and die without ever submitting to the Holy Spirit’s transformation and maturing process that you set yourself up for disappointment by never being able to enter into the Promise Land here, and losing your rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

I hope this brings some clarification to this topic. If you have any questions, feel free to post ask. There is a bunch more on this topic that can solidify this teaching.

Many Blessings!

Sincerely, JC