Tag Archives: Identity in Christ

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

 

 

Your Sovereignty, Free Will, and Saying NO to God

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

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

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

Genesis 2:15-17 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

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

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

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

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

THE KINGDOM OF GOD, or THE KINGDOM OF ME?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HONOR RELEASES THE POWER THAT AUTHORITY CONTAINS.

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

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

JC

What is Grace?

When you think of God’s grace, what immediately comes to mind? God’s unmerited favor? His salvation, love or kindness? I am not going to argue those points, they are all true, but I will say that grace has a broader, deeper meaning and I want to explore that in this teaching. Grace is one of the most important words in the New Testament and yet it is not well understood and even taken for granted.

Luke 2:40 ~ And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

The grace of God was upon Jesus and to understand New Testament grace we should consider what was upon Him so we can understand what is upon us, for we are in Him. One of the greatest definitions of grace that I have found is:

 “The divine influence on the heart of man, and the reflection of that influence in the life of the man.”

 If you look at grace from the standpoint of divine influence, it automatically broadens your idea of what grace is. When reading the bible and you see the word grace, replace it with “divine influence,” or “God’s influence”. You will see that it fits and it will provide a deeper understanding of the scriptures.

 We really need to stretch our understanding to even begin to grasp the full meaning of grace and what it means to us as believers. The Greek word for grace is “charis,” In addition to charis, there is the word charismata, which is a word related to charis, but it is only used in reference to what have become known as the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. I don’t think that anyone could argue that the those nine gifts are manifest by the divine influence of the Holy Spirit and the believer allowing that influence to reflect in his life.  

Acts 11:23 ~ When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.

This scripture refers to Barnabas SEEING the grace of God on others. This implies that grace should be evident. That God’s influence in your heart should be manifest in such a way that it could be seen outwardly by others. We have a world full of believers that have no outward evidence of the grace of God on their lives and therefore are not a witness of the grace of God to the world. Why is that? A part of the reason is legalism. Legalism is a belief system that attempts to establish your own righteousness by following laws, rules and religious traditions. The more we allow ourselves to slip into legalism, the farther we fall from grace and deny God’s influence in our life.

Virtually the entire book of Galatians addresses this problem of legalism.

Galatians 5:4 ~ You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Another important aspect of grace is that God uses people to impart it to His body.

2 Corinthians 8:6 ~ So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.

          We see from this verse of scripture that the divine influence (grace) can come from other believers. Titus was urged to complete the grace that he started. His influence on these people was obviously of a divine nature, God influencing people with people. This is seen clearly in the fivefold ministry gifts described in 

         When I came to the conclusion that grace is God’s divine influence in my heart and its reflection in my life, I was forced to consider my definition of God. The book of James says that “God is love.”

1 John 4:8 ~ He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

With that understanding I was left with this thought; Grace is an expression of God’s love, and any time He endeavors to influence a person, it is because He wants to impart His very nature into that individual. Look at the first part the verse above, “He who does not love does not know God”. I believe that the main purpose of grace is so that we may know Him. To know Him we must yield to the divine influence of love (grace) and allow that love to be reflected in our lives.Jesus was the express image of God (love). He is our example. To yield to divine influence is to yield to love. Jesus said:

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.

 I think we can all agree that Jesus was completely yielded to divine influence. He only did what He saw the father (Love) do.

 

 Grace is the manifestation of the influence of God in you, with the intention that the influence is reflected in your life.

Gifts vs. Graces

This brings us to Romans 12 that most Christians interpret as “motivational gifts”. Paul is not talking about gifts, He is talking about “graces”.

Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

There are 7 GRACES mentioned here: Prophecy, Servant (ministry), Teacher, Exhorter, Giver, Leader, and Mercy Giver.

 Look at Ephesians 4, where Paul starts talking about the 5-fold ministry gifts to the church.

Ephesians 4:7-12 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 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,

You see how the order of grace and gifts are flipped in these passages?

Romans 12:6 says: gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,

Ephesians 4;7 says: grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

It is clear that Paul is talking about ministry gifts in Ephesians 4, and graces in Romans 12. Many have called them motivational “gifts” having a limited understanding of how they work. But when we understand that they are graces we begin to better understand who we are, and why we do what we do.

What I believe Paul is talking about in Romans 12 is the differences in our gifts produced by the grace (divine influence) that is on our life. In other words, our gifting looks different because the divine influence in our heart is different. Look again at the text, and pay close attention to the wording.

To understand what a GRACE is and how it affects us, let us view them as glasses with colored lenses. When you are looking at life through those glasses, everything you see will be tinted with that color, and your actions and responses will be influenced by it. Your GRACE affects how you see things, how you deal with problems, and how you express yourself in your gifting.

For instance, if you have the GRACE of SERVANT, you see the world through that “colored lens” (GRACE). Maybe your gifting is an Evangelist. So it would be natural for you to engage in “Servant Evangelism.”

Your Grace determines how you think about things, how you approach things. For example: If your GRACE is a GIVER, and you are ministering to someone who needs healing, you automatically think of what you can GIVE to help them. Like buying them some books on divine healing, or sending them to a healing crusade and paying for the whole thing.

If your GRACE is EXHORTER, you may encourage them in faith, read some healing promises from the bible, tell them “this is nothing for God, you can beat this thing easy.”

If your GRACE is TEACHER, you think that all they need is to understand and learn more about divine healing and faith principles.

Look at the rest of that passage in Romans and notice how Paul starts the dialogue.

Romans 12:3-8 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. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry (servant), let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

When Paul says that he speaks “through the GRACE that is given him,” he is talking about the divine influence upon his heart. When he teaches, that influence is reflected in the life.

Grace is a big subject, and these are just a few small observations. However, grace is one of the most important words to us in the New Testament. We should endeavor to get as much understanding on it as possible. I hope this helps.

JC

 

Old Testament Law – Made to be Broken

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          Understanding the purpose of Old Testament Law is the beginning of understanding your imputed righteousness in Christ.

          I’m going to make a statement that may be foreign to most Christians.

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

          Does that sound contradictory or confusing? It shouldn’t. No man in history was able to keep the Law, except Jesus Christ. Never has any man succeeded in making himself acceptable to God by keeping the Law. Didn’t God know this? Of course He did. So why did God give us a Law that we are unable to keep? So that we would come face to face with the fact that we are incapable of doing anything right or just apart from His grace.

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.

          The Law exposes our true nature apart from God. It teaches us that we need something far greater than our own strength and will to please God. The Law helps us to see our inadequacies so that we can be honest with ourselves and say: “I am a sinner through and through, and of myself I can do nothing to please a holy God.”

          The Law was not given with the expectation of us keeping it. It was given in the full knowledge that we would break it; and when we have broken it so completely as to be convinced of our absolute need for a Savior, then the Law has served its purpose. It has fulfilled the role of a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so the He may Himself fulfill it.

Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 

          We are all sinners by nature because of Adam’s transgression. The Law makes that sinful nature manifest. When a holy Law is applied to a sinful man, then that sinfulness comes out in full display making the fallen nature of that man manifest.

          God knows who we are. the trouble is, WE don’t know who we are. The Law brings us to a place where we see who we are apart from Him and shows us our utter helplessness under the Law, and our need to be saved from it. If not for the Law we would never see how weak we are apart from Christ. We would continue in the futile pursuit of trying to please God with our own righteousness.

          The Law was given to make us lawbreakers, to expose our sin, not to the world, but to ourselves.

Romans 7:7-9 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

          We need to have our weaknesses proved to ourselves beyond a shadow of doubt. It is at that point we are able to understand our need for deliverance from the Law. We must be delivered from the Law to receive the free gift of the righteousness of God.

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

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

Law vs. Grace

          In a nutshell, Law means that I do something for God. Grace means that God does something for me. If Law means that God requires something from me for it’s fulfillment, then grace means that He no longer requires it from me, but He provides it for me Himself.

          Where we fall into trouble is our tendency to live by Law. We are far more comfortable with a “quid pro quo,” mentality. Do this to receive that, receive something for doing something. This is rational and easy to wrap our head around, but it is not faith. Faith doesn’t come natural because with faith, we don’t have the ability to understand everything. We feel the need to do something to earn what we have been given.

Galatians 3:19-25  What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

          Once faith in Christ has come, we no longer have need of the Law. We then must transition from operating under the Law of sin and death, to the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 

          Old habits can be hard to break. We are born and raised under the Law of sin and death. Faith in Christ, in His imputed righteousness, in our change of status from slaves of sin to adopted children of God takes a concentrated effort. Learning to live by the new Law of the Spirit is a process. We are born into this new life as infants, and for us to mature properly and thrive under this new Law we must reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God by what Jesus did on the cross.

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

          So why do we continue to try and live by the Law? Because we don’t understand that the Law was never intended for us to keep. It was intended to show us how futile our efforts are to keep it, and to expose our fallen nature to such a degree that our only option is to believe in our Savior.

JC