Tag Archives: identity

Truth Pressure

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          In the early 90’s I was just beginning to really get stirred up about God’s spoken Word, mainly because I was beginning to understand the principles behind it, and not just mindlessly reciting something that I had no understanding of.

          I had an 8 page list of confessions from God’s Word that I would read out loud and declare over my life almost daily. I knew that saying what God said about me would help reinforce my identity in Christ and I was doing my best to grow into who He made me to be.

          One morning, as I was making these declarations, the Lord spoke to me and asked, “What are you doing?” I was quiet for a few seconds and then answered, “well, ummmm… I am confessing your word Lord.” He replied, “You are applying Truth Pressure.” That was the end of that conversation.

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          That was a new term for me, a new concept. I knew that particular phrase was not in the bible, but to validate what the Lord had just spoken to me I knew I must find the principle in His Word. Any Word that you hear by the Spirit must line up with the written Word or it is not valid.

          I knew that God’s Word had power, and I knew there was great power in the spoken word, but it wasn’t until I began to understand the grace of God that I saw what Truth Pressure meant and understood why confession works. So lets take a few moments to make sure we understand grace and how it is connected to what we say.  In the book of Ephesians, we see a wonderful truth concerning our speech.

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

          This verse is talking about words, that minister grace to the hearer. Since we are always the first one to hear our words, I recommend we take a long look at what is coming from our lips. Is it corrupt or is it grace? Is it faith, or is it fear? Is it blessing or is it cursing? Does it edify or tear down? What kind of influence does our words have in our life?

          What exactly is grace? The best definition that I have found is, “The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” Grace is Gods way of working on you from the inside out. The word of God that is spoken, and heard, ministers to us on the inside in such a powerful way that it  transform us and changes our life.

          Everything that God has prepared and provided for us, can be found in the truth of His word. Truth is full of grace, and grace is divine influence that brings transformation. We need to be speaking His word, if we are going to become what He has created us to be.vvtg

Job 22:28  ~ You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways.

By declaring God’s word, we set ourselves in agreement with Him and establish a stronghold of truth about our identity in Christ. It enables the transforming power of God’s grace to mold and shape us into what He wants us to be, keeping us spinning on the potter’s wheel.

Hebrews 1:13,14 ~ But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Psalm 103:20 ~ Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

We have angels assigned to our life. Their whole purpose is to minister on our behalf. When we give voice to God’s word, the angels take heed to it and get busy bringing that word to pass in our lives. I think it would be a tragedy to have a bunch of angels that are unemployed, twiddling their thumbs just waiting for us to speak life and grace that they might do what they are created to do. Let’s put them to work!

          Let’s look at  Ephesians 29 again and we will add verses 30 and 31.

 Ephesians 4:29-31 ~ Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

          In other words, if you are not speaking words that edify, ministering grace to those who hear them, including yourself, you are grieving the Holy Spirit. I know,………….OUCH!

          The most frequent sins are sins of the mouth. How we control our mouth and how we bridle our tongue is a direct reflection on how mature we are spiritually. The truth is, if you sin with your mouth daily, you are but a child, regardless of how long you have been a Christian or how much knowledge of God’s word you have. It is not the word that you know that brings maturity, but the word that you DO.

James 3:2-4 ~ For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.trth ptsr

          The word “perfect” in verse two simply means mature, or of full age. maturity is measured, in great part, by your mouth and how you control it. As we see in the above verse, our tongue is the steering wheel of our life. If we put our hands on the wheel, we can take control of our life and direct it down a path that leads to life, happiness and fulfillment. I think too many of us are driving down life’s road and saying, “Look Ma! No hands!” letting life speak louder than truth and allowing the facts of life to define us instead of the word of truth.

Proverbs 18:21 ~ Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

          The bible is very clear that our words have tremendous power. When it is God’s Word we are speaking, we have the power to minister His life and grace into the situation.

          Confession of God’s Word applies “Truth Pressure” to your heart. God’s Word is filled with divine influence (grace) that feeds and strengthens your spirit man until it that truth shows up in your soul and body and is reflected in your life for all to see. Change will always come first in the heart before you see it manifest in the natural. Everything in the Kingdom of God starts in seed form, including God’s word. So make a decision to plant some seeds of life and grace in the garden of your heart today. YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Free from Me

          Years ago I remember struggling with this one particular sin that I just COULD NOT seem to overcome. I was praying and asking forgiveness for the umpteenth time and being disgusted with myself, I said “LORD, I am such a DIRT BAG!” unexpectedly, the Lord spoke back to me and said: “You sure are. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”

          I was shocked! All I could think about was that the Lord called me a “dirt bag” and then gave me scripture to back it up by quoting Proverbs 23:7 . I was like … Lord!? … for real!?

            It was at that moment that it seemed like He downloaded this huge revelation into my “hard drive” about how we see ourselves. Then I literally heard the Lord chuckle in His heart, as He gave me this brief, and comical biology lesson. 

          As you may know, you are a spirit being, with a mind and soul, and you exist on this earth in a body, your “earth suit” so to speak. Your earth suit is made up of basic elements that are found in dirt. (Remember, God created Adam from the dust of the ground so this should make sense.) Your skin, the largest organ of your body, is the “bag” that all of this “dirt” is contained in. There is just no way out of it! WE ARE ALL DIRT BAGS! Somehow that made me feel better and I began to realize what the Lord was trying to show me.

          What we are mindful of has tremendous impact on our spiritual growth and our ability to walk in the Spirit. Today I saw how it impacts our ability to minister to the needs of others. Romans 8 helps us to understand this.

Romans 8:1-9 ~ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

          (You see, it is not enough to just “be saved” (in Christ Jesus) but you must be “after the Spirit.” Notice the capital S in Spirit? We must be ever conscious of the Holy Spirit and His agenda.)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

          There are two laws mentioned here; the law of the Spirit of life in Christ and the law of sin and death. We are FREE from the second law because God CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH.

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          When the devil is successful in getting you into self-condemnation and thinking of yourself as a “Dirt Bag,” you are in essence saying: “What God did was not enough, I have to condemn sin myself.” This can be as simple as you just focusing on the carnal, fallen nature most of the time instead of being mindful of spiritual things. This renders you helpless and powerless. (Which is the devils goal if he can’t kill you.)

5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

          We understand that actively pursuing sin brings death, but did you know that condemnation does the same thing? Condemnation IS “minding the things of the flesh.” We can’t be effective at helping others with death working in us.

7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

          Having the “Dirt Bag” (carnal) mindset is enmity against God. You cannot please Him. It reminds me of another scripture.

Hebrews 11:6 ~ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

          It takes faith to break free of the “Dirt Bag” mentality.

 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

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          Do we really get it? That we are NOT in the flesh? Just because we live in a flesh and bone “earth suit” and walk around in a fallen world does not mean we are a dirtbag. Obviously I did not get that when the Lord spoke this to me.

          Condemnation quenches the Spirit and puts the focus inward instead of upward. It renders the Christian powerless, ineffective. and no threat to the devil. Furthermore, it is not faith, and not pleasing to God.

          We MUST walk in the power of our new identity in Christ. Not for you to execute your own agenda or for you to market it so you can be financially secure. Not to play with or to draw attention to yourself, but to reflect His image upon the earth. This was mans original design and the enemy has been attacking it since the garden of Eden.

The three biggest tricks devil uses to keep you from walking in your new identity is guilt, condemnation, and shame. eryh

Guilt – Is a confession that I am not forgiven.

Condemnation – Is a statement that I my life is worthy of judgment.                                        

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

          He tries to get you so focused on the sin that all you can see is your weakness and failure. Instead of being mindful of spiritual things that can help others, you become only mindful of you, and you can’t even help yourself.

          Focus on God’s love for you. the price that He paid, and the fact that Christ became your sin so you could become His righteousness and stand before God the Father without any sense of guilt, condemnation, or shame. 

And remember, don’t be a dirt bag…

1Corinthians 2:15  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is  judged of no man.

Reflections of Righteousness (poem)

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I look in the mirror and what do I see?

The answer has always been illusive to me.

I see all my failures and mistakes that I’ve made,

And then I remember the price Jesus paid.

 

My past He has covered, and though it seems strange

He died on the cross for a wondrous exchange.

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

He gave me His righteousness that through Him I’d live.

 

My struggle to see past the person I’ve been

Is now a fight that I know I can win.

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

All that is left is for me to believe.

~Jack Coley~

Here is a link to more poetry on this site. Enjoy!

Protecting your identity in Christ

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          Who am I? That is a valid question. Do you see yourself as the sum-total of your life experiences up to this point, or do you see yourself as God sees you? Have you allowed life to mold you and shape you into the person you are? Or are you exercising faith in God’s word and embracing what He has called you to be?

          Life’s experience has a loud voice. If we are not careful, we can allow life to speak louder than truth, and let life define who we are, instead of what God has called us to be. Who we are, is determined by what we believe, and what we believe is subject to change according to the voices we allow to speak into our life.

          The voices we allow in our life, determines the realm of influence we are subject to. We will serve the strongest and most influential voices that are speaking in our life. This is our created design. It is therefore, extremely important what, and who we allow to influence us. We must be very selective of the voices we allow access in our lives.

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          We are created to believe; therefore, we will believe in something, it is our nature. We are hard-wired by our creator as people of faith. Faith can unites us to something greater than ourselves, it brings us under the service and mastery of something greater than we are as individuals. Faith enables us to become what we believe.

          We choose what to believe, and this alone determines who we serve. There are only two basic choices. Serve God, or serve our self, believe that He knows best, or believe that we know best. Who we serve determines who we are. It is the master that determines what his servant will be, the servant does not define himself, his master chooses his role, his service, his function, his work, and determines the quality of the servant’s life. Therefore, we must choose our master well. Our identity is determined by our master’s voice.

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          Confusion comes when we serve ourselves, trying to fill the role of servant and master at the same time. We cannot fill the role of both master, and servant. Instead of serving God, and becoming a part of something greater than our self, we become an island, cut off from the transforming work of grace, and the supply of the Spirit. By allowing our selfish desires to rule us, we give voices other than our creator’s access to our life.

 

The Righteousness of God – pt.3

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Righteousness has a Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before we learn how to speak, think about this:

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

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

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          If I say; “Black Labrador Retriever with a red collar,” I just put a specific image in your head. You took what I said, you processed it through your memory and experience, and it produced a specific thought/picture in your mind. It produced an image!

          We must have a preconceived image already present in our thinking for images to form. Unfortunately, we have so much memory and experience of our fallen, carnal nature that these images tend to dominate our thought life and make up our minds in advance that this is who we really are. Jesus didn’t die for us to remain the same and someday go to heaven, He died so that we could be transformed into His IMAGE, so that God’s original purpose for mankind could be restored in you.

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

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

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

          We see in this verse that Jesus was not only the express image of God, but He upheld all things by His word. This means that, among other things, the image of the Father was upheld in Him by the power of His words. God’s image IN YOU is upheld by the power of His word SPOKEN BY YOU!

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

Choosing a Master

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Righteousness of God – pt.2

The Mystery of the Two Natures

          When making reference to the “nature” of something, it refers to its inherent fundamental qualities. In the case of mankind, his nature is the hereditary physical and spiritual characteristics that drive his thoughts and actions and influences the direction of his life.

          God’s original design was for man to have the nature and image of God.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

          When Adam sinned, his nature changed, and the image of God in man was lost. Now fallen man had the nature and image of the devil. The nature and image of God is love, the nature, and image of the devil is carnal, prideful, and selfish. They are polar opposites.

          Man went from being love (God’s image) to needing love (selfish, self-centered). He lost his dominion and authority and he lost his created purpose which was to manifest/reflect the image of God. He was cut off from the Holy Spirit and lost the peace that kept him in perfect unity with the Father. His intimacy with the God was compromised and now his fellowship with his creator was only available from a distance, it was almost non-existent. He stepped out of the kingdom of light and into the kingdom of darkness. He chose the “kingdom of me” over the Kingdom of God and it produced a separation in relationship.

          This wasn’t just a sad day for Adam, but for all mankind, for every human being born on this earth is born into sin and death because of Adam’s sin.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned.

          We are born with a fallen, carnal nature by no fault of our own. God knew this, so He sent Jesus to pay the price that no man could pay. He redeemed man from sin and death and restored the possibility of the nature and image of God back to mankind. For man to enjoy this restoration of the nature and image of God he must be born of Adam, (natural birth) and born of the Spirit.(born again)

John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

          We are, by default, born of the first Adam, born with a fallen, corrupt, and carnal nature. When we are born again, we suddenly have a new nature on the scene that is diametrically opposed to the old carnal nature, Now we have the chore of stewarding these two opposite natures. This is the biggest challenge that faces us in our Christian walk because we were never created to live with two natures. We were created to have the nature and image of God.

          We find in scripture a description of the two natures and the results of yielding to each.

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

          We see here that yielding to one nature produces death, and yielding to the other produces life and peace. At first glance, we see the obvious choice, life and peace. It seems so simple, yet the obvious choice is not the easy choice.

Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

          There is a tug of war inside of us, a great battle going on between our two natures. Each nature operates according to very different spiritual laws. Because of this opposition within us, we find ourselves not doing the things that we know to be right. The apostle Paul saw this struggle in his own life and ministry and writes about it in his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 7:15-17 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

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          Notice Paul’s perspective here. He identifies himself with the new man, the born again man. He views the fallen man as a completely different person, to the point that when he sees sin rearing its ugly head in his life, he says; “it is no longer I that sins.” He sees it as a different person committing the act of sin. Paul refuses to identify with the fallen nature, instead, he chooses to embrace his new identity which is the righteousness of God.

          Paul’s response to the new nature dictates his response to the old nature. Most folks have that backwards. They allow the old carnal man, (that should be dead) to dictate how they respond to God’s amazing gift of righteousness. Paul understood that the man he used to be, is not the man he now is. Look at Romans 6 again in the Message;

Romans 6:2  If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?

          The place we used to be, is not the place we belong. Pack up and leave that old house for good! Sin will always call us back to live in the place we were redeemed from, but when we know who we are NOW, we can’t be seduced by who we WERE. We need to let who we are get bigger in our heart than who we were. When we settle that in our life, transformation and fulfillment will follow.

          If you sin, how do you respond to it? Do you look at the act like it wasn’t even you who did it? Do you say to yourself, and to God, “that wasn’t me, that is not who I am. I thank you Lord for opening my eyes, I am the righteousness of God in Christ, and I thank you Lord that you see me as holy in your sight. I thank you for fathering me and showing me who I am in you, for producing the fruit of holiness in my life so that I don’t stumble”? This is what “confession of sin” should look like according to the New Testament. To confess means to say the same thing about it that God says. Say what God says about you and it will change your desires, your behavior, your thought processes, and eventually, YOUR IMAGE.

          I think most of us respond to sin with being disappointed in ourselves, crying out to God for forgiveness, weeping and wailing and filled with regret that we missed it again. We become ashamed, disgusted with ourselves, condemning ourselves, and judging ourselves unworthy, unrighteous, and unqualified. We open the door to condemnation and turn inward instead of running toward God. We respond from the place of the dead man, identifying ourselves with the sin and therefore giving it power over our lives to bring us into slavery. This response to sin opens the door for the Devil’s tricks and torments. It reactivates the law of sin and death being activated in your life.

          It’s all about perspective. Seeing ourselves from the position of sin prevents us from realizing who we are created to be. It sends a message that we are not righteous and Christ’s sacrifice was not enough. It is an affront to the work of the cross and a denial of your position in Christ as a child of the living God and a citizen of His Kingdom.

          The Jews at Rome had this same problem. Look what Paul says about it:

Romans 10:2-4 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.

          Righteousness must be submitted to. It has nothing to do with our performance, it has everything to do with what we believe, and who we believe. This is the righteousness of faith. Righteousness has already been established by Jesus Christ, there is nothing we can do to make it more or less.

          If we respond from a place of guilt and condemnation it says that we don’t believe, or don’t understand, that the cross was enough to make us right before the Father. We say in our heart that Christ has to come from heaven and be sacrificed again and be raised from the dead again because the last time he did was not quite enough.(Romans 10:6-7) This is the response of the fallen nature, the one we must put to death.

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          The response of the new nature is one of faith and life, declaring the great work that Christ has done in you. It responds as a righteous son, a worthy heir with head held high in gratitude for the completed work of the cross. It responds by running to the Father and taking the seat beside Him which was prepared for you before you were born. It responds with the truth that “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” This response produces the fruit of holiness without us trying to be holy.

Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

For the next lesson in this series, CLICK HERE> The Righteousness Of God pt.3

The Righteousness of God – pt.1

The Righteousness of God pt. 1

          In most dictionaries, righteousness means right conduct. It describes behavior that is characterized by accepted standards of virtue and morality. In the Bible, righteousness is the condition of being in right relationship or right standing with the Lord. The thing that blinds people to a true understanding of righteousness is confusion about how we become right in the sight of God.

          It is commonly thought that our actions, conduct, and behavior determine God’s judgment of our righteousness. That is simply not true. We are not made right in God’s eyes by what we do, but by accepting what Jesus did on the cross, and acknowledging who we are in Him. Righteousness is not about what we do, it’s about who we are. We are new creatures. WE ARE SONS!

           The righteousness of God is what gains us access to God’s presence. Not the righteousness of the law which is by works, but the free gift of righteousness which comes by faith. To approach God requires a righteousness equal to His own. Any vestige of sin would not be able to stand in His presence. The greatest benefit we have from the righteousness of God is our ability to stand in His presence and have intimate relationship with Him.

           Righteousness is a gift. We can’t earn it, and we certainly don’t deserve it on the merit of our performance. It has to be received by faith. Righteousness is obtained by what we believe, not by what we do. If we embrace the gift of righteousness and believe that it truly has made us right in God’s sight, it begins to change our behavior. Our conduct begins to line up with the truth and it produces the fruit of holiness in our lives without straining and striving to “do better” to produce our own righteousness and holiness.

           Failing to understand this truth is at the root of all guilt and condemnation. Satan’s only entrance into our lives is through sin. If we understand our right standing with God on the basis of what Jesus did for us, and not by our performance, then Satan’s power to condemn is gone. Those who live with feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness are not believing in God’s gift of righteousness, but are looking to their own works to obtain right standing with God. This will never work. It will only bear the fruit of frustration and produce more guilt, shame, and condemnation.

           Righteousness can’t be produced by works, it can only be obtained by submitting to it, by believing in it.

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.

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          To submit to righteousness means that we must believe that what God said about us is true. We must believe that He looks at us as if we have never sinned. That belief is established by how we act toward sin and what we say about ourselves. Unfortunately, we have a problem acting like we have never sinned because we know we have. We see our ability to sin and fail and it makes us believe that we are sinners and failures. We look at our actions and consider our past and we walk by sight and not by faith in what God has done for us.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (AMP) For we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]

          God wants us to live with no consciousness of sin. He wants us to live as though sin never existed. He made us equal to His righteousness because He loves us and wants relationship with us. He gave us the ability to approach Him unveiled, unashamed, righteous, and holy IN HIS SIGHT! For righteousness to become a reality, we must become righteous, holy, and blameless IN OUR SIGHT. This can only be accomplished through faith, no amount of striving to “be right, or do good” will produce it.

           We are born with a sin nature because of Adam. A sin nature has a strong voice. It is always saying, “You are a sinner, you are going to fail, you are not worthy, you are not righteous, and there is no way you can be.” When we listen to that voice we become alive to it, and then we become a slave to it. We have no power over something we are a slave to. We must learn to die to this sin nature so that we may live unto righteousness.

Romans 6:8-11 (NIV) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

         The key to understanding this free gift of righteousness is having the proper perspective, the perspective of FAITH! We must see ourselves as God now sees us, righteous, holy, and blameless in His sight. If we still see ourselves as sinners after we have been born again, that just reveals our unbelief in what He accomplished on the cross. His sacrifice was enough! We need to start acting like it! As verse 11 above states, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” To count, imagine, reckon, believe yourself dead to the old and alive to the new.

For the next lesson in this series, CLICK HERE> The Righteousness Of God pt.2

Defining Grace and Graces

111grc          The gospel of grace is a core message of the New Testament. In fact, grace is a thread that can be traced through the entire Bible. But what exactly is grace? How would you define it? The New Testament has much to say about the topic so it’s important to know exactly what is being said when grace is mentioned.

          From my own observation and experience, I see that Christians, for the most part, don’t really understand what grace is. They define it as “unmerited favor” or “God’s love and compassion.” While those are certainly true, they are just a few aspects of grace.

Grace, by definition is Divine Influence. Specifically, the Divine Influence upon the heart of man and the expression, or reflection of that influence through the life of man.

          In simple terms, grace is God’s way of influencing your heart, mind and soul so that the decisions you make in life will enable you to become more like Him and accomplish His purposes through you life.

 divine in        Grace is God’s influence. That influence varies, and is unique to each individual. God tailors His grace according to your gifting, your place in society, your influence over other people, etc. Look at what Paul writes in Romans;

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; 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.

          The understood topic here is GRACES not gifts. What Paul is talking about here is the differences in our gifts are produced by the graces that are on our life. In other words, our giftings look different because the divine influence (grace) in our heart is unique to the individual. Look again at the above text, and pay close attention to the underlined wording. Then look at Ephesians 4 where it lists the 5-fold ministry gifts. When introducing the idea of ministry gifts, Paul begins with this statement:

Ephesians 4:7  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

          Compare that to the Statement in Romans 12:6.

Romans 12:6  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; 

          In both passages the language is virtually the same, yet the order is changed. Ephesians says “grace according to the gift,” and Romans says “gifts, according to the grace.” If Ephesians is clearly talking about gifts, then Romans is clearly talking about graces. When you put the two together you see this:

          The measure of grace differs according to the measure of the gift, and those gifts will look different because of the grace, or graces in operation in your life. There are 7 GRACES mentioned Romans 12: 6-8

1) Prophecy

2) Servant (ministry)

3) Teacher

4) Exhorter

5) Giver

6) Leader

7) Mercy giver

          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 (ministry), 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.” You see the answer as just needing to be encouraged in the Lord.

          If your GRACE is TEACHER, you think that all they need is to understand and learn more about divine healing and faith principles so you try to teach them anything and everything you know on divine healing.

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 as a leader and exhorter. When he teaches, that influence is reflected in his life.

          Pay attention when you see the word GRACE used from now on. I think you will see that this may be a key to understanding why we do what we do.

          I don’t expect everyone to grasp this right off. It is something to be contemplated, and meditated on. I pray this helps in understanding who you are and how God is influencing your life.

JC