What is True Revival?

pray-revival

Revival……another definition would be to recover, repair or restore.
Hosea 10:12 says: “Sow to yourself in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord till He come and reign righteousness upon you.”

What is fallow ground?
Fallow ground is ground that has been fruitful, and then it has been plowed over, and no seed has been sown in it, and therefore it has become unproductive.

Notice, there is a human emphasis here — it says
that we are to break up — you break up your fallow ground.

Now take another aspect of it here in Psalm 85:6 “Would Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee.” So, there is an absence of joy, of vitality — there is an absence of ecstasy.

The very word “revive” presupposes life. You can only revive what has already had vitality — life that has become sick, weak, or apathetic. I think the nearest analogy I can give you is a recent case of a man who apparently drowned. He had been under the water for an incredible amount of time. Then somebody pulled him out and worked and worked on him, and eventually life came again. This is actually what it means to revive,

It means to revitalize.
It means to restore lost power.
It means to recover lost energy.

In the Acts of the Apostles 3:19 we read, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Whatever else we say about revival we have to recognize this, that revival is an act of mercy in the sovereignty of God.

There is a vast difference between revival and evangelism. When we speak of revival in America we think of church advertising, “Our revival will begin next Sunday night at a certain time and it is going to finish the next Sunday night at a certain time.” Obviously this is something purely mechanical, it is something which men have engineered.

I think that one of the offenses of revival, in the historic sense, is that it cannot be organized. As Doctor Tozer said, “When revival comes it changes the moral climate of a community.”

You can have revival that covers a church — Spurgeon had that.
You can have a revival that covers a city.
You can have a revival that covers the whole nation — and I am thinking in this context more than in the other contexts (though sometimes revival spreads from here to there — like fire spreads.)

Revival cannot be organized — evangelism can be organized.
Revival cannot be subsidized — evangelism can and usually it must be.
Revival cannot be advertised — evangelism can.

It may cost millions of dollars, as it often does, to have one of our huge,
modern, so called revivals. You have to pay vast sums of money
for time on TV, for example — perhaps a million dollars a night.

That’s incredible, that’s unthinkable to me in
the context of Biblical revival, or even historical revival.

Why doesn’t revival need to be advertised? For the simple reason, that fire is the most self advertising thing that there is, whether it is a physical fire or a revival fire. It draws people like a magnet.

To bring this down to modern technology — revival cannot be computerized.

There is information that you can put in computer and presto, you get the answer predicting an outcome according to the facts that were put in. But you cannot computerize or predict revival. There are periods in which one thing predominates.
Sometimes revival is totally taken over by sorrow.
Sometimes revival is totally taken over by joy, ecstasy ’till you don’t know
whether you are in the flesh or whether you’ve gone out of the earth.
Sometimes revival is taken over by stillness. There are times when you go to a prayer meeting and there.
There is stillness and you feel it is creative. You feel,
“Now something is building up around here, somebody is going to
come out shortly with a heart bursting… with some agonizing prayer…”
Revival cannot be rationalized. Again, one of the offensive things about revival is you can’t put your finger on the spot, usually, as to how or why or where it began.

It is supremely an act of God.
You find a man would go with a series of messages to a community and before long that community is alive, it’s throbbing. He goes to another town with exactly the same group of men, the same type of prayer is poured out, the same sweat and soul travail and there is no response.

You can’t predict and you can’t organize revival. Why? Because you can’t organize where the wind is coming from. The Spirit, the wind, bloweth where it listeth. If you say it’s going to come this way, it comes that way. If you say God’s going to use that man, very often He doesn’t even bother with that man. Revival so often comes through unknown characters.

I don’t think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is in this moment. I don’t think our nation has. Whatever we shall say about revival we have to recognize this: There are three things about natural life: conception, gestation, and birth. You can’t alter the program. There has never been revival, that I can trace, that has not been preceded by agonizing prayer. You might say, “I haven’t got to that stage yet of agonizing prayer. How does is come?” Well, it comes through VISION.

If we are really going to get a concept of revival we have to get a vision of God’s sorrow over sin. We have to get a concept of how, day by day, we offend God. As a nation we offend God in millions of ways.

When I was praying in the Bahamas one day, I saw a great column of smoke, which happened to be coming from tires that were being burned. It was as black as could be, and over there I saw a wisp of smoke going up from the ground. I didn’t think much of it until about a year after, I was praying and the Lord said, “That volume of black, thick smoke is like the volume of sin that goes up every day.” All the blasphemy, all the unbelief, all the dirty stories, all the lying, all the deception, all sex-perversion, all drunkenness — this tremendous column of iniquity goes up in the sight of God. And here you have a little wisp — of what? That is the praise that God gets out of His people. If we are going to realize how much we need revival we need to recognize the dimension of sin. We have to recognize that sin offends God.

Psalm 85:4 says, “Turn us, O God of our salvation and cause Thine anger towards us to cease. Wilt Thou be angry with us forever?” Psalm 80 verse 3, “Turn us again, O God, and cause Thy face to shine.” Notice, it’s repeated again in verse 7 and in verse 19, “…cause Thy face to shine.” “…cause Thy face to shine.” You know, I think one of the awesome tragedies of our day is this: the people of Israel could not live if God turned His face away from them and seems now we cannot live if God turns His face on us!

The awesomeness of God’s presence… The awesomeness of God’s majesty…
We’ve had meetings, in the last month particularly, where I would sit down at the end of the meeting. I didn’t know what to do with it, and the pastor said, “Well, I can’t handle a meeting like this, what do you do?” The invasion of God’s power was so awesome that there was no way that you could handle it, so you just let the meeting ride itself out. We were having meetings five hours long, beginning at seven at night and finishing at midnight. College students came, and university people, and business people. When God comes, our social distinctions don’t matter, our intellectual distinctions don’t matter. There is an overwhelming sense that God is dealing, not with my intellect, not with my body, not with my emotions so much as with the inner man… the inner being… the inner temple which He wants to indwell.

Joel speaks about the priests, the ministers of God. Look at Joel 1:13, “Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl ye ministers of the altar, come lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God.” Go over to verse 12 of the 2nd chapter, “Turn ye now even to Me with all your heart and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments.” Come down to verse 17, “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach.”
Now, how do you get to that state? There is no way you can jump to that level in ten minutes.
It is an operation. It’s a process. It’s a preparation.
There has to be an individual breaking up of fallow ground in me. What is there in my individual life that obstructs the flow of the Spirit?
If you are going to break up fallow ground you have to get your own life into a state of discipline — and we are the most undisciplined generation of believers ever. There is no way of getting to revival unless previously there comes brokeness.
What God wants is not to fill up empty pews.
He is not concerned about filling empty churches,
He is concerned about filling empty hearts.
And empty lives, and empty eyes that have no vision;
Empty hearts that have no passion,
And empty wills that have no purpose.

Have you ever thought about the enormity of the Jewish system? A great monolith of priests and Levites, and offerings and sacrifices, and new moons and Sabbaths, and Urim and Thumin. Then suddenly God puts one solitary individual there and he has one commission. “You go and prepare the way of the Lord.”

But he has all this against him: At least 2000 priests, a senior priest and elaborate temple.
A system of buying and selling cattle and other things for sacrifice.
An outer court, where you could come to a priest and tell him of your sin and your guilt and he would make an offering for you.
And this fellow comes and he is saying that the religious system is all obsolete. That God is going to manifest Himself independent of all of that and that there is Somebody Else!

They say, “You must be the man.” He says, “Oh, no, no, no! I am not the One. I am just coming to prepare the way of the Lord.”

Now think of the sorrow of God after Adam failed.
Think of the sorrow of God after the whole system that He’d inaugurated failed.Think of something which may be even more awesome still:

Think of the fact that 2000 years have lapsed since Jesus came and did a full work of redemption… and the church is still dragging its feet today!

The human dilemma that we are in right now is that we have never been in a lower point. People say sometimes, “Don’t worry, we have got out of situations like this.” Oh, no! We haven’t. Don’t you fool yourself. We’ve never gotten out of situation like this. You know why? Because we have never been in a situation like this. That’s why!

We’ve never had difficulties like this. We’ve never had this plague of divorce. We’ve never had a million girls under 16 becoming pregnant, like last year. What did they say the night before last on the news, “Tonight 20,000 girls over the nation will get pregnant.” Sex is a sport. Immorality is an accepted way of life.

People say there are fewer divorces than last year. Well, how do you expect any more when they don’t get married? They did get married at one time and got divorced. They don’t even bother to get married now, just live together. Have a baby, so what? “We agree to part,” that’s it. So we are a broken nation. Never, never in our history did we need revival more than today, the day in which we live.

But you don’t wish revival… there is no such thing.
People say to me all over the country, “I am interested in revival.” I say, “Yes, so are a million other Americans.”
I find all kinds of people interested in it. I don’t find many people burdened for it. People are very interested in revival, but we don’t start to break the fallow ground. We don’t prepare the way of the Lord.

I remember as a little boy I used to go to bed at night with a candle… you never had that joy, did you? I remember thinking how many other candles you could bring and light off that candle? I wonder and I wonder. I never found an answer, but I often used to wonder.

It was Charles Wesley who wrote the hymn,
“See how great a flame aspires, kindled by a spark of grace.
Jesus’ love the nations fires, sets the kingdoms all ablaze.
To bring fire on earth He came, kindled in some hearts it is,
Oh that all might catch the blaze, all partake the glorious bliss.”
Jesus said, “To bring fire on earth have I come.” Did you hear anybody preach on that text? What kind of fire? Well, surely not hell fire. Holy Ghost fire! The most devastating fire of all is not the fire that consumes a building. It isn’t even the fire of hell. The greatest, most devastating fire, is the fire of God. We say, “God is love, God is love, God is love…”
And yet our God is a consuming fire. “Who shall abide the day of His coming,” Malachi says. “He is like a refiner’s fire.”

Mathew 3:16, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and Fire.” But you see, that aspect is not stressed in the day in which we live.
Everybody talks about the baptism. So what do you mean by the baptism? There is a baptism with the Holy Ghost and Fire. Not just with the Holy Ghost, but with Fire. When He comes He will “thoroughly purge His floor and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Which, again, can happen individually,or it can happen in a church, or it can come and work through a whole community or it can work through a whole nation.
There will be a thousand people who, if you get a heart and a vision, will say, “Oh, you’ve got tunnel vision.” Hmm? Well, I think the one reason why the Apostle Paul conquered… and triumphed… and out-smarted us… and out-suffered us… and out-prayed us… and out-sacrificed us… and out-preached us was because he settled for one thing: “This one thing I do.”
You’ve got to have one vision,
You’ve got to have one heart,
You’ve got to have one purpose,
“This one thing I do…” I sell out to God’s will totally.

Well, what does this become? Well, I believe this thing becomes an obsession, as I was saying to a brother this morning. For fifty years I’ve wept, and I’ve prayed, and I’ve groaned, and I’ve read, and I’ve fasted, and I’ve met with guys for nights of prayer, and days of prayer, and days and days of prayer, for revival. There isn’t much sign of it. Well, are you sure? You see, prayers never die.
“What are these under the altar? The prayer of saints.” You never pray a prayer that is born of God without it being on record with God. God never wastes anything. Do you think you and I have prayers born of grief, born of anguish, born of desire to see an overthrow of iniquity, (for after all that is what revival is) and you think God will let them die?

Now again, the shadow of darkness and death is over this generation like nothing we’ve ever had before. And yet, the greatest tragedy of all is this: a sick church in a dying world. We have neither the vision nor the passion, nor at this moment, the intention of setting our house in order — “to break the fallow ground” — to prepare the way of the Lord.

My hope is that as we go on here we are not just going to gather information and statistics about revival, but that we are going to individually seek personal revival.

Leonard Ravenhill
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The Second Adam: Jesus Christ

crucifixion1
Oh how we have underestimated the message of the cross and the triumph of the resurrection. No earthly religion like Buddhism, Islam or humanism can accomplish what the cross and resurrection made available to the human race. Since the fall of the first Adam in the Garden of Eden, Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. A great chasm existed between God and the human race. The entire creation cried out for a redeemer and a savior who could provide the way to reconcile mankind back to God and restore what the First Adam lost in the Garden. Every effort of man has failed to eradicate the power of sin. Education has failed. Sin’s grip and its curse has brought untold suffering to people around the world. Its cruelty is but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in its destruction of man. The human race has been unable to strike at the root and the cause of sin, sickness and death. Man, lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless death and doom…He is born to die.Spiritual death, the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow that has darkened the life of God’s man. Islam has no answer, education has no answer, Buddhism has no answer, science has no answer and the greatest minds on the face of the earth have no answer. Money, fame, position, authority, power, heritage and influence all cower and are hopeless to eradicate the sin problem and the judgment of condemnation that hangs over the earth like a black cloud. Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children. After the fall in the Garden, the human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God. Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death. Romans declares all are under sin and guilty before God. No one is good, not even one. We can never understand the greatness of Calvary and the Empty Tomb, and the greatness of our salvation until you deeply realize what you have been rescued from and the deep depravity of your life and the hopelessness of your existence before Christ. There is hope in only one to deliver us from this horrible mess and that is Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is referred to in I Corinthians 15:45-47 as the last Adam. The book of Romans sets forth the importance of this one man, the second Adam, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race for all who believe.

Romans 5:15,17,18 (Amplified Bible):

But God’s free gift is not all to be compared
to the trespass [His grace is out of all
proportion to the fall of man]. For if many
died through one man’s falling away (his
lapse, his offense), much more profusely
did God’s grace and the free gift that comes
through the undeserved favor of the one
Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to
and for the benefit of many.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse,
offense) death reigned through that one,
much more surely will those who receive
God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor)
and the free gift of righteousness [putting
them into right standing with Himself] reign
as kings in life through the one Man Jesus
Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One.)

Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man's
false step and falling away led] to condemnation
for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness
leads to acquittal and right standing with God
and life for all men.

God revealed His ultimate plan of grace with the Seed of the woman, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who by His death and resurrection made available the free gift of righteousness leading to acquittal from the penalty of sin and right standing again with God. The court of God legally pronounces the declaration of acquittal when a man or woman confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and believes God raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death reign in this world because of Adam’s one act of disobedience, but now through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice, we can reign as kings in this life and the one to come.

What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all of human history, because he broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Romans 5:10,11 (NASB): For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [f]by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can walk in great power, wreaking havoc in Satan’s kingdom on the earth as we touch people with the great healing love and wholeness available in Jesus Christ. You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:3-7 (KJV):

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as
it were our faces from him; he was despised, and
we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs (Hebrew choliy-sickness)
and carried our sorrows (Hebrew-makob-pains: both physical and mental): yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised (Hebrew-shalowm-crushed, broken, shattered)
for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was
upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned
everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on
him the iniquity of us all.

The Word of God proclaims that Jesus bore our sicknesses and carried our pains. God emphasizes this indisputable truth by the word “surely” in verse 4, which means “truly, certainly and absolutely” and indicates its stability, faithfulness, firmness, and truth. God wanted to leave no doubt in your mind as to this firm truth that all of your sicknesses and pains were absolutely and certainly borne on the cross of Christ. The word “borne” in the Hebrew means: to lift up, to be taken away, to be carried off, to be swept away, and to move by bearing. The word “carry” in the Hebrew means: to bear a heavy load or burden. Both words do not just mean suffering, but denote an actual substitution and a complete removal of the thing borne. Jesus took upon himself every sickness, every pain, and every sin known to man, and paid the price for each one, effectively discharging their power and bondage over us. Your sicknesses, your pains, your sins and all of their consequences passed from you to Calvary and salvation, health, deliverance, and peace flowed from Calvary to you. Jesus Christ was our complete substitute for sin and its consequences, which includes sickness, disease, infirmity, depression, anxiety, weakness, oppression, and all bitterness of mind and body.

Three of the most amazing and significant words ever uttered were “IT IS FINISHED”-This is a declaration that all has been accomplished. All that has been lacking has been supplied. The breach has been healed. The debt has been fully satisfied. The word finished tetelestai is an accounting term that has legal and financial connotations. This word does not mean simply that something has ended. It has a far greater implication. The word tetelestai was related to its secular use in the context of payment of debts. When someone had a debt in ancient times and it was paid off, they would write “tetelestai” on the certificate signifying “Paid in Full”. When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law; He paid our debt in full. There is another sense in which tetelestai was used in the ancient world. When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, the law of that day slammed him in prison. They prepared a “Certificate of Debt” that listed all the crimes he was convicted of on it, and nailed it to his cell door for all to see. It remained nailed there so all would be assured that he served his full sentence, and “paid in full” the penalty (“debt owed”) for his crimes. When Jesus shouted “Tetelestai” from the cross, it was a very familiar phrase to those within the sound of His voice. It was the same word that would be stamped across the Certificate of Debt after a criminal completed his prison term. It would literally mean “Paid in Full” for all your crimes. Then the criminal was given the certificate. He would be able to produce it to show that his crimes were “paid in full.” He could never become a victim of “double jeopardy” (paying for the same crime twice – compare the result in Rom 8:1- No Condemnation and Rom 8:39- No Separation). This is a beautiful picture of what Christ did on the Cross, Paul recording (quoting the original version of the NLT) “that…(God the Father) canceled the record (Greek verb exaleipho = wiped it away, completely obliterating the evidence) that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.” (Colossians 2:14)

Alan Carr on It is Finished…

I believe that these are the greatest words Jesus Christ ever spoke and I would like to tell you why this morning. For years, liberals and unbelievers have declared that this cry of Jesus from the cross is a cry of defeat. They say that it is the word of a man who has lost everything. However, they are a million miles from the truth of the matter. This English phrase is from a word that is very expressive and filled with meaning.

In fact, it is a word that was used in many areas of society. Some of which were:

1. A Servant’s Word – Used when a task had been completed.

2. A Priest’s Word – Used when a sacrificial animal was found to be worthy.

3. A Farmer’s Word – Used when a perfect specimen had been born into the flock.

4. An Artist’s Word – Used when the final touches had been applied to a masterpiece.

5. A Merchant’s Word – Used when a deal had been struck and all the haggling had ended. Its usage meant that both parties were satisfied.

Therefore, it is plain to see that this word is not the cry of a defeated man, but it is instead, the shout of a victor! This is the exultant cry of one who has just won a great victory. We need to understand that when Jesus Christ said these three little words, He was telling the world that something great had been accomplished. The word was a common one and was used by merchants to mean “The price is all paid!” The debt has been erased. Shepherds and priests used it when they found a perfect sheep, ready for sacrifice; and Christ died as the perfect lamb of God. Servants, when their work was completed, would use this word when reporting to their masters. Christ, the obedient Servant, had finished the work the Father gave Him to do. Christ willingly and deliberately gave up His life; He laid down His life. It means that something is brought to an end, is fully accomplished, has achieved its destined goal or is brought to perfection. . .

I Peter 2:24-25 (The Voice): He took on our sins in His body when He died on the cross so that we, being dead to sin, can live for righteousness. As the Scripture says, “Through His wounds, you were healed.” 25 For there was a time when you were like sheep that wandered from the fold, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your lives.

Genesis 3:15, the first prophecy about the coming Savior, boldly states that this Seed of the woman will crush the head of the seed of the serpent. Colossians elaborates on this head crushing of the serpent by the Seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life,
you were incapable of responding to God. God
brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think
of it! All sins forgive, the slate wiped clean, that
old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s
cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the
universe of their sham authority at the Cross and
marched them naked through the streets.

Verse 15 (Phillips):

And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged
against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty
and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.

Lightfoot:

Taking on him our human nature, he stripped off
and cast aside all the powers of evil which clung
to it like a poisonous garment. As a mighty conqueror
he displayed these his fallen enemies to an astonished
world, leading them in triumph on his cross.

Weymouth:

And the hostile princes and rulers He shook off from
Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests,
when by the cross he triumphed over them.

At Calvary, Jesus Christ stripped and disarmed the power and authority of the devil’s kingdom for every born again believer. No devil spirit in the devil’s kingdom, no matter what its rank, can defeat you when you stand in the strength of the Lord’s redemptive work for you at the cross. The picture Paul is painting is of a triumphant general who has routed the enemy and leads the captive foes and spoils of his victory behind his chariot in a grand public procession through the city.

In the Roman world, this was the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a victorious Roman general. It was called “the triumph.” There must have been at least 5,000 enemy soldiers killed, and there must have been a gain of Roman territory in the conquest. It was an awesome display of the power, strength, and might of the Roman Empire. It was a spectacle that few would forget its images, as the triumph declared to the world that the enemy had been overwhelmed and crushed, now to be publicly humiliated through the streets of the city.

How much greater is the triumph of Christ as the captain of our salvation? What a triumph on the cross! What a victory against the forces of darkness! What a crushing blow to Satan’s kingdom! What a public display of victory to all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear! You become identified and in vital union with this triumph on the cross and all its far-reaching glorious effects when you become a new creation in Christ at the new birth. You are marching right beside Jesus Christ in this magnificent victory march with every wretched captive in chains under your feet. With great freedom, the power of the old sin nature has been stripped off and crippled, and the power of Christ in you flows and energizes every cell of your human body. You are a super conqueror who always triumphs in Christ. Jesus Christ cut away Satan’s firm grip on us and smashed the kingdom of darkness’s authority, control, and rule over our lives. No longer must we be a slave to sin or the bondage of this world. Jesus Christ victoriously led captivity captive for every Christian, according to the book of Ephesians, as he crushed and defeated every form of mental, physical, or spiritual bondage. What a triumph on the cross! What a victory in Christ!

Colossians 1:13 (Phillips): For we must never forget that he rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. For it is by his Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven. He rescued us from the power of darkness and gave us full legal rights as a son or daughter of God. The word “power” in Colossians means: the exercised power to do something; liberty of action to do as one pleases; the delegated authority and power to act, and the right to exercise power. The devil and his kingdom no longer have the liberty or power to do what they please in your life when you stand upon the triumph of the cross. The devil no longer has the right to act freely with authority and power over you. We have been set free. He must flee when we stand against him. God has given us the full armor of God to stand firm against the onslaughts of the Evil One.

I John 3:8 (b) (New King James):

For this purpose was the Son of God manifested,
that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The word “destroy” is the Greek word luo, which means: to loose something tied
or bound, to break up that which is compacted together, to dissolve, to sever, to break in pieces, to set free, to melt and to demolish. The word means “a destruction by undoing or dissolving that which forms the bond of cohesion.” Jesus Christ came to loosen people from the works of the devil and set them free. We all had a bond of cohesion to Satan’s kingdom through sin and death, but Jesus Christ dissolved the bond, and we broke free. The word luo is used in the gospels when John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to unloose (luo) the thong or strap of Jesus’ sandals. This gives a great mind picture of Jesus unloosening the works of the devil in people’s lives, like un-strapping a sandal, so that the works can be thrown off of the body, heart, and soul of a person and one can enjoy true freedom.

The fatal wound to the head of the serpent was delivered at Calvary and the empty tomb. The death sentence to both the devil and all his works was shouted out to the human race with three words at Calvary and three words at the empty tomb. Jesus Christ cried out, “It is finished” at Calvary, and the angel proclaimed, “He is risen” at the empty tomb. What a Savior who brought us back to the goodness of God!

Luke 4:18 (Weymouth):

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because
He has anointed me to proclaim Good News
to the poor; He sent me to announce release
to the prisoners of war and recovery of sight
to the blind; to send away free those whose
tyranny has crushed.

We no longer have to be prisoners of war in the spiritual battle that rages with the devil. Jesus Christ opened the prison door of every tyranny of mind, body, heart, and soul and set us free. He crushed every tyrannical work of the devil that had previously broke our heart and spirit. He delivers all those who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity.

The main goal of all of the devil’s works is to separate and keep us from the heart of God. The devil set up many roadblocks and obstructions, beginning with sin and its consequences, that corrupted people’s relationship with God. Jesus Christ unloosed all the obstructions and cleared the pathway to the heart of God. He melted the devil’s work of separation and deception, and widely opened the door of access to our loving Father. Jesus Christ made it available that we might know Him and have full communion and intimacy with Him to such a degree that it overwhelms the heart. The human race feels restless, empty, unfulfilled, useless, valueless, and incomplete without a deep, vibrant, and living relationship with their Creator God Almighty. To know his love, to know his goodness, to know his justice, to know his righteousness, to know his mercy, to know his truth, and to know his faithfulness is the ultimate rush and thrill in life. How exciting to have God as your closest friend, your trusted advisor, your loving parent, and your strong protector. The devil does everything in his power to prevent this. He steals, kills and destroys to keep people from getting to know God on an intimate basis and understand the greatness of his good character.

The first Adam’s disobedience produced a race of mortal people destined to die and to be ravaged by sin and its consequences. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through his obedience, death, and resurrection is producing a race of people who will live forever and be victorious over the terrible twins of sin and death and all their consequences. The first Adam produced a race of people born dead in sin and enslaved to the rule of Satan as the god of this world. The Last Adam made it available to all those who believe to be born again to life and to break the power of the devil’s kingdom in their lives. The last Adam is in the process of producing an everlasting race of perfect people who will one day live and reign with him forever upon a perfect earth. As sure as the sun rises every morning, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, is coming back to establish his kingdom upon the earth. Nothing can stop it.

God’s original plan was to have many sons and daughters living in Paradise forever. The first Adam was supposed to be the father of such a perfect race, but he failed and sentenced the human race to sin and death when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God’s dream, God’s intense desire, God’s ultimate plan after the Fall was to restore His original purpose of having birthed children live with Him forever on a perfect, beautiful, and amazing earth. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as being the agent, the mediator, the Savior, and the sacrifice that would bring about this restoration. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, had to face the fierce enemies of sin, death, and the devil and he overwhelmingly conquered them all. He became the Head and Firstborn of all the redeemed born again believers whom he can rightfully call his brothers and sisters. He is not ashamed to do so, because he knows that they are birthed new creations in Him and sons and daughters of His heavenly Father.

We are new creations in Christ, because he set the pattern of who we become when we are born again in both resurrection life and a new glorious body at the Rapture, along with the power and ability to do his works and to walk like him in thought, deed, heart, and action. We have the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, the ability of Christ, and the power of Christ born within us at the new birth. We can now touch and reach out to the world with the goodness of God. Our good works are rooted and grounded in Christ, and our new birth transformation. We can deeply affect the lives of so many people, because Jesus Christ lives through us. The goodness of God, the love of God, the mercies of God, the compassion of God, the tenderness of God, and the forgiveness of God are energized in us through Jesus Christ, so that we can go into all the world and preach the good news to every person.

This Easter season, never forget the words that sound out from the Book of the Ephesians that brilliantly illustrate the mighty accomplishments of the Second Adam.

Ephesians 2:11-22 (The Voice):

So never forget how you used to be. Those of you born as outsiders to Israel were outcasts, branded “the uncircumcised” by those who bore the sign of the covenant in their flesh, a sign made with human hands. 12 You had absolutely no connection to the Anointed; you were strangers, separated from God’s people. You were aliens to the covenant they had with God; you were hopelessly stranded without God in a fractured world. 13 But now, because of Jesus the Anointed and His sacrifice, all of that has changed. God gathered you who were so far away and brought you near to Him by the royal blood of the Anointed, our Liberating King.
14 He is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one. 15 He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law’s ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nations. His desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. 16 Effectively the cross becomes God’s means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body.
17 The Great Preacher of peace and love came for you, and His voice found those of you who were near and those who were far away. 18 By Him both have access to the Father in one Spirit. 19 And so you are no longer called outcasts and wanderers but citizens with God’s people, members of God’s holy family, and residents of His household. 20 You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the voices of God’s chosen emissaries[a] with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone. 21 The building is joined together stone by stone—all of us chosen and sealed in Him, rising up to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In Him you are being built together, creating a sacred dwelling place among you where God can live in the Spirit.

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Not so Fast, Goliath, Not so Fast

David&Goliath
Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle…And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together…And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass…He stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together” (1 Samuel 17: 1–5, 8–10).

Our present moment in history is very similar to the time in which the Israelites were living when they faced this situation. Remember, they were the people of God, called to represent Him in the world. The miraculous didn’t belong to the Philistines, it belonged to Israel, who had personally witnessed God’s power and deliverance. Earlier in 1 Samuel, we read of some of the previous victories they had, even under King Saul: “So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them” (1 Samuel 14:47).Yet now as they faced Goliath, the Scripture tells us that “When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11). Isn’t that amazing? After a record of incredible victories and of God’s faithfulness, the Israelites now stood trembling under one voice that cried, “I defy you!” Threatened by a challenge that would make them servants to godlessness, they had no spirit or will to fight back. It was as if they had forgotten why God had left them in the earth in the first place—to be a testimony and a blessing; a visible display of the power of God.

HOW WE END UP POWERLESS

How is it that God’s people end up powerless before the taunts of the enemy? We find a clue when David, who became king after Saul, said, “And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul” (1 Chronicles 13:3). In Saul’s victory days, when it seemed as if nobody could stand against the Israelites, the people of God put away the prayer meeting. The Ark was the presence of God, representing His forgiveness, mercy, power and provision. Yet they put it away and began to walk in their own strength, only to find themselves facing a giant that they could not contend with. We might rightfully say that God’s order was breaking down, and another order was threatening to take its place. Similarly, the Church of Jesus Christ in this country has had her share of past victories, yet today we see God’s order rapidly breaking down as another order comes to take its place. If you don’t realize how ominous this is, very shortly you will. It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to get back to the Ark of God! We must drop all the foolishness that is masquerading as the presence of God and get back into the prayer meeting again.

REJECTING THE FULL IMAGE OF GOD

The Scriptures point to another reason why the people of God end up powerless. Paul explains it in his letter to the Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them…When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…” (Romans 1:18–19, 21–23). The problem is not that people don’t have truth—they just don’t value it. It is not that people do not study it, they refuse to wholeheartedly embrace it. They do not want what truly represents the glory and full image of God to be made manifest, so they change the image of God into the image of man. In other words, they fashion a more palatable Jesus and ultimately discernment is lost. What happens to a nation when the Church is backslidden to this degree—when she has lost her voice and is virtually cast out as a nonplayer while society marches farther and farther away from godliness? “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:24–28).

Consider how accurately Paul’s description seems to fit of the society in which we currently live: “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:29–32).

Not only do they do these things while claiming to possess some measure of the truth, they take pleasure in those who do them, as well. In other words, they settle for a vicarious enjoyment of sin through other people’s lives. They watch television and movies, content to be entertained by fornicators, liars, murderers and thieves. According to one commentator, the final step of reprobation in a nation is when we will not do it ourselves, but we will be entertained by others who do. As the people of God have seemingly retreated into a place of powerlessness today, the voice of godlessness is rising once again. Remember that in his taunts, Goliath said to the armies of Israel, “If you cannot put somebody forward to fight this battle and win, then you will be our servants.” That means that unless we get back to the prayer meeting—unless we embrace truth once again and allow ourselves to be empowered by the Spirit of God—we will become servants to godlessness, and the freedoms in the house of God ultimately will be lost. Sharing the burden to see people set free from sin, from homosexuality, and other lifestyles that are a robbery of what God intended them to be, will soon be considered hate speech. I feel we are not very far from the day that it will be against the law. And so, in a time when it might cost somebody something to stand up and face the giant, we must ask ourselves: Who will have the courage to fight?

THE SECRET BATTLES

There is only one solution: God must have a people who are fearless because they have personally experienced His supernatural power in unseen places. That was the case with a young man named David. The Bible tells us that David went to Saul and said, “…Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:32). “I will fight! You all have the training and the armor, yet you have lost touch with God! You are no longer gripped with a passion to see the glory of God revealed in the earth again, to see captivated souls set free.” “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). It was as if the devil was now using Saul to try to discourage faith from coming into the battle again. “Look how small you are, you are only a kid. How are you ever going to stand up against this giant?” David essentially replied, “While I was keeping my father’s sheep, along came a lion and a bear. They took a lamb out of my flock—a lamb I was given by my father to keep. So I went after them, smote them and delivered the lamb. And when the lion rose up against me, I grabbed hold of its mane. The Spirit of God came upon me, and I killed this lion! I won the victory over the lion and the bear and now this godless Philistine who is standing up and challenging the honor of God will be just like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God” (see 1 Samuel 17:34–37).
David had already witnessed the miraculous; he had already won battles in secret places. That is why I implore you—do not play games; do not pretend to be free if you are not! Go into that secret closet of prayer, lay hold of the victory of Christ and say, “Devil, you are not having my mind! You are not getting my heart or my home! I don’t care how big you are or how small I am in your sight. I have the Spirit of God upon me, and in the name of Jesus, I take authority over you!”

VICTORY BY FAITH ALONE

Finally consenting to let David fight, Saul then tried to fit David with his armor. Now Saul’s armor probably had some marks on it to which he could point and say, “Here is where I once won the victory.” In a similar manner, there are pastors who might say to me today, “Aren’t you a little extreme? After all, we tried these methodologies, and they worked. Our church grew from two hundred to four hundred!” I can agree, just as David could agree with Saul, that yes, there are nicks on your armor from some past victories. Nevertheless, we now have come to a season when this armor will no longer suffice. It is faith alone that will win the battle. Imagine if David had approached the Philistine with a survey, saying, “Goliath, I’m sorry you are enraged against us, but what will it take to get you to come to our church? A nine-foot bed? A twenty-five foot swimming pool?” No! David had seen the miraculous power of God. He had won victories that were supernatural, partaking of strength that could come only from the Lord. He had found some other weaponry. Paul speaks of this weaponry in 2 Corinthians 10:4–5: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

What was the imagination in this case? Goliath imagined that because of his size and experience, he would be victorious. Yet he failed to realize that he had exalted himself against the knowledge of God, and that all God required was somebody of faith to rise up again—somebody who was not playing carnal games in the house of God; somebody who had won battles that nobody else knew of. David pressed past the threats and the scorn, just as we must not be hindered by the ridicule of the godless in this hour. “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). In other words, “You have defied God! You stand here with your boasts and your weaponry, claiming that you can make us servants to godlessness. But I want you to know that you are not standing against us, you are standing against God!” “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee…and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:46–47).

The battle is the Lord’s! We are not going to match you force for force, and we are not going to win this in the political arena. We are going into the prayer closet, and we will come out strengthened by the Spirit of God! “And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone…” (1 Samuel 17:49–50). In other words, David was not fighting with human strategy or effort. The only thing he had was complete dependence on God. He took off Saul’s armor and instead went to a brook and picked up five smooth stones. I don’t know how long those stones had been there before they were made smooth, but in a sense they were weapons that had been fashioned by the hand of God—just as we have been given the weapon of prayer, the weapon of being set apart, the weapon of embracing the Word to the point that it takes precedence over everything that this world is trying to tell us.

David went into the battle with only what had been given by the hand of God. We see this repeated over and over throughout the Scriptures—the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God uses the Esthers and the Gideons; the barren wombs of Elisabeth and Hannah. The armies of Israel knew this truth, but they didn’t believe it. They instead resorted to human reasoning and natural strategies. This, too, has been the great folly of the church in America today.

IT IS TIME TO FIGHT

God help us now, for these dark and ominous days require men and women of faith. I challenge you to win those secret battles now. Don’t hold on to areas of unsurrendered defeat in your own life. Learn to live for the honor of God rather than the preservation of self. Go into the prayer closet and fight it out in the strength of God. Do not let the devil have even an inch, concluding, “All right, he took one lamb. I have ninety-nine left—big deal! Who is going to notice?” No! Go after it, for this is essential in the school of faith. We must learn to say, “We give absolutely no ground to the devil!” The time has come to stand and declare the Word of God unashamedly; to fight for those who are lost, for unborn children, for our families, for our marriages, for the future of this nation! It is time to fight for what God has entrusted to us in this generation. Be aware that as you and I rise up to face the challenges of our day, everything we naturally fear will start moving toward us to convince us that our faith in God is useless. But that is when we must continue to press forward in the power of God, looking these man-made giants straight in the eye, declaring, “Not so fast, Goliath! Not so fast!”

Carter Conlon
©2013 Times Square Church
Courtesy of http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons/23830_130601_cc_notsofast_v6.pdf
This newsletter is an edited version of “NOT SO FAST, GOLIATH, NOT SO FAST!,” a sermon given on April 7, 2013 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tscnyc.org. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the King James Version.

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Does God Have All of You?

Enjoying the sunRomans 12::1,2 (Voice): Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. 2 Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Can you imagine that God, the Creator of the heavens and earth, is pleading with us, urging us and begging us to do something? How important this must be! God is urging the Christian to do this critical, vital thing. The Greek word for “urge” means “to call aloud to one’s side.” Do we hear God’s call? How will we respond? How will we live? This is serious! This is a weighty matter and we must live according to this truth that is being given to us! This is God’s truth! Will we obey? Will we align ourselves with the will of God? What is God urging, pleading and begging us to do? He is begging us to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God as a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure. God is not just asking you, He is commanding you that you give Him ALL of yourself. Each day as we grow our main occupation is to give more and more of ourselves away to Him. This is living sanctified. It’s a matter of the heart. I want Him to have every chamber of my heart. I want Him to have freedom to abide in every place, nook and cranny of my heart that I may be His and He may be mine in everything: that my heart might totally belong to Him.

OFFER YOUR BODIES AS A LIVING AND HOLY SACRIFICE

The word “offer” is in the aorist tense, which calls for a once and for all presentation denoting a deliberate action involving the thought of finality. Quit limping between two opinions. If the world is God, then serve the world. If God is God, then serve God! This is not a rededication over and over again and over again. Do it once and for all! Once and for all stop messing around with your body! Our activity in life not only reflects upon us, but reflects upon God. So if you are living for or by the world-cease doing it! If you are giving your body to the things of the world, to the lusts and cravings of the flesh-Stop It! Return to him! Give Him yourself. You belong to Him. Your body belongs to Him. Present your body to Him. If God has your heart He has your body. There is no separation. If he does not have your body he does not have your heart. Love the Lord your God with every fiber of your being. Nothing is held back. Nothing is taken back. You don’t choose what you give him. You give Him everything. God is a jealous God and He wants all of you to all of Him. If we hold back anything, it is an idol, and it has become more important to you than God and that is dangerous ground to tread upon in your Christian walk. It’s not your life anymore! It’s not your body anymore. It’s not your eyes, your lips, your ears, your feet, or your hands, they all belong to Him and everything is to be governed by Him. You take every aspect of your life and conform it to the will of God. Offer yourself to Him as a living sacrifice. Have you counted the cost? Offer your lives to Him in their entirety. Cultivate that attitude. This is a radical way to live: to give your life away to Him.

In Light of All I Shared with You About God’s Mercies. I Urge You:

The motivation to live like this and give God our body as a living sacrifice is the mercies of God explained in previous chapters of Romans revealed in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is God taking a mass of rotten humanity and turning it into a child of God. When you learn what God has done for you in Christ Jesus, the more the love will be drawn out of your heart. This will flame our hearts for God when we see His goodness, His character and His grace in making us righteous, sanctified, justified, and reconciled and giving us His peace. He has filled us with the fullness of Christ, giving us the gift of eternal life, the gift of holy spirit, rescuing us from the power of darkness, seating us in the heavenlies in Christ, bringing us from death to life and making us lovely and acceptable in his sight. This is the Mercies of God because the wages of sin is death and we deserved death. That was our future payday without Christ. When we see the true nature of mankind and what man is apart from the mercies of God, and the radically depravation of the human heart, we will fully appreciate God and His mercies. We will love Him more for we know what we have been rescued from. This is what motivates us to give Him our all. We must understand what we were, dead in trespasses and sins, without God and without hope, what we have been forgiven, what was wiped off our slate by the blood of Christ and we will have no problem giving Him our all. We will love God more when we understand the mercies of God.

Quit feeding your flesh! Quit allowing your appetites to rule your spiritual life. God is our new Magnificent Obsession. We are to become something more than just a man or woman but we must become God’s man or woman. The life that you live, is it for God? Is it really for God? Don’t just say the words. If we were to open up your heart chamber and see the motivation, would we see that what you do is really for God or is it all about you in God’s name. What dwells in the secret chambers of our heart? Is it sin, pride, and the world or is it the fullness of God? We cannot have any secret chambers when it comes to God. He must have all of us.

You see Paul’s intention was to stack up all of God’s tender mercies in Christ on one side of the ledger and then point to the other side and say, “Shouldn’t all of these spiritual blessings in Christ result in our living a certain way?” And of course, they should. It’s only reasonable…only logical…only intelligent and rational to say that they should. We do that by constantly reminding ourselves of His extraordinary, undeserved mercy and just responding from the heart out of unfeigned gratitude. Let me say that even plainer. We are not paying God back. No, we are not paying God back at all. Our hearts have been stirred by love and affection and gratitude for all He done for us. When we consider with our minds what He has done…when we reflect on His tender mercies with whatever ability we have to ponder deep things we are just dumbstruck by the enormity of His love and the result is that we naturally tune not only our minds to worship Him, but our bodies as well. We see same thing in Word of God in Ephesians Chapters 1,2,3 (the magnificent things he has done for us in our salvation)and then we see Ephesians 4:1a “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” His grace and mercy are so great in our calling as a redeemed child of God, that God urges to walk in a manner worthy of this calling. We are not walking in a manner worthy of our amazing calling if we hold back any part of our body as a living sacrifice. Have you ever thought what you do with your body throughout the day? Is it for God? Does it glorify God? Or is it to satisfy your own pleasures?

F. B. Meyer once preached the following text…

I remember so well when He came to my heart and challenged me as to the keys of the fortress. I had them upon my bunch, and before I gave them to Him I put one small key in my pocket. Have not you done that, and handed to Him the bunch minus that key? He gave it back, and said He could not be King at all if He could not be King of all.

To Offer: Means to Present your Body, your Mind, your Emotions, your Will, your Time, your Thoughts, your Abilities, and your Possessions 100% at God’s disposal ONCE AND FOR ALL

The word “offer” in Romans 12:1 is the Greek word paristemi from para = beside or near + histemi = set and literally means to place or set beside or near hence to place at someone’s disposal. The English dictionary notes that to present is to bring or introduce into the presence of someone especially of superior rank or status, to make a gift to; to convey to another as a possession; to offer gratuitously for reception; and to put into the hands of another in ceremony. Paristemi includes the ideas of to yield or surrender up, or to place at the disposal of another. The implication is that every aspect of a believer’s life is to be yielded to God. In the Old Testament a worshiper would present an unblemished animal sacrifice to God as an expression of worship. Today, God doesn’t want us to present dead sacrifices, but to present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. The OT Law demanded sacrifice. The Gospel of Grace invites us to consider the “mercies of God”and respond accordingly. On the basis of what God has shown us He has done, we are not to look to the Law & respond because we MUST. Instead we look at all God has done in showing us mercies & we respond freely from a grateful heart…”With eyes wide open to the mercies of God”. (Phillips). We present our bodies to God, relinquishing our grip, and not letting go only to take it back! In context it is us placing ourselves at the disposal of God. In a similar manner, in Israel the whole burnt offering (which was also a voluntary offering) ascended to God and could never be reclaimed. It belonged to God.
“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”: Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. Isaac Watts

The Parable of the Rich Ruler: Is There a Limit to Your Obedience?

Matthew 19:16-22 (KJV): And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

THE rich young ruler consecrated a part, but was unwilling to consecrate the whole. He hallowed the inch, but not the mile. He would go part of the way, but not to the end. And this peril is upon us all. We give ourselves to the Lord, but we reserve some liberties. We offer Him our house, but we mark some rooms “Private.” And that word “Private,” denying the Lord admission, crucifies Him afresh. He has no joy in the house so long as any rooms are withheld.

Dr. F. B. Meyer has told us how his early Christian life was marred and his ministry paralyzed just because he had kept back one key from the bunch of keys he had given to the Lord. Every key save one! The key of one room kept for personal use, and the Lord shut out. And the effects of the incomplete consecration were found in lack of power, lack of assurance, lack of joy and peace.

We are told to glorify God in our bodies. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Cor. 6:20). “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20). “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2Cor. 4:10). There must be in the believer’s life that final and complete surrender of the body to Jesus Christ. This does not mean there will be no further steps of surrender, because there will be. The longer we walk with Christ, the deeper the fellowship must become. But there can be no subsequent steps without that first step of a complete surrender of the body.

Christian, does the Lord have your body? Have you ever by a very definite act of the will presented it to Him for His control, His use, and His glory? If not, why don’t you do so right now? Just say, “Lord, I’ve already given You my heart, but now here is my body! Help me to keep it clean, pure, and undefiled. Use me for Your glory in any way You see fit. I’m Yours to command!”

Your body as used by Paul represents the complete man, the “part” representing the whole which is a figure of speech known as synecdoche (a part is put for the whole). So our body represents the totality of our being, not just our physical bodies, but our heart, soul, mind and strength…ALL of each of them! God wants ALL of our body on the altar, not just a part. Through the body we serve (Romans 12:3ff).

A pastor friend of Warren Wiersbe’s once said,

There are too many ‘cafeteria Christians’ in our congregation. Instead of letting God plan the whole meal and accepting it, they pick and choose what they want, and they miss the best dishes He fixes for them!” God wants ALL OF OUR HEART, and He expects us to obey ALL of His will in ALL of our ways. If Jesus Christ gave His ALL for us (Ro 3:24, 25, 26-Ro 5:18, Ro 8:3, Ro 8:4), how can we do less than give our ALL to Him? (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

What a believer does with his body is as much a part of the spiritual life as what he does in his devotional time or how he uses his talents or his money. The artificial division we make between “physical” and “spiritual” is not at all biblical. Presenting our bodies to the Lord is a part of our “spiritual worship”, and what we do with our bodies will have a direct bearing on how God will reward us one day.

A Living Sacrifice Must be Holy: Set Apart from the Corruption in the World

Holy (hagios) means set apart from the world unto God for a special purpose! Hagios Includes the idea of taking something filthy, dirty and washing it and setting it apart as something brand new and useful for a different purpose. (cf Isa 1:18-note). In the New Testament hagios conveys a moral and spiritual sense describing that which is separated from the sphere of sin (“in the world but not of the world”) and devoted to God and to His service. As human beings we are prone to forget, but in the area of holiness, the believer must determine to continually recognize that we are no longer at liberty to use our body in ways which are displeasing to God. I Peter 1:13-16: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” II Corinthians 6:14-18: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”Says the Lord Almighty.” We must separate ourselves from the contamination of this world.

Stedman comments on what constitutes a holy…acceptable sacrifice:

The only life that is acceptable to Him is the life of Jesus Christ lived again in us. As we have seen, God has put all that I am to death — my plans, my programs, my desires — are all tainted with self, and are worthless. But, the minute I accept this and acknowledge that it is true and right, then it is possible for Christ, Who lives in me, to begin to work out His plans, His programs, His ideals, His desires. He does it through my conscious will, but then it is something holy and acceptable unto God. Anything else is burning false incense, false fire, before God.

The venerable saint J. Oswald Sanders was once asked:

If you had to boil it all down, what are the basic ingredients required for the individual who wants to become all God wants him to become? To which he answered: “I think the basic thing is an unreserved handing of oneself over to the Lord. Wherever there are reservations there is going to be immaturity. But until that act of passing over oneself to the lordship of Christ is done, there will be no spiritual growth worth speaking about. And then after that I believe the next thing is the maintenance of a consistent devotional life and walk of communion with God. That is the soil from which any anointed ministry springs. And where that is missing, there is not going to be fruitfulness.

John 15:5: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. We can do absolutely nothing without our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do I present my body to God as a living sacrifice? Verse 2 has the core answer.

Do Not Allow This World to Mold You Into It Image.

Romans 12:2 (NIV): Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This is the attitude and action of a living sacrifice. You cannot be a living sacrifice to God if you are conformed in your thinking, words, thoughts and actions to the world. We make the decision to either be conformed to this world or transformed from this world. The Prince of the Power of the Air has a 24 hour world-wide broadcasting station that broadcasts its images, words, thoughts, reasonings, logic, lusts, desires and schemes every single day, hour and minute. The most powerful mediums of its broadcasting are television, the internet, radio, movies, and books. These broadcasts present the pattern or mold of the world in living color, in vibrant words, in tantalizing images and in irresistible logic. They glorify sin, appeal to the lusts of our flesh and promote the defiled and the unholy. They are designed to prepare the heart for destruction turning it away from God. Don’t think you can habitually play with the pattern of this world and not get burned. The pattern of this world will destroy your intimacy with God and enslave your heart in its pleasures. We often forget that Scriptures plainly tells us that the devil is “the god of this world” and “the prince of this age.” There is nothing neutral in this world. It ALL drives you from the heart of God. Take an honest look at your life. Are you conforming or transforming?

The world wants your body. The world wants your eyes, your ears, your hands, your mouth, your thoughts, your heart and every part of your body. The world wants you to worship it, love it and desire it. It wants you to conform your body, your thoughts, your personality and your life to its standards.

Conformed (suschematizo from sun/syn = together with + schema = external form, appearance) means to form according to a pattern or mold, to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern outwardly and to strike a pose. The meaning is to form or mold one’s behavior in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards. The preposition “sun” in this compound verb denotes a personal assimilation to or conformity with the pattern indicated. We do not assimilate and absorb the pattern of the world into our minds, hearts and beings. We don’t drift with the current of the world. We don’t get caught up in thinking and acting like the world or deceived by their opinions, their solutions and their reasoning. It is not of God.

A believer’s continued practice of conforming to the world’s way of thinking and acting is inconsistent with having given his or her body to the Lord’s service. Indeed, such a practice is forbidden because it negates and seriously mars the presentation the believer has made as a living sacrifice and amounts in essence to a sacrifice that places itself on the altar but then begins to “crawl off the altar”. The present tense of this verb suschematizo indicates that this duty to resist conformity is necessary every moment of every day for the rest of our life on earth. Whereas Romans 12:1 calls for a decisive commitment, Romans 12:2 deals with the maintenance of that commitment. The process of non-conformity is a continuous duty that runs parallel with the continual process of being transformed or a continual renunciation and renewal.

We are to stop allowing ourselves to be fashioned after the schemes of this passing evil age in which we live. Practically this means we must be careful what we read and watch.We must not be afraid to be different (to be like Christ – see John 5:18, 19, 20, 21). This same idea of not being conformed to the world is found in 2 Timothy 2:4: “No soldier engaged in active duty entangles himself with the everyday affairs of this life.” As citizens of heaven we are to “set [our] mind on things above, not on the things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2) The danger of being conformed to the world’s way of thinking and doing is ever present. James says that those who seek to practice pure and undefiled religion must keep themselves unstained by the world (James 1:27). James further warns us of the danger of “Friendship of the world” (James 4:4) as we become an enemy of God!.

Compromise leads to Conformity which leads to Defeat

It is when the believer is separated from sin (2 Cor 6:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 7:1) that he or she exerts the greatest influence for God. Spiritual transformation starts in the mind and heart. A mind dedicated to the world and its concerns will produce a life tossed back and forth by the currents of culture (Ephesians 4:14). But a mind dedicated to God’s truth will produce a life that can stand the test of time. .

John Piper: There is a negative command and a positive one (Romans 12:2): negatively, don’t be conformed to this world; positively, be transformed. Not conformed, transformed. Devote your life as a Christian to being changed. Don’t settle in at the level of transformation you now have. O how many Christians throw away their birthright by coasting. Be transformed! It’s present tense, on-going, continual growth in un-conforming yourself to the world.

BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF THE MIND

Be transformed (metamorphoo from metá = denotes change of place or condition + morphoo = to form from morphe = form, shape referring to the essential form of a thing) has the basic meaning of changing into another form and is the term from which we get metamorphosis, which in biology denotes the amazing change of a lowly worm into a beautiful butterfly. So the change in view here is not a superficial fluctuation of fashion or conduct, but a vital change revealing a new life. Metamorphoo describes Jesus’ transfiguration in which His glory shined through His garments so that what Jesus really was on the inside was made manifest to Peter, John and James (Mt 17:2, Mk 9:2).

The renewing of the mind is so much deeper than simply thinking about a Bible verse or memorizing it. John Piper: But how does this happen? What is involved? Does it mean we should just study what the world wears and watches and listens to and buys and plays, and then do the opposite? Well there will be a difference at most of those levels probably, but that’s not what the text focuses on, is it? It says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The focus is not first on getting the outside of the cup cleaned up, but on getting the inside cleaned up.

There is a testing process in the renewing of the mind. We can test and approve what is the good and perfect will of God or the things and trappings of the world. John Piper: That is, they so renewed that they can taste, or you might say smell, the rottenness of a temptation way before others and turn away before the least contamination happens. And they can taste and smell a beautiful opportunity for love before others see it coming. In other words, mind-renewal is a deep spiritual change in how the mind assesses things and values things. In Ephesians 4:18 Paul says that ignorance (of mind) is rooted in hardness of heart. So if the mind is going to be wise and discerning about the will of God, the heart must be soft and susceptible to spiritual reality. In other words, the renewal Paul is calling for is profound, and deeper than any mere mental effort can achieve. This is why prayer is utterly essential. The constant prayer of the Christian is, “Open my eyes that I may see” (Psalm 119:18); and, “Let the eyes of my heart be enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18); and, “Cause me, O Lord, to taste and see that you are good” The root of Christian living in verse 2 is a profoundly renewed mind. It doesn’t just think clearly, but assesses truly and values accurately and approves strongly and treasures passionately what is good, acceptable and perfect. This is utterly relevant to our daily lives because 95% of the things we do during the day, we do without any extended logical reflection. We just act spontaneously out of the spirit of the mind that is in us (Ephesians 4:23) – or as Jesus said, out of the abundance of our heart (Matthew 12:34). So to live the Christian life with any authenticity we must be in the process of a deep renewal deep beneath right thinking. What verse 2 describes is a living sacrifice because in the renewal of our minds a whole way of tasting and assessing and approving and valuing and treasuring the world dies. We are, as Paul says, “crucified to the world and the world is crucified to us” (Galatians 6:14). So the renewal is a dying of old values and the coming to life of new ones. It is the dying of old ways of treasuring television and food and money, and the awakening of new spiritual taste buds.

God is My All Satisfying Treasure

So our spiritual worship is to come to God each day and say: “O God, there is nothing that I want more than to approve what is most worthy, and value what is most valuable, and treasure what is most precious and admire what is most beautiful and hate what is most evil and abhor what is most ugly. I reckon myself dead to all that is unspiritual and worldly and deadening to my soul. Renew me, O my God. Awaken spiritual capacities of right assessment.” And then we say, “And take me, body and soul, and make me the instrument of your glory in the world. Let the renewal you are working from within show on the outside. This is my spiritual worship. To show the world that you are my all-satisfying treasure.”The essence of worship is a being satisfied in God and cherishing of Christ as gain. Romans 12:1-2 are not saying anything different. This is what it means to have a renewed mind. The renewed mind perceives and approves and treasures and cherishes the will of God (and thus transforms all of life), because it first and foremost perceives, and approves and treasures and cherishes God. And doing the will of God is the outshining of God in his glory. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). All of life is the outshining of what you truly value and cherish and treasure. Therefore all of life is worship. Either of God, or something else. Therefore be transformed in the renewal of your mind. Cherish God in all his works and all his ways. Reckon the old mind dead and offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice that he may put you on display by the outshining of his worth and his value in your life. Worship him with your life.

Those who have truly chosen to follow Christ are easily recognized. They are not necessarily identified by the testimony they give with their mouth, but by the fact they no longer live for themselves. Many people insist they are Christians but they are still living by their own will for their own pleasures. In other words, the body of sin is still living on. But those who have truly received Christ’s sanctified life into their heart will be found living for God alone. “14 .…Because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15) Having died to their self-life, their whole being is given up to live for Him.

Romans 14:7.8: For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

And that is our heritage – not to be moved by the pressure of human opinion, human love, or human ideas of duty, but to be moved moment by moment by the Spirit of God. We must not permit anything or anyone to move us away from His purposes for our life. The carnal mind does not see the value in following Jesus. Because it finds its life from the temporal realm, it just naturally thinks in terms of finding spiritual support from the world and its things. It does not comprehend how a person can experience an enjoyable spiritual life after dying to the self-directed and self-seeking ways of this world. This is where we must have faith in the God who can create worlds out of nothing and hold them up by what appears to be nothing. After our new birth we must live sanctified and to live sanctified we cannot ignore or be careless with sin because if we are we will miss the mark, the purpose, and the calling God has set before eternity for our lives. Read Romans 6, Romans 8, Romans 12 Ephesians 4, 5 and Colossians 3 to name a few and this comes abundantly clear. We can no longer live by our old sin nature, the flesh or be driven by its lusts and desires. Nothing will work in your Christian life if you live according to the flesh. Sin is very deceitful and always plays the game very well. It convinces us it is harmless, it is trivial and it is just this one time. Yet habitual sin kills our witness for Christ, hardens our heart and causes us to turn from the living God to an dead idol. The pattern is always the same and the consequences are always severe. The Devil just alters the bait, refines the image, changes the message and sugar coats sin to make it glitter like the lights of Las Vegas. The Christian cannot be ignorant or deceived into not living sanctified, dead to the power of sin.

Does God have all of you? Are you holding anything back? Have you given Him all the keys to your heart? Present yourself as a living sacrifice to God and completely at His disposal right now. Do not delay any longer. Do you love anything in the world more than you love God? If you won’t give it up, then you love it more than God. Every day promise not to be conformed to this world; not to be molded into its image; and not to be fashioned after its pattern. Shine as a light of this world by being transformed by the renewing of your mind and cherishing God above all. I guarantee you will never be disappointed now or throughout all eternity.

Tim Rowe
Goodness of God Ministries
http://www.thegoodnessofgod.net

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When the Arrow is Beyond You

Eternal_Life2It is often during dangerous moments in history—when nothing around us seems to make sense—that our faith meets its deepest challenge. That is when each of us must decide: Will I continue to believe, in spite of the peril before me, or will I take things into my own hands in an attempt to secure my own wellbeing?

The Scriptures remind us of the heartache that often results when we decide to take things into our own hands. Think, for example, of when Abraham attempted to protect his own life by telling a foreign king that his wife, Sarah, was his sister (see Genesis 20:2). As a result, Sarah was taken into the kings’ harem, and Abraham was left standing powerlessly outside the gate, wringing his hands in regret over the terrible mistake he had made. Or consider Saul, who was also focused on his own preservation and chose to disobey God’s Word for fear of the people (see 1 Samuel 15:24). As a result, the kingdom was taken from him, and at the end of his life, he ended up consulting with a witch. You and I must be careful not to fall into human reasoning in order to preserve ourselves, for that is what renders us powerless. Let’s look at another example of this in the life of David.

GOD’S WAYS ARE HIGHER

“And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, find out
now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master” (1 Samuel 20:35–38).

Consider for a moment David’s journey leading up to this difficult point in his life. It must have seemed an ordinary day as he tended his father’s sheep out in the field. All of a sudden he was called inside to meet with the prophet Samuel, who took a vial of oil and anointed David to be the next king of Israel. Before taking the throne, David began to win some marvelous victories in secret, followed by an incredible victory in public against a giant called Goliath. David’s heart must have burned within him as he walked in anointing that produced such faith and boldness in his life.

Shortly after, Saul took David in as his attendant, and David began to worship the Lord with songs that drove the darkness out of Saul’s life. David continued to fight the battles
of the Lord, all the while experiencing the supernatural power of God, as seemingly no enemy could stand against him. Eventually, however, Saul’s heart turned against David for no apparent reason other than envy—which brings us to our passage in 1 Samuel. Saul’s son, Jonathan, says to David, “I am going to talk to my father. Hide out in the field, and I will come back and throw an arrow. If I say to the lad with me, ‘The arrow is beyond you,’ that means you must flee, for harm is determined against you.”

Here is how I see this situation: God was trying to speak to David, but David was only partially listening. The Lord was telling him: “I have a plan for your life that will
fulfill all the desires I have placed in your heart. A transition is coming from a system that failed under Saul’s leadership to something that will usher in a season of renewal in
Israel, and you are going to lead it. But until that day comes, I am going to take you through some dark places. You must follow Me through these mountains and valleys—even though you will not be able to understand them fully.”

That is what I believe to be the deeper meaning behind “the arrow is beyond you.” It is a sign and a reminder from God that His ways are higher than ours, and all He asks is that we follow Him, whether or not we understand what lies ahead. Nevertheless, there is something in all of us that wants to be able to figure everything out. We want a virtual road map that tells us where we will be five years from now. We do not necessarily like God throwing an arrow over our heads into the field and saying, “It is far beyond you. Just
get up and follow where the arrow is leading. Don’t question it, just obey what I am telling you.”

David did head out according to the word given him, but somewhere along the way, he succumbed to his own human reasoning. “David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul (God had never told him that; he was now listening to his own reasoning): there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me anymore in any coast of Israel:
so shall I escape out of his hand” (1 Samuel 27:1).

And so we see David beginning to go off track when he, just as Abraham and Saul, started to focus on his own preservation. This sent David on an arduous journey to the land of the Philistines. At one time in his life, David was on the other side of the valley facing the Philistines, but now he was standing among the enemies of God! I’m sure at that point he could not escape feelings of regret rising in his heart. “What am I doing? How did I get here?”

That is exactly what happens when we as a church begin to focus on ourselves—how to enhance our careers, how to prosper, how to have a better future. Whenever we have an inward focus, it leads us to a place where we are neither furthering the cause of God nor opposing the advance of the enemy. Sadly, this largely describes the church age we are currently living in, particularly in America. Although roughly twenty-two percent of the population in this country consider themselves evangelical, realistically we are not greatly advancing the cause of God, and we certainly are not opposing the advance of the enemy in our generation. We have come to a place of indecision and powerlessness. We are losing our children and our families; losing the concept of what is right and what is wrong—not just in the nation but in the house of God.

A MERCY MOMENT

However, you and I still have reason to take heart, for there is always a mercy moment. Yes, David left off his wholehearted seeking of God. He abandoned a life of winning
victories and giving glory to the God of Israel. However, in this place of indecision and powerlessness where he ended up, something significant happened. If you can see this, I believe it will help you understand what we are facing as a church in a backsliding nation.
“Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day? (Isn’t it tragic when our enemies can speak well of us?) And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? Should it not be with the heads of these men? Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?” (1 Samuel 29:3–5).

This was the mercy moment in David’s life, and you and I have reached a similar mercy moment in our generation—a point when God causes the enemies of His ways to reject the people of God. It is potentially the best thing that can happen to the church in this age in which we are living. You see, for too long we have ridden with the enemy’s armies, embraced the strategies of a fallen society, and allowed corporate secular thinking to
dominate the Church of Jesus Christ. We have filled stadiums with people who want to know how much they are loved of God yet who have no desire to live any differently from
the people of this world. Just as Achish spoke well of David, for decades society could have rightly testified of Christians, “I find no fault with these people. They have walked with us; their value system is the same as ours. They do what we do, they go where we go, and they are even standing on the same side of this battle that we are on right now.”

However, we are now living in a moment when the mercy of God is going to cause society to spit the Church of Jesus Christ out of its mouth. I thank God that our society is finally declaring, “Away with Christ! Away with Christians, away with churches, away with tax-exempt status—away with all of it!” Finally God’s people are being forced out of the enemy’s territory, just as David was. Rejected by the Philistines, David and the other Israelites who were with him returned home to Ziklag, only to find that the Amalekites had burned everything to the ground and taken captive their women and children. When David saw how much he had surrendered to the enemy, in his heart he must have initially thought, “Look what I have done! I am supposed to be leading these men, but I have allowed their families to be brought into captivity.”

Nevertheless, David did not allow himself to be overcome with discouragement and shame. Instead, he did something that ultimately restored his strength: He turned back to prayer and seeking God. “And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod (the garment of prayer for seeking God). And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David” (1 Samuel 30:7).

David must have suddenly remembered the moment when he was singled out among his brothers to become king over Israel. Or perhaps he recalled when the bear and the lion came into the flock, and the Spirit of God came upon him, endowing him with supernatural strength. Or maybe he remembered the indignation rising within his heart as God’s name was being defied, and he fearlessly ran into the valley to fight Goliath. So David turned to Abiathar and said, “Bring me the ephod! Bring me the garment of prayer! Bring me that which used to govern my life!”

YOU SHALL RECOVER ALL

As David began to pray again, God began to speak. “And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? And he answered him,
Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (1 Samuel 30:8).

At the time, David had six hundred men with him, but two hundred of them were so weak that they could not even cross over the brook to enter the battle. However, it did not matter how great the odds were against them, for David was back in the place of knowing the source of his strength. He finally acknowledged what he should have understood from
the beginning: David, the arrow is beyond you. The leading of God was not something he could reason. And even in the face of what looked like personal peril, if David would simply
follow the Lord rather than taking things into his own hands, God would continue to guide him one step at a time.

This is what we, too, must do in our generation. We must get back to the source of our strength—back to the prayer closet where we can hear from God again. The first thing that happens when you and I begin to pray is that a promise will come into our hearts—one that is deeper and farther than anything we could ever hope to procure in our own natural ability. The Lord takes us through places we cannot go through on our own—places where we must let go of what we think is going to preserve us and simply follow where He leads.

As David and his men approached the Amalekite armies, they found them “…spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah” (1 Samuel 30:16).

Similarly, you and I are living in an hour when the enemies of God are rejoicing—drinking and dancing in their supposed triumph. “We have come into the sanctuaries; we have taken the houses of God into our possession. Godlessness will be the future for this country. There is very little hope that they will ever rebound and survive!”

However, supernatural strength was granted to David. The Scriptures tell us that he “smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled” (1 Samuel 30:17).

Amazing, isn’t it? Although David and his men were already weary upon entering that battle against perhaps tens of thousands of warriors, God gave them strength to pursue and persevere. It is that incredible ability that God still grants to His people when all hell appears to have the upper hand. The Amalekites thought they had swallowed the testimony of God—which may have been the case if one man had not chosen to go backinto the prayer closet! “And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30:19).

I believe we will find the same to be true for us today as we go back to prayer: All is not lost! No matter what the devil is telling us, no matter what the news reports are saying, no matter what we see with our natural eyes—all is not lost! That is why it is imperative now for you and me to forsake our own human reasoning and return to the place where God can speak to us. Remember, although the arrow is beyond you, it is never beyond the ability of an all-powerful Savior.

Jonathan said, “The arrow is beyond you, make haste—go after it!” In other words, the plan of God is far beyond you, but just get up and follow after it. You do not have to
figure it all out. All that God is asking of you is that you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit
with all your heart, and watch as He does the miraculous!

Carter Conlon
©2014 Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons/24372_sermon-newsletter-20140201-when-the-arrow-is-beyond-you.pdf

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Satan’s Great Tool of Destruction: Unforgiveness-Birthed From an Offended Heart

unforgiveness

We live in an age of offence. Everyone is offended. Everyone is angry. Everyone is enraged. And out of this offence flows bitterness, resentment, hatred, and unforgiveness. Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come” (Luke 17:1). All of us experience offence daily, but the critical question is how our heart will handle it. All unforgiveness comes out of offense and unforgiveness may be the greatest poison to the heart known to mankind.

John Bevere, The Bait of Satan: “As I travel across the United States ministering, I have been able to observe one of the enemy’s most deadly and deceptive traps. It imprisons countless Christians, severs relationships, and widens the existing breaches between us. It is the trap of offense. Many are unable to function properly in their calling because of the wounds and hurts that offenses have caused in their lives. They are handicapped and hindered from fulfilling their full potential…The closer the relationship, the more severe the offense. You find the greatest hatred among those who were once close. ”

So many are wounded, hurt and bitter. They are offended and do not realize they have fallen into Satan’s trap. Every evil flows out of offense. Offense is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity. The Greek word for “offense” means a “trap stick: the crooked stick on which a bait is fastened, which, being struck by the animal, springs the trap.” It is a deadly trap that springs suddenly and ensnares us in the trap of the Devil. This is why offense is called the bait of Satan as it gets the heart to fall into the trap of unforgiveness.

The Last Times are Marked as Times of Offense

Matthew 24:10-13: And many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love (agape) of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

The Word of God can never grow and produce fruit in the soil of an offended heart. The Word of God cannot take root and when the pressures of life or persecution come, the tender plant is scorched and withers away. Unforgiveness and offense ceases our growth in Christ. Mark 4:5,6, 16,17: And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Satan’s Key Strategy of Unforgiveness

II Corinthians tells us that a major device of Satan in his warfare against the kingdom of God is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness allows the Devil to get an advantage over us and entrap us in his snare. The Bible says we are not to be ignorant of this device of unforgiveness.

II Corinthians 2:7-11: So instead of further rebuke, now you should rather turn and graciously forgive and comfort and encourage him, to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow and despair.8 I therefore beg you to reinstate him in your affections and assure him of your love for him; 9 For this was my purpose in writing you, to test your attitude and see if you would stand the test, whether you are obedient and altogether agreeable to following my orders in everything.10 If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence and with the approval of Christ the Messiah, 11 To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.

Will we stand the test and be obedient to our Savior and forgive the unforgiveable? Love the unlovable? We forgive in the person of Christ representing him as his ambassador of forgiveness. As God touched our heart with forgiveness, we touch the hearts of others with that same forgiveness.

Acts 24:16: And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.

This is a profitable exercise routine is to have a conscience that is never offended at God and never offended at any person for anything.

Do we Worship God yet Fail to do what He Says by not Forgiving?

The whole emphasis of the New Testament is on forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, and holy living manifested and made possible by the love of God through the Cross of Jesus Christ.(Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14) We as a church worship the hind legs off God figuratively speaking, then not lift a finger to do a single thing he says. Is such the case for Christians in the hard area of forgiveness? We worship God yet refuse to forgive. We praise God yet carry in our hearts a root of bitterness toward someone. God’s word is clear on the great duty of the Christian to forgive always without exception.

Psalm 86:5: For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Jeremiah 31:34: And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

What gives us the right to remember someone’s sin and hold it over their head? When God forgives, He remembers their sin no more and so should we. If we continue to remember the sin, we have not truly forgiven. There is no such thing as half-forgiveness, or partial forgiveness. When you forgive you are all in and the former sin is never held as a grudge or a trump card over the forgiven.

The Bible is full of examples of people who got offended and the devastating consequences of the resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness that flowed out of the offense. I can name a few like Cain, Saul, Judas, Absalom, King Uzziah, the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time and Barnabas.

How did Cain handle offense with his brother Abel? Cain became offended with God for not accepting his offering and Abel for offering a better sacrifice. He became angry, full of resentment and revenge. The spirit of unforgiveness consumed his heart and he murdered his brother. Unforgiveness is the way of Cain never the way of God and it always leads to the destruction of relationships. When we do not forgive we are walking in the way of Cain.

David and Absalom are a study on how to and how not to handle offense. King David remained loyal to King Saul even when King Saul was not loyal to him but continually was trying to kill him. David did not seek to avenge himself even when given the opportunity twice. David was a man after the heart of God. He let God judge between Saul and him. He held no bitterness or unforgiveness toward him. David’s son Absalom was different. David’s other son Amnon committed a wicked act against his half-sister Tamar who was Absalom’s sister as he raped her her and then despised her and removed her from his sight. He had disgraced a virgin royal princess, devastating her life with shame. Absalom brought Tamar into his home, but he hated Amnon for defiling Tamar. Absalom expected his father King David to punish his half-brother but even though David was outraged he took no action. Absalom was devastated by his father’s lack of justice. Now Tamar lived in seclusion, unable to marry because she was no longer a virgin. It was unfair. It seemed like Amnon was getting off scot free. Absalom was burning with rage, bitterness and unforgiveness. Absalom waited a year and when his father did nothing still, he became offended at King David. Absalom decided to avenge his sister and had Amnon killed. But he still carried the offense against his father and it grew stronger. His thoughts were poisoned with bitterness. He resented David. Out of his critical attitude, Absalom began to draw to himself anyone that was discontented. He made himself available to Israel to hear their complaints building support. He began to judge their cases also and he stole the hearts of Israel from his father David. Absalom drew Israel to him and rose up against King David. He was killed as he pursued David even though David had ordered him untouched. He was killed by his own offense, bitterness and unforgiveness. He has so much potential as heir to the throne, but died in his prime because he refuse to release the debt he thought his father owed. A root of bitterness had sprung up in his heart defiling and eventually destroying him. Unforgiveness is a killer of relationships, robbing life of God’s blessings. Unforgiveness tore the family of King David apart.

We do not wait until someone makes amends or repent before we forgive. The Bible teaches just the opposite. Wrongful injury or hurt becomes an opportunity to display the life-changing grace of God. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the power of the gift of holy spirit we received at the new birth (Romans 5:5). What God expects us to be and empowers us to be are agents of His grace and unconditional love. This agape love is the life God has called to live. Forgiveness flows freely out of a walk of love. Unforgiveness has no place in heart of love as we have been commanded to even love our enemies.

I Corinthians 13:3-8a (Living Bible): Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him…love goes on forever.

Love never fails in any situation or problem. It is God’s solution in all relationships. Forgiveness never fails either for when you forgive you are fulfilling the will of God in any relationship.

For only forgiveness liberates us from a painful past to a brand-new future. Not to forgive is to suffer endlessly the torment of yesterday as both present and future are hopelessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Only forgiveness sets us free. Forgiveness sets us free to love like Christ loved in every circumstance, in every problem and with every person. According to Christ, no one is exempt from forgiveness no matter how bad they have hurt or harmed you. Remember Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

Ephesians 4:29-32: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

We forgive as God in Christ forgave us. That is the standard for Christian living. Remember what God forgave you for next time you have a hard time forgiving. These three wonderful qualities should be the trademark of our hearts: Kindness, Tenderheartness and Forgiveness. To get to this level of growth in Christ there are seven emotions that must be put away and eliminated from the heart.

The Seven Rivers of Unforgiveness: The Seven Emotions from Which All Unforgiveness Flows

1) Corrupt communication out of our mouth; Poison that comes out of our mouth that tears down, decays and destroys;

2) Bitterness-the fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man or woman in perpetual animosity; that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things; that makes him sour, crabby and repulsive in his general demeanor; that brings a scowl over his face and infuses the words of his tongue with venom; Bitterness reflects a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge–filled attitude, an unwillingness to forgive or a harsh feeling. Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness and kindness. In every recipe of unforgiveness there is the ingredient of bitterness. Greeks defined this word as long-standing resentment, as the spirit which refuses to be reconciled. Every day thousands upon thousands people die in bitterness of soul, having never tasted the goodness of forgiveness. (Job 21:25). Bitterness according to the Word of God is the root cause of much sickness, disease and death. God’s commandment to the church and to the Christian is this: “Get rid of all bitterness!” If you do not it take root in your heart and this root of bitterness will bring much trouble and defile everything it touches (Hebrews 12:15). Examine your heart daily for any trace of bitterness and crush it with the love and grace of God. Bitterness breeds unforgiveness and will destroy and harden your heart against everyone including God. Right now take it from your heart and throw it in the trash!

3) Wrath: thumos- a violent motion or passion of the mind; move violently, rush along) describes passion (as if breathing hard) and so speaks of an agitated, vehement anger that rushes along relentlessly. Thumos describes a tumultuous welling up of the whole spirit; a mighty emotion which seizes and moves the whole inner man. Thumos is a blaze of sudden anger which is quickly kindled and just as quickly dies. The Greeks likened it to a fire amongst straw, which quickly blazed and just as quickly burned itself out.

4) Anger: Orge is anger which has become inveterate; it is long-lasting, slow-burning anger, which refuses to be pacified and nurses its wrath to keep it warm…To the Christian the burst of temper and the long-lived anger are both alike forbidden. Orge refers to an inner, deep resentment that seethes and smolders. Thumos type anger represents an agitated, vehement anger that rushes along relentlessly. The root meaning has to do with moving rapidly and was used of a man’s breathing violently while pursuing an enemy in great rage! Orge is more subtle, deep flowing anger. We must cease from all anger and wrath and put them away from our hearts. The smoldering fire of unforgiveness is anger. Anger and wrath ignite the flame of unforgiveness and keep it burning in our hearts.

5) Clamor: (krauge from krázo = clamor or cry = a word like “croak” ~ suggests a rough and guttural sound = croaking of ravens = croak or cry out with a loud, raucous voice like donkey in Job 6:5, childbirth Is 26:17, war cry in Josh 6:16) can refer to a chorus of voices (one voice in Lk 1:42) speaking loudly at the same time (outcry, shout, clamor). The word he uses for cry (krauge) is very significant. It is a cry which a man does not choose to utter, but is wrung from him in the stress of some tremendous tension or searing pain. The shout or outcry of strife and reflects an outburst that reveals loss of control. It is a a loud and confused noise, especially of shouting. Loud outcries of anger, bawling, angry bickering, and shouting down of opponents. This is the cry of unforgiveness that is forged in the oven of overwhelming tension, anxiety, stress and pain. It breeds confusion and loss of control of our emotions. Our cry should be to God and not to others out of strife and brooding frustration. Get rid of clamor and let the only shout in our hearts be the shout of victory of our Lord.

6) Slander: (blasphemia from blapto = hinder, injure, hurt + pheme = report, rumor, fame from phemí = to speak;) refers to verbal abuse against someone which denotes the very worst type of slander. It is speech which seeks to wound someone’s reputation by evil reports, evil speaking. It is abusive speech against someone by telling lies or otherwise offending them. Blasphemia means literally to speak to harm and in general therefore means to bring into ill repute and so to slander, to defame (to harm the reputation of by libel or slander), speak evil of, to rail at(revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language and rail stresses an unrestrained berating), to speak calumny (noun form = a misrepresentation intended to blacken another’s reputation = the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to damage another’s reputation), to calumniate (verb form = to utter maliciously false statements, charges, or imputations about – calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions). Blasphemia is speech that is harmful, which denigrates or defames and thus refers to reviling, denigration, disrespect, slander, abusive speech (as against a person’s reputation), evil speaking. The power of life and death is in the tongue and the words coming forth from our mouths. We see people like God sees them and our words must build up and not tear down. Our words must comfort; our words must heal; our words must minister grace to all those who hear them. Satan accuses the brethren, the saints, God’s beloved night and day and we must not assist him in his ministry of destruction by doing the same. Get rid of all slander and throw it in the trash. Slander is the outflow of unforgiveness.

7) Malice: (kakia) is the general term for evil that is the root of all vices. Kakia is synonymous with the quality of wickedness and thus in a moral sense means depravity, vice or baseness. In reference to behavior kakia conveys the idea of a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition as indicated by words such as malice, ill-will, hatefulness, and dislike. It is an attitude of wickedness as an evil habit of one’s mind. Kakia is used in NT to describe the wickedness which comes from within a person. Malice desires to hurt another and rejoices in it! Trench says that kakia is “that peculiar form of evil which manifests itself in a malignant interpretation of the actions of others, an attributing of them all to the worst motive” Webster says that “malice” is a desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another and implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer. This is the viciousness that comes with the sin nature. This is the old leaven of the heart that stirs up wickedness. This vicious intent to do evil, harm or hurt is the ultimate goal of unforgiveness. This is the crowning achievement of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is driven and fueled by malice. Malice and its mean-spirited and vicious disposition must be eliminated from our hearts and attitudes. This is evil that destroys relationships. This is evil entrenched in selfishness. This is evil that is a cancer in our homes, churches and the body of Christ.

These are the seven rivers, the seven fruit, the seven power sources, and the seven generators of unforgiveness. All unforgiveness flows out of these seven emotions. Unforgiveness keeps us from being kind and tenderhearted. Unforgiveness is like pouring cement in the heart. Unforgiveness is like pouring polluted toxic waste in the heart. Unforgiveness is like dumping the weekly trash into the heart.

Wayne Barber writes that…

In Ephesians 4:31-32 Paul contrasts the two garments. We are in a flow now that continues through the rest of the book. How we are to walk? How we are to live this new life? He gives us a contrast. One is a cesspool, the other a wellspring. One I would rather not speak about, the other one is an artisan well. It is something that never ends in its supply and provision to others. Paul shows us the cesspool of the old self and the wellspring of the new self, the new garment. He lets us see what is underneath everything that is going on in our life. We can either tap into the cesspool, the old stagnant, rotten, putrid type of thing, or we can tap into the wellspring of Jesus Christ. Which garment are you going to put on?

If we keep allowing our toxic sin nature to fuel our heart, mind and attitudes and these seven rivers flow into and out of our hearts, we grieve and hurt God deeply. He literally cries over you when your heart is entrenched in the spirit of unforgiveness. To not forgive is to literally slap God in the face and trample the work of the cross and the grace of God under our feet. It is to have contempt for the grace of God. It is to ignore the work of God in a person’s life.

Wiersbe has this practical comment on “bitterness” to which even believers can fall prey…
An unforgiving spirit is the devil’s playground and before long it becomes the Christian’s battleground. If somebody hurts us, either deliberately or unintentionally, and we do not forgive him, then we begin to develop bitterness within, which hardens the heart (cp Mt 6:12, 14, 15-see notes). We should be tenderhearted and kind, but instead we are hardhearted and bitter. Actually, we are not hurting the person who hurt us; we are only hurting ourselves. Bitterness in the heart makes us treat others the way Satan treats them, when we should treat others the way God has treated us. In His gracious kindness, God has forgiven us, and we should forgive others. We do not forgive for our sake (though we do get a blessing from it) or even for their sake, but for Jesus’ sake. Learning how to forgive and forget is one of the secrets of a happy Christian life. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

The Nine Companions of Forgiveness: Out of These Qualities All Forgiveness Flows

Colossians 3:12-15: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

The nine companions of forgiveness and the environment it grows out of are compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, love, peace and thankfulness. If we are not forgiving we are not walking in one or more of these wonderful qualities of Christ.

The Amazing Parable about Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35: Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

A talent is a unit of measure. It was used in measuring gold, silver and other precious metals. One talent was equivalent to 75 pounds. Ten thousand talents would be approximately 750,000 pounds or 375 tons. This servant owed the king 375 tons of gold. The price of gold currently is $1326 an ounce. One talent is $1,591,200. So the servant owed the king in today’s dollars almost 16 billion dollars!! Jesus was emphasizing this was a debt he could not pay. Forgiveness is like the cancellation of a debt. Colossians 2:13,14: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

A denarius was approximately equal to a laborer’s day wages. So in today’s money one hundred denarii would be worth about $5600. This man was forgiven a debt of 16 billion, but refused to forgive a debt of $5600? The offenses we hold against each other compared to the offenses that God forgive us for are like the $5600 compared to the 16 billion. We may have been treated badly by someone else, but it does not compare with our transgressions against God. A person who cannot forgive has forgotten the great debt for which they were forgiven. When you realize God through Christ released you from the penalty of your sins, from eternal death and gave you citizenship in His kingdom as sons and daughters you will release others unconditionally. Every time you don’t forgive you are like this unforgiving servant in the parable who was forgiven so much but refused to forgive a paltry sum in comparison.

THE TRUE HEART OF A CHRISTIAN

Romans 12:9-21 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Actually, forgiveness is not only about others, but also about our own spiritual growth.

Love and forgiveness cannot be separated. If we choose to live out the love of God as the purpose of our life, then forgiving is an option that cannot be avoided.

It is for God to judge, not for us

James 4:11,12 Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers. If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticize the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbor’s judge?

There is no room for grudges in the Body of Christ. To forgive is to release it forever, never to bring it up again. There are no conditions to forgiveness in the Bible as it is unconditional. Our forgiveness so often is not unconditional as we seek, desire, plan and try to carry out our revenge. We don’t want to forgive until the debt is paid in full, so we set up ourselves as the Judge and jury, but there is only one Judge and it is not us. Do not be in bondage to human justice. We really try to play God when we do not forgive. Unforgiveness in borne out of a prideful heart that refuses to humble itself and release the offense to God. Quit trying to defend ourselves and let God defend us. Release the unforgiveness to God and be set free from its poison. Unforgiveness is a breach that prevents restoration of a relationship. If God marked our iniquities we could never stand so we should not mark the iniquities of others. Psalm 130:3,4: If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared (respected, revered and held in awe).

The Greatest Example of Forgiveness in the Gospels

Luke 23:33-34 NIV: When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

It is almost unfathomable to imagine this level of forgiveness especially if you realize the extreme torture, mockings and beatings Jesus endured. We are to forgive like this.

Three Greek Words for Forgive:

There are three Greek words for “forgive” which help us understand more in depth what it means to forgive.

1) Aphiema-To send away, dismiss, set free, express the discharge or acquittal of a defendant, to remit the punishment, where the guity is dealt with as if he were innocent. When we forgive, we send the offense away, we set it free from our hearts and we declare the person NOT GUILTY and acquitted even if they were not innocent!

2) Charizomai: Forgiving (“given as an act of grace”) means literally to give freely and unconditionally or to bestow as a gift of grace and then to remit a debt, and hence to forgive. To forgive is to extend grace to someone. Who does not deserve some grace? God extended unlimited grace to us. Why is it so hard for us to extend it to someone else? Charizomai means to extend grace, to show kindness or to bestow favor. The concept came to include both the gracious action and agreeable human qualities. The present tense calls for this to be the believer’s continual practice, our new way of life (our “new garment” worn continually) as saints. Don’t say you can’t forgive, for what you are really saying is you won’t forgive. We can forgive others because He forgave us! As an act of mercy make the conscious choice to extend grace to others who don’t necessarily deserve it. In fact Paul uses the middle voice which pictures believers as those who are to initiate the action of forgiving and then to participate in the results of forgiveness, not the least of which is we free ourselves from the “prison” and “poison” of unforgiveness!

3) Apoluo-“to let loose from, to loosen, unbind, to set at liberty, to set a debtor free, and overlook.” When we forgive we let loose the offense, we unbind it from our heart and throw it away never to let it raise its ugly head again. We set the debt free like the parable and set our heart at liberty by freeing it of its offense.

As mentioned before an unforgiving spirit is the devil’s playground: Ephesians 4:27 “Don’t give place to the devil” by allowing unforgiveness to dominate our hearts.

Importance of Forgiveness to Our Prayer Life

When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, it is amazing that Jesus taught forgiveness is an importat part of our prayer life. The Lord’s Prayer states in Matthew 6:12: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” He also said in Mark 11:25: “When you stand praying if you hold ANYTHING against ANYONE, forgive them”. Forgiveness is a critical component for our faith to work for unforgiveness is a great hindrance to our faith and our prayer life. We cannot have faith that moves mountains if we do not forgive. (Read Mark 11: 22ff)

I wonder how many Christians would want God to forgive them in the same way they have forgiven those who have offended them.

Words of Jesus on the New Standard of Love and Forgiveness:

Luke 6:32-38: “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Final Admonitions to the Church on the Walk of Forgiveness:

Unforgiveness is at the heart of every Church division and split throughout history. Unforgiveness is running rampant in Christianity today and it must be stopped. Its poison pill is being swallowed every day by Christians and it is corrupting their witness for Christ and destroying their lives physically and spiritually.

Galatians 5:13-15: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Romans 14:19: Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Ephesians 4:1-3: I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the divine calling to which you have been called with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service,2 Living as becomes you with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

We can only walk worthy of our divine calling when we walk in complete forgiveness. God is begging us to honor our Lord by forgiving others. God says in I Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

Divisions and disunity have all come from offense and unforgiveness. Won’t you answer God’s plea from this day forward and let forgiveness be the brand of your life. Do not let offense push you to be unforgiving, hard-hearted and bitter, but forgive like God in Christ forgave you and set your heart free. We must not allow a schism to arise in the Body of Christ because of unforgiveness, but we must have the same love and care for each other as Christ has for us. Then the gospel will truly set us free to live as His ambassadors for Jesus Christ on the earth walking in His amazing love and forgiveness.

By Tim Rowe

Goodness of God Ministries

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discovering the Awesome Truth of Our Union with Christ

chirsit-lives-in-me
Have you ever pondered this life-changing question: What are you in union with? Whom does your heart and soul cling to? What have you joined your heart to? What do you grasp unto to give your life meaning and purpose? We are all in union with something. This union determines the vitality, the direction and the course of our lives. Ephesians 2 describes our union before we met our Savior.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV): And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

We were spiritually dead in trespasses and sin; in union with sin and the flesh and were in union with the prince of the power of the air. We were slaves to the lusts, passions and cravings of our sin nature inherited from Adam. This union produces death. It is only a matter of time before sin delivers death-to dreams, health, relationships, security, goals, ambitions and life itself. This union produces the dramatic need for a Savior, a Redeemer and a Liberator for every man, woman and child on the face of the earth.

Ephesians 2:5: And when we were dead in sins, He brought us to life in union and fellowship with Christ; it is through grace you are saved.

We were created for God but our union with sin has disfigured and marred our beautiful purpose to be in full union with God in everything in our lives. We must mortify our hearts desire to be in union with sin and its rival gods and abandon our desires, our passions and our pursuits to the most beautiful fellowship, intimacy and bond of a complete and loving union with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. God brought us to life, saved us and revealed the fullness of His grace in our union with Christ.

Tirabassi: NO, I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME. I’ll never see or love or talk the same way I did before I met Jesus. Oswald Chambers says, “Once you have seen Him, you can never be the same.”

Something miraculously happens when you become a Christian and that is you become in union with Christ. The “Great Exchange” is a phrase that describes the exchange that occurs in people’s lives when they become Christian. Before our New Birth we were sinners in the eyes of God, without holy spirit, and without hope. However, in the instantaneous occurrence of the New Birth, the sinner undergoes a change, in fact, an exchange. Jesus takes the sinner’s sin, while the sinner gets Jesus’ righteousness. Also, Jesus takes on himself the penalty for the sinner’s sin, which is death (something that he already experienced), while the sinner gets the reward for a sinless life, which is everlasting life. My life for His life. His life for my life. This is the Great Exchange.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV): I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

John 17:20-23 (NASB):
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Christian experience is more than an imitation of the life and teaching of Jesus. It is the present experience of the risen Christ indwelling the believer’s heart by the gift of holy spirit, an intimate communion with God through Christ.

Paul expresses the personal appropriation of the work of Christ by the term “in Christ.” It is the apostle’s favorite term to describe the personal and dynamic relation of the believer to Christ, and appears in a variety of contexts. The phrase is found eight times in Galatians, thirty-four times in Ephesians, and eighteen times in Colossians. The New Testament uses two interchangeable expressions to describe union with Christ:
1. We are in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; John 15:4, 5, 7; 1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 12:2; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 1:4, 2:10; Phil. 3:9; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 John 4:13).
2. Christ is in us (Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Eph. 3:17).

In Christ defines every saint’s eternal, permanent, spiritual location, the spiritual “address” and the “spiritual atmosphere” as it were in which we now live and breathe and have our being.

Theodore Epp adds that every believer’s…

New life is life “in Christ.” The word “in” does not in this connection speak of location, such as “in an automobile,” but carries the idea of union. On the resurrection side of this experience we have His life. He has come to live in us. It is this that marks the real difference between the old life prior to our salvation and the new life now that we are saved. It is necessary before the believer can enjoy victory in Christ for the power of the old life to be broken. This is accomplished through union with Christ in His crucifixion. This is not an experience that we must struggle to enter into now. It was accomplished for us in the past. The King James Version is not clear on this point. The American Standard Version of 1901 will help us here. The expression “I am crucified with Christ” is translated in the ASV: “I have been crucified with Christ.” God got rid of the old self-life by crucifying it. We were separated from the old self-life when we died with Christ.

In the Great Exchange, the sinner also receives the gift from God, holy spirit, so that God and Christ can work in him both to desire to do, and to perform, God’s good purposes (Phil. 2:13). Via the gift of holy spirit, Christians can give up their own desires and plans, and allow God’s purposes to be accomplished through them. They can also give up their fleshly weakness and allow the power of God to do mighty works through them. Thus, like the Apostle Paul, we can be “striving with His strength that works powerfully in [us]” (Col. 1:29 HCSB) Some parts of the “exchanged life” are automatic with salvation: being righteous in God’s eyes, getting the guarantee of everlasting life, and receiving holy spirit. Therefore, the difficult part of the exchanged life is letting go of our lives to fully embrace the life God wants for us. The life God desires for us to live is always a sacrificial life in which we become like Christ, living for others. Even though this is the path to fulfillment and power, often we cannot seem to grasp that fact, and then we cling to our own plans and desires. Sometimes we epitomize the poem, “Broken Toys.”

Broken Toys: As children bring their broken toys, with tears, for me to mend I brought my broken dreams to God because He was my friend. But then, instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone I hung around and tried to help…with ways that were my own. .At last I snatched them back and cried, “How can You be so slow?” “My child,” He said, “What could I do? You never did let go.

Christ is in the believer. He indwells the heart by faith, as the sun indwells the lowliest flowers that unfurl their petals and bare their hearts to its beams. Not because we are good. Not because we are trying to be wholehearted in our consecration. Not because we keep Him by the tenacity of our love. But because we believe, and in believing, have thrown open all the doors and windows of our nature. And He has come in. “Know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, unless ye be reprobate?” (II Corinthians 13:5.) Yes; the heavens, even the heavens of heavens, with all their light and glory, alone seem worthy of Him. But even there He is not more at home than He is with the humble and contrite spirit that simply trust in Him. In His earthly life, He said that the Father dwelt in Him so really that the words He spake and the works He did were not His own, but His Father’s. And He desires to be in us as His Father was in Him, so that the outgoings of our life may be channels through which He, hidden within, may pour Himself forth upon men. It is comparatively seldom that we go into these deeper departments of our being. We are content to live the superficial life of sense. We eat, we drink, we sleep. We give ourselves to enjoy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Or we abandon ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge and culture, of science and art. We make short incursions into the realm of morals, that sense of right and wrong which is part of the make-up of men. But we have too slight an acquaintance with the deeper chambers of the heart. Now this is why the majority of believers are so insensible of their Divine and wonderful Resident, who makes the regenerated spirit His abode.

John 15:4,5 (Amplified): Dwell (Abide) in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

Is abiding in Him the experience of your life? Do you experience a deep communion and intimate fellowship with Christ? We are to LIVE in Him. We cannot do anything that bears spiritual fruit apart from a continual vital living union with Christ. We will either continue to dwell in Adam and frustrate our life and calling before God or we will dwell in Christ and grow up into Him.

We are in union with Christ

Our identity with Christ, and our union with him, often gets expressed by the phrase, “in Christ” or “into Christ.” The problem with those phrases is that we can read them without being at all sure what they mean. Consider the following verses: Romans 6:3; Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Galatians 3:27: for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Ephesians 4:15 (NIV 1984): Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. What does it mean to be baptized, “into Christ,” and what does it mean to grow up, “into him?” The book of Romans makes it clear that when a person is baptized, there is a union between the believer and Christ, an identity with Christ that is established. That is why several versions, including the REV (Revised English Version), put the word “union” into the text. Romans 6:3 (Williams): Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into union with Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Each Christian has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20), died with Christ (Rom. 6:8), buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4), and raised with Christ (Eph. 2:6). Thus, although there certainly is a “connection” with Christ, the word “union” seems much more appropriate and clear. Romans 6:5 continues the close-knit relationship between us and Jesus Christ.Romans 6:5 (NIV 1984): If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
The NIV above, and many other versions that use the word “united,” do so as a translation of the Greek word sumphutos Have become united with (sumphutos from sun/syn = together speaks of intimate union + phúo = grow up, spring up, of men, to beget = engender or generate, to produce, to bring forth, to put forth shoots) means growing up or spring up together. It was a word commonly used for the joining of two things that proceed to grow together as a unity, as in the fusing together of a broken bone or in the grafting of a branch into a tree. Sumphutos literally means “planted together,” and was used when two things grew together and became intertwined. Thus English versions translate it as “united with him” (ESV, NASB, NIV) “joined with him” (HCSB); “identified with him” (Darby); “incorporate with him” (NEB); and “become one with him” (Cassirer). Kenneth Wuest describes the meaning of the word sumphutos: It speaks of a living, vital union of two individuals growing up together. The word could be used of the Siamese twins whose bodies were connected at one point, and whose blood stream flowed through the two physical bodies as it does normally through one. Wuest’s example shows how closely the Bible portrays our lives being intertwined with Jesus’ life. Also part of the Greek text of the verse is the word homoioma , which many versions translate as “likeness” or “like his.” Robert Thayer (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon), referencing this very verse, says, that homoioma, “amounts almost to equality of identity.” So we see that buried in the grammar and vocabulary of Romans 6:5 is our identity with Christ. No wonder so much of what we have as Christians we have “in him” (“in union with him”), not alone or “on our own.” Due to our union with him we have “every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3), “glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6), “redemption” (Eph. 1:7), our being sealed with holy spirit (Eph. 1:13), our being raised to life and our promise of being seated in heaven (Eph. 2:6), God’s kindness (Eph. 2:7), and being part of the living temple of God (Eph. 2:21).

2 Corinthians 5:20
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

The Greek word translated “ambassadors” is presbeu and it was used in the Greek language in to refer to three different kinds of people: an “elder,” an “ambassador,” and a “legate.” Whenever we come across a Hebrew or Greek word that has more than one meaning, we must decide which of them is the correct or appropriate meaning in the verse. In this case, we can do that by “trying out” the meanings of presbeu, Reading “elder” in this context does not make good sense, and thus “elder” is not the meaning here. Reading “ambassador” in this context makes sense, because we have the ministry and message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18 and 19). As ambassadors whose citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), we are in a foreign country here on earth, spreading good will and trying to win support for our king and country. But what about “legate?” We will see that makes sense also. Communication in the Roman Empire was slow. In our modern times, we often become impatient when someone does not e-mail us back the same day. In the Roman world, if a war broke out the Emperor may not even hear about it for weeks, and then not be able to decide what to do simply because no matter what information he had and how many daily messengers arrived, their “news” was always old. Worse, when the Emperor’s orders actually arrived at the trouble spot, well, the situation was likely totally different or the trouble even over. One way the Greco-Roman rulers dealt with the problem was through the office of the legate, a person with the authority to represent the ruler; a person delegated and empowered to act as the king himself in any given situation. About presbeu Barnett writes: “Such delegates—Jewish or Greco-Roman—came with the authority of the sender, in his place, to secure his interests,” and they were referred to as legates. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary adds, “In the Roman period presbeut is the Greek equivalent of [the Latin] legatus…It is commonly used for the imperial legates.” Spicq adds, “…a legate is a noteworthy personage, at the top of the military hierarchy, and presbeuon and presbeutes are technical terms for imperial legates in the Greek Orient.”

“Legate” is an important point being made in 2 Corinthians 5:20. While it is true that we are ambassadors for Christ, we are also his legates—his personal presence on earth. As we walk by the spirit, in a very real sense we are Christ in the situation. We see this played out over and over again in the New Testament, especially in the book of Acts. One notable example in Acts occurred when Peter was traveling around Israel teaching, and a woman named Tabitha who lived in Joppa, the old seaport city of Israel, died. The disciples found out that Peter was in a nearby city and called for him. Notice how Peter acts in the place of Christ when raising the dead. He assessed the situation, and then acted. Acts 9:40: Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. First, Peter prayed about what to do. But once he received revelation guidance from God or Jesus about what to do concerning Tabitha, it is important to note what he did not do: he did not pray for God to raise Tabitha. He did not say anything such as: “Dear God, here lies Tabitha. Please raise her from the dead. Please put life back into her.” No, Peter did not pray like that. Rather, he acted like Jesus acted. When Jesus was in the presence of a dead girl, he did not ask God to raise the girl, he said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (Mark 5:41). In fact, if we study Jesus Christ’s healings and miracles, there is not one single time Jesus asked God to do the healing. It was God’s power that did the work, certainly, but Jesus knew he was God’s representative on earth, so he healed a leper, saying, “Be clean” (Matt. 8:3). He healed a cripple, saying, “Stretch out your hand” (Matt. 12:13). He did look up into heaven before he fed the five thousand, but it was to give thanks (Luke 9:16), not to ask God to do the miracle, he broke the loaves and did the miracle as God’s representative. He cast demons out of people by commanding them to leave, as we see in Luke: “Come out of him” (Luke 4:35). Peter knew that he was the legate of Christ, the personal presence of Christ, and he healed as Jesus did. A very real part of the exchanged life is that Christians are legates of Christ—the personal presence of Christ on earth. However, we have a decision to make. Just as a Roman legate could go to the hippodrome and sit and eat olives and watch the horse races all day long instead of going out and representing the Emperor, so Christians can act in ways that hang on to the flesh and not walk in the power of Christ. Walking in the fullness of the Exchanged Life does not just happen, it is a purposeful decision. We must realize the power we have, and then go into the world and walk it out in faith.

Colossians 1:27 (REV)
God wanted to make known to them what is the riches of the glory of this sacred secret among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The phrase “Christ in us” expresses the union we have with him, and also the power that we have as Christians. Christ is in us, so now all we have to do is let the Christ in us live in what we do. Before we leave the phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” it is important to give proper credit to the “glory.” God could have rightly said, “Christ in you, the power of God,” or “Christ in you, the intimate relationship with God,” but He did not. The reality is that no matter how hard we try to be like Christ and live like Christ did, the world will still be worldly. Like Christ, we can do a lot of good, but also like Christ, we will suffer and die. Therefore, one thing we must always keep our eyes on in order to keep our energy up is the hope of glory, and our union with Christ guarantees us that glory. One day we will have a body like his and live in his glorious kingdom. Christians have power and glory in a way that was not available before the Church started on the Day of Pentecost. Christians are not just “followers of Christ.” We are in union with Christ, we have an identity with him. We exchanged our sinfulness and weakness for his strength and power. Now, as individual members of his Body, as people with Christ in us, as his legates, let us renew our efforts to bring Christ into the world through us. The world desperately needs Christ, and he can come to it as we let his love and power move in us. It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. The risen Jesus has come to reinvade my humanity so that He can serve with my hands, walk with my feet, speak with my lips, see with my eyes hear with my ears, think with my mind and love with my heart. It is my privilege as a forgiven sinner to place my humanity at His disposal so that others looking at me will see Him behaving, just as those who looked at Jesus saw His Father behaving.

Ian Major Thomas: The Lord Jesus reveals to us that our Christian life, if it is genuine, cannot be explained apart from Him. Jesus has been waiting for you to be available so He can live His Life through you. Every step you take, every word you speak, everything you do, everything you are, may be an expression of the Son of God living in you. God credits only One person with the right to live in you, and He is Jesus Christ, so reckon yourself to be dead to all that you are apart from all that Christ is and alive only unto God in all that you are.

WE MUST COME ALIVE TO His presence within us. Literally Christ is in us and He fills every part of us. We are the dwelling place of God, His Holy of Holies and we must not ignore or extinguish the flame of God within us. The day by day experience of God’s presence within us is totally foreign to many Christians. How few people really enjoy the fullness of their salvation? We must awaken our hearts to the glory of His presence, His power, His love, His joy, His compassion, His confidence, His peace that lives within us. The world around us is in conflict with the Word within us. Only in Jesus Christ, can the tyranny of the world be broken. The trappings of the world are a cheap substitute for the real experience with God as He lives within us. The elements of the world dull our sense of God’s presence within us.

Look at some of these wonderful verses in the Church Epistles about our union with Christ.

Colossians 3:1-3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Ephesians 1:22’ And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. The absolute fullness of Christ fills every Christian believer. The word “fullness” in the Greek means to be filled completely to the brim; and to be permeated through and through in total absorption.

Ephesians 2:22: In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Dwelling place in Greek is katoiketerion from kata = intensifies meaning and also implies permanency + oikeo = dwell, reside in a house) is a place of dwelling or a place of settling down and conveys the idea of a permanent home. In Old Testament times, God dwelt with His people in the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Under the New Covenant, God dwells in His people.

Ephesians 3:17-20: That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Ephesians 4:15: Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Philippians 3:10a: For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection.

Colossians 2:10a: In Him you have been made complete. At every point Christ and the believer are identified. When our Lord was circumcised, we were circumcised with Him; when our Lord died, we died in Him; when He was buried, we were buried; when He rose, we were raised; and when He was quickened, we were quickened. To these great truths we may add that when He ascended, we ascended; and, as in one of the parallel passages in Ephesians 2 (Ephesians 2:4; 2:5; 2:6), now that He is at God’s right hand we are seated with Him in heavenly places where all things including all the principalities and powers of the devil’s kingdom our under our feet (Ephesians 1:22) How magnificent is our union with Christ.

Someone once asked the German Christian George Mueller, the secret of his victorious Christian life. He replied: There came a day when George Mueller died, utterly died! No longer did his own desires, preferences, and tastes come first. He knew that from then on Christ must be all in all.

Dr H Edwin Young asked one student if he knew the secret of Christian victory. He said, “You have to die to yourself every day. You have to put 220 volts to yourself every day—Galatians 2:20. ‘I am crucified with Christ.’“ The Exchanged Life: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…. It was Hudson Taylor who first called this the Exchanged Life. The idea is this: None of us can ever live the Christian life in our own strength and power. None of us can resist temptation by our own will-power and determination. None of us can live as we should just by our own efforts. Only Jesus Christ can successfully live the genuine victorious Christian life—it is, after all, His life—but when we come to Him in full surrender, He invades us by His Holy Spirit and He begins living His life through us.The great teaching of the Exchanged Life—of Galatians 2:20—is that we die to ourselves every day and Christ lives through us every day, and his very personality is being reproduced in our lives by the indwelling of his Spirit, which is called in Romans 8:9, “The Spirit of Christ.” But one night in November of that year, Ian Thomas, about midnight, got down on his knees in his room and wept in sheer despair. “Oh, God,” he said, “I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ. I am perfectly convinced that I am converted. With all my heart I have wanted to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure!” Suddenly a phrase from a Bible verse flashed into Thomas’ mind: Christ, who is your life! It hit him with terrific force and it seemed God was saying this to him: “For seven years with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you. Now supposing I am your life… I am your strength… I am your victory in every area of life.” And Ian Thomas relinquished his own role in his own life, saying to the Lord: “If this is true, then I am going to thank Thee for it in sheer cold-blooded faith, with no evidence to support it, and nothing but a history of failure behind me. I am going to thank Thee that if Thou art my life, and this is true, then Thou art my strength, Thou art my power, Thou art my future. Thou art the One Who is going to go out now, clothed with me, to do all that I so hopelessly have been trying to do in the past seven years.”

Martin Luther described this union writing…

thou art so entirely joined unto Christ, that He and thou art made as it were one person: so that thou mayest boldly say, I am now one with Christ, that is to say, Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine

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

Christians are to be in union with Christ. Brethren, can you begin to see why it is so important to study God’s word, to meditate on it, to spend time trying to understand it, to communicate with one another with this word and with the Father? What are you doing as you take His word into you? That’s part of His mind. It’s the way He thinks. It is part of His character. It is part of His personality. We cannot be in union with somebody that we don’t know. We cannot be in union with somebody that we have no relationship with. We cannot be in union with somebody that we never think about. The more we think about Him, the more we carry His word in our mind. The more experiences that we have with Him, the deeper, stronger, sharper, clearer, and more real becomes the union. It all swirls around, or pivots around what?—the word of God. And Jesus said what?—”The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).They are an invisible force and power, because if you believe those words they begin to work in your life because you use them. Your life puts them to work, and they begin to produce what God intends that they produce. As we begin to use them, we become more one with Him, because we are becoming like Him, because our lives are being operated by His mind expressed in His word. And the more we use them, the more we become like Him.
When Christ says: You are in me is to be in Christ. It is to believe, to receive Jesus Christ. It is to be joined in a union with Him that results in new birth. It is to act upon His invitation to come into your life. When you do, you are in Christ. You are in me—that is the first union. But what frees us from sin’s reign is the second relationship: I am in you, in which we experience by an attitude of faith Christ in us, as He makes His home in our hearts. We allow Him to live through us. We expect Him to do so in every moment of our experience. It is this that is called abiding, and it is this that results in freeing us from the bondage and power of sin so that we can live godly lives. Thank You, Lord, that this is the continuing experience of those who come into relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers Himself to me for this very purpose. Make me a living example of this revolutionary exchange: you in me and I in you. How many Christians really harbor within their own heart the daily expectation of God’s presence? How many really expect a personal encounter with God? You must become cognizant daily of your union with Christ, that God is Christ abides within you; it is your spiritual DNA and cultivate a daily expectation of God’s presence. Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God and fellowship with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. My encounter with God today may be of such a nature as to alter the entire course of my life.

I Corinthians 1:4-9:Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.7-9 Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly thine. I lay all my plans at thy feet. Use me to-day in thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to him, to be carried out or given up as his providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ. A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. There should be an abiding, peaceful trust. Your hope is not in yourself; it is in Christ. Your weakness is united to his strength, your ignorance to his wisdom, your frailty to his enduring might. So you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell on self, but look to Christ. When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour, and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ. The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections,–to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices. Commit the keeping of your soul to God, and trust in him. Talk and think of Jesus. Let self be lost in him. Put away all doubt; dismiss your fears. Say with the apostle Paul, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.

Tim Rowe
Goodness of God Ministries

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