The Heart of the Father

bigstock-Happy-family-EditHere are my teaching notes for Wheeler Homeless Mission tonight on this Father’s Day:

The one great yearning of the heart of God is to be a Father and this was His great and earnest desire since the beginning of time. God as a Father is one of the most amazing truths in the entire Bible as the whole purpose of God restoring the earth after the fall of Lucifer from heaven was to have children that He could cherish and be their Father. E.W. Kenyon, inThe Father and His Family, says:                           

What is the reason for the earth? …The heart of the great Creator God had a yearning, deep, mighty, eternal. It was the primordial passion for children. The Father heart of the Creator God longed for sons and daughters. The yearning passion took form and God planned a universe for His Man, and in the heart of that universe He purposed a Home…When love laid the foundations of this mighty universe, He planned, He purposed it all to be the Home of His Man. It was to be Man’s birthplace, Man’s Garden of Delight, Man’s university where he would learn to know his Father God…God’s heart yearned for children, craved for sons and daughters. He had angels to minister to Him as servants, but He wanted children…What a place that Man must hold in His heart, in his dream, in His Eternity!

Adam and Eve were formed, made, and created to live in the fullness of the presence of God and to worship Him. This is what God always wanted. This was God’s dream. God wanted to be with His children; He wanted to delight in them and treasure them; He wanted to be close to them; He wanted His children to delight in Him and come running with joy into His presence. He put Adam and Eve at the pinnacle of His creation and set them apart from all the birds, fish, cattle, and animals on the earth, for they were created in the image of God. Adam and Eve were designed to have a personal, vital, and living relationship with God as their Father.

Jesus Christ is the mediator that paid the price of Adam’s sin and reconciled back to the heart of the Father. John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. No one can have God has His father except thru Jesus Christ. He is the way back to the Father. Jesus also revealed or made known God as a Heavenly Father whom we can address in the most intimate terms as ABBA. He showed us the Fathers heart. He was the perfect illustration of the Father.

John 1:18: 18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (made him known).

The Jewish religious leaders sought to kill Jesus because he called God his father (John 5:18) The Jews insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God’.” (John 19:6-7). This was his crime against society was claiming God was His Father. The Devil intensely hated this about the ministry of Jesus and the message of the gospel. The Devil wants to step in that role as a spiritual father (John 8:44).

It is certainly true that God made the heavens and the earth. He is the Creator and Sustainer, and is worthy of our adoration and worship. Yet the Word reveals that the moment I accepted Jesus as my Lord, I became a member of the family of God. Thus the emphasis should be upon the fact that God is my Father. Our highest privilege and deepest need is to experience the holy God as our loving Father, to approach Him without fear and to be assured of His fatherly care and concern….But cannot this be said of every person, Christian or not? Emphatically no! The idea that all are children of God is not found in the Bible anywhere. The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again in Christ (John 1:12-13).    God is the Father of all who believe in Christ in a special sense not shared by unbelievers. God is called their Father because they have a new standing before Him. When we believe in Christ as Savior, our estate is wonderfully changed from grim condemnation to privileged sonship. This new standing grants to all believers the legal right and spiritual privileges of divine sonship: “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17). God is the Father of believers also in the sense that He gives them new life through the new birth. 

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.

I John 3:1,2: See(Behold) what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

(Behold – KJV) (idete – verb = horao) means to discern clearly (physical or mental), and does not call for the reader to merely “see”, but also to have an actual perception of the object. God is saying with the word “Behold”: Stop everything else! Look at this! Think about it! Ponder its significance!

John calls upon his readers to contemplate the amazing reality of present membership in God’s family.

Think about it, mediate upon it, and let it consume your vision. See how great a love – Not just “love” but “great love”!. Beloved, have you ever asked Him to illumine this great truth in your mind and heart? What will happen to our thoughts, words and deeds when He answers affirmatively? Will not we “fall on our face” at having been shown to be unworthy benefactors of His ineffable, infinite, invaluable, never failing love? Will not this sense of His love poured out in our heart by His Spirit motivate us to live for Him rather than for ourselves?

Children of God is not simply a high-sounding name that we bear; it is a reality! We are God’s children! We do not expect the world to understand this thrilling relationship, because it does not even understand God. Only a person who knows God through Christ can fully appreciate what it means to be called a child of God.

Children: (teknon from tikto = to bring forth or bear children ) literally refers to those who are “born ones” and in the plural (tekna) refers to descendants, posterity or children, those viewed in relation to their parents or family. Here teknon is used to refer to those who have by grace through faith been born again from above (by the Spirit – John 3:5678Ephesians 2:89). It is a literal birth with God’s incorruptible seed, sealed with the holy spirit. (I Peter 1:23;Ephesians 1:14).

God’s emphasis in text: “And we are!” so we know this truth assuredly.

2 Corinthians 6:16ff: What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,” I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then 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.” The fatherhood of God separates us from this sinful world.

Father is God’s family name which can be uttered with its full significance only by His children, those in the family having been born again by His Spirit. As John makes clear even though all men are made in the image of God, not all men are His children…He (Jesus) came to His own (Jews), and those who were His own did not receive (take into their possession, join themselves to) Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:111213)

Because God is our heavenly Father, we do not come to Him in fear and trembling, afraid that He will rebuff us or be indifferent. We do not come to God to appease Him as the pagans do to their deities. We come to a tender, loving, concerned, compassionate, accepting Father. A loving human father always accepts the advances of his children, even when they have been disobedient or ungrateful. How much more does our heavenly Father accept His children, regardless of what they have done or not done? Paul approaches the Father with boldness and confidence, knowing that He is more willing for His children to come to Him than they ever are of going to Him. He knows that God has been waiting all the while with a Father’s heart of love and anticipation.

Matthew 7:9-11:  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

“How much more!” is the standard of our Heavenly Father.

Galatians 4:1-4:  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Verse 8ff: During the time before you knew God, you were slaves to powers that are not gods at all. But now, when you are just beginning to know the one True God—actually, He is showing how completely He knows you—how can you turn back to weak and worthless idols made by men, icons of these spiritual powers? Haven’t you endured enough bondage to these breathless idols?

Jesus Himself used Abba (Aramaic for “Father”) in addressing God, a use without parallel in the whole of Jewish literature. Abba was the word used by a young infant addressing his or her father. It was an everyday family word, which no one had ventured to use in addressing God. It would be like saying “daddy.” Jesus uses it quite naturally to address His heavenly Father in as childlike, trustful, and intimate a way as a little child to its father. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

 

Abba is one of the great names of God. No other Name so completely reflects the reversal of the curse and the separation that resulted from Adam’s sin bringing separation to all Adam’s sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2Eph 5:6). We can now openly address God as Abba, because of the finished work of His Son. Hallelujah! Abba is transliterated into English from the corresponding Aramaic word. Abba conveys a warm, intimate sense just as with our expression “Dear father.” Abba emphasizes the warm, intimate and very personal relationship which exists between the believer and God. In Abba filial tenderness, trust and love find their combined expression.

William Barclay

There is a world of loveliness in this word Abba, which to our western ears is altogether hidden, unless we know the facts about it. Joachim Jeremias, in his book The Parables of Jesus, writes thus: “Jesus’ use of the word Abba in addressing God is unparalleled in the whole of Jewish literature. It was an everyday family word, which no one had ventured to use in addressing God. Jesus did. He spoke to His heavenly Father in as childlike, trustful, and intimate a way as a little child to its father.” Even when he did not fully understand, even when his one conviction was that God was urging him to a cross, he called Abba, as might a little child. Here indeed is trust, a trust which we must also have in that God whom Jesus taught us to know as Father.

Abba expresses the intimacy of the family relationship as one would expect from an unhesitating trust and dependence from a child who is wholly secure in the loving arms of their father. “Abba.” It is the word of the babe, when first in that dialect he knows the filial language, and reads the father’s soul in his eyes; the simplest articulation of language; the most trustful outburst of affection—”Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:12-20a: So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. 13 For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. 14 If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. 15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy16 Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.18 Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. 19 For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. 20 You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness,

Spurgeon adds that “this sweet word Abba was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, and not stilted and formal. We are to be very affectionate and come close to Him, and not merely say “Pater,” which is a cold Greek word (for father), but say “Abba,” which is a warm, natural, loving word, fit for one who is a little child with God, and feels the freedom to lie in His bosom and look up into His face and speak with holy boldness. Abba is but a babe’s lisping. Oh, how near we are to God when we can use such speech! How dear He is to us and dear we are to Him when we may address Him in this manner. (Abba) implies a fervent cry, not a flippant utterance nor mere words on our lips, but a cry that comes up from the depths of our soul. We cry after Him (Ps 57:2), our heart and our flesh cry out for God (Ps 34:17 Ps 119:145), for the living God (Ps 42:2Ps 84:2), and this is the cry “Abba, Father, I must know Thee, I must taste Thy love, I must dwell under Thy wing (Ruth 2:12), I must behold Thy face (Ps 11:7Ps 17:15), I must feel Thy great fatherly heart overflowing and filling my heart with peace (Rom 15:13). If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can cry! There is heaven in the depth of Abba! Father! There is all that I need! All that I can ask! All that my necessities can demand! All that my wishes can desire! I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, “Abba! Father!”

Psalm 89:1,8,13-16,26: I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’

The Father is the Rock of our salvation, faithful with steadfast love, strong and mighty in His protection, filling us with joy as we make know His name.

The relationship Jesus Christ had with the Father is a model of the relationship we should have with the Father. He was ever conscious of his Father’s love and presence.–He lived in the present tense of his Father’s love, which was so real as to rob his life of all sense of loneliness (John 5:208:29). He knew that his Father heard Him always, as his spirit rose in perpetual fellowship and communion, unhindered by the densest clouds of human unbelief (John 11:42). Yes, there was something deeper still in his habitual realization that the Father dwelt in Him; so that his words, and works, and influence, and plan of life were the perpetual working out of what his Father was working in (John 5:17;14:10). And why should not we live in a fellowship equally hallowed and close? It was his one desire that his relationship with his Father should be the model of our relationship with Himself (John 17:212223). He was perpetually engaged in reading the open book of his Father’s will.–He had no will of his own to seek, no object of his own to serve (John 5:30). He had come, in his Father’s name, to do his Father’s will, and to glorify his Father’s name (John 5:3043;17:4). It was the passion of his being to do God’s work on God’s plan. And his eye was thus ever kept on the movement of the cloud of his Father’s unfolding purpose. The Father showed the Son what He was doing. And the Son, having seen it, translated it into the language of daily human life (John 5:20). But what a model for ourselves! He waited for the Father to show Him what next He would have Him do. The pattern of his life was gradually outspread before Him, as that of the tabernacle was unfolded before the great lawgiver, shut up with God. He seemed ever a learner in his Father’s workshop, making all things on the pattern shown Him from hour to hour. This made Him so still, so calm, unmoved by difficulty, unperturbed amid a hail of murderous stones (John 8:59;9:4). And it would bring rest, and unity, and power, into our own lives, if it were the one purpose of our being to discover and do only the good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Better do less that we may do more. Better stand still than run without being sent. Better withdraw oftener from the valley to the brow of the Transfiguration mount, than, by fussy activity, miss the radiant vision, and the bitter need which waits for us at the mountain foot.

Jesus said in John 6:57: “I live by the Father” This should be our cry of Christian living.

John 10:27-29:  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (What comfort to know that no fear, worry, person, circumstance or power can snatch us from our Father).

John 14:23: 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

We are the home, the dwelling place of our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus.

John 16:31,32:  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.

The Father will never abandon us or leave us alone.

John 17:23, 25, 26: I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ” O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

The Father loves us just as much as He loves Jesus. The Father’s love is to dwell in us. Jesus wants us to know intimately the name of God as Father.

Luke 2:49: And He said to them, How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me [n]to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business?

Matthew 6:24ff: There is no anxiety when we know and have faith is God as our Father. If he takes care of the birds and the flowers, He will take care of us.

Matthew 10:29-30: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”                  The Father knows every intimate detail of our lives and we are of great value to Him.

Heart of the Father with the prodigal son: Luke 15:1ff. The Father was looking for him to return and ran to meet son regardless of his past sins and rebellion. The Father celebrated with great fanfare for the return of his lost son. God even sings and dances over us:

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is in your midst,  a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. “Rejoice over you” – literally means “dance, skip, leap, and spin around in joy.” God dances with shouts of joy over us!

This is the Father’s love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

The Heart of the Heavenly Father is seen in His name Yahweh. Everything that God is, is for the benefit of His children. Yahweh is the name that represents a personal invitation to partake fully in everything He is, to enjoy and experience the fullness of God in all His glorious and manifold characteristics. There is no limit and there is no boundary to what God can do in our lives. The ancient cultures had thousands of gods for every occasion, problem, and area of life. But the name Yahweh declares that God is the only one you ever need in every circumstance, every age, every season and every area of life. He is the all-sufficient One, our all in all and everything that is necessary for life and godliness is satisfied in Him. If God be for us who can be against us? Jeremiah 32:17 boldly proclaims that nothing is too hard for Yahweh. There is no mountain in life that Yahweh cannot move; there is no obstacle in life that Yahweh cannot overcome; and there is no need in life that Yahweh cannot abundantly provide. Yahweh is the solution, the answer, and the key to everything in life.

Yahweh means “He who will be; the ‘Coming One’ or ‘Becoming One.’ Yahweh is the “Coming One”, always ready to come to the rescue and deliver His children from any enemy, any problem, any oppression and any circumstance. He is ever ready to intercede with all His might and power when we call upon His name. He will come like lightening to fight all the battles of His beloved sons and daughters if we will only turn and cry out to Him. Yahweh is also the “Becoming One” God becomes whatever is lacking in our time of need. Do not get frustrated if you did not see the promise come to pass immediately for God is faithful to what He promises and it would come to pass in His time not theirs. God’s promise always come to pass without exception. We live in the instant generation wanting everything right now and that is why most Christians have a hard time waiting on God. We give up on our faith, we easily lose confidence in God and we began to doubt His promises because we become impatient with His timetable. We must learn to see with the eyes of faith for we know the flawless character of our God. His faithfulness is beyond human comprehension. His trustworthiness is beyond approach. His timing is always perfect. He is Yahweh, the Coming One, and when the time for the fulfillment of the promise arrives, He comes without delay.

Our pledge to the Father. We can minister to the heart of the Father.

Psalm 101:2-4: I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;I will not set before my eyes  anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.

He is ravenous to consume you with His lovingkindness and tender mercies. You are His obsession. God wants you. He wants more of you. He wants all of you. He wants you now. God wants to teach you to hear His voice continually, use His strength constantly and experience His love fully. God wants you to know Him better and better as your Father.

The Promise of the Father: The gift of holy spirit:

Acts 1:4-8: And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 2:38-41:And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Magnificent Blessings of the Father through Jesus Christ

Ephesians 1:2-6: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 2:12,13-16,18-22: Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.   18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Galatians 1:3-5: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Father is the God of all mercies and comfort who will never leave us in our time of need. He is the God of hope and grace.

2 Corinthians 1:3,4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Thessalonians 2:14-17:  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

James 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (Don’t allow the world to stain your relationship with the Father).

I John 1:3: That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

The love of the world versus the love of the father.

I John 2:15-18a: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.18 Children, it is the last hour…

The Father’s comforting and uplifting promise to His children in Hebrews:

Hebrews 13:5-7 (Amplified): Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor [c]give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down ([f]relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

God has tattooed us on the palms of His hands and promises He will never forget us and will always have compassion on us.

Isaiah 49:15, 16: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.16 Behold, I have engraved (tattooed) you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

Isaiah 41:10,13: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

How deeply the Father knows and understand us:

Psalm 139 O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.     Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,     and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.     It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,     and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;

I Peter 5:7: Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

Never forget the awesome truth of God as our Heavenly Father. He is the perfect Father loving and caring for us in a way that is beyond human comprehension. Let us live in His bosom, crying Abba Father daily, understanding that the Father knows best. Let us have a deep rich fellowship with Him and tell others of the amazing invitation to them to be part of the family of God. This Father’s day let us also thank and praise our Heavenly father for being the perfect Daddy.

 

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Running Through the Paper Wall

AUGUST 28, 2014 -  Anderson McCallum during the first half of action in the Taco Shack Bowl held at House Park in Austin, Texas on Thursday, August 28, 2014.   Anderson head coach Jeff Rhoads and McCallum head coach Charles Taylor (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:1–3, NKJV).

This passage of Scripture speaks of a great race that each of us is called to run. When you came to Christ and He became your Lord and Savior, God’s Holy Spirit came to dwell inside your physical body. In other words, you became the temple of the living God. You were born again by the Spirit of God, and the old things in your life that once governed and hindered you began to pass away. Now you have become a new creation—with new strength, new thoughts, a new heart, and a new mind. A life of supernatural possibility has been opened to you, for God has purposed to glorify His name on the earth through you. That is why you and I are still here; that is the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. We are to be an irrefutable, living testimony to the reality of God’s incredible love that sent His Son to a cross for all humanity.

Therefore, in a day when morality is failing, civility is quickly becoming a thing relegated to the past, family breakups are common, and teenagers are living in debauchery, it is imperative that you and I run with endurance this race that is set before us. Yes, we are running it together, but each of us still has our own individual part to play. The race we are called to run will often involve a pathway that looks impossible. Indeed, it is impossible in the natural. But remember, God is not calling us to do anything in our own strength. Jesus made a way for us to run this race by triumphing over evil; He made impossibility possible through the victory He won at Calvary. And now the Lord is simply calling us to be the vessels through whom He will carry His own name to glory. All He requires of us is a willingness to believe Him.

Of course, knowing these things does not necessarily make it easy to run this race. I often have days that are tough, and it is evident in the Scriptures that those who have gone before us have had to experience very difficult days as well.

For example, consider David—a man who was appointed by God to be a king. David was only a boy when the prophet Samuel took a horn of oil and anointed him in front of all his brothers (see 1 Samuel 16:13). David knew that he was being set apart for the purposes of God, appointed to lead the people of Israel. His heart was filled with incredible promise and vision for the future. Yet right away he was sent back out to continue looking after his father’s sheep. One day, a lion came into the little flock of sheep that he was protecting and grabbed a lamb in its mouth. Suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon David, and he was given the power to grab the lion by its mane and kill it. How stunning that hidden victory must have been! On another occasion, a bear came up against him, and he was empowered to defeat it as well. David was later sent by his father to check on his brothers during a season when Israel was at war with the Philistines and they were being taunted daily by a giant called Goliath. While the rest of the Israelite army stood paralyzed by fear, the Holy Spirit came upon David once again. He courageously ran into the valley and won a marvelous victory over Goliath! By that point, it must have seemed as if things were only going to get better until the promise and purpose of God for his life were fulfilled.

However, things soon took a turn, and David found himself being pursued like “a partridge in the mountains” (see 1 Samuel 26:20). That is when he penned Psalm 18. “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me” (Psalm 18:4–5). David was essentially saying, “In every direction I looked, all I saw was my inability to finish what I felt I was called to do. I could not see a way forward. I had no idea how God’s call on my life was ever going to be accomplished.”

How many of you know that feeling? Perhaps you started out running the race with zeal, experiencing victory after victory. You knew that God was with you, for there was no way you could have won those battles without His strength. Bondages in your life were broken and you entered into new realms of freedom. God gave you the power to be honest when nobody else was telling the truth; He enabled you to respond graciously when people were unkind to you. Soon you began to conclude, “Wow, God really does have a supernatural call on my life!”

However, suddenly one day you found yourself being pursued by the enemy. David started off by running a race that he was convinced would bring glory to God. When he ran into the valley to face Goliath with only a sling and five stones, it was as if he was saying in his heart, “The name of God must be honored!” And so it is hard to fathom that David eventually began running in the opposite direction. He started in the supernatural, but he came to a point when he turned to his natural reasoning. “David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines’” (1 Samuel 27:1). This, of course, was only false reasoning. The promise of God that he was going to be the next ruler of Israel still stood.

Sadly, many people in our generation are doing a similar thing. They start out running for God with an inner desire to bring glory to His name— only to eventually find themselves facing opposition that they cannot understand. You see, the grievous error that many Christians tend to make is somehow assuming that they are going to go through this life unopposed. As a result, they end up crafting an alternate plan and running an alternate race, venturing into a place other than where God called them to go.

You and I cannot afford to do this in this hour. It is imperative that we recognize the significance of the moment in which we live. Take a moment to consider the fact that after more than two thousand years of Christian history, it has come down to you and me! We have had all the teaching, all the stories, all the biographies; everything we have been through has been meant to prepare us for this very moment in history. You and I are now called to run behind all those who have gone before us to fulfill this great calling of God on each of our lives.

I feel almost as if we are a football team, and I am your coach for this moment, giving you a pep talk in the locker room: “We are going to go out onto the field, and we are going to be opposed. Yet, remember that we are a superior team with a superior strategy. We have been well trained, and the weapons of our warfare are not like theirs; our weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. We have been given power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt us. We are going out on the field, and we are going to be victorious! There will surely be a shout of glory at the end of this match!”

Can you picture the typical scene right before the beginning of a football game? The team comes out of the locker room, full of excitement. They walk down a long corridor with cement walls on either side, and at the end of the corridor is a paper wall. Now at the beginning of NFL and college games, the team has to break through the paper wall. They cannot even see the field until they do so. How incredible it would be if an NFL team were to burst out of the locker room, run with confidence down the corridor, and then stop at the paper wall! Imagine if they were to just stand there staring at it, not believing that it could be breached. Instead, they somehow have it in their minds, “We can’t get through this.” Oh, how foolish that would look! We would be crying from the stands, “Go forward! Go forward! It is only paper!”

In a similar way, our opening Scripture in Hebrews tells us of a great crowd of witnesses who surround us. I can just hear these saints calling out to us—not only the ones from before Christ, but those who have come after. They have all gone through the flood and through the fire; they have known the triumph of God. Now they see the full picture of who God is and what He is able to do. I don’t know if they can actually see planet Earth, but if they could, they would be up in the stands, shouting, “Run! Don’t give up. You have a great call of God on your life! Don’t give in to the lies of the enemy or the threats of darkness.

Don’t be silent in a time when God has given you the power of speaking His words. Don’t cower under the darkness of this world which is soon to pass away.” These witnesses know that before we even begin, the victory is ours. Whatever the devil sets before us is only paper, and it cannot stop us! The only thing that can stop us is unbelief. Think about the children of Israel who came out of bondage in Egypt. They personally witnessed the miracles that God did to release them from the hand of Pharaoh. They experienced the parting of the Red Sea and they were sovereignly led by God’s cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. Yet they suddenly stopped at the very border of the Promised Land—hindered by what was only a paper wall! Filled with fear and unbelief, they concluded, “We are not able to go in! There are giants in the land who are so much stronger than us; we are grasshoppers in our own sight and in theirs, as well!” (see Numbers 13:33). If you and I could shout to them down through history, we would say, “Go, it’s yours for the taking! The defenses have departed from the enemy. Yes, they may oppose you, but they will not overcome you!” Yet the children of Israel ultimately succumbed to the lie of the enemy and refused to go in. They forfeited the race and instead lived in the wilderness for the rest of their lives.

When you do not go into the plan of God for your life, you will live in the wilderness all of your days. Heaven may be your home at the end of your journey, but you will not know the miraculous power of God. You will never know the satisfaction of walking with Him through places that only He could carry you. You will go from church to church; you will blame the preachers and the people. But the reality is that you simply would not go through your own paper wall. You refused to walk in the place of the miraculous that God had set before you.

And so the question that God put on my heart for you today is: What has the devil written on your paper wall? “You are not strong enough. You are not smart enough. You are a loser. You have always been a loser, and you will never be anything other than what your father or your mother was.” On some people’s walls, the enemy just draws bricks and makes it look impenetrable. Nevertheless, it is still only paper. You and I must lay hold of the fact that there is nothing the devil can put before us that can stop us from being what God has called us to be. The only thing he can do is write these things on our wall and try to get us to agree with him.

All the while, there is a shout coming from the upper tiers of heaven’s stadium—from those who have faced the same taunts of the enemy throughout history but have found them to be false and powerless. They are telling you and me, “Go through that paper wall. Go through whatever you have to go through. Don’t stop at this place of unbelief. No matter what the devil writes on your wall, he is a liar!” I say that we have been in the locker room long enough.

It is time for all of us to put on the armor of God, head down that corridor, and breach that paper wall. The devil may write whatever he wants, but he is not keeping us out of this end-time game. Not only are we going in, but we are going to fight, and we are going in to win! We are going in, believing every word God has spoken to us and empowered to do everything He has trained us to do.

Whatever the devil is insisting is stronger than the power of the Holy Spirit within you; whatever he has written on your paper wall that has kept you from wholeheartedly entering this battle for the souls of men—I encourage you to run right through it today! Don’t let these things hinder you any longer. Don’t let all your training end up being in vain. Make the choice to believe God. Even if your own heart condemns you, remember the Bible tells us that God is greater than our hearts.

He is going to give us the strength we need to be a part of this end-time battle for the souls of men. You and I are going in, knowing even before we start the battle that our victory is certain. We are more than conquerors through Christ, and we will see Him glorified once again in our generation!

Carter Conlon ©2015 Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons/25809_sermon-newsletter-201506-running-through-the-paper-wall.pdf

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Is the Word of God Growing in Your Heart?

six seedlings growing from soil

As you will see in the Scripture God the Father places an extremely high value on the pursuit of knowledge – especially spiritual knowledge. He says that gaining knowledge is greater than all the silver, gold and material things of this world. The Bible tells us we have to grow in the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-15 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,

2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

I Timothy 2:4 (NIV): who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. In many churches we teach Christ crucified and that He died for our sins which is a wonderful truth but we fail to go deeper in the things of God and come into a full knowledge of the truth.

Hosea 4:6a (ESV): My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; Jesus Christ destroyed the works of the Devil with a “It is written” mentality. He always used the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, in spiritual warfare.

Proverbs 4:4-6 (NIV): 4 Then he taught me, and he said to me,
Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live
.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.

Psalm 1:1-4 (NIV):1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.  4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Delight (hapes, chapes) pictures that which is bent toward and thus is a beautiful figure of the godly man or woman who is ever leaning toward the law of Jehovah, not referring to the “ten commandments” but to the law as representative of God’s Word.

Pritchard writes…

The word “delight” means to take great pleasure in. It has the idea of a consuming passion that controls your life. Everyone “delights” in something. Some people delight in food. Others delight in a job or a hobby or a career. Some delight in a particular friendship. Many people delight in money or the things money can buy. And many delight in evil pleasures and wrong desires. Mark this well. Your “delight” determines your direction. What do you delight in? What gets your motor running? What gets you excited in the morning and keeps you awake at night? What do you daydream about?

Tell me the answers to those questions and I’ll tell you something crucial about who you are. To delight is to be so excited about something that you just can’t wait. Watch a young couple in love and you’ll know what “delight” means. Or take a young man who has fallen in love for the first time. Ask his friends and they’ll say, “He’s not the same guy he used to be.” They mean he has radically changed. He doesn’t want to hang around with them anymore. All he does is talk about “that girl.” Just look at him. He’s got this goofy grin on his face. He’s in love. Now apply that principle to the Word of God. We are to delight in God’s Word as a lover delights in a letter from his beloved.

In the great Psalm 119 (virtually every verse of which deals with some aspect of God’s Word) the psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of what it means to delight writing…

Psalm 119:131 I opened my mouth wide and panted, (Why did he “pant”?) for I longed for Thy commandments.

The Bible is God’s love letter to you. You’re reading the counsel of a loving, all-wise Heavenly Father as to how you should live. His commandments are for your blessing and good.

Do you delight in God’s Word? William Heslop writes that…

He is blessed because his delight is in the law of the Lord.

– He not only reads the Bible, he delights in it.
– He not only studies the holy word, he enjoys it.
– He not only reviews truth, he relishes and revels in it.

When you truly delight in the Word, you will have a desire to spend time in it and to meditate on it.

In the following verses from Psalm 119, observe the association between delight and meditation.

15 I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways.
16 I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.

23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Thy servant meditates on Thy statutes.
24 Thy testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.

47 And I shall delight in Thy commandments, Which I love.
48 And I shall lift up my hands to Thy commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Thy statutes.

77 May Thy compassion come to me that I may live, For Thy law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; but I shall meditate on Thy precepts.

J. I. Packer says that meditation is the practice of turning each truth we learn about God into matter for reflection before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God…It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. (Packer, J I: Knowing God)

A W Tozer had this to say about the value of meditating on God’s Word…

Read it much, read it often, brood over it, think over it, meditate over it—meditate on the Word of God day and night. When you are awake at night, think of a helpful verse. When you get up in the morning, no matter how you feel, think of a verse and make the Word of God the important element in your day. The Holy Ghost wrote the Word, and if you make much of the Word, He will make much of you. It is through the Word that He reveals Himself. Between those covers is a living Book. God wrote it and it is still vital and effective and alive. God is in this Book…and if you want to find Him, go into this Book.

John Piper writes that…

Meditation in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called musing or meditation. Here is where I plead with you to get involved in the Fighter Verse memory program or some other pattern of Bible memorization. Unless you memorize Scripture you will not meditate on it day and night. But O the benefits and delights of knowing communion with God hour by hour in his Word. If you have ever wondered, What is hour-by-hour walking in fellowship with the living God? the answer is: it is his speaking to you by his Word through your memory and meditation and illumination and application and your speaking to him words of thanks and praise and admiration and desire and seeking for help and guidance and understanding. The Word is the basis for your hearing him and for his hearing you. The depth and solidity and certainty of your walk with God and your communion with God will rise and fall with whether God’s own written Word is the warp and woof of the fabric of your fellowship…So I urge you to memorize Scripture, and meditate on it day and night. It will change your life in many good ways. (Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)

Faith feeds on the Word of God. Romans 10:17: (Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God). Without a steady diet of the Word, faith gets weaker and weaker. If you are dissatisfied with your Christian courage, faith and joy and purity of heart, check the way you are feeding your faith.

Compare the way you eat. Suppose that you start the day with a glass of orange juice. It’s good, and good for you. It takes you maybe five minutes to drink it if you read the newspaper at the same time. Then you go off to work or school. You don’t eat anything else until the next morning. And you have another glass of juice. And so you go on drinking one glass of juice a day until you drop.

That’s the way a lot of Christians try to survive as believers. They feed their faith with five minutes of food in the morning, or evening, and then don’t eat again until twenty-four hours later. Some even skip one or two mornings and don’t give their faith anything to eat for days.

Now the effect of starving your faith is that faith starves. Not hard to understand. And when faith is starving, it is getting weaker and not able to do much. It has a hard time trusting God and worshiping and rejoicing and resisting sin. It gasps and stumbles.

The Word of God must grow in the heart and develop into a fruitful harvest. To have fruit means the Word of God has accomplished the promise in your life. It comes to completion and full maturity. It brings about the promised result. Is the Word of God growing in your heart?

The pattern of growth is first you do not sit, walk or stand in the ways of the world where your thought life and heart is conformed and entangled with the atmosphere and culture of this age. Instead you delight in the Word, you seek the Word with great enthusiasm, you read and study the Word and then you reflect and mediate on it with your heavenly Father. You absorb the Word into your thinking, your words, your actions and your heart. This allows a fertile ground for growth of the Word into a mighty harvest.

I Peter 2:2 (NKJV)

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.

Peter exhorts his readers to intensely crave for pure milk! “Desire” is the Greek word epipotheo and paints the picture of being an absolute hungering and thirsting after the Word. If a believer is to grow, it is absolutely essential that he hunger and thirst after the milk of the Word. Spiritual growth is always marked by a craving for and a delight in God’s Word with the intensity with which a baby craves milk. Epipotheo describes an intense yearning for something. It is to long for or intensely crave something with the implication that the one longing recognizes the lack or the need. Epipotheo is in the aorist imperative which calls for a decisive action (attitude change in this case) on the reader’s part. The idea is — Do it! Do it now! Don’t delay! It is a command and not an option. In other words, longing in one’s heart for Truth is not an option if we desire to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Since we have been born again by the Word of God, Peter is saying “Now make up your mind once and for all to intensely crave the word of God!”

Grow-(auxano) means to cause to grow or cause to become greater in extent, size, state, or quality.

Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV): Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts.

Matthew 4:4: But He answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’[

Excerpt from my new book I am currently writing on the heart: The words of the Lord must be placed deep in the womb of the heart where they become a part of the very fiber of our heart. In the deep chambers of our heart, the words of the Lord are to be the center of our thoughts, meditations, motives, desires, and deeds. We must not let the words of the Lord fade or leave our hearts where we forget the live-giving words from the mouth of God and harden our hearts to His voice. God’s Word must become the living and breathing essence and functioning fuel of the heart that defines its purposes, movement, its direction, and growth. The words of the Lord are to be the foundation, the building blocks and the very structure and composition of the heart. The words of the Lord are just as important to the spiritual condition and health of our heart as physical food is important to the health and condition of our physical heart. Remember the words of Jesus that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The heart cannot be spiritually alive and in tune with God without the words of God being the source of food and nutrition for the heart. An inadequate spiritual diet leads to spiritual heart disease and seriously weakens the strength, vitality and protection of our heart. We must eat and feed upon the words of God contained in the Bible just as frequently as we eat physical food. Our heart must feed on the Scriptures if we are to protect it from the onslaught of the wicked one… These words of God are to be engrafted and impressed into the heart through diligent repetition, prayerful reflection and focused meditation. The Word of God is rooted in our hearts when we read it, study it, meditate upon it, confess it, believe it and think about it on a daily basis. Deuteronomy expounds on this truth.

Deuteronomy 6:6,7 (Amplified):

And these words which I am commanding

you this day shall be first in your own minds

and hearts; then

You shall whet and sharpen them so as to

make them penetrate, and teach and impress

them diligently upon the minds and hearts of

your children, and shall talk of them when

you sit in your house and when you walk by

the way, and when you lie down and when

you rise up.

The Hebrew word for whet, sharpen, penetrate, teach and impress is “shanan” and means “to inoculate, to impress upon the heart by frequent repetition and frequent urging, to pierce through, to teach incisively and to impress into like words cut into a stone tablet.” The words of God must be impressed and carved into the heart where they become the legacy, the foundation and the voice of the heart. We must write the Word of God on the tablet of our hearts.

James 1:21 Amplified: So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.

To save  (sozo) has the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril. Additional nuances include to protect, keep alive, preserve life, deliver, heal, be made whole. In short, to save, means to make a person whole and complete in every respect. And this is what the Word of Truth is able to do, delivering believers from the destructive consequences of sin. Why do we so often forsake the well of the Word and its living water and make for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water? (Jeremiah 2:13)

Colossians 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects  bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  (NASB)

As A W Tozer put it…

Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me.

The parable of the Sower and the Seed is critical in understanding the growth of the Word of God in our hearts to where it produces fruit. It is amazing to think that in every heart the Word of God is sown according to this parable that three out of four times it never produces any fruit. If any of the first three conditions  exist in our hearts, then Word of God will produce no fruit in our lives.

Condition Number One of No Fruit:

Matthew 13:4,19: Hears the word of the kingdom; not understand it; the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. Mark 4:4,15: word is sown; when they heard word, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. Luke 8:5,12: the word trodden down and fowls of the air devoured it; they hear the word and the devil comes and takes the word out of their hearts so they may not believe and be saved.

Condition Number Two of No Fruit:

Matthew 13:5,20,21: Seed (word) fell on stony places where not much earth, they sprang up but not have deepness of earth and when sun was up, they were scorched and because had no root, they withered away; receives word immediately with joy but when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word they are offended. Mark 4:5,16.17: they hear the word and immediately receive it with gladness and have no root in themselves and after when affliction or persecution arises for the word’s sake immediately they are offended. Luke 8:6,13: Fell on rock; as soon as sprung up it withered away because it lacked moisture; receive the word with joy; have no root; believe for awhile and in time of temptation fall away.

Tribulation (thlipsis from thlibo = to crush, press together, squash, hem in, compress, squeeze in turn derived from thláo = to break) originally expressed sheer, physical pressure on a man. Thlipsis  is a strong term which does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships.

Medically thlipsis was used of the pulse (pressure). It is a pressing together as of grapes. It conveys the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure or crushed beneath a weight. When, according to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead guilty, had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, this was literally thlipsis.

Figuratively thlipsis pictures one being “crushed” by intense pressure, difficult circumstances, suffering or trouble pressing upon them from without. Thus persecution, affliction, distress, opposition or tribulation, all press hard on one’s soul. Thlipsis does not refer to mild discomfort but to great difficulty. In Scripture the thlipsis is most often used of outward difficulties, but it is also used of emotional stress and sorrows which “weighs down” a man’s spirit like the sorrows and burden his heart. Thlipsis then includes the disappointments which can “crush the life” out of the one who is afflicted.

Persecution (diogmos from dioko = to pursue) means to put to flight or to pursue with repeated acts of enmity. Some hatred comes your way from the world, family, friends, other “believers” because of your stand for Christ because the world is at enmity with Christ then you are offended and the word withers away.

Offended: (skandalizo from a root meaning jump up, snap shut) was originally the piece of wood that kept open a trap for animals. Thus skandalon was literally, that movable part of a trap on which the bait was laid, and when touched caused the trap to close on its prey. Skandalon thus came to mean any entanglement of the foot. Figuratively, as used most often in Scripture, skandalon refers to any person or thing by which one is drawn into error or sin. Also means: to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey.1) to cause to fall away 2) to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority.

Stony ground, having little or no soil, has insufficient nourishment for seeds to root and grow into a healthy plant. Initially, they appear to grow quicker because, with less soil to establish a root system, they expend their energy in producing the stem and leaves. When the sun grows hot (representing the light of God’s truth exposing them, or trials and persecution testing them), however, the sprouts wither away, the result of inadequate root systems.

Condition Number Three of No Fruit:

Matthew 13:7,22: hears the word but sown among thorns and anxious cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches chokes the word and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:7,18,19: sown among thorns that grow up and choke the word and yields NO FRUIT; cares (anxieties and worries) of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word and there is no fruit. Luke 8:7,14: as go forth choked with anxious cares, riches and pleasures of this life (bios) and bring no fruit to perfection.

The thorny ground represents those who are consumed by the cares and anxieties of this physical life and the deceitful enticements of wealth. The constant pressures of ordinary life—providing for our needs, education, employment, social duties, etc.—can be distracting, causing us to ignore God and Christian growth. Are you too busy for God?

The desire for wealth magnifies this distraction. Wealth is enticing but never yields the expected rewards; it promises to make us happy but, when gained, does not. Further, in pursuing wealth, we are tempted to be dishonest, cheat, oppress, and take advantage of others.

Among the parallel accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke, weeds are defined as: 1) The cares of this world, which one commentator calls “anxious, unrelaxing attention to the business of this life.” 2) The deceitfulness of riches—not wealth in itself, but its drawing power, its allure. Abraham, Joseph, Solomon, Job and others of God’s people show that He has blessed many with wealth. But it takes tremendous diligence and character to handle riches. 3) The pleasures of this life. The delights which worldly prosperity allows us to enjoy, in themselves, may be innocent. But do they draw off so much of our attention, so much of our time, that little remains for spiritual things?

When the sower threw the seed among thorns, he did not throw it on poor soil. In fact, it was just as moist and fertile as the good soil! Notice that the “thorns sprang up” after the seed was cast; the weeds were not significant beforehand. But when they “sprang up,” they were not cleared away and growth was choked!

Thorns are nothing more than prickly weeds. In the Bible, seventeen different Hebrew and Greek words are used to describe weeds, though they are often translated as “thorns,” “thistles,” “briers,” and the like.

What do weeds do? They choke, entangle and steal. They hinder fruit from maturing. They may not necessarily stop growth, but they can slow it down to the point that fruit never ripens. The spiritual parallels are evident.

Christ explains in Matthew 13:22 that the seed that fell among thorns was the Christian who heard the truth, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choked the Word, rendering him unfruitful. These things are weeds!

Weeds have a few common characteristics. They are aggressive, often quicker than useful plants at reproducing and spreading. They steal, robbing the moisture and nutrients from the more desirable plants. Since they are typically fast growing, they eventually steal the sunlight, too, by towering over the good plants. Then they crowd out the tender young shoots, stealing their space.

In agricultural situations, especially tropical regions, weeds can cause up to a fifty percent reduction in yields. So why not just get rid of them? Easier said than done. A single plant of common ragweed can produce over 3000 seeds. A single pigweed plant produces over 120,000 seeds! And if conditions are not right, some weed seeds can lie dormant for decades, waiting for the right amount of moisture, light and heat before germinating. Studies have shown seeds from several varieties of weeds still able to germinate after ninety years! Add to this that botanists have classified 1,775 species of weeds in America alone, and what do we have? Weeds are a problem that will not go away.

The good ground corresponds to those whose hearts and minds are softened by God’s calling and receive it genuinely. It is a rich and fine soil—a mind that submits itself to the full influence of God’s truth. They not only accept God’s Word—the message of Jesus Christ, as rich soil accepts a seed for growth—they also live by it and bear fruit.

In agricultural circles, it is commonly thought that three-fifths of the seed sown does not grow to harvest. According to Jesus’ parable, three-fourths of the audience received seed but produced no fruit. Realistically, how much increase of spiritual fruit are we producing? Are we returning thirty-fold, a reasonable return; sixty-fold, a more productive return; or a hundredfold, an outstanding, God-honoring return?

Fourth Condition is One that Brings Forth Bringing an Abundance of Fruit

Matthew 13:8,23: Seed sown on good soil and the person hears the word and understands it produces a harvest yielding 100 to 60 to 30 times what was sown. Mark 4:8,20: Seed sown on good soil and they heard the word and receive it and it produces a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.

Luke 8:8,15: Seed falls on good ground and bears fruit a hundredfold; word sown in an honest and good heart, hear the word and retain it and bring forth fruit with patience.

As Christians, it is vitally important to our walk with God and our effective witness for Christ with power and compassion that the Word of grows in our hearts and produces a fruitful harvest of amazing results. How much of the Word of God is growing in our hearts? We have so much of the present culture in the music, the television shows, the movies, the ideas and heartbeat of this age growing in our hearts but how much of the Word is actually growing and producing a result? In order for the Word of God to grow in our hearts it must be planted in the right soil and then carefully cultivated with prayer, meditation, memorization and reflection. This Word of God then will produce results that will absolutely astound you as it is allowed to grow and transform our lives into the image of our Lord. The Bible must live in our hearts if we are ever to accomplish the destiny and calling of God in our lives.

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Weapons of our Warfare

COG-Spiritual-WarfareEach of you must have asked yourself at some time, “What can I do about these problems that are so widespread and serious these days?” And, “How helpful can I really expect to be as an individual?”

The Scriptures have an answer to these questions. We might expect that they would, for they are designed to perfect the man of God, that he may be perfect, completely furnished unto every good work 2 Timothy 3:17). So we should expect that there would be ample guidance given in the Scriptures to enable us to handle the problems and questions which pursue us on every side.

The passage we are to center our thoughts upon these next few weeks is Second Corinthians, Chapter 10, the first six verses. Here is another of those pockets of condensed wisdom which you find frequently throughout the pages of the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and New alike, and which it is very unwise to hasten through. This kind of a passage must be gone through slowly and thoughtfully, and, therefore, I propose that we take ample time. I want to make these messages as practical and as helpful to as many as possible.

The introduction to this section of Second Corinthians is found in Verses 1 through 4. The Apostle Paul, writing to his friends in Corinth, probably from the city of Ephesus, says.

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — I who am humble when face to face with you but bold to you when I am away! — I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of acting in worldly fashion. For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:1-4 RSV)

In these verses we have brought before us the primary theme of this section. The background of it is a challenge to the authority of the Apostle Paul by the Corinthians. There were some among them who were seeking to undermine the effect of Paul’s words, both in his letters and in his preaching to them. That is not surprising for it is still going on today. There are many today who object strenuously to what he teaches. In certain circles we are told that the Apostle Paul actually changed the teachings of the Lord Jesus, and thus changed Christianity from a simple, easily understood message to a highly complicated theological treatise, difficult to understand and completely different in intent and content from that which was preached by Jesus.

Something of that had already started in the early church. When these Corinthians had received letters from Paul, some were angered by them and resisted strongly what he had said. Specifically, as this passage reveals, certain Christians in Corinth were saying that Paul was, essentially, no different than anyone else. His apostleship really gave him no more right to speak with authority than anyone else had, and his motivations were essentially the same as anyone’s; i.e., he is out to get what he wants by whatever policy will work. Paul was quoting them when he writes, “I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold to you when I am away.”

They were saying this was his procedure, his maneuver, to try to get us to do what he wants. In other words, they were saying, he is simply another religious figure who is playing the old game of “power politics,” so we do not need to pay any more attention to him than we would to anyone else who came in and tried to take advantage of us for his own purposes.

This the apostle promptly and powerfully repudiates. He says, in effect,

“This is not the case. You Corinthians are quite wrong. You have failed to recognize the fundamental change which occurs in a Christian. When a man becomes a Christian, something fundamental, something absolutely radical, occurs in him so that he cannot see things as he once did. Furthermore, you do not understand the radical difference with which an apostle (who is, by virtue of his office, a model Christian, a pattern for others) must face life. If you think that I act like other people, that my motives, purposes, and goals are no different than ordinary men and women, then you have fundamentally misunderstood the whole matter.”

“For,” he goes on to say in Verses 3 and 4, “though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

In the literal Greek the Apostle Paul does not say quite what is said here. The phrase,For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, is actually, “For though we walk (or live) in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” The revisers here have substituted the word world, for flesh. Yet this is not exactly wrong. They are recognizing the close affiliation between what the Bible calls “the flesh,” and “society” or “the world.” These two are closely combined and associated.

What is the flesh? You who have been studying the New Testament for years know that the flesh is essentially inherited selfishness. It is what is basically wrong with human nature. It is the monkey wrench which was inserted into the machinery of humanity at the very beginning and which we all inherit from our ancestors. It is responsible for the fact that all of us began life with a taint, a twist in our mechanism. It is not very long before it is quite apparent that we are fundamentally selfish. You do not have to teach a baby to be selfish. You do not have to send him to a private school to learn how to be naughty, to resist his parents, or to be inherently selfish. This taint crops up in any individual no matter what kind of a background, exposure, or environment he is subjected to; it is in the bloodstream of humanity. This is the unpleasant fact which society constantly resists, which man does not want to face, but which the Word of God bluntly and clearly states.

If that is the flesh, that tendency to evil in every individual, then if you put all these flesh-centered, flesh-governed people together into a society, you have what the Bible calls “the world.” It is society governed by the flesh; society, with all the power structures with which we are so familiar in this day, all built upon self-interest. This, any observer of human life can see, pervades the world of our day; self-interest is back of everything.

That is why the revisers have substituted the word “world” here. In a sense, they are right. This is clearly the idea the apostle has in mind. He says, “We are not acting like other people. We do not operate from the same motives; there is something quite different about us. If you try to judge us on the same basis you judge others you are going to be very far off — you will miss the point entirely.”

He is declaring also the fundamental tension in which a Christian lives. He says, “We live in the flesh, in the world of normal society, but we do not fight on those terms. We are not carrying on a worldly war.” Perhaps it might be helpful in this connection to review the rendering of certain other versions. J. B. Philips puts it this way:

The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. (2 Corinthians 10:3 J. B. Philips)

The New English Bible puts it:

Weak men we may be; but it is not as such that we fight our battles. (2 Corinthians 10:3 NEB)

Perhaps the most helpful is the Living Letters translation, which says,

It is true that I am an ordinary weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. (2 Corinthians 10:3 Living Letters)

Notice the exquisite balance and sanity of that. The Apostle Paul is speaking not only for himself, but for all Christians. Remember that an apostle is a pattern Christian. He is what all Christians are supposed to be. And he says, first, we live in the world. We don’t run away from it. Monastic life has appealed to many through the centuries. History is full of men and women who have retreated to quiet places and tried to shut away all the mundane prattle and care of life. Count Tolstoi, of Russia; Rousseau, of France; Gauguin, the painter — all tried to run away from life. There are many who seek to do so yet today. What astonishes me is the number of Christians who have this attitude. There has grown up in our time what I call the “Bible-city syndrome,” which attempts to create a Christian hothouse, an atmosphere which is thoroughly Christian from the womb to the tomb, and permits no invasion of secular ideas or forces. It seeks to insulate and isolate as much as possible the Christian from the world.

This is basically unbiblical and sub-Christian because it is contrary to this clear word of the apostle, who says, “We Christians live right in the midst of the world.” That is where we are supposed to be. The Lord Jesus himself put it this way: “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” (Matthew 10:16 KJV). It must be a crazy sheepherder who would do a thing like that! Yet that is how radical is the difference between true Christianity and the false version so evident in many places today. This “Bible-city syndrome” is producing thousands of Christian dropouts today. I understand there is a group in this very area that is suggesting something of this nature in the mountains near here. I do not know the whole story and therefore I am not trying to judge it, but I would certainly be against a Christian isolation ward if that is what they have in view. It is thoroughly unbiblical. “No,” says the apostle, “we live in the flesh: we live in the world.” That is where we are intended to live. It is well expressed in the old hymn,

Where cross the crowded ways of life.
Where sound the cries of race and clan.
Above the noise of selfish strife.
We hear thy voice,
O Son of Man.

“Yet,” says Paul, “though we live in the world and do not run away from society, still we do not use human plans and methods to win our battles.” It is important that we understand that, because here is where all the problems has come. Many have recognized that Christians are to live in the world, but they go on to assume that a Christian living in the world must be like the world, that he must think like the world, that he must depend upon the thoughts, philosophies, ideas, and writers of the world, and draw all his arguments and his solutions to problem from these sources. “No,” says Paul, “you are quite wrong there. If you judge me as doing this then you have not understood the Christian position at all. We do not use human plans and methods to win our battles.”

Here, in my judgment, is the fundamental error of those who seek to make social concern the primary task of the church today. They are opposing the right enemy but with the wrong weapons. They are seeking to employ the weapons of the world, which Paul renounces; he repudiates them entirely. He says, “we do not war a worldly warfare, we do not use human plans and methods to win our battles.”

What are these weapons of the world, these human plans and methods to win battles? Well, you can hardly escape them today. They are on every side, in every newspaper, every magazine you pick up. These are full of approaches to the solution of human problems. They are all perfectly sincere, often characterized by tremendous dedication and zeal and commendable in the extreme; but they are worldly. They are of the flesh; they are limited. These weapons are power politics, action blocs, organized programs, demonstrations, boycotts, picketing; even violence and arson.

Let us face some facts plainly. These are clearly worldly weapons, are they not? They are what would be suggested by any non-Christian who is confronted by these problems and is trying to find a solution, men like Saul Alinsky or Stokely Carmichael. These men openly, clearly, and unequivocally propose these kind of solutions, and you cannot blame them. That is all they can see; that is all they know to do; that is all they have confidence in. They cannot see beyond the material, the visible, the physical situation.

Anyone who reads the New Testament sees that this is always the way of the world. Its solutions are fundamentally shallow and superficial, because they are essentially one-dimensional. I was interested recently to learn that there is a new book out, written by a secular writer, called, The One-dimensional Man. It is an attempt (I gathered ) to come to grips with some of the social issues today. But even worldlings can see that their approach lacks something — it is one-dimensional.

Yet this is not what you have in the New Testament. This is not how a Christian should approach these problems. As the Apostle Paul put it in this very letter, just a few chapters back, “We look not at the things which are seen, but also at the unseen; we look not only to the temporal, but also to the eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18). There is a new dimension that must come in here. The Christian approach to any basic problem, whether of society or in an individual life, must be different than that of a worldling if he expects to win any battles.

The wonderful thing about the Scriptures is that life is constantly confirming them. Life is a kind of laboratory in which all these scriptural principles are being tested, worked out for us. We can then see for ourselves, if we observe enough of life over a long enough span, which is right and which is wrong — the worldly solution, or the scriptural solution. History confirms the fact that the world’s weapons do not win battles.

On my recent trip around the world I had to spend long hours on a plane, sometimes eight, ten, or eleven hours at a time. I tried to take advantage of this flight time by carrying with me a very weighty volume (in fact, I was on the verge of having to pay overweight charges on it several times!). It was a volume of Will Durant’s tremendous study, The History of Civilization. I took the volume, “Caesar and Christ,” and, though I did not get through it entirely, I only had to read part of it to be aware that the ancient world struggled with exactly the same problems that we struggle with today. There were the same intrigues, the same political maneuvers, the same plots, the same programs, the same solutions to problems. It was remarkable to see that long before Christ people were struggling with exactly the same problems that oppress us today. There are no secular solutions that work; at best they only temporarily rearrange the symptoms of the problem. That is the most we can hope for from worldly approaches.

“No,” says Paul, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they are not fleshly, they are not worldly. But they are mighty! They have divine power, unto the pulling down of strongholds. They work. They win. They destroy strongholds, they overthrow entrenched evil, they strike off shackles, they set men free. That is what they are for. If they do not do that they are worthless, they are no better than any other program. But these work. They may not be evident, but they are effective.” Well, what are these weapons? That is the major issue I want to face with you now. What are these weapons? If they are not normal human plans, what are they? If they do not include these approaches that are so common today, then what are they?

I wonder what you are answering in your own minds to that question? How many Christians can answer this question? What are the weapons with which we are to encounter the problems, the battles of life? The interesting thing is that Paul so takes it for granted that his readers would know that he does not even list them. We must read them into the text from other places. He takes it for granted that they would know what his weapons are.

All of us face problems, normal, common problems — depression, discouragement, ill health, lack of money, social pressures, family troubles, in-laws, greed, guilt, shame. As a society, we face problems together — race tensions, war, poverty, air and water pollution, inflation, death, taxes, all these common problems.

These are the battles of life, are they not? Very few of us will have to fight on the battlefields of Vietnam, some will, but not all. Here are the battles of life. These are what Paul calls in this passage, strongholds. We shall look at that word more closely next week, but these are the strongholds he mentions, situations where evil is entrenched and powerful.

Yet he has adequate weapons for these. That is the thing I wish to convey to you now. The Christian is not inadequate to deal with these things: He is the only one who is adequate to deal with them! Therefore, let us not waste our time with things that have proved their inadequacy long ago. We have adequate weapons. I can only briefly list them in this message. I shall have to develop them more as we go on in this passage, but it is important to have them before us at this moment. They come not from any one specific passage but from the general thrust of Scripture, supported by many, many passages. I shall list for you four weapons of the Christian by which we can face the battles of life, and which, if he faces them with these weapons, will win. Not only will he win in his individual life, but he will be a tremendously powerful factor to solve them on the level of society as well.

First, we must place truth: Truth is the chief weapon of the Christian. I do not mean education. Education is usually seized upon by those attacking the problems of society as the most effective way of solving them. That very fact indicates that people see that knowledge of reality is a very important thing in solving problems, it is a powerful weapon. The only difficulty is that worldlings in general (and many Christians as well) equate education with knowledge of reality. But we must not do so. Secular education is a compound of truth and falsehood, both equally powerfully taught. Error is often conveyed as powerfully as truth, therefore education oftentimes serves only to enhance the problem. It does not always separate between the chaff and wheat; it is not always true.

But I am talking now about truth. The glory of Christianity is that it introduces truth into any situation. It reveals reality. Jesus Christ came, in the words of this present generation, to “tell it as it is” — and he did so. Invariably, always, he told it as it is. He let people know the facts about life, and about man. He unveiled reality, he tore away the illusions and delusions under which men labor. He ripped off veils. You can watch him exposing the faulty thinking of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and all the other groups with which he came in contact, including his own disciples. Here, in the Word of God, in the truth as it is in Jesus, we have a powerful weapon, the greatest one there is in many respects, telling things the way they are.

One of the reasons why the group of laymen from this area who have been traveling to college campuses have found such an effective ministry is that they do not try to impress the students with displays of erudition and worldly wisdom. They simply talk about life as the Scriptures reveal it. It is surprising how this grasps, moves, and captures the minds and thoughts of this present generation.

Truth is the stock in trade of a Christian, that is, if he accepts the Word of God as the truth about life, and if he proclaims it, and demonstrates it in his own life, he himself is a mighty weapon for setting men free and for solving the ills of society. Not only truth proclaimed, but truth demonstrated: The weakness of the church is that it has often been too content to simply proclaim a portion of the truth and never give itself to the demonstration of it. But a Christian, above all others, ought to be characterized by openness and honesty. Let me quote to you a paragraph or two from an article in Eternity magazine entitled: The Slickest Gimmick of All:

There is a potency and wholesomeness in living life transparently rather than endlessly erecting poses and postures and fraudulent pieties.

That is a descriptive word for much of Christianity, isn’t it? Fraudulent pieties!

This modern world of ours is generously supplied with pitchmen and con artists and those who have axes to grind. These are enthusiastically and persistently using the big lie on us. Hence, it is an arresting and refreshing experience to meet a person or a group that is authentic and transparently open.

That is what every Christian ought to be, and every Christian group. I was distressed this week to learn of an evangelical church that is teaching its people that they have the right to privacy in their lives. No Christian has the right to a private life. Our lives are to be lived openly before all men, transparent, a spectacle unto all the world. We have no private lives and we must not expect to have. This is basically and fundamentally wrong. Christians are to be demonstrations of the truth. This article goes on,

The church where Jesus Christ is openly and honestly confessed is a potent commodity particularly needed in our disillusioned, jaded civilization. Many weary people want to find a place where God’s Word is revered, taught, and translated into daily life. At least that’s the kind of church I want for my family. Not a church posing this week as a circus, next week as a sociological supermarket, next month as a pietistic political polarization within the ecclesiastical community; but a church which purports in its proclamation to be what it is — the body of Christ — a fellowship where Christ’s people come together for renewal, for instruction in God’s word, and for sharing in the spread of the gospel.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

The second weapon is love. I know this is the most overworked word in our vocabulary today, but let’s be specific: I am not talking about the Hollywood slush that passes for love, nor of the bleeding heart tolerance of anything that comes along, I am talking about biblical love, the kind that requires no return from the individual loved. That is love, the kind that is described in First Corinthians 13, the kind that loves for Christ’s sake. If you cannot love that way then you are not a Christian, no matter what kind of a creed you subscribe to. If you can, then you must begin to show acceptance, courtesy, and concern without partiality or merit, without regard to the background or the color of skin or anything else about an individual, except that he or she is a man or woman loved by God for whom Christ died. Your love must go out to them, not your momentary interest until you gain their adherence to your creed; but your genuine love, demanding nothing in return.

That is love, and that is a mighty weapon. That is the way the early church won their way against councils and governors, kings and edicts, and everything else. They won it by the demonstration of a warmth of acceptance that made their meetings such glorious occasions of fellowship that the whole world hung around, drooling, wanting to get in.

The third weapon is righteousness. Fundamentally, that means obedience to both truth and love. It is what we call integrity. It is the refusal to yield to expediency. As Paul writes to the Ephesians, “You must no longer live as the Gentiles do,” (Ephesians 4:17b). You cannot go on excusing your weaknesses. There are no excuses left to you; you have all that it takes to be all that is needed. You cannot go on justifying your failures. You have no reason for failure. You must stop your lying, your stealing, your cursing, your immorality, and your harshness toward one another, your unforgiveness, your jealousy and your petulance. But in its place, because righteousness is never just negative, you must show tenderheartedness, acceptance and forgiveness for Christ’s sake — the warmth of love. It is true that if all you can hold up on behalf of your righteous standing is that you don’t smoke, drink, gamble or go to movies, etc., you are a pitiful spectacle of a Christian. If you are a Christian there must be about your life a quality that cannot be explained in terms of your personality — a positive glow, a warmth, and a radiance which cannot be explained except by the fact that God is at work in you.

The fourth weapon is a compound one. I shall put it this way: Faith-prayer. I put the two together because they are almost indistinguishable. Faith is reliance on the direct activity of God in human life. Prayer is the request for that activity; faith is the expectation that God will do it. These two things link together. If you do not think they are powerful, I suggest you read through Hebrews 11. There is a list of the achievements of faith in society, in terms of government, warfare, social ills, and battles of every kind. Faith is the expectation that God has not dismissed society, nor does he exist remote from it, but he is involved in it, and is active in it. He is moving; he does things; he changes; he arrests; he thwarts; he overthrows; he builds up and exalts; and he does all this in answer and through the medium of prayer. I do not know how to put it any stronger, but in the coming messages on this I want to outline more fully to you what prayer is, and how it works. What a mighty weapon is put in our hands in these days through this means!

There they are: truth, love, righteousness, and faith-prayer. These are the weapons of our warfare. They are not carnal, they are not of the flesh, they are not of the world; but they are mighty. They have divine power to the eliminating of strongholds, pulling down high things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. They all work together. You can hardly isolate the one from the other; they are all necessary. And when the church begins to major on these weapons she will once again become a mighty power in society, a tremendously potent force, a ferment let loose which will rapidly change the outward circumstances, the face of things as they are. Then the church will once again be what God designed it to be — in those glowing words in the Song of Solomon, an army “Bright as the moon, glorious as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,” Song 6:10)

Ray Steadman

Courtesy of http://www.raystedman.org/thematic-studies/spiritual-warfare/the-weapons-of-our-warfare

Prayer

Our gracious Father, what a challenge you set before us in these words! How much they call us to review of our own lives in the light of these thundering declarations! Grant to us, our Father, that we may see the challenge of the hour in which we live, and realize that we have been uniquely called to do the only thing that counts in this day and age. Help us to give ourselves to it through Jesus Christ our Lord, for we pray in his mighty, triumphant name, Amen.

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Why We Need A Savior

globe1Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, something cataclysmic happened. Everything changed. In a second, in a flash, Adam and Eve died spiritually and lost their spiritual connection with God. They lost the holy spirit of God within them. The nature of spiritual death replaced the nature of spiritual life. Sin poured into creation and corrupted the entire nature of Adam and Eve. Also by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, death infiltrated the human race. The seeds of physical death were planted in them, and their corrupted human nature would dominate them throughout their lives until they died. On that fateful day of disobedience, the dying process had begun, as Adam and Eve were mere mortals, embraced by sin and death. They were now free to make a world of their own choosing. They no longer could enjoy the intimate presence of God and the joy of close fellowship with Him. A curse settled in upon the earth and it still hangs over all the world like a dark cloud. Men and women became lost and alienated from the life of God. Shame and guilt before God replaced love and confidence. Fear and uncertainty replaced peace and security. They lost God-consciousness and became self-conscious. They lost the spiritual power and ability to do good and gained the power to do evil, which was now inherent in their nature. They became subjects in the devil’s kingdom and heirs to death, misery, pain, and affliction. The exercised power of darkness became a constant thorn and source of agitation in their lives.

Genesis 3:7 also reveals the birth of religion, as Adam and Eve foolishly tried to cover their sin of disobedience by making coverings for themselves. They thought that by the works of their own hands, they could somehow justify themselves and earn the favor of God. Religion always focuses on man and his rules, regulations, and works to try to be God-like. Religion always drives people away from the heart of God and puts them in bondage and fear. Religion always misunderstands the goodness of God and his loving nature. Adam and Eve had died spiritually, and their entire nature was infused by sin. A mere covering of fig leaves was not going to solve the enormous dilemma that they had brought upon themselves. Adam could not restore his perfect relationship with God by a simple covering. This disaster could only be rectified by God Almighty and His glorious plan of redemption and wholeness. God’s goodness is the only place where the future salvation of a person could reside.

Genesis 3:8-10 (Amplified):

And they heard the sound of the Lord
God walking in the garden in the cool
of the day, and Adam and his wife hid
themselves from the presence of the
Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to Adam and
said to him, Where are you?

He said, I heard the sound of You walking
in the garden, and I was afraid because I
was naked; and I hid myself.

God would appear in the garden in some physical form to fellowship with Adam and Eve. What intimacy! What closeness! What communion! What friendship they enjoyed, and what a privilege to have such an uninhibited, close relationship with God Almighty. But on this day, something tragic had happened and Adam and Eve’s entire nature and disposition toward God changed. There was now a separation and barrier between God and people, and guilt and shame dominated their mindset towards God. Instead of running into the presence of the Lord with confidence and great freedom, Adam and Eve hid from God in fear. They lost the spirit of God and had no vital and living connection with their Creator any longer. Adam and Eve no longer had the innocent trust and love for God where their hearts were pure and unrestricted in their full sharing of themselves with their Heavenly Father. Now their hearts were full of panic and dread, as they were afraid of God and terrified to come into His presence.

The word “hid” in the Hebrew means: to hide secretly, to withdraw from the sight of another, and to conceal oneself generally for the purpose of security.” The word “presence” is paniym, which we have studied before, and it means: to direct or set one’s face toward, and to be face to face in the presence of someone and everything that person represents. At one time, Adam and Eve loved the intimacy of fellowship face to face with God. They loved His goodness, His blessing, and His caring heart. They thrilled to be in His presence and have a deep heart to heart sharing of everything they were and hoped to be. Nothing was hidden from God. Nothing was held back in their fellowship and worship of Him. It was face to face, eye to eye, and heart to heart intimate communion. It was profound and satisfying, as they had a deep yearning to know their loving God. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and great goodness for those who love Him and put Him first in their life. Before God’s face is a peace that passes all understanding. As God wrapped His loving arms around His children, they had security and comfort.

So why would anyone want to run from the presence of God? Who would want to hide from such an awesome God? After Adam and Eve sinned and died spiritually, something happened on the inside of them. The mind and heart of Adam and Eve became full of fear and shame in the presence of God. There was an enmity and a turning of the human heart away from God and all the goodness He represents. The human heart became twisted because of the sin nature that had poured into it. Selfishness, self-interest, pride, and rebellion against God became part of their inborn nature. God no longer was a priority. Adam and Eve now wanted to hide and conceal their thoughts, desires, and purposes from God Almighty. They wanted to hide in secret from God and withdraw themselves from His sight. They thought they had some warped sense of security in separating themselves from their Creator and fleeing from everything true, just, loving, and good that God represents.

The voice of God brings goodness, justice, mercy, and righteousness. The voice of God always has the best interests of His children in mind. Yet Eve listened to the voice of the serpent and obeyed his word. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and followed her right into disobedience. The sound of God’s presence and voice no longer brought them comfort, security, and guidance. The voice of God made them tremble in fear because of their unbelief in the goodness of God and His Word.

Verse 8 is the first usage of “fear” in the Bible, and it is enlightening to see that fear always drives a person away from God and the truth of His Word. Fear makes you hide from God and builds unbelief in the human heart. Fear drives a barrier in the human heart between God and man. Fear encases, binds, and enslaves a person in mind and heart. Fear keeps a person from walking in intimate fellowship with their Creator. Fear indicates a lack of trust in God and His Word.

God’s first words after the Fall of Adam and Eve wonderfully reveal the heart of God and His goodness. He could have deserted Adam and Eve and turned His back on them. He could have given up on them because of their rebellion and disobedience. But God called to Adam, “Where are you?” God was still seeking Adam, even in his sinful state and even after committing high treason against Him. What a God of love! What a God of mercy! What a God of goodness! Even in the midst of the ruin of God’s creation and the sentence of death on His children, God had a plan of restoration to bring men and women back to paradise. God came to the garden seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve, but because of their betrayal, He had to design and initiate His awesome plan of redemption. God deeply desired to rectify the enormous problem of sin because of Adam’s disobedience. The devil wanted to keep man forever in a state of death and destruction, unredeemed and crushed by the penalty of sin. God would not stand by and do nothing. God did not throw in the towel and say, “Kids, you are on your own now.” God would give hope even in man’s darkest hour, as He promised a Savior who would bring salvation, goodness, wholeness and righteousness back to the human race, and ultimately destroy the great enemy of God, the devil. The goodness of this legal plan of redemption is so great and magnificent that its riches and glory far surpass anything ever known in history. Truly it is the good news.

Genesis 3:11-13 (Amplified):

And He said, Who told you that you
were naked? Have you eaten of the
tree of which I commanded you that
you should not eat?

And the man said, the woman whom
You gave to be with me-she gave me
fruit from the tree and I ate.

And the Lord said to the woman,
What is this you have done? And
the woman said, the serpent beguiled
(cheated, outwitted, and deceived) me,
and I ate.

Interwoven into the sinful nature of man is to play “the blame game” by failing to take responsibility for his actions. Adam pointed the finger at the woman, but ultimately blamed God because He gave him the woman. The first words uttered by man after the Fall blamed God for the evil that had befallen him. Man has been blaming God for evil ever since. Instead of recognizing His goodness and love, men and women have blamed God for all the problems in the world. God is portrayed as evil, and the human race is painted as good. Neither Adam nor Eve asked for forgiveness. Neither Adam nor Eve said they were sorry. Neither Adam nor Eve admitted they did anything wrong. Pride and exaltation of self above God became an inherent characteristic of the sin nature. The finger of accusation pointed to everyone but themselves. Adam and Eve gave God an excuse for their disobedience. Adam failed to speak God’s Word, failed to stand up for God’s Word, failed to teach God’s Word, failed to follow God’s Word, and failed to believe God’s Word. He decided to remain absolutely silent. Then he blamed God, implying that He should not have given him the woman in the first place. Adam blatantly told God that He was an accessory and partaker of this sin and just as responsible as Adam or Eve for all of its consequences. Just a little bit arrogant, don’t you think? There simply is no humility in the sin nature. Selfishness and pride rule the day in this corrupt nature of sin. Eve finally realized that she had been cheated, deceived, outwitted, and tricked by the serpent, yet again, she did not accept responsibility for her actions.

Job 31:33 (New American Standard):

Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom.

Adam tried to cover his transgression and hide his iniquity from God. This verse sets forth the nature of Adam’s disobedience and two dominating characteristics of the sin nature inherited from Adam. The word “transgressions” in the Hebrew means: to rebel revolt or rise up in clear defiance of authority by violation of a law, command, or duty. The fundamental idea is a breach of relationship between two parties. It is a willful deviation and rebellion against God and His way or path. It is a stepping aside from the right path. It is to cross a line, challenging God’s boundaries. It is to refuse allegiance and duty to whom they are due. It is to knowingly refuse subjection to rightful authority. At the heart of this word “transgressions,” there is a real absence of love, respect, and honor towards the rightful authority.

What insight this word gives us into Adam’s disobedience! Adam made a
deliberate decision to rebel against God, His goodness, and His Word. He refused allegiance and dedication to God and knowingly revolted against His commandment. He stepped outside of the right and good path God had established in the Garden of Eden and crossed the line, challenging the boundaries of God’s Word. It was an assault on the goodness of God’s character, blessings, and Word. It was a fundamental breach of the loving relationship God had established with His children. Adam turned his back on His relationship with God. At the heart of the disobedience of Adam was a lack of belief that God really loved him, and conversely, Adam showed a lack of a deep, heartfelt love and respect for His Creator. He was more concerned about his relationship with Eve than His relationship with God.

Adam tried to cover this transgression in the presence of God. The word “covered” in the Hebrew means “to conceal and to hide.” God saw Adam’s heart, and he could not hide his transgression from Him. Adam showed no respect for God’s authority and tried to conceal the rebellious purposes and desires of his heart from God Almighty. Adam tried to make his transgression look good by rationalizing his disobedience to God and then blaming God for the evil consequences. The sin nature seems to have a bent toward trying to make good look evil and evil look good. Adam became a rebel against the goodness of God.

The second word used to describe Adam’s disobedience is “iniquity.” This word in the Hebrew means: perversity, depravity, and crookedness, and comes from a verb meaning to bend or to twist. It is a twisting of the standard and deviating from it. It is to distort and twist God’s standard, deviating from His righteous design and purpose. It is rebellion from a twisted condition of the human heart. It is disobedience due to thinking and reasoning that is crooked or perverse. Adam had twisted God’s righteous standard and distorted the way of God. He deviated from God’s commandment by crooked reasoning, and his heart became twisted and turned away from God. Then Adam tried to conceal his iniquity in his heart from God. God saw right thorough Adam’s twisted logic and got to the heart of the matter. The sin nature specializes in twisted and distorted logic that deviates from the heart of God. The whole idea that God is not good and causes evil is twisted and distorted logic. God’s goodness is perfect, whole, pure, and without any distortion or evil deformities.

Deuteronomy sets forth in great simplicity what God wanted Adam and Eve to do yet they failed miserably.

Deuteronomy 13:4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

You must follow the Lord your God and fear
(reverence, respect) Him. You must keep His
commands and listen to His voice; you must
worship Him and remain faithful to Him.

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart, describes the heart of God:

I am convinced beyond a doubt of this:
God wants to be loved. He wants to be a
priority to someone. How could we have
missed this? From cover to cover, from
beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart
is, “Why won’t you choose me?” It is
amazing to me how humble, how
vulnerable God is on this point. “You
will…find me,” says the Lord, “when
you seek me with all your heart” (Jer.
29:13). In other words, “Look for me,
pursue me-I want you to pursue me.”
Amazing. As Tozer said, “God wants
to be wanted.”

Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s commands and listen to His voice. They failed to remain faithful to God by putting Him first above all else. They failed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They failed to choose God, and ultimately Adam and Eve did not want God. This is just heartrending. Tragically, as a result, sin and death entered into the human race.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified);

Therefore, as sin came into the world through
one man, and death as the result of sin, so
death spread to all men, [no one being able
to stop it or to escape its power] because all
men sinned.

New Living Translation:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire
human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so
death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Message Bible:

You know the story of how Adam landed us in
the dilemma we’re in, first sin, then death,
and no one exempt from either sin or death.
That sin disturbed relations with God in
everything and everyone…

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. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual
death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,
Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate
the power of sin. Education has failed. History
confesses that every single rise in civilization has
been accompanied by a decline in morals. War
has dominated in every period of the life of every
nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.
It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is
but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in
its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike
at the root and the cause of sin, sickness and death.
The law of disease has fastened itself upon the
human body, blighting and scourging humanity.
Death is the supreme problem that all men at all
periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon
every happiness born in the sense of man. 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.

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. 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.

The word “sin” in Romans 5:12 in the Greek means: to miss or fail to hit the mark, like when someone fails to hit the target with a bow and arrow; to fall short of any goal, purpose, or standard, and a failure or aberration from a prescribed law or duty. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, states that the word means “a falling and missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God.” Wuest, in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, says it means “missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation of what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will…a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.” In A Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the English and Greek New Testament, Bullinger gives some great insight into the history of this word as:

A duct or canal by which water flows down to
any place… and which implies an evil influence…
in which it has the idea of turbidity and excitement,
muddy confusion in water, acetous fermentation
in wine, bitumen arising from hot natural springs,
collection of mud brought down by tumultuous
waters, bitter and brackish waters, etc…and then
is the defiling influence and bitter principle of
disturbance which has flowed down upon the
creation of God.

God had a wonderful divinely appointed purpose for Adam and Eve and all their progeny when He blessed them in the Garden of Eden. He had a great plan of goodness for Adam and Eve and their children, desiring to bring them into the full accomplishment of His destiny for them. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin poured into their nature, causing them to miss the purpose and goal that God had designed for their lives. Their entire relationship with God was defiled and disturbed as bitterness, hostility, separation, and enmity against God flowed into their nature like raw sewage or muddy contaminated waters. Adam and Eve now had a sin nature that was against God and His will having the dominant characteristic of continuously missing the standard of God, like a reckless archer who can never hit the target. The affections, desires, motives, reasoning, and thoughts coming from the sin nature were in rebellion against God and His authority. The sin nature is inherently grounded in a hostility against walking with God, trusting God and relying on God as its only sufficiency. The heart and soul of the human race became polluted with the sin nature, which is twisted to an enmity toward all the things of God, all the goodness of God, and all the words of God.

In Romans 5:12, “sin” is in the singular, and the word “the” is before the word “sin” in the Greek text. “The sin” does not describe the acts or deeds of sin, but the root cause: the totally depraved nature, or the basic active principal of sin. PreceptAustin gives us some valuable insight on their website:

What Paul is doing by using the phrase “The Sin”
is to use this word not to describe the actions or
results of sin (sins [plural] which are committed)
but to describe the underlying root cause, the
basic principle or, in medical terms,…the
“virus” that killed (first spiritually and then
physically) Adam and which has infected
all men for all men can trace their physical
lineage to Adam. Think of The Sin as analogous
to a highly contagious, 100% lethal virus which
every man, woman and child has contracted
because every person alive is related to Adam,
the first man, who himself was infected. Or
think of The Sin as analogous to an abnormal
“gene” which transmits a defective moral/ethical
“DNA code” to all of Adam’s offspring, this
defective code explaining why every individual
commits sins (plural)…The Sin is man’s Adamic
SIN(inherent) nature (that every baby inherits
from his spiritual father Adam) in distinction to
“SINS” one commits each day, these being a natural
outworking of the (inherent) SIN nature in every
man, woman and child. PERSONAL SINS then
are those sins we commit because we are by nature
SINNERS having inherited THE SIN “virus” that
entered the garden from our first spiritual “father”
Adam.

Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through Adam’s disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred. The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam.

Romans 5:17 says that “death reigned,” and Romans 5:21 says that “sin reigned” over the whole human race. The word “reigned” means: to rule with the authority and power of a king, to possess regal authority to reign, and to exercise the highest influence and control. The human race was now subject to the rule of two great kings, namely sin and death. The power and authority of sin and death wreaked havoc and destruction on all peoples of the earth, and no one could break free of its rule nor escape its power. They exercised kingly authority, not to liberate its subjects but to bring them into bondage. People became slaves to sin and its consequences, as they desperately needed a deliverer who would conquer the twin kings of sin and death.

Before Adam fell into sin, he had a nature perfectly suited to bearing the image of God and representing His goodness. The sin nature was not part of our humanity as God had originally designed it. Adam was designed to represent His Maker, and God gave him a divine nature in which he shared some of the attributes and qualities of His Creator. Characteristics of God, such as love, joy, goodness, peace, kindness, faithfulness, and wisdom must have been abundant in Adam, as he was a son of God and bore His image. He had every godly quality necessary for him to exercise his dominion upon the earth. There was nothing in his nature that caused him to act contrary to the will of God.

When Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, this perfect image of God’s character that he represented was shattered into pieces. Sin was now mixed into this nature like a virus in the blood, and the image of God inside us was greatly dimmed. These great qualities that God had designed intrinsically in men and women became mixed with sin which obscured and obstructed their demonstration in the world. This sin nature is not an intrinsic part of who God designed you to be, but is a contamination and intrusion into our lives that caused physical and spiritual death. We still see great acts of compassion, courage, creativity, and kindness that exhibit that we were made in the image of God. However, qualities of selfishness, hatred, cruelty, lust, indifference, violence, and idolatry all flow out of this sin nature and obscure and suffocate these godly qualities. The sin nature is very strong and dominates over the image of God, so no one has exhibited an ability to habitually be free of its impulses and characteristics. Man’s relationship with God was broken and separated by sin, which made it even more difficult to exhibit the qualities and attributes of God, our Creator.

The sin nature energized the thoughts, reason, will, and emotions, as Adam and Eve were living in a state of separation from God. The sin nature is absolutely rooted in selfishness and intrinsically pushes people to glorify themselves rather than God. The sin nature drives one to habitually act and speak in a manner that satisfies its evil desires. Adam turned the image of God into an image of sinful man, as the world throughout all ages of history has not lived up to the image of God. No one can break free of the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death, without the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the liberator, the deliverer, the conqueror, and the Savior from the kings of sin and death and all their evil consequences.

The sin nature within us does not mean that God has not designed us for a wonderful purpose and given us qualities and talents that we can use to glorify Him. The dim image of God that comes forth at times is a reminder of man’s original destiny and purpose that had God had designed. Man and woman were meant for so much more than an enslaved obedience to the sin nature. We retain a shadow of the image of God in ourselves, but the primary nature is this fallen nature of Adam. The human nature has fallen, and the original image has been marred. Humans struggle with a nature that has been crippled by the loss and continued absence of a relationship with God. The sin nature, like a deadly disease, is lethal to life. The sin nature brings no meaning, purpose, goodness, or blessing to life. In Mark Cosgrove’s, Foundations of Christian Thought, he states:

The result of the Fall could be called, not selfishness
but self-centeredness…they (Adam and Eve) became
the center of their own experience or existence, rather
than God being the center of their lives…it is clear that
after the Fall they, and everyone born after them,
seemed bent inward on self and prone to selfishness.
Isolation and emptiness of soul…What the fall of
human nature into sin means practically speaking
is that while human beings are possesses with
great potential and desire from the image of God in
them, at the same time, they are incapable of
reaching this potential and happiness.

There is great emptiness of soul and meaningless in life without God. Mankind has lost their true heart, their true destiny, and their true purpose. David Needham, in Birthright, Christian Do You Know Who You Are?, gives a vivid illustration of the emptiness and meaninglessness of the sin nature:

Try to imagine for a moment the entire human
race as though it were an art gallery full of
picture frames. Long, long halls. Billions of
picture frames-without any pictures! Empty
can you visualize it? Some of the frames are
very carefully carved. Some boast very delicate
gold leaf, others are rather gaudily painted. A
few are dirty, chipped. But every frame is
wrapped around-nothing-emptiness. Is it
possible the human race is seen in such a
way by God? An art gallery with no paintings!
Each human being was intended to frame an
inimitable, individual masterpiece of God’s
own reflected glory. But where God should
be, there is only emptiness, a bare patch of
wall. Since the frames are conscious, however,
the fact of emptiness is simply too devastating-
too self-destructive-to acknowledge. And so
human kind becomes obsessed with the only
thing left to it: its own flesh. The frame. Life,
if it is to be found at all, must be found in each
one’s own frame, and the frames around him.
So, ingeniously and carefully, man lights the
gallery, carpets and air-conditions the halls,
creates all sorts of special displays, and
leads community crusades to clean up the
dirty and broken frames…No wait. It wasn’t
suppose to work out this way! We thought
all our inventions and progress would solve
the difficulties and…if only we had more
time. But the air is getting foul. Lights are
beginning to flicker. Sounds of confusion
are coming from every corner. And anyway-
there are no pictures. We all know that.
Emptiness. Everywhere emptiness. What
difference does it all make anyway? Oh,
the tragedy of Eden! Rejecting dependence
upon the will and character of God, Adam
and Eve rejected life! Looking for fullness,
they found instead a fathomless despair.
Even in some twisted sense they fulfilled
by sinning what they were-sinners-they still
were missing the destiny for which God had
created them. There one bridge to meaning,
their fundamental reason for existing, lay
collapsed in hopeless ruin before them. Man’s
essential nature was now “in the flesh.” And
the Bible says that “those who are in the flesh
cannot please God.”

So, by his very nature, man is a sinner.
Cut off from his Creator.
Cut off from any hope of meaning.
A rebel trapped in futility
That is what sin is all about…
So it was, long ago in the Garden, human
beings forced upon themselves the task of self
fulfillment without any hope of success. Authentic
meaning, significance, and purpose lay always
beyond their grasp. It is this fact that underlies
the darkness of evil. This then, is sin-a tragedy
for human beings and an offense to God. Apart
from God’s intervening miracle of changing us,
there is no hope.

Emptiness, meaninglessness, hopelessness, and lifelessness became the destiny of the human race because of their rejection of God in the Garden. The beautiful, breathtaking picture and exquisite masterpiece that God desired for every person became broken, stained, marred, and shattered. The picture was lost and the frame was empty and without true meaning. A bare patch of wall with a blank piece of backboard now was the focal point of the frame. No vibrant colors, no living images, no spectacular scenes of beauty, and no inspiring reflections, but only an image of emptiness. Oh, if we would only listen and obey the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:22: (New International Reader’s Version):

I will sweep your sins away as if they were
a cloud. I will blow them away as if they
were the morning mist. Return to me.
Then I will set you free.

The sin nature will never bring meaning to life. It does not want a relationship with God, but desires to follow the course set by the god of this world. God had such goodness planned for the human race, but they turned their backs on Him and fell into ruin. John Eldridge, in Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role that is Yours to Play, describes the human race after the Fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world:

Something has gone wrong with the human
race, and we know it. Better said, something
has gone wrong within the human race.
It doesn’t take a theologian or a psychologist
to tell you that. Read a newspaper…Most
of the misery we suffer on this planet is
the fruit of the human heart gone bad. This
glorious treasure has been stained, marred,
infected. Sin enters the story and spreads
like a computer virus…Any honest person
knows this. We know we are not what we
were meant to be…Something has gone
wrong. We know that much. Whatever else
we know, whatever else our convictions
may be, we know that something has gone
terribly wrong with the world, with us, with
life. Haven’t you ever wondered , if only for
a moment, why life comes nowhere close to
the desires that are written in your heart?
Where are the beauty, intimacy and adventure?
Why can’t we make these things last? The poet
George Herbert declared, “I cried when I was
born and every day shows why.” Dear God-
what has happened to our world?

The human heart desperately cries out for the goodness of God. Yet, it has become contaminated and hardened by sin and dull to the heartbeat of God. The relentless onslaught of the god of this world exercising dominion upon the earth has further driven the human heart away from its loving Creator. Tragically, some people live their entire lives without ever tasting and experiencing the goodness of God.

Job 21:25 (New American Standard):

While another dies with a bitter soul,
Never even tasting anything good.

(NIV) :

Another man dies in bitterness of soul,
never having enjoyed anything good.

(Moffatt Translation):

Another man dies, broken-hearted, and
never gets the good of life.

With the infusion of the sin nature, bitterness took root in the human heart. Most people live with bitterness dominating some portion of their heart and soul throughout their entire life. Bitterness breaks and cripples the human heart. The goodness of God melts away all bitterness of the soul and brings release, freedom, and deliverance from the oppression of bitterness. The devil wants your heart to be in a constant state of bitterness. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies explains that bitterness in the Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul is to be exasperated, angry, disgusted, uneasy, discontented, and exceedingly sorrowful.” There is great anguish, fierce resentment, and heart-crushing despair at the center of bitterness. Without God, a person’s life becomes a story of bitterness and ravaging disappointment. God desires with every ounce of His being for you to taste and enjoy His goodness. What a travesty to live your entire life and never taste, never experience, and never enjoy the goodness of God. Every day another soul has died in great bitterness, broken by life, and completely alienated from the goodness of God. Only by the power of God and the healing redemption available in the Lord Jesus Christ will the bondage of bitterness be obliterated in a person’s life. Yet Adam set the pattern of the human race in turning away from God and trying to find meaning and purpose in life in our own vain and futile efforts.

Romans 3:12 (New Living Translation):

All have turned away; all have become
useless. No one does good, not a single
one.

(Wuest):

All turned aside; all to a man became
useless. There is not one who habitually
does goodness; there is not as much as
one.

The words “turned aside” in the Greek means: to turn aside or away from; to shun; to bend away from the right course; to steer clear of; to stay away from, and to avoid. It was used to describe a soldier running the wrong way or deserting. The Greek word is in the active voice, which indicates that the turning away is a deliberate choice and not an accidental losing of their way. This sin nature of man drives a person away from the heart of God. All of us have at sometime deserted God and shunned Him. We all at some time made a deliberate choice to turn away from God and avoid Him at all costs. All of us at some time in our lives have rejected the goodness of God. It is simply amazing when one sees the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, how anyone would ever want to turn away from Him. Yet the history of the world is largely a chronicle of people turning their backs on their loving Creator and following their own destructive paths.

Every single member of the human race became useless without God. The word “useless” is an enlightening word as to the nature of man without God. In the Greek, it means: to be worthless; to be useless; to be unprofitable; to render unserviceable, and to be unfit for any useful purpose. The Hebrew word used in the same verse in Psalm 14:3 means: to go bad and to become sour like milk. When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was working at a fabric warehouse, and one day I noticed a refrigerator in the basement. I opened the door hoping there might be some food or drink, and there was a carton of milk sitting on the shelf. When I eagerly opened the carton, the most disgusting smell I had ever experienced filled my nostrils, and I became extremely nauseated. The milk had soured and was good for nothing. I could not even look at a glass of milk for months after that episode.

God vividly says that a person without God under the power and influence of the sin nature is like a carton of sour milk. Sour milk is worthless for any good use and cannot be used for its intended purpose. The highest and best the human race has to offer in society, government, academics, arts, and every other category amounts to nothing more than sour milk without God. Every life, every purpose, every idea, and every goal lived apart from the truth of God and His Word is wasted and worthless.

How mankind has often exalted ourselves in great arrogance against God. The human race has throughout its history been flooded with countless examples of unbridled pride and conceit. I remember taking numerous classes in world history in college, and the pompous nature of so many people, kingdoms, and rulers is astounding. I wonder how they would react if they knew that God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth, thought they were no better than spoiled, rotten milk. Without God, a person can never fulfill their true purpose and destiny, as their lives begin to rot and waste away.

Spurgeon, in the Treasury of David, says, “The fallen race of man, left to its own energy, has not produced a single lover of God or doer of holiness, nor will it ever do so. Grace must interpose or not one specimen of humanity will be found to follow after the good and true.” The contamination of the sin nature, along with the turning aside from God, turned Adam and Eve’s once glorious lives into sour milk that was putrid and offensive to the true purpose and will of God. Sin rendered men and women unfit for what God had intended for them. Like a piece of rotten fruit that had gone bad, the human race desperately needed a Savior and Redeemer to restore all that Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden.

The word “good” in the Greek means: goodness in its widest sense with the idea of usefulness; kindness; the goodness of God’s divine attributes showing itself in benevolence to man; moral goodness and integrity; genuine goodness and generosity of heart, and goodness expressed in action and deed. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, defines it as “ a beautiful word, as it is the expression of a beautiful grace…a grace of word and countenance, it is one pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing there all which would have been harsh and austere…a goodness that has no edge, no sharpness in it.” The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines it as “the state of being that includes the attributes of loving affection, sympathy, friendliness, patience, pleasantness, gentleness, and goodness. It is more volitional than emotional.” The word “do” in the Greek means: to make, form, produce or bring about the accomplishment of something. As Wuest indicates in this verse, it is in the sense of a habitual doing or making, producing, forming, and building something on a habitual and continuous basis.

Not one single person on the earth after the Fall of Adam habitually produces works of goodness, kindness, integrity, graciousness, generosity, love, gentleness, and compassion out of a heart loyal to honoring and serving God. The sin nature of a man or woman cannot produce anything good that glorifies God. The sin nature is inherently harsh, unforgiving, cruel, selfish, deceitful, arrogant, evil, hateful, jealous, and immoral and produces these types of words and actions. The image of God reflects all the attributes of His goodness, love, tenderheartedness, gentleness, grace, and compassion. However, because the human race is now under the power and control of sin and living in a world controlled and dominated by the god of this world, the devil, no natural man or woman without Christ can do, make, build, and produce great works of goodness that bring glory and praise to God Almighty. There is not one ounce or drop of goodness in the sin nature that poured into the heart and soul of the human race because of Adam’s disobedience. If you live by the sin nature and under its control, you will never accomplish the good purpose and design that God wants for your life. It is like building your life on sinking sand. It is living a life of very little meaning or purpose, and it becomes an exercise of futility and disappointment.

Romans 7:18 (NIV):

I know nothing good lives in me,
that is, in my sinful nature. For I

have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out.

New Living Translation:

I know I am rotten through and through
so far as my old sinful nature is concerned.
No matter which way I turn, I can’t make
myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.

Wuest:

For I positively know that there does not
dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good; for
the being desirous is constantly with me;
but the doing of the good, not.

God’s goodness does not make its home in the sin nature. God’s goodness does not live or abide in the sin nature. God is not responsible for the sin nature or the fruit, deeds, and actions that proceed from it. No matter where the sin nature turns or what it does, it is absolutely impossible for it to produce works and deeds that reflect and demonstrate God’s goodness. The sin nature and God’s goodness are polar opposites. The sin nature produces words, deeds, and actions that are evil. I like the Wuest translation, which sounds like a modern, hip vernacular: “but the doing of the good, NOT.” The word “doing” in the Greek means: to labor, work or engage in activity involving considerable expenditure of effort to bring a result or end to successful completion; to work out fully and thoroughly; it represents the full and final bringing of an enterprise to a successful conclusion; to carry something out to its ultimate goal and to do, accomplish or perform something successfully. The sin nature, no matter how much effort is expended, cannot successfully bring about a work of God’s goodness as its accomplished goal.

The word “good” (a different Greek word than in Romans 3) means: that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, beautiful, honorable, admirable or precious and provides some special or superior benefit. It is something morally excellent and worthy of recognition. It is the beautiful, noble and honorable impression made by good as it manifests itself. It is goodness that is visible to the eye and radiates beauty and harmonious perfection that is pleasing to God. It is goodness that is excellent in its nature and characteristics. The sin nature through hard work cannot produce anything intrinsically good or beautiful that has any special or superior benefit to the kingdom of God. Nothing morally excellent or worthy of recognition comes out of the sin nature of a human being. The fruit of our sin nature never benefits God or promotes His kingdom in any way, shape, or form. No matter how wise, or how rich, or how connected a person may be, they have no ability in this corrupt sin nature to accomplish anything that reflects the beauty, loveliness, honor, wholeness, and perfection of the goodness of God.

The heart and soul are lost and wounded in the wilderness of this world, battered by sin and in desperate need of God’s healing redemption. John Eldridge, in Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, describes the long and vicious war of sin and the waging spiritual battle for the human heart:

Its June 6, 1944..You are soldier on the third wave
at Omaha Beach. Thousands of men have gone
before you and now its your turn. As you jump out
of the Higgins boat and wade to the beach, you see
the bodies of soldiers everywhere-floating on the
water, tossing in the surf, lying on the beach.
Moving up the sand you encounter hundreds of
wounded men. Some are limping toward the bluffs
with you, looking for shelter. Others are barely
crawling. Snipers on the cliffs above continue to
take them out. Everywhere you look, there are pain
and brokenness. The damage is almost overwhelming…
this is one brutal war…But we do not think so closely
about life and I’m not sure why…Men (and women)
are being taken out right and left. Scattered across
the neighborhood lie the shattered lives of men and
women who have died at a soul-level from the wounds
they have taken. You’ve heard the expression, “he’s a
shell of a man?” They have lost heart. Many more
are alive but they are badly wounded. They are trying
to crawl forward, but are having an awful time getting
there lives together, they seem to be taking hits. You
know others who are already captives, languishing in
prisons of despair, addiction, idleness, or boredom.
The place looks like a battlefield, the Omaha beach
of the soul. And that is precisely what it is. We are
in the late stages of the long and vicious war against
the human heart…We were born into a world at war.

The battle for the human heart is fierce, as both God and the devil are at war for the soul of mankind. Even though the human race is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and all the consequences of sin poured into God’s creation, God promised a coming Redeemer who would crush the serpent and break the power and penalty of sin. He would be the victorious captain of our soul, and our triumphant general in the battle for the human heart.

The following was a chapter in the Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life. Order at http://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your/dp/1615795154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323130193&sr=8-1

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Complete Freedom from Mental Prisons of Bondage

chains

Today there are more people in mental prisons than are behind bars. Mental prisons of fear, guilt shame, condemnation, unworthiness, despair, depression, hopelessness, anxiety and suicidal thoughts torment countless people daily and enslave them in bondage. The chains of mental prisons are deeply embedded in the soul and affect every area and decision of their lives. The world has no lasting answers and no release from these mental prisons. Psychology trying to treat these prisons is like putting a Band-Aid on raging water coming out of a broken pipe. It provides no true, lasting answers. Our identity is also tied to the mental image of ourselves that we carry in our minds and these mental prisons wreak havoc on our identity and self-image. God is the only answer to shatter the bars of these mental prisons and give you complete freedom and deliverance. There is only one true God, Yahweh, and He sent His Son Jesus Christ to crush and obliterate every mental prison that has ever held us in bondage. We no longer have to be held captive to any mental prison because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what he accomplished on the cross. The chains of mental bondage are loosened and broken free in Jesus Christ alone.

To understand mental prisons we need to go back where they originated. Every mental prison began with the fall of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. We see shame, guilt, fear, despair, condemnation, hopelessness, depression and anxiety all first manifested in Adam and Eve.

Genesis 3:7-10: Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin cloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Here we see shame, fear and guilt for the first time in the human race with the entrance of sin into the world. All mental prisons come from the sin nature that we all inherited from Adam. Shame, guilt, fear, despair, hopelessness, depression and the like are all embedded in our sin nature. Mental prisons are the most enslaving, attacking our very identity and how we think about ourselves and others. The deep rooted consequence of the sin nature is this distorted thinking rooted in guilt, fear and shame that enslaves us in bondage. The sin nature energized the thoughts, reason, will, and emotions, as Adam and Eve were living in a state of separation from God.

Romans 5:12,18a: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—Therefore, as one trespass] led to condemnation for all men…

The word “came” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race. No one was exempt and as a deadly virus, sin contaminated our very being bringing all its prisons of bondage with it.

Galatians 3:22: But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

All people are born imprisoned under sin. This is why we need a Savior. We cannot deal with the deliverance from mental prisons until you first deal with the problem of sin. Jesus Christ came to crush the power and consequences of sin and deprive it of its power to hold us in bondage.

Romans 7:23: but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

The law of our sin natures wages war against our minds sending its deadly roots into our thinking, emotions and will bringing us into captivity.

Phillips: This is in continual conflict with my conscious attitude, and makes me an unwilling prisoner to the law of sin and death…in my own nature I am bound fast, as I say, to the law of sin and death. It is an agonizing situation, and who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my sinful nature? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Everyone is bound fast in the chains of sin without Jesus Christ. Who can free us from the pains of guilt, shame and fear? Who can abolish these prisons of mental slavery? Only Jesus Christ when we make Him Lord of everything including our mind, will, attitude and emotions.

Genesis 4:6b: Watch out, because sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce on you! You must master it before it masters you.

Sin is always crouching at the door of our mind wanting to control it. We do not have the power on our own to master sin. Only God through Jesus Christ can completely and thoroughly deal with this sin problem.

Sin is the driving force of every mental prison mankind has ever experienced. No one can break free of the ultimate consequence of sin without the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the liberator, the deliverer, the conqueror, and the Savior from sin and all its evil consequences. Sin is the cruel master of every mental prison that wants to control our thinking and attitudes.

Isaiah 14:17b: The man (Satan) who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities
and would not let his captives go home.

The Devil has made the world a wilderness through the domination of sin in our natures.
But the Bible promises in the wonderful 23rd Psalm that God can restore your soul, however, Satan does not us released from our mental prisons and our heart finds its true home in God. He loves to erect paper walls that have on them words of guilt and shame and fear bringing up our past to make us think that God has rejected us and that we are not good enough for salvation. Think about a football team that breaks through the paper barrier before a football game. Are they afraid of what is on the other side? We cannot listen to what the Devil has written on our paper walls. We cannot take his accusations to heart. They are lies. The Devil is the father of lies according to John 8:44. It is his native language. These paper walls are an illusion to hold us back from God and to keep us in our mental prisons when all the time God is saying “Break through them with me! I have made you new in Christ, the blood of Christ has washed everything clean and through me you can advance against any troop and leap over any wall and demolish every mental prison (Psalm 18:29).

Isaiah 63:1,2,5b: Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!” I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm…

How few want to help those oppressed in mental prisons today. Only the Lord has the power to save those that are oppressed. Today is the day of salvation, the day of deliverance. We must have faith in the transforming power of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Salvation means wholeness and soundness mentally, physically and spiritually. It is to be made whole by the restoration of our relationship with God. Reconciliation back to God sets our free from every burden that has plagued our soul.

Hebrews 9:12,14: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 4 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The work on the cross not only paid the price for our sins, but actually cleanses our consciences. The power of the blood of Christ washes away every mental prison. The guilt and shame of the past is completely gone. Shame entered the human race with sin causing Adam and Eve to hide from God’s presence. A conscience fully cleansed with the blood of Christ, fully conscious of its cleansing power, has the sense of guilt and demerit removed to an infinite distance. In the blood of Christ is release from every mental prison and we can come into the presence of God boldly. A cleansed conscience understands the amazing love and grace of God in washing all mental sins and images clean in the blood of Christ where they cannot torment us anymore.

How special you are to God! How fathomless is His love for you! God was willing to reach down His mighty hand and rescue you from the curse of Adam’s transgression that has plagued the human race and release you from every captivity known to mankind. Redemption is a release from the chains of the bondage of sin into the blossoming of a new life. Redemption breaks the power of death and the grave and gives the believer the hope of eternal life. Redemption restores our life, our liberty, our joy, and our dignity.

Redemption means you belong to God as His precious child, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and released from the authority and dominion of the devil.
Isaiah 53:4-6: 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 every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Physical, mental, and spiritual healing is an integral part of the atonement and salvation that God made available by sending His only begotten Son to a world plagued with sin, sickness, and disease. In the Greek, “to be saved” means to be made whole, and that not only includes remission and forgiveness of sins, but also includes a physical restoration and healing of the body and soul. Jesus Christ was our complete substitute on the cross, as God made Christ to be sin for us as He died in our place so we could be made free from the penalty of sin. But the cross of Christ is much more, as God also laid upon that cross every sickness, every infirmity, every disease, every mental bondage and every pain that has inflicted and tormented the human race since the fall of Adam. All the bitterness that infiltrated the world from the curse of the Fall was laid on the cross of Christ, and He broke the authority and power of sin, sickness, disease, and death. Jesus Christ broke the power of the curse and made life sweet again.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

God gave us a new nature and made us a new creation in Christ. The old ways of sin, sickness, pain, disease, and physical or mental infirmity have no more authority over the born again believer, who chooses by faith to walk in their redemptive sonship rights. The cross made available the promised blessing of salvation, and this includes the blessing of sweet healing to our mind, body, and soul. Down through the ages of human history, every step, every dealing of God with man has been toward one goal-a New Creation, a spiritual creation of man that would free man completely from spiritual death and satanic dominion…What a floodtide of human suffering and misery has the reign of Satan brought to the human heart…All human suffering is the result of Satan’s lordship over humanity. But now a new day has dawned in our hearts and minds.

John 8:31.32.36: So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.
We have been emancipated from mental slavery in Jesus Christ and every mental prison of guilt, shame, fear. The Son of God has liberated and by faith we must proclaim we are really and unquestionable free.

Galatians 5:1: In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery.

We need never to be in bondage to guilt, shame, fear or any other mental prison again. Christ has made us free and we must stand fast in this liberty never looking back to the past. We must refuse to ever be ensnared again.

Phillips: Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery.

Man’s difficulty centers in the need for a new Lord. Satan is a hard taskmaster as our old lord when we were dead in trespasses and sins. The Lordship of Christ means a New Nature, a New Family, and a New Father. Christ died and rose again that He might meet the need of man for a new Lord. What a message of joy, what glad tidings we have to bring to an unsaved world, the message of this new Lord for man. By a person calling unto this new Lord, the power and authority of Satan will be broken over their life. Just as every spiritual want of man centered in the lordship of Satan over his life, every spiritual blessing centers in the personal Lordship of Christ over a man’s life. The man who has taken Jesus as Lord is blessed with every spiritual blessing. The Lordship of Christ means freedom from the reign of sin. Christ has undone all the works of Satan in the human heart.

2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).

True liberty, true emancipation is only found in the Lord. God is a God of liberty not bondage.

Acts 1:8: Here’s the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth.

The gift of holy spirit that we receive at the new birth is power to melt away every chaff of bondage in our lives enabling us to escape the polluting influences in the world and our past.

Look at the power of Jesus to heal all mental prisons no matter how impossible in Mark 5:

Mark 5:2-8,15: And as soon as He got out of the boat, there met Him out of the tombs a man [under the power] of an unclean spirit.3 This man continually lived among the tombs, and no one could subdue him anymore, even with a chain; 4 For he had been bound often with shackles for the feet and handcuffs, but the handcuffs of [light] chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he rubbed and ground together and broke in pieces; and no one had strength enough to restrain or tame him.5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always shrieking and screaming and beating and bruising and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when from a distance he saw Jesus, he ran and fell on his knees before Him in homage, 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? [What is there in common between us?] I solemnly implore you by God, do not begin to torment me! 8 For Jesus was commanding, Come out of the man, you unclean spirit! 5 And they came to Jesus and looked intently and searchingly at the man who had been a demoniac, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, [the same man] who had had the legion [of demons]; and they were seized with alarm and struck with fear.

This man was in the worst mental prisons that no one could help. He lived in the tombs, a social outcast, screaming and shrieking every night and cutting himself. Jesus Christ completely healed him, clothing him in a right, sound mind. He can still do this today. He has not changed.

The Bible also gives us many examples of people overcoming enormous guilt and shame in Christ:

Malefactor on cross: Luke 23:40-43: But the other one reproved him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty?41 And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way [nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable].42 Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!43 And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

The malefactor lived his entire life in mental prisons and now had overwhelming guilt and shame in his last hours on earth. It was not too late as Jesus reached out and promised him eternal life and complete freedom before his last breath.

Peter: Luke 22:31-34, 60-62 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

The devil must have whispered to Peter, “You failed Him in the garden when you slept. You failed Him by denying Him six times before the rooster crowed. You failed Him by returning to your fishing boat and taking the others with you.”

What is the Devil whispering in your ear? What failures is he bringing up? What paper walls is he erecting? What accusations is he hurling at you?

But Jesus didn’t bring up any of these failures. Instead, He asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” It is important that we comprehend His love and His grace, grace that is greater than all our sin. If he could forgive Peter who denied him so vehemently, can He forgive you?

Look at Peter about 50 days later changed by Pentecost and the new birth.
Acts 2:22-24: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
50 days earlier he was behind closed doors for fear of the Jews in complete bondage to his mental prisons of fear, guilt and shame. Look at the deliverance in Christ in mind and soul that transformed Him and set Him free.

Apostle Paul’s past: Acts 9:1-3: But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Paul stood at the feet of Stephen when he was stoned and participate in this unjust killing. He would barge into homes and haul Christians to jail. His hatred against Jesus was unmatched.

I Timothy 1:12-16: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Paul said he was the worst sinner of all with a horrible past. But the grace of our Lord was poured out on him and he was saved and forgiven and cleansed. His conscience no longer had to haunt him. The door of every mental prison was obliterated and opened so Paul could breathe free. Never again did he have to live in guilt and shame.

2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

God has given us a sound mind in Christ.

With salvation, guilt, shame, despair and fear is replaced with peace.

Romans 5:1:

Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted,
declared righteous, and given a right standing
with God) through faith, let us grasp the fact
that we have (the peace of reconciliation to
hold and to enjoy) peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the
Anointed One).

No one can have the true peace of God in their life until they are reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Reconciliation produces the restoration of a relationship of peace that had been disturbed and broken in the Garden of Eden by the high treason of Adam. Reconciliation is to change a relationship of hostility, enmity, and separation to a relationship of love, acceptance, admiration, and friendship. It is a relationship of peace and favor, as we are no longer at war with God or hostile to Him. There is no rejection, no condemnation, no guilt, and no unworthiness in this close, loving relationship. This relationship of peace is more than the mere absence of enmity or hostility, but the invitation from God to come into his presence and enjoy the closeness and loving bond of a relationship with Him.

The peace of God is the legal right and possession of every born again believer. We HAVE peace with God. All the barriers have been abolished between you and God. There is no friction, no uneasiness, no conflict, and no obstruction in this new relationship of peace. It is a complete harmony and unity with Yahweh-Shalom. The word “peace” in the Greek means: to bind or join together what is broken or divided, setting the broken parts as one again.

Colossians 1:20: And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Luke 1:78,79 : Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven (Jesus Christ) is about to break upon us. To give light to those who sit in darkness and
in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.

Ephesians 2:14(a) (Wuest): For He (Jesus Christ) himself is our peace…
Isaiah 57:19-21: I will comfort those that mourn bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far, says the Lord, who heals them. But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt. There is no peace for the wicked, says my God.

There is no peace outside of God and His Son. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace according to Isaiah 9:6.

The peace of God is where the stillness, calmness, and quietness of God reign unbroken and undisturbed. Picture a beautiful serene lake that is perfectly still with only a gentle breeze and crystal clear water. The lake is calm and tranquil, with the sun glistening off the waters. This is a vivid illustration of the heart and soul of someone who has the peace of Yahweh-Shalom in their life.

Romans 8:6(b) (KJV): But to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Psalm 119:165 (Amplified): Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble.

Psalm 4:8 (Amplified): In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.

Life and peace abound in the life of a man or woman who has their thoughts focused on God and His Word. When we love God’s Word, meditate upon it, and hide it in our hearts, great abundant peace will flow through every part of us. Absolutely nothing in the world will cause us to stumble, for we are rooted and grounded in His peace. We have confident trust in the Lord and the complete safety and protection He provides, so every night we enjoy the sweet sleep of peace. Nothing disturbs us; nothing rattles us, and nothing agitates us, for we have His peace.

Psalm 55:18 (Amplified): He has redeemed my life in peace from the battle that was against me [so that none came near me], for they were many who strove with me.

John 14:27 (Amplified): Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

John 16:33 (Amplified): I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

In our redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, lies the ultimate deliverance and healing from every single oppression, exploitation, domination, depression, tyranny, and work of the devil.

The first promise of Christ in Genesis 3:15 says that he will crush the head of the serpent (the devil). 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 crushed every prison of bondage ever known to the mind of man!

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.

Let the past go and embrace the complete freedom of a cleansed conscience in Christ.

Philippians 3:13b,14: But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

We cannot allow the past to be a prison of guilt and shame in our minds. We must let go, forgetting the past and press toward the heavenly prize that awaits us at Christ’s return.

Philippians 4:6,7: Don’t worry over anything whatsoever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer. And the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.

We need never worry or be anxious about any circumstance or problem we face, for we have a Heavenly Father to whom we can take every need and difficulty to in prayer. In the Greek, the word “worry” describes the state of the mind of being pulled apart and divided by anxious cares and worries. It is characterized by an extreme uneasiness of the mind and a brooding fear about something, and emphasizes a fear of misfortune, failure, disappointment, and disaster. Worry denotes a lack of focus and trust in God and an endless running of the mind in all directions. God says instead of worrying or being anxious, bring the problem to Him in earnest and thankful prayer. We should worry about nothing and pray about everything. That is the lifestyle of the believer.

Psalm 34:4-8: I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

God can deliver us from all our fears and save us out of all our troubles. God is a God of deliverance not bondage. God is a God of liberty not slavery.

Proverbs 19:22: There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.

Jeremiah 10:23 O Lord, I know that the way of man in not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Psalm 119:24: Thy testimonies are my delight and counselor.

We need God’s counsel and help in this walk of liberty so we do not allow our minds to be enslaved again in a yoke of bondage. We need to renew our minds to the word daily. We cannot allow our minds to be conformed to the pattern of this world any longer.

Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Let tonight start a new beginning, a new freedom in our mind and thoughts. Let God be the healer of our minds and souls. Let us in faith see what He sees and believe our complete wholeness in Christ instead of imprisoned in what the world sees.
God promises He is with us every step of the way and His Word is like a bright light casting forth every remnant of darkness. He paid a huge price for our redemption including every form of mental captivity. We no longer need to be bound in fear, guilt and shame.

Isaiah 43:2-5(a) (The Message Bible): Don’t be afraid, I have redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you are in tough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end-Because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you…that’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, Trade the creation just for you. So don’t be afraid; I am with you.

Isaiah 42:16 (Message Bible): But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going. I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch. These are the things I’ll be doing for them-sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.

Tonight God is asking you to trust Him and have faith that all mental prisons that have tormented you in the past are obliterated in Christ. Enjoy the wonderful cleansing mental freedom from all guilt, fear, shame, depression and despair that He provides.

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Jesus Christ Our Passover: The Astounding Truths of Jesus as the Lamb of God

JesusThePassoverLamb
I Corinthians 5:7: Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:

Jesus Christ was the living fulfillment of every legal requirement of Passover. He was the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God that God had chosen. What Christ accomplished as the Passover Lamb is so magnificent, so breathtaking and so monumental that is will transform and revolutionize our lives if we understand and believe it. I pray that God opens the eyes of your heart that you see and understand these truths as never before because they are a treasure in Scripture and foundational to us being set free from every bondage and prison to live life in the glorious liberty of the children of God. Jesus Christ is seen in every detail of the Passover. He perfectly fulfilled the law regarding the Sacrificial Lamb. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ replaced once and for all the sacrifices of the Old Testament Law and his death was the complete atonement for sin and the consequences of sin. It also signifies the victory over the power of sin that has crouched at the door of every heart ruining people, communities and nations throughout all of history. To understand the significance of Jesus Christ as our Passover is to come face to face with God’s magnificent plan of all ages.

To understand the greatness of the Passover, we must understand the historical context of the Passover. Joseph brought his father Israel, his eleven brothers and their families to Egypt during the severe famine in Canaan. Joseph was the second in command to the Pharaoh who graciously welcomed Joseph’s family into Egypt. After the famine was over, they did not leave and go back to the Promised Land. They stayed, and multiplied greatly. Eventually the Egyptians, particularly Pharaoh, became suspicious of them, so he enslaved them. What had started out as a wonderful provision for the safety of Jacob’s family ended in slavery.

Exodus 1:12b: And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. Exodus 2:23b,24: The people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. Exodus 12:40-42: The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughouttheir generations.

Israel was physically and spiritually enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. They were in bondage in every way from their status as slaves to being enslaved to the Egyptian gods. While in Egypt, the Israelites served and worshipped the Egyptian Gods and were reluctant to abandon them. But the chains of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual slavery became too much for their burdened souls and they cried out for rescue. The oppression of their enslavement of body, soul, and mind was so great they groaned and cried to God for deliverance. They cried out for a savior, a rescuer and a redeemer who could set them free from the chains of physical, mental and spiritual slavery. It was only by God’s mighty power in the Exodus that they were ever able to leave Egypt; they could not have done it on their own. In their minds, they were half-Egyptian by that time, perhaps even more. They really did not want to leave. Sure, they loved the idea of freedom, but as soon as they left Egypt, they wanted to go back. It is ironic how hard it was for them to return to Canaan because they had forgotten that their real homeland was in the land of Canaan, not in Egypt. They had taken the place of their exile as home. They had become so enmeshed in the culture of Egypt that they considered it their own. We see this when, only a month out, they forced Aaron to bring some of that culture back into their lives in the form of a Golden Calf. Let us look at Exodus and God’s ordaining this wonderful festival of the Passover.

Exodus 12:1ff: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you (up until now the first month of the Hebrew year was Tishri, but the Passover was so important that God wanted it commemorated in the first month and He literally rotates the calendar 6 months and makes Abib the first month).3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: (This month was called Abib and it was in the spring of the year during our March or April. It was called Abib until Judah was taken captive by Babylon and then the name was changed to Nisan. On the 10th of Nisan the Passover lamb was selected).4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.(The Passover Lamb was kept until the 14th of Nisan. From the 10th of Nisan to the 14th of Nisan was a period of preparation for the Passover meal and the Feast of Unleavened Bread which began on Passover. The 14th of Nissan was known as a day of preparation for it was on this day that the lamb was slain and prepared for eating. We must also realize that the Jewish day didn’t begin at midnight like our modern days. It began at sunset which was the start of a new day. The Passover lamb was slain in the evening but this is not an accurate translation from the Hebrew. Ben ha-arbayim literally means “between the evenings.” This is an expression according to evidence from the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism, refers to the period between 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon. According to historian Josephus, the practice in the first century AD was to begin slaughtering the Passover lambs at the ninth hour which is roughly our 3:00pm. This is collaborated by Deuteronomy 16:6 where the Passover sacrifice is to take place “at evening, at the going down of the sun” which is when the sun is declining from its highest point at noon in the sky. This timing of the death of the Passover lamb is very significant later when we study the time of Jesus Christ’s death. The Passover lamb had to be slain on the 14th of Nisan before sunset because sunset began the 15th of Nisan, a new day. 2 Chronicles 35:1: “They killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month”; Leviticus 23:5: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even [Hebrew: “between the evenings”] is the Lord’s Passover.”) 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s Passover. (The Israelites were to eat with their cloaks on, their sandals on their feet, and even their staff in their hand. Do you know what this says to me? It speaks to me about faith because the Israelites had been in slavery for decades. They had prayed about freedom. They had talked about freedom. They had hoped for freedom. They had cried for freedom. Now, God says, “Tomorrow, you will be free.” The Israelites could have approached that with doubts such as, “Oh yeah, we have heard that one before.” They could have crossed their legs, crossed their arms and looked kind of sideways and said, “We will believe it when we see it.” God said, “Do not act that way with Me and My promises.” God said, “You are going to be free tomorrow, and I want you to eat this Passover lamb, and I want you to be dressed, and I even want you to have your staff in your hand.” Be ready to go!)12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever.25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

There were three major feasts celebrated in Israel each year by the Lord’s command. Passover was the most important feast of all was to be observed as a sacred feast and memorial forever.

Deuteronomy 16:16 and 17: Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks [Pentecost] and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: (17) Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.

The “Feast of Unleavened Bread” was the seven day feast that began with the eating of the Passover meal. Because of its association with the Passover meal, it was also known as “the Feast of Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th of Nisan and continued through sunset closing the 21st of Nisan-a seven day feast. The first day and the last days of the Feast were to be days of holy convocation, special Sabbaths in which no servile work was done. Leviticus 23:6-8: And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

Before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, God instructed Moses to declare to them the procedures for subsequent Passovers, including some changes.

Deuteronomy 16: 1ff: Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there anything of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee:6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

Let’s review some of the details of the Passover we have learned:

1) There are two significant aspects of the Passover lamb, the flesh and the blood. In eating the lamb’s flesh, the believing children of Israel were literally eating physical health and wholeness to themselves as when they left Egypt. Psalm 105:37: He brought them forth also with silver and gold and there was not one feeble person among their tribes. It was the lamb’s blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels that caused death, the destroyer, and the wrath of God to pass over them, saving their lives. The shedding of the lamb’s blood was representative of the atonement or covering for sin. By the shedding of blood the children of Israel were spared from the consequences of their sins.

2) The Passover lamb was chosen on the 10th of Nisan.

3) The Passover lamb had to be a male of the first year, without spot or blemish and it was taken out from the sheep or the goats.

4) The Passover lamb was kept until the 14th of Nisan and then it was killed “between the evenings” at 2:30-3:30 in the afternoon (Jewish days began at sunset) and at the time of Jesus it was killed at 3:00 in the afternoon. The ram’s horn would sound around 3:00pm signaling the time to slaughter the Passover Lamb.

5) Not a bone was broken of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12).

6) The Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed in the place where the Lord chooses to place his name. 2 Chronicles 6:6a: But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there; 2 Chronicles 12:13b: The city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his name.

7) The Passover lamb could not be slain within the gates that the Lord thy God has given thee. The Passover Lamb was slain outside of the camp or the gates of the city of Jerusalem.

8) The Passover was to be eaten in haste with loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand indicating they trusted God’s promise that they would be delivered from slavery that evening.

9) The Passover meal was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Leaven was an agent added to a flour mixture or liquids to produce a state of fermentation. The ancient Hebrews always kneaded with their bread a piece of fermented dough reserved from the previous baking. Leaven produces fermentation and is the result of the natural process of decay. It is a symbol of death, sin and decay. Leaven spreads rapidly and has a corrupting influence like the impulses and fruit of sin. It symbolizes the corruption that takes place from wickedness. It is referred to as “the bread of affliction” which represents the affliction they had to endure during their captivity. The bitter herbs represented the bitterness of the bondage of Egypt that had afflicted their souls. Egypt’s wickedness and idolatry was like a little lump that had corrupted all of Israel and its leaven had to be not eaten or digested any longer for God was going to deliver them from it.

10) The 15th of Nisan was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and was a holy convocation or special Sabbath where no work could be done.

11) The Passover ushered in the deliverance from Egypt, the land of bondage and the release from the slavery of body and soul to the cruel taskmasters of Egypt. It was all by the hand of God Almighty.

Let’s look at Jesus Christ and how he fulfilled every one of these requirements of the Passover lamb.

1) Jesus Christ instituted the new covenant of communion right before his crucifixion. I Corinthians 11:23-26: For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb had two significant parts, his body which was broken and crushed for our physical healing and wholeness and his blood which was shed as a complete atonement for sin and the consequences of sin. His blood protected from the wages of sin which is death. His blood made reconciliation to God available and he paid the price for our eternal salvation. John 1:29: The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Hebrews 9:12-15: He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
2) Jesus Christ was chosen by God as the Passover lamb and he was chosen or accepted by the children of Israel as the Passover lamb on the 10th of Nisan. In Genesis 22 God commanded Abraham “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” On the way to the mountain, Isaac asked his father “Where is the LAMB for the burnt offering?” (Gen 22:7) to which Abraham replied “God will provide for Himself the LAMB for the burnt offering, my son.” (Gen 22:8). As Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac whom he loved, he “raised his eyes and looked and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of (as a “substitute” for) his son.” (Ge 22:13) “Abraham called the name of that place the LORD WILL PROVIDE, (JEHOVAH JIREH) as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” (Ge 22:14) JEHOVAH JIREH is more literally “Jehovah will see,” which conveys the idea that Jehovah sees the need before it arises and provides for the need! The Omniscient One sees your need beloved. The amazing God of all grace (1Peter 5:10) not only foresaw Abraham’s need for ”A” lamb, but even more amazing, foresaw our need for “THE” LAMB OF GOD to be our Substitute. Matthew 21:8: Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

3) Jesus Christ was a male in his first year of ministry and without spot or blemish. Although I do not have time in this article to examine in detail, but the ministry of Jesus on earth was only one year, not three years as tradition teaches. He had to be a male of the first year. I Peter 1:18,19: Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. Jesus Christ also was to be one from the flock, or as Deuteronomy 18:15 says, one “…from among your own brothers….” Jesus also had to be taken from the sheep or goats which emphasizes his humanity. Jesus was a man as the Passover Lamb, the second Adam, (I Timothy 2:5: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus). He was taken out from “the flock” of humanity, and humanity is composed of those of us who believe (the sheep) and those who do not (the goats). Hebrews 2:14-17: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same (Jesus only took part of the flesh and not of the blood. That is why his blood was sinless); that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

4) Jesus Christ died between the evenings at about 3:00pm on the 14th of Nisan at the exact same time the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in Jerusalem. This is breathtaking and explains one of the reasons why Jesus endured on the cross for 6 hours. Matthew 27:45,46,48,50,51: Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. As the ram’s horn was blowing across Jerusalem to signal the Jews to kill their Passover lambs, Jesus Christ gave up the ghost and died as the Passover Lamb. The Veil of the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom, eliminating the separation between God and man. Hebrews 4:16: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

5) Throughout the torture of the crucifixion, as the Passover Lamb none of Jesus’ bones were broken. John 19:31-36: The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the special Sabbath on Thursday the 15th of Nisan) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

6) Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb was crucified in Jerusalem, the city that God chose to place His name. It is estimated that there was over 200,000 people in Jerusalem celebrating Passover.

7) Jesus Christ, as the Passover Lamb, was crucified outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem on a place called Golgotha, the place of the skull. It is interesting that Jesus was prophesied to crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15 and on Golgotha at the cross on the place of the skull, this was accomplished. John 19:17b,18: So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. Hebrews 13:11,12:
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

8) When the new covenant of communion is partaken, the believer should be ready to leave all the bondage and sin of Egypt and walk in God’s deliverance. They should not look back to the things of the world or their past sins, but remember Jesus’ death and renew themselves to live in His lordship.

9) Jesus Christ is our unleavened bread of life. Now Christ is in us and we are to rid our lives of any remnant of leaven, the influences of our old fallen nature and live pure lives, uncontaminated from the corruption in the world. I Corinthians 5:6-8: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Titus 2:11,12: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Colossians 3:8: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

10) Jesus Christ as the Passover lamb was dead and buried before the 15th of Nisan (sunset on the 14th of Nisan) because this began the Feast of the Passover or Unleavened Bread.

11) God gave His only begotten Son to redeem us from the curse of sin and death and the bondage of our spiritual Egypt. He lead captive according to Ephesians 4:8 every sin, every prison, every addiction, every lust and every oppression that held us in bondage. Colossians 1:13,14: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. I John 3:8: The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].

I want to go into more depth into the sufferings of our Lord for us and what He accomplished by them.

Isaiah 53: 4-6: Surely he hath borne our griefs (sicknesses), and carried our sorrows (pains): yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. On Jesus was laid every sickness, sin, pain, oppression and bondage of the human race. He bore them all for us. How big is this truth?

John 19:1-3: Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. The Greek word for “scourged” is mastigoo meaning “to scourge with a lash or rod, to whip or to flog.” The soldiers stripped Jesus, tied him to a post and brutally flogged him. The whip consisted of stone beads or metal balls spaced periodically along the length of each strand. At the end of the thongs of this whip there were jagged pieces of metal, or bone. The wielder of the whip is an expert in his ghastly craft-trained to inflict maximum pain and damage without killing his victim. The effects of such punishment are described by the Psalmist. Psalms 129:2,3: Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.3 The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows. When being whipped in this way, the condemned man would be stripped and tied to a stake. He whipping on his bare back would hideously gouge the flesh, literally plowing it loose from the ribs and vertebrae. Bleeding would be profuse. The legs and buttocks were brutally whipped too making it extremely difficult to stand or sit without excruciating pain. The soldiers plaited or braided the first crown of thorns and put it on his head. As they continuously beat on him, the pain Jesus was suffering is impossible to describe or fathom. He was ruthlessly mocked and taunted as a King. They continued to brutally bead him with these rods. The torture and suffering was indescribable.

John 19:4,5: Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him (lamb without spot or blemish). 5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! What a man! Behold the second Adam, the Lamb, the Redeemer, the Savior and the greatest man that ever lived at the focal point of all history. We see the picture of our Savior’s endurance, love and obedience in the face of unparalleled evil. Behold the man who went through all of this for each one of us, for our redemption and our salvation. Mutilated beyond recognition, wearing a garb by its color implied royalty, Jesus was brought out again for public display. Isaiah 53:7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. John 19:6-16:6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.14 And it was the preparation of the Passover (13th of Nisan), and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

Upon leaving Pilate, Jesus was not immediately crucified. He was taken again by the Roman soldiers into the Praetorium to be tortured, beaten and mocked by the Roman soldiers over the next 18-20 hours. Scholars have estimated that this was a cohort of about 480 soldiers. The strength of the Roman soldier was beyond comparison often able to kill a human or animal with a single blow. Matthew 27:27-31: Then the soldiers of the governor (Pilate) took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet (crimson or deep scarlet) robe (a wide course military cloak).29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote (to beat repeatedly with hand, fist, staff and whip) him on the head.31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. These about 480 whole band of soldiers gathered for one purpose to mock, humiliate and torture Jesus. But there was no law to protect the Savior from these soldiers. Every man’s heart seems to have been steeled against Him. They said by their actions, if not in words, “He shall not only die, but He shall be stripped of all His honor. He shall be robbed of every comfort. He shall become the butt and target of all the cruel arrows of contempt that we can shoot at Him.” Think of this lot of howling dogs around this one gentle Lamb of God, the Christ who had never even a hard word for them, whose mightiest weapon was silence and patience! Think of Him surrounded by all these men of war from their youth up, these Roman legionaries with their imperial eagles! It was a cruel shame. The more there were of them, the meaner it was of them thus, as a whole band, to gather together to mock the Savior. They stripped off the purple robe that Pilate put on him in mockery of Jesus being a king and put on him the crimson military cloak in mockery of him being a great conqueror. Each time his garments were stripped from him, the dried blood and scabs sticking to them, would be painfully ripped off. They thrust into his head a second crown of thorns, mercilessly pressing it into his scalp causing intense pain and profuse bleeding. They stuck a reed in his hand as if it were a royal scepter, taunting and bowing before him in a laughing contempt as they hailed him as King of the Jews. They spit on him and took the staff and repeatedly beat him on the head driving the thorns deeper into his skull causing agonizing pain. These thorns were as hard as nails. When the Roman soldiers rammed down the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus, the thorns went the two major nerves that covered the entire head. When the crown of thorns came down upon Jesus, he experienced “trigeminal neuralgia” There would be agonizing pain all over the front and sides of his face. There would also be agonizing pain on the insides of his ears. It would have been the equivalent of having someone come up with a knife and stabbing a person all over the face. This is unimaginable suffering. Thorns were a product of the fall of man, a consequence of the entrance of sin into the world. God cursed the ground, declaring that it would forever produce thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:18). The crown of thorns represented that part of the curse that Jesus took upon himself in his crucifixion. There truly was no part of humanity and its ruin that he did not experience. He wore a crown of thorns so we may receive a crown of glory. The Bible is silent as to how this torture and mockery took place by the soldiers but with that many it probably lasted an excruciating long time up to 18-20 hours. Jesus was without rest had already been up over 48 hours. He had been up all day Monday. He was arrested Monday night and beaten. Tuesday he went back and forth between Pilate and Herod. Then he was up Tuesday night being beaten by the soldiers. Being tired like this intensifies the pain. He was completely dehydrated and his tongue was swollen. Then he was dragged out to be crucified with malefactors and thieves. Jesus is hurled to the ground after the long walk to Golgotha and a five inch long spike is struck by a hammer driving it crashing through sinews and flesh. As his nerves contort in horrible spasms as the nails are driven in each wrist just below the base of the hand. This causes unimaginable pain and suffering in this ultra-sensitive spot full of nerve endings. Then with the aid of ropes and pulleys, the beam is hoisted up and the force of it dropping into place immediately jerks both arms out of their shoulder sockets. Then the spikes are driven sideways through the thickest portion of the ankle bone and into the post. One of the horrors of crucifixion was the inability to breathe while hanging in that distorted position. One would have to push upward on the nail pierced feet in order to relax the chest wall enough to permit exhalation. This caused excruciating pain to simply breathe. Most died by asphyxiation on the cross and this is why they would break their legs if they were not dead. Jesus hanged on the cross for about 6 hours like this. Matthew 26:53: Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? At any time he could have had 72,000 angels come and rescue him but he chose to hand there for you and me. Can we even fathom this kind of love?

Isaiah 52:14: Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
Psalm 22 is a prophecy about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was a common practice among Jews in the first century citing a Psalm, a whole psalm, by referring to its first few words. It is to remind the listeners of this Psalm. Jesus cried from the cross the first few words of the first verse of Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” which is a bad translation and more literally means, “My God, my God for this purpose was I spared!”) to bring to attention to all Israel that Psalm 22 is literally being fulfilled before their eyes. Jesus so loved people that he was reaching out to them on the cross even while hanging in agony and pain beyond belief. Psalm 22-24 were well beloved by the Jewish people. By quoting a few words the minds of Israel were directed to this Psalm as Jesus was showing Israel he was indeed the Messiah. It was a cry of vindication and victory not abandonment. God did not abandon Jesus on the cross, He was with Him every minute. God doesn’t forsake people because of sin or we would all be in trouble. That is tradition not truth. Matthew 16:32: “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” Listen to these words to feel what Jesus was going through for you prophesied by David some 900 years before Christ). Psalm 22:6ff: “But I am a worm (same word in Hebrew as “scarlet” so used as both a color and the worm that made the scarlet die. Jesus was scarlet, beaten beyond recognition, like crimson mass of flesh, but also treated as a worthless worm, hung out to die) and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan (the largest, best, strongest and most fit cattle came from an area known as Bashan. These are power animals and figuratively compared in this verse to the powerful Roman soldiers) surround me;13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint (as the Passover lamb none of his bones were broken but they were all out of joint); my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death (he had little physical strength left and was literally living on faith alone.)16 For dogs (Gentiles-the Romans) encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet (this is a phenomenal prophecy as 900 years before the Messiah was crucified they did not crucify people. It was invented by the Romans. How amazing is God’s Word!).—17 I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” Read this amazing Psalm and hear the heart of Jesus in his suffering. What is even more astounding is his last breath he quotes the last few words of Psalm 22. Psalm 22:31: “They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn (that is you and me)-for he has done it.” In the Aramaic “He has done it” is “It is finished!” Jesus Christ was not a victim, he was in total control and knew exactly what he was doing as he sacrificed his life as the Passover Lamb for us. Think of his commitment, his steeled mind, his focus in the worst pain and torture imaginable to quote the first and last verse of Psalm 22. He was thinking I wonder how many would believe if they really knew what was going on and had their eyes opened to the 22nd Psalm. Psalm 22 was referring to no one else but the Messiah and God inspired David to write this wonderful Psalm by revelation to show Israel without doubt who the Messiah is. The only reason God forgives sin today is because of the death of Christ. Do you realize what it cost God and what Jesus went through to redeem you. Isn’t that the God that we want to devote our lives too?

The only sin could be overcome and forgiven is through the agony of the cross and the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. The only ground of salvation is the enormous cost of the Cross of Christ. There is no other way. Isaiah 53:6-9: We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep, scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits; The Eternal One laid on him, this silent sufferer, the sins of us all.7 And in the face of such oppression and suffering—silence. Not a word of protest, not a finger raised to stop it. Like a sheep to a shearing, like a lamb to be slaughtered, he went—oh so quietly, oh so willingly.8 Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away. From this generation, who was there to complain? Who was there to cry “Foul”? He was, after all, cut off from the land of the living, Smacked and struck, not on his account, because of how my people (my people!) Disregarded the lines between right and wrong. They snuffed out his life.9 And when he was dead, he was buried with the disgraced in borrowed space (among the rich),Even though he did no wrong by word or deed. I Peter 2:21-25: For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Freedom is what Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are ultimately about. God’s freeing Israel from bondage in Egypt is the object lesson for us to apply spiritually. Truth and freedom go hand and hand. This is one of the reasons why the Christian world is in the condition that it is in. They do not really mark the death of Jesus Christ in the way that God commanded us to observe. John 8:31,32

We also fail to understand the Power of the blood of Jesus: Spurgeon comments on the precious blood of the Lamb of God: “Standing at the foot of the Cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “PRECIOUS” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with Him. Christ’s blood is also “PRECIOUS” in its cleansing power; it “cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7) “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isa 1:18) Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6), notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God. The blood of Christ is likewise “PRECIOUS” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God’s seeing the blood which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “PRECIOUS” also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and lead it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. And “PRECIOUS,” unspeakably precious, is this blood, because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “They overcame through the BLOOD OF THE LAMB.” (Rev 12:11-1Jn 5:4-5) How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus, fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat. The blood of Jesus! Sin dies at its presence, death ceases to be death: heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! We shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!”

We must never forget the Lamb of God is coming back to earth as King of Kings.

Revelation 7:9-17: After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 19:11-14,16: Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 17:14: These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Revelation 1:5-9: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Hebrews 12:1-4: So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.2 Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.3 Consider the life of the One who endured such personal attacks and hostility from sinners so that you will not grow weary or lose heart. 4 Among you, in your striving against sin, none has resisted the pressure to the point of death, as He did.

The question in the OT was “WHERE IS THE LAMB?” The answer in the NT is “BEHOLD THE LAMB!” Our cry throughout eternity will be “WORTHY IS THE LAMB!” And all God’s children said “Hallelujah! Amen!”

We come to the Passover empty-handed. Everything God has blessed us with we dedicate to the Lord. Everything. Our lives, families, jobs, money, goals, possessions. He is our Lord, our Passover and He deserves everything. He deserves our utmost for His highest.

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