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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The Christian’s Approach to Sin after the New Birth

Turning-from-Sin_std_t_nv
It is a popular belief among many Christians that once you are born again that sin is not a problem anymore. It is widely believed that the Christian does not need to be concerned about sin because of the grace of God and that it no longer has any negative impact or consequences in our daily living. It is like we are given a “live any way you want card” because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and we don’t have been to be concerned about our character, our conduct, our actions or our manner of living. It is given the term of Christian liberty or freedom in Christ, and we can always just confess our sins, receive forgiveness and then go back living anyway we please often in the same manner or even worse than before we were born again. Don’t be fooled as this is a major deception by our spiritual enemy the Devil as sin is the major destroyer of Christian lives, Christian churches, Christian marriages, Christian relationships and the movement of the gospel around the earth. Habitual sin will destroy your relationship with God and rob it of its intimacy. Sin will produce works that do not glorify God and can absolutely engulf and consume your heart taking it out and turning it away from God Almighty. By its very nature, sin wants to rule, sin wants to control, sin wants to dominate and sin wants to reign as king in our lives. Sin is a thief, it is a destroyer and it ruins and shatters our lives. Sin enslaves and brings your heart into bondage so you are hindered and obstructed and bound from accomplishing the God given-destiny God has designed for you life. Sin is a great enemy to our calling, our God-given gifting and the purpose that God has so lovingly set for our lives. The Devil uses sin to divert us, distract us, fascinate us and lure us off God’s righteous path to a road that leads to misery and despair. Nothing is more tragic that having wasted our lives because we have allowed sin to have its way in our hearts. Let me make one truth clear, I understand the awesome work of atonement by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and how he bore our sin and paid the price for sin so we could become birthed into the kingdom as His beloved sons and daughters. Our salvation is paid for by the finished work of Jesus Christ and we are born again by incorruptible seed that cannot perish. However, Romans 6 lays forth the vital truth that sin is still an enemy that we must deal with in a practical way in our lives even after we become Christians or it will become our master and we will be its slaves. In many ways Romans chapter 6 is the crux of your walk with God as a Christian and lays out important truths that we cannot ignore as Christians. Before you can get to the great heights of Romans 8 in the Christian life, you must walk through and practice the truths of Romans 6 or you will never be more that a conqueror in practice in the circumstances of life.

Ray Stedman wrote:

Verses 1-14 of the sixth chapter of Romans are the most important fourteen verses in Scripture, insofar as being delivered from enduring the Christian life to enjoying it is concerned. There is a difference between possessing eternal life, which all Christians have, and possessing that abundant life which the Lord came to give

God did not quit hating sin after the Day of Pentecost because He knows the destruction and havoc it causes to our faith, our obedience, our love and our confidence. Sin has titanic and often unrealized effects and knowing this should put us on high alert and cause us to guard ourselves against its cancerous and contaminating consequences.

The apostle sees sin as a living and malignant power that at one time had complete reign over us. Even after a person is converted, sin still struggles mightily to retain its former dominion. The unconverted are POWs to such an extent that sin dwells in them without resistance from the spirit of God. The gift of holy spirit that dwells within us is always resisting our sin nature and that is why God exhorts in Galatians to walk by the spirit and not to walk by the flesh. This is the great battle of life of what nature are we going to follow and build our habits, words, actions and thoughts around. We cannot resist the sin nature’s relentless pursuit to be our master without the help and power of God Almighty.

Sin does negative and destructive things to us and others. If sin were positive or even neutral, a loving God would be unconcerned about it. He would not lead us to repentance or demand that we repent of it, confess it and ask for forgiveness and deliverance from it. He would not command us to overcome it, resist it, mortify it, put it away, turn from it and not continue in it if it had no effect on our Christian lives.

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 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. 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.

Before we look at Romans 6, let’s examine the Greek words used for “sin” in the New Testament so we can define our terms based upon the God-breathed Word and not our own interpretations or culture’s definitions. Sin (hamartia) literally conveys the sense of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow (in Homer some hundred times of a warrior hurling his spear but missing his foe). Later hamartia came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Ryrie adds that “this is not only a negative idea but includes the positive idea of hitting some wrong mark.” Hamartia in the Bible means to miss God’s mark as an archer misses the “bull’s eye” and ultimately to miss the true purpose and end of our lives which is God Himself. Hamartia is the word used most frequently in the New Testament for sin.

Brought over into the New Testament, this idea of failing to attain an end, gives it the idea of missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation from what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will, perversion of what is upright, and a misdeed. Thus the word hamartia means a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God. It is missing of the standard set by God. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament).

God has a wonderful divinely appointed goal, purpose, mark and standard for your life. This is the bull’s eye. When we sin we wander and stray from this divine standard, and miss the perfect, true purpose that God has designed for our lives.

Transgression (paraptoma from para = aside + pipto = fall) is literally a falling aside or beside to stumble on something (so as to loose footing) and in its figurative ethical usage (all uses in the New Testament) it describes a “false step”, a violation of moral standards or a deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right way to live. Paraptoma is a false step out of the appointed way, a trespass on forbidden ground, a stepping out of line of true conduct, a deviation from truth and uprightness. Paraptoma describes what a person has done in transgressing the will and law of God by some false step or failure.

Paraptoma is akin to parapipto, to fall beside a person or thing, to fall away, to deviate from the right path, or to turn aside (see Hebrews 6:6). The basic idea of paraptoma is that of stumbling or falling so as to lose one’s footing. The NAS translates paraptoma with 2 words, either as transgression or trespass (derived from Old French – tres =across [Latin – trans] + passer = to pass. Thus trespass means to make inroads upon the property, territory, or rights of another and implies an unwarranted, unlawful, or offensive intrusion).

Trespasses, from the Greek paraptoma, means “to go off a path, fall or slip aside.” When it is applied to moral and ethical issues it means to deviate from the right way, to wander. Sins, the Greek hamartia, is generally associated with military usage and means to “miss the mark.” It indicates failing to make a bull’s-eye. In moral and ethical contexts, it means to fail of one’s purpose, to go wrong, or to fail to live according to an accepted standard or ideal. Sin is the failure to be what we ought to be and could be. God has created the new nature in us and we are beloved sons and daughter but if we allow sin to rule our lives, we will never manifest to the world the greatness of this calling. Our witness will fail to show the world the greatness of our God.

Christianity is a way of life from God that He expects to reach into every facet of life. We sin when we fail to live up to the standards of this way of life that God established as revealed in His Word. As such, sin can reach and dominate into marital relationships, childrearing, friendships, cleanliness, clothing, health, employment, entertainment, and all areas of our lives—even how we drive our automobiles. It involves itself in the entire gamut of human attitudes such as pride, envy, anger, lust, hatred, greed, jealousy, resentment, covetousness, depression and bitterness. In the New Testament, the biblical writers always use hamartia in a moral and ethical sense, whether describing commission, omission, thought, feeling, word or deed.

The basic concept of sin is failure—failure to live up to a standard, failure to hit the bull’s eye, failure to stay on the path. The slavery Jesus speaks of is bondage to a pattern of thinking that produces failure. This is what God wants to deliver and convert us from. All who come out of the world have been addicted, held in bondage, to ways of thinking that produce failure, mental illness, physical disease, and death. God desires to give us freedom through applying the truth in faith and love as we renew our minds to live by His heavenly standard.

Just as surely as a person on drugs eventually wants to take the drug because he is enslaved by it, sin, has an addictive quality. Satan knows very well that if he can get us to sin once, there is a strong possibility he can get us to sin again and again and again until we are eventually enslaved by it and cannot help ourselves.

Satan’s lies produce death through sin and Satan is a cold-blooded life destroyer. We can look at “life” in two ways: in terms of physical life ending in death and quality of life. We have eternal life in the new birth, but a habitual lifestyle devoted to sin destroys the quality of our life and witness for God. What is so sad is that he seems to have such an easy time in getting people to swallow the lie that it will somehow be better to disobey God than to obey Him.

Satan is at the crux of sin. His name means “Adversary.” He is against God and anything godly. In Revelation 9:11, he is called “Abaddon” and “Apollyon,” and both of these names, one Hebrew, the other Greek, mean “Destroyer.” Satan is a destroyer, and the spirit that emanates from him, that drives this world and produces sin, is a destroying spirit. We can broadly say that sin does two bad things simultaneously: It produces negative results and destroys.

Romans 6:1-The great rhetorical question every Christian should be asking and reflecting upon: 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

It must be available for the Christian to continue in sin after they are born again. This is not pleasing to God or beneficial to the Christian life as Paul builds this truth in Romans 6.

Continue-Epimeno was used to describe someone abiding in some one’s home as a guest with the idea of fellowship, cordial relations, dependence and social intercourse. Means literally to tarry, to stay at or with, to abide in, to continue in.

Is sin something you have cordial relations with? Is sin your house guest or something you have intimate fellowship with? Is sin your best friend? Have you decided even though you are born again to stay with, abide in, and continue in sin because you believe grace is a license or get out of jail free card to sin?

Phillips paraphrases it this way…

“Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God?”

Or to phrase it another way…

Shall we habitually sustain the same relationship to the sinful nature that we sustained before we were saved, a relationship which was most cordial, a relationship in which we were fully yielded to and dependent upon that sinful nature, and all this as a habit of life?

Vs 4-As Christians we can live in the deadness of sin or the newness of life of the spirit.

Romans 6:6 Wuest: knowing this experientially, that our old [unregenerate] self was crucified once for all with Him in order that the physical body [heretofore] dominated by the sinful nature might be rendered inoperative [in that respect], with the result that no longer are we rendering a slave’s habitual obedience to the sinful nature.

ESV: 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin

might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Might be brought to nothing (katargeo) literally means to reduce to inactivity. The idea is to make the power or force of something ineffective and so to render powerless, reduce to inactivity. To do away with. To put out of use. To cause to be idle or useless. To render entirely idle, inoperative or ineffective. Cause something to come to an end or cause it to cease to happen. To abolish or cause not to function. It’s to become unemployed.

Sin no longer has to be an active force and power in our life as it has been rendered unemployed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We cannot let sin have its old job back by allowing it to dominate our minds and hearts bringing us into slavery. We should no longer be rendering a slave’s habitual obedience to the sin nature. We must put off this old man and put on the new man.

Be enslaved (douleuo from related word “bondservant” = doulos -slave or one who is in bondage or bound to another, in the state of being completely controlled by someone or something) means to be in bondage or in the position of servant and to act accordingly, dutifully obeying the master’s commands. It means to fulfill the duties of a slave, for whom there was no choice either as to the kind or length of his service. A slave does what the master (Sin) tells him to do.

As Christians we can longer let sin be our master, our ruler and our King. Sin wants to maintain its place upon the throne of our hearts controlling our words, thoughts and actions. But Jesus Christ broke its power on the cross and we must claim this victory and never allow sin to usurp the reign of our lives or it will be the great destroyer of everything we desire to do for God and will contaminate our walk, our thinking and our character. Sin is ever crouching at the door as it wants to rule over you.

Genesis 4:6,7 (NIV): Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

The warning is clear. Repent of sin at once, or it has a powerful tendency to grow and thoroughly dominate one who does nothing to stop it. This thought is reinforced in the final sentence of verse 7, “And its desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Because sin is an ever-present reality of life, it is essential that we have sufficient knowledge to recognize it before its fiery darts strike us down. This requires consistent, thoughtful study of God’s Word and effort to build an awareness of its presence, enabling us to beat it to the punch, so to speak.

Sin’s desire is so persistent and its appeal so subtle that, if it is not consciously stopped, one will become a master, a “pro,” as we would say today, at sinning. It becomes a way of life. Jeremiah 4:22 makes this principle even clearer. “For My people are foolish; they have not known Me. They are silly children and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”

C H Spurgeon (Morning and Evening) asks the pertinent question…

Christian, what hast thou to do with sin? Hath it not cost thee enough already? Burnt child, wilt thou play with the fire? What! when thou hast already been between the jaws of the lion, wilt thou step a second time into his den? Hast thou not had enough of the old serpent? Did he not poison all thy veins once, and wilt thou play upon the hole of the asp, and put thy hand upon the cockatrice’s den a second time? Oh, be not so mad! so foolish! Did sin ever yield thee real pleasure? Didst thou find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to thine old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delight thee. But inasmuch as sin did never give thee what it promised to bestow, but deluded thee with lies, be not a second time snared by the old fowler- be free, and let the remembrance of thy ancient bondage forbid thee to enter the net again! It is contrary to the designs of eternal love, which all have an eye to thy purity and holiness; therefore run not counter to the purposes of thy Lord. Another thought should restrain thee from sin. Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin. There is yet a higher argument: each time you “serve sin” you have “Crucified the Lord afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Can you bear that thought? Oh! if you have fallen into any special sin during this day, it may be my Master has sent this admonition this evening, to bring you back…Turn thee to Jesus anew; he has not forgotten his love to thee; his grace is still the same. With weeping and repentance, come thou to his footstool, and thou shalt be once more received into his heart; thou shalt be set upon a rock again, and thy goings shall be established.

Regarding our moral and spiritual conduct, we must recognize that there is no twilight zone, especially in our relationship with God. A Christian cannot muddle around morally or spiritually, thinking that sin is a rather minor affair. It cost Jesus His life! Sin is like a cancer, most of the time invisible but silently working to destroy us. Sin desires to return us to our former state where sin was the master and controller of our lives.

In Hebrews 3:12-13, “Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” God warns that sin has a deceptive quality. It promises so much even before it actually becomes an act of conduct, but it delivers far short of its promise. Its truly sneaky aspect is its powerful tendency to lure us into further sin, enslaving us and hardening our minds against righteousness. In other words, it shares characteristics with drugs in that it is addictive or enslaving, destroying one’s well-being.

The deceitfulness of sin! In this context, to be deceitful is to be seductively and enticingly misleading. Sin promises what it cannot deliver. It promises pleasure, contentment, fulfillment—life—but its delivery on these things is fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying. Its deceitfulness is the very reason why it has addictive qualities. It lures us on to try to capture what it can never deliver.

The pleasure is never quite enough to produce the contentment and fulfillment one desires. Thus, people are forced into greater and deeper perversions until it results in death. All along the way, from its inception to death, sin quietly produces hardness of heart. Like a callus that forms over a break in a bone or stiffens a person’s joints, sin paralyzes right action.

“Hardness” is translated from skleruno, from which name for the disease multiple sclerosis is derived. In a moral context, it means “impenetrable,” “insensitive,” “blind,” “unteachable.” A hardened attitude is not a sudden aberration, but the product of a habitual state of mind that reveals itself in inflexibility of thinking and insensitivity of conscience. Eventually, it makes repentance impossible. The will to do right is completely gone.

Romans 6:11: Amplified: Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.
NLT: So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.
Moffat: So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Phillips: In the same way look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive and sensitive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Kenneth Wuest has an extended but well reasoned note explaining that what Paul is doing using logizomai is to exhort “the saints that in their endeavor to live a life in accordance with the Word of God, they should take into account the fact that they are dead to sin, that they have been disengaged from the evil nature, that it has no power over them anymore, that they are scot free from it and can say a point blank “NO” to it, also to take into account the fact that they are alive to God, that is, that the divine nature has been imparted with the result that that nature gives them both the desire and the power to regulate their lives in accordance with the Word of God.

And so it is with a Christian who counts upon the fact that the power of the sinful nature is broken. He knows that he does not have to obey it, and that he has the power to say “NO” to it, and he turns his back on it and does what is right. The Christian who does not count upon the fact that the divine nature is implanted in his inner being, goes on living his Christian life as best he can more or less in the energy of his own strength, with the result that he exhibits a mediocre Christian experience. But the believer who counts upon the fact that he is a possessor of the divine nature, ceases from his own struggles at living a Christian life, and avails himself of the life of God supplied in the divine nature. So the first adjustment the Christian should make is that of counting upon the fact that the power of the indwelling sinful nature is broken and the divine nature imparted, and order his life on that principle.” (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament)

Just say “no” to the Sin Nature and just say “yes” to the divine nature. Great power in simply resisting the sin nature and saying “no” and the enemy will flee (James 4:7).

Ray Stedman:

“When you feel temptation in your body or your mind, then there are two things you are to do: First, remember that you don’t have to obey sin. You just don’t have to. You are free to refuse it. You are free to say, “No, you don’t have the right to use that part of my body for a sinful purpose.” And, second, remember his power is in you to enable you to offer that same part of your body to God, to be used for his purposes. Now, that may mean a struggle, because the strength of sin is very strong. When we start to turn away from evil in our bodies, the habits of our lives are so deeply engrained that oftentimes it is very difficult, and we struggle. But we have the power not to sin because we have God himself within us — the living God…There will be a struggle; it is not always easy, but we have the strength to do it and we have the right to do it. We have the freedom not to sin and the desire not to sin. That is what God has brought to us in Christ….Paul is describing the two steps that we are to repeat over and over again, in dealing with evil in our lives.”

We are either dead to sin and alive to God or alive to sin and dead to God. We make the choice in our daily living.

Romans 6:12 Amplified: Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Phillips: Do not, then, allow sin to establish any power over your mortal bodies in making you give way to your lusts. Wuest: Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it [the body] in its passionate cravings.

Reign (basileuo from basileús = a king, sovereign, monarch) means to rule as a king with the implication of complete authority. To rule and be in control in an absolute manner or to control completely.

The present imperative (command) is preceded by a negative particle (“me” = negates what follows) which means “Stop letting the Sin to continue to reign in your physical body.” Paul is saying stop letting this continue, implying that his readers were in fact letting sin reign. “Sniper attacks” by our incorrigible flesh are unavoidable, but allowing Sin to reign in our bodies is unacceptable. Paul’s point is because of our position (dead, buried and resurrected with Christ), believers no longer have to obey the demands of “Sin”.

Do not be deceived beloved. Everyone has a master — and that master is either “sin” or Christ Jesus the Lord.

Romans 6:13: Amplified: Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.
Phillips: Nor hand over your organs to be, as it were, weapons of evil for the devil’s purposes. But, like men rescued from certain death, put yourselves in God’s hands as weapons of good for his own purposes.
Wuest: Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness, but by a once-for-all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out from among the dead, and put your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God,
Young’s Literal: Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.

Present (paristemi from para = near, beside + histemi = place, set) literally means to place or set beside or near and hence to place at someone’s disposal. Paristemi means to present oneself for service or to put at the service of.

Are you putting your body, your mind, your thoughts, your passions and your desires at the disposal and service of sin or God? As Christians we must yield everything and place it all at the disposal of God. Does God have all of you?

Instruments (hoplon) originally described any tool or implement for preparing a thing and then became specialized to refer to items such as a ship’s tackling, a cable, a rope or a tool of any kind (blacksmith tools, sickle, staff) and then in the plural was used for “weapons of warfare. And so the instruments we are to put at the service of God are weapons or implements of war, either offensive or defensive.

We are in an all out spiritual war with the Devil. Are you giving ammunition to the enemy that he can use in his unholy war on the earth to accomplish his purposes? Are our words engulfed and coated in sin where they hurt, destroy, cut down and corrupt the hearts of those who hear them? Are we yielding our members as instruments of love or hate? Compassion or indifference? Forgiveness or bitterness? Anger or joy? Can God count on your lips, your hands, your feet, your thoughts, and your actions to be tools to advance His kingdom?

A W Tozer writes that…

It is disheartening to those who care, and surely a great grief to the Spirit, to see how many Christians are content to settle for less than the best. Personally I have for years carried a burden of sorrow as I have moved among evangelical Christians who somewhere in their past have managed to strike a base compromise with their heart’s holier longings and have settled down to a lukewarm, mediocre kind of Christianity utterly unworthy of themselves and of the Lord they claim to serve. And such are found everywhere….

Every man is as close to God as he wants to be; he is as holy and as full of the spirit as he wills to be….

Yet we must distinguish wanting from wishing. By “want” I mean wholehearted desire. Certainly there are many who wish they were holy or victorious or joyful but are not willing to meet God’s conditions to obtain. It is true that many of us live our lives as believers with sin still dominating us, at least from time to time. Day after day we struggle with the same temptations and make the same bad choices. Too often we place ourselves under the Law, and seek to attain victory over that sin in our “power”!

The old nature, our sin nature, even though made ineffective by our cocrucifixion with Christ (Ro 6:6note, Col 2:12) is still like a car that is in neutral with the motor running. If we shift into gear, the old self takes off, propelling down the road to sin of manifold shape and size. But with the gears shifted in neutral, the engine (of self) may roar loudly but it has no power. The comparison of flesh to a car engine being revved up is not completely accurate, because flesh is more powerful and is waiting to be released to propel me into sinful behavior and conflict with others (as well as with God).

Because of our new life in Christ (Rom. 6:4), we can now respond in a God pleasing way to Rom. 12:1 and present our bodies to Him…we now have that choice–to present ourselves to God rather than to sin. We must daily learn to present our body to Him, so that sin remains in neutral. But don’t think that our flesh with its potential to sin ceases to exist. We are in a war from the moment we get saved until the time Jesus comes back and our minds have to constantly be renewed by the Word of God. Warfare is not devil spirits always on me (although they are very real and warfare with them is very real) but is more often me dealing with my old flesh. That is the biggest battle most of us face each day when we get up. We look in the mirror and see our “own worst enemy” in one sense. Devil spirits can effect the warfare but they are not the one who chooses how to respond in any given moment. When we sin it is because we choose to submit to “have it our way” rather than our Lord’s way as mediated by His indwelling (and controlling) spirit.

To begin to experience victory over sin is to surrender to the One Who has rendered Sin powerless. We must immerse ourselves in the Word, prayer, mediation, and control our thinking, confession and words. We must guard our hearts and become radically devoted to Him. We are not perfect and will sin at times but our heart should never be sold out to any sin or any act of disobedience that does not glorify God. Do all for the glory of God and you will have taken a giant step in resisting the lure of sin trying to be our Master.

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A Hero Rises: The Story of Joseph

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It started with a simple idea.

A few months ago I decided to study the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. I made that decision knowing that in the summer I would be preaching in five difference Bible conferences. Generally when I preach at different conferences, I pick different topics. This year I decided to do the same series at each place.

That means I preached through the life of Joseph five times in seven weeks—once in Maine, once in Oregon, twice in New York, and once in Michigan.

I wondered how it would go.

I wondered if I would get tired of the story.

I wondered if my messages would be the same.

Joseph is a man for all seasons.

I can answer part of that myself. I never grew tired of telling how Joseph’s brothers betrayed him, and the gripping tale of attempted seduction by a wife with a wandering eye, and the sad saga of false accusation and unjust imprisonment, and the long lonely nights Joseph spent in prison, and the unlikely journey he took from prison to the palace, how he put his brothers to the test, and how in the end it all came out alright because, as he said to the brothers who betrayed him, “You meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

When James Boice published his exposition of this section of Genesis, he called Joseph “a man for all seasons.” It seems like an apt title for a man who went through so many varied experiences.

He was chosen and rejected.

He was loved and hated.

He was favored and abused.

He was betrayed and rescued.

He was promoted and imprisoned.

He was tested and rewarded.

He was slandered and praised.

He never took his eyes off the Lord.

At no point did he ever take his eyes off the Lord.

Adversity didn’t harden him.

Prosperity didn’t ruin him.

Temptation didn’t destroy him.

Imprisonment didn’t embitter him.

Promotion didn’t change him.

He was a truly great man.

His Story in One Paragraph

Here is his story in one paragraph. He was the favored son of his father Jacob. When he enters the stage of biblical history, he is 17 years old. Because his brothers hated him, he was sold as a slave and taken to Egypt. After being falsely accused of rape, he was imprisoned with no hope of getting out. Because he correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he became the prime minister of Egypt. Eventually he welcomed his family to Egypt, which preserved the line of promise that had started with his great-grandfather Abraham.

Joseph’s story is the “hinge” between Genesis and Exodus

That brief summary only hints at the drama that surrounded his life.

There is another way to put his life in perspective. If you know four events and four personalities, you know the basic structure of Genesis.

Genesis 1-11 concerns four great events:

Creation

Fall

Flood

Tower

Prosperity didn’t ruin him

Everything in those eleven chapters can be related to those four events.

Starting with Genesis 12, the story focuses on four great men:

Abraham

Isaac

Jacob

Joseph

Of those four men, Abraham and Joseph receive the most space. It may surprise you to know that Joseph’s story takes up more space in Genesis than the story of Abraham. That one fact ought to alert us that this is no ordinary man and no ordinary life story. Joseph is the “hinge” that connects Genesis (the Book of Beginnings) with Exodus (the Book of Redemption).

If Exodus tells us how God delivered his people from Egypt, Joseph’s story tells us how they got there in the first place.

Lessons Joseph Teaches Us

Though Joseph was God’s man, he did not have an easy life. Here are some of the things his story teaches us:

Joseph didn’t have an easy life

Trusting God when in the pit of despair.

How to deal with sexual temptation.

How to redeem a painful past.

What to do while you wait.

How to see God’s hand in all things.

How to make wise plans.

How God awakens a guilty conscience.

The marks of true repentance.

How to live for God in a pagan culture.

Overcoming lingering bitterness.

How to die well.

Besides those lessons, we should note that Joseph stands as an outstanding type or picture of Jesus Christ. The older commentators especially loved to note the points of correspondence. We do not have to look far to see the resemblance. He was . . .

Loved by his father.

Hated and betrayed by his brothers.

Sold for 20 pieces of silver.

Falsely accused.

Judged guilty of a crime he did not commit.

Abandoned and forgotten.

Promoted after his suffering.

The means of salvation even for those who betrayed him.

All roads lead to Christ

When W. H. Griffith Thomas had finished his Devotional Commentary on Genesis, he surveyed Joseph’s life and declared that “it is impossible to avoid seeing the close, prolonged, and striking resemblances between Joseph and Christ” (Vol. 2, P. 214). He goes on to say that it is “in every way spiritually profitable to ponder the life of Joseph in the light of the history of our blessed Lord.” That seems exactly right to me. Since Christ is the great theme of the Bible, all roads must eventually lead to him. In studying Joseph, we will see glimpses of the One who will be born centuries later in an obscure village in Judea.

What starts in the fields near Hebron leads on to the fields near Bethlehem.

Joseph of the Old Testament will lead us to Joseph’s son in the New Testament.

We should not hesitate to make that journey ourselves.

Two Key Observations

As I have been preaching Joseph’s story this summer, two thoughts have increasingly occupied my mind.

1. Joseph did not know how his story would end.

We have a problem that Joseph didn’t face.

We know how the story ends.

Joseph had no clue abou his future

No matter how hard we try, it is almost impossible to read it as the amazing, unpredictable adventure that it was. When you know the end of the story, you may lose the sense of how unexpected it all was.

How much did Joseph know about his future when he was a teenager tending the flocks with his brothers? Zero. Nothing. Nada.

How much did he know about his future when he was cast into the pit? Nothing at all.

How much did he know about what was about to happen when he was rising in Potiphar’s house? Same answer.

How much did he know when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape? He knew only that he was innocent of the charge.

We don’t know our own future

How much did he know when he was languishing in an Egyptian prison? He had no clue what was about to happen.

How much did he know about God’s purposes when he was elevated to being the prime minister of Egypt? He didn’t see it at all.

Let me put it this way. How much do you know for certain about what will happen to you in the coming week? You have your plans, of course, but those could be changed. You have classes to attend, calls to make, people to see, appointments to keep, papers to write, plans to make, ideas to discuss, and decisions you have to make. But all of that is contingent on circumstances far beyond your control. When I was preaching in Michigan, I offhandedly commented how quickly life could change. “Just one phone could change everything,” I said. I ran into a woman who told me that when I said that, she felt that was meant for her. The next day she received an unexpected phone call saying that a dear friend had passed away.

Life can change with one phone call

Life is short, fragile, and uncertain.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring.

We will gain much more from Joseph’s story if we read it the way he lived it—with no clear idea of the future, with no big picture to guide him, with no “happy ending” in view. In short, we should read Joseph’s life the way we live our own lives—one day at a time.

And that leads me to the second key point.

2. God is the hero of the story.

On one level, we certainly know this is true. Joseph says as much when he declares to his brothers that “God meant it for good.” But it’s easy to forget that through all the ups and downs of Joseph’s life, there was an “invisible hand” working through every single event to produce the desired result, which Joseph himself could not see until he arrived at the end.

God is the hero of the story

If we read Joseph’s story and do not come away with a new appreciation for God’s providence over all things, then we have certainly missed the point. While there are many important lessons to be gleaned from his life, above all else Joseph’s story points us to God. His story proves that

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

What’s Your Wingspan?

When I preached this series at Word of Life Campground, I started the week by stretching my arms out and saying, “We need a big God.” I must have done that a lot during the week because when I finished my last message, Jason Perkins (who oversees the Campground during the summer season) asked me about my “wingspan.” He had noticed me stretching my arms out all week long to make my points. He said he thought my wingspan was greater than my height. That didn’t seem likely to me but for the fun of it, he had me stand on the platform and stretch my arms out so he could measure them. Then he measured my height. The results surprised me.

I have long arms but that’s about it

I’m 6’3” tall with a wingspan of 6’8”. Someone asked me if I ever played basketball, and the answer is no, just pickup games here and there. I have long arms but that’s about it. My older brother Andy got most of the basketball skill in the family.

I mention that to emphasize the point that we need a big God.

When you’ve been betrayed by your brothers, a small God won’t do.

When you’ve been falsely accused of rape, a “medium God” won’t be enough to support you.

When you’ve been forgotten in prison, an “average God” will not sustain you.

A “meduim God” can’t help us

You need a big God.

You need a God whose ways are vast beyond understanding.

You need a God whose purposes span the generations.

You need a God who cannot be stopped by the evil deeds of evil men.

We have a God like that!

The God of Joseph is our God too.

Joseph’s God is our God too!

Check out your own wingspan.

Stand up and stretch out your arms as far as they will go.

Then say, “I need a big God.”

Good news! You’ve got one.

He’s the God of the Bible.

Working in the Family Business

Here is how Joseph’s story begins:

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers (vv. 1-2).

With no other introduction, Joseph steps onto the stage of biblical history. At this point we know only three things about him:

He is a teenager.

He is working in the family business.

He doesn’t have a clue about his own future.

Joseph worked in the family business

When I preached this in Michigan, a teenage girl told me how much this meant to her because she too is 17 years old, and like Joseph she doesn’t have a clue about what her future holds. I suppose that if we had asked Joseph about his career plans, he would probably have said, “I’m going to be a shepherd like my father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather.” After all, that was the family business. Apparently Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had done pretty well at it. So we would expect Joseph to figure that his future would include sheep.

But God had other plans.

God had other plans

Before this story is over Joseph will become the prime minister of Egypt, but you couldn’t tell it that day when he went out with his brothers to tend to the flocks.

Scattered Threads

As the story begins, the threads of his life are scattered in all directions. Only later will the grand design become apparent. But it is clear enough that Joseph was being prepared by God for his destiny long before he was aware of it. Marcus Dods emphasizes the traits he inherited from his ancestors:

He had Abraham’s dignity and capacity, Isaac’s purity and power of self-devotion, Jacob’s cleverness and buoyancy and tenacity. From his mother’s family he had personal beauty, humor, and management.

Although God had been preparing the way for Joseph long before he was born, it would take quite a while for him to discover his calling in life. But when he did, he saved his family and changed the course of history. For the moment he’s seventeen years old, working in the family business, without a clue about the events that were about to unfold.

Joseph always lands on his feet

What, then, shall we say about this young man as we begin our journey through his story?

Joseph stands before us as a man whose life was filled with turmoil. It started early in his life and never really stopped. Through it all, he emerges triumphant by God’s grace.

–You betray him, and he ends up in Egypt.

–You throw him in prison, and he ends up running the joint.

–You travel to Egypt, and he’s the prime minister.

–You try to trick him, and he turns around and forgives you.

Joseph always lands on his feet. Here is a man who conquers crisis by supreme confidence in God. Though he came from an extremely dysfunctional family, God turned him into a hero who delivered the family that sold him into slavery.

He’s a key link in the chain of God’s plan

He became a key link in the chain of God’s plan that would 2000 years later bring the Messiah to the earth. As Joseph saved his own family, so Christ would come as the Savior of the world.

What a man!

What a story!

In studying Joseph . . .

1. We will learn about life itself. This is how it works. This is what we should expect. Life isn’t easy for any of us, and for most of us it can be quite difficult. To say it another way, anyone looking for an easy life has picked the wrong planet to be born on.

Life is hard

1.We will learn how this life works for our good. Spurgeon remarked that “God is to be seen in small things.” Since God himself stands behind the universe he created, we should not be surprised to find his fingerprints everywhere, even in the tiniest details of life.

1.We will learn how Christ is the power to make life worthwhile. Note that I did not say that Christ “has” the power, which is true, but that Christ “is” the power, which is slightly different. Because Christ himself lives in us, he himself is the power that gives meaning and purpose to life.

As we will see in our next study, the hero arises out of the turmoil of a dysfunctional family. His brothers don’t like him. There is trouble on the horizon.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride

Joseph proves you can come from a crazy, mixed-up family and do amazing things for the Lord.

But it won’t be easy and definitely not predictable.

Hang on—it’s going to be a bumpy ride for Joseph and for us.

Stay tuned. Much more to come.

You won’t believe what his brothers do to him.

 As we take our leave of Joseph for the moment, remember this. His God is our God too. We need a big God, and we have one. Let that thought give strength to your heart this week.

Courtesy of http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/the-hero-rises/

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The Value of One Life

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Here are my notes for my teaching at Wheeler Mission. Enjoy!

You are significant. You matter. The value of One Human Life

We need to look at ourselves how God sees us. God’s opinion of you is only one that truly matters. God defines who you are not the world or your past or any other person. No one has that right but God.

Seeing with eyes of faith. Realities of spiritual world are much more firm and real than anything in the physical world. Change the way we think about ourselves. Carry the image in our heart and the thoughts of what God says about us and not what others say or our self-condemning thoughts.. What God says is our real self, the real you. The world puts a false image in of our minds of who we are. It teaches a lack of self-worth and so much of life we beat ourselves because we do not understand who we are and where we came from.

God wants to say to you and me, “I am still the God who makes failures into princes of God. I remain the God who takes broken lives—people with multiple divorces, sick in body because of sin, in prison for decades, labeled as losers, crazy folk nobody wants, outcasts with no hope—and turns them into something beautiful.”

God created us in Him image.

God spoke to Jeremiah when he was but a child and told him he would build him into a mighty prophet, God’s mouthpiece, who would speak boldly the words of God, Jeremiah was a child who could not speak eloquently, just the son of Hilkiah, a seemly insignificant priest in the days of Judah. But God told him in Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you a prophet unto the nations” Even the name Jeremiah means “whom Yahweh raises up or launches forth.” God built Jeremiah into one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament with two books of the Bible focusing on his life and heart as a prophet. Look how God build him as revealed in Jeremiah 1.

Jeremiah 1;18,19 (Voice): Remember, Jeremiah, this very day I have made you as a fortress, a column as strong as iron, a wall of bronze able to withstand the attacks of the entire nation of Judah—from her kings and leaders to the priests and people. 19 Eventually, they will all give you trouble, but you will be safe. They will fight you, but they will not win. Remember, I am with you. I promise I will always deliver you.

You are in circumstances that God works best. Rich do not need God. When we are in tough circumstances we realize we need God. He can help you. The rich make all kinds of excuses. In a broken and contrite spirit we allow God to be our helper, our keeper and our shepherd.

God knows. God cares. God is with you. Let me say it again. God knows. God cares. God is with you. Psalms 139 God knows all about what you are going through. God knows all about where you have been. Always remember God knows, He cares and He is with you.

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;     the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?  Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence? If I go up into heaven, You are there.     If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there. If I ride on the wings of morning,     if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, 10 Even then You will be there to guide me; Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. 11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me,     the light around me will soon be turned to night,” 12 You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.     For You the night is just as bright as the day.     Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.13 For You shaped me, inside and out.     You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. 14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.     You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;     Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. 15     You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You As I took shape in secret,     carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. 16 You see all things;     You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;     You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. 17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!     How grand in scope! How many in number! 18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!     Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

Psalm 74:13: God does not forget the life of the poor. Therefore verse 21: Let the poor and needy praise your name.

Luke 15-three parables about the importance of one life. Fill in your name as the one lost sheep, the one lost coin and the prodigal son welcomed back in the arms of a loving father.

When storms of life come we must take refuge in the Lord not in drugs, women, money, material things or our self. Psalm 57:1-4a God wants to fulfill His purpose for YOU. God has a purpose for you if you will only trust him. God pours out his steadfast love and faithfulness to you.

What does it mean to be faithful? What does it mean to be trustworthy? God is faithful. God is trustworthy. God never fails and God does not make junk.

God is life. He breathed into us life. Life must be defined on His terms.

Psalm 56:11, 12, 13: In God I trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do unto me? I must perform my vowels to you, O God, I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes my feet from failing that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Isiah 55:22: Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.

Micah 6:3: “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me!”

So often today we see a seething bitterness against God in the hearts of people. “Where is God?” is the cry of many? We live in a generation that has charged God with child abuse because they do not know God, they do not trust God, and they do not know who God is and what God’s character is. Look at what people do with the invitation to feast in the kingdom of God forever. Of his kingdom there shall be no end. Jesus Christ offers perfect peace, perfect health, perfect love, and perfect life FOREVER. Christ has sent everyone an invitation. What have we done with it?

Luke 14:12-24

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. [13] But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”[15] When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

[16] Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. [17] At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.'[18] “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'[19] ?Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ [20] “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ [21] “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'[22] ” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'[23] “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. [24] I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”

The last will be first and the first will be last.

Have we been making excuses when it comes to Jesus? Don’t you want taste the bread of life and living water where you will never hunger or thirst again?

In everything, at all times, look to Jesus. Come to Him and remember Him. I can say this to you because I have learned from my own experiences how easy it is to wander. How easy it is to get so caught up in all that happens in life, becoming sidetracked and losing our focus. But our hope and our life are in seeing and knowing Jesus.

“I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope” (Hosea 2:14–15, NLT).

Even though we have been in the Valley of Trouble, I am her today to tell you directly from the mouth of God that there is a Gateway of Hope through Christ.

Psalm 103: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,who satisfies you with good  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.The Lord works righteousness  and justice for all who are oppressed. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

The Lord is ready to forgive every iniquity and heal every disease. He is ready to give us His righteous and justice and show his steadfast love and compassion. When we call upon the name of the Lord everything changes.

God wants us to learn to live without fear, without worry, without anxiety and without hopelessness for He can take care of us. He is saying to us, “Trust me, I’ve got this,”

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3; “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2. John 6:20. But he saith unto them, “It is I; be not afraid.”

God pleads, God admonishes, God commands and God calls to us every single day to not be afraid, but to simply trust Him in everything. He stands at the door of our heart and cries daily: “It is I! Be not afraid!”

As Jesus taught Peter so must we quit dancing and wavering between faith and fear: Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him. “O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?”

By the touch of Jesus all fear melts away: Matthew 17:7: But Jesus—who was, by this time, used to His disciples being plagued by fear—touched them. “Get up. Don’t be afraid.”

Psalm 56:3,4: When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. In God—whose word I praise— in God I place my trust. I shall not let fear come in, for what can measly men do to me?

Isaiah 35:4: Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful, “Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here—your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe.”

Psalm 16:8 He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.

Psalm 118:6: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Romans 10:11: The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him will ever be put to shame or be disappointed.

What sin do you think God hates most? I believe the greatest of sins is unbelief. This is where we do not trust Him or believe that He is faithful, that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.

Max Lucado: Consider the earth! Our globe’s weight has been estimated at six sextillion tons (a six with twenty-one zeroes). Yet it is precisely tilted at twenty-three degrees; any more or any less and our seasons would be lost in a melted polar flood. Though our globe revolves at the rate of one-thousand miles per hour or twenty-five thousand miles per day or nine million miles per year, none of us tumbles into orbit. As you stand … observing God’s workshop, let me pose a few questions. If he is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life? If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path? If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs? Listen to what the Word of God says!

Psalm 63:6-8 (The Voice): Often at night I lie in bed and remember You, meditating on Your greatness till morning smiles through my window.7 You have been my constant helper; therefore, I sing for joy under the protection of Your wings.8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand reaches down and holds me up.

Psalm 34:4-10: (The Voice): When I needed the Lord, I looked for Him; I called out to Him, and He heard me and responded. He came and rescued me from everything that made me so afraid.5 Look to Him and shine, so shame will never contort your faces. 6 This poor soul cried, and the Eternal heard me. He rescued me from my troubles. 7 The messenger of the Eternal God surrounds everyone who walks with Him and is always there to protect and rescue us. 8 Taste of His goodness; see how wonderful the Eternal truly is. Anyone who puts trust in Him will be blessed and comforted. 9 Revere the Eternal, you His saints, for those who worship Him will possess everything important in life.10 Young lions may grow tired and hungry, but those intent on knowing the Eternal God will have everything they need.

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. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 20:1-17: The laborers in the vineyard where the last workers at the 11th hour were paid as much as the first workers. It is never too late. The hour is now to enter into God’s field and become a fellow laborer with God.

Sin creates a debt. The payment for that debt is death. Many will pay for their own sin by dying but they will have no eternal life. Jesus Christ paid for our sin by dying in our place. God was concerned about the debt of our sin and sent His Son to pay it in full so we could live with Him forever. This is an amazing offer.

I Timothy 2:4,5, 6a: Who (God) desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all,

You have to make the decision who will pay the debt of your sin. Someone must eventually pay it. You or Christ. The invitation for you tonight is come, confess Him as your Lord, accept Him as your savior, believe that God raised Him from the dead and He is alive, ready to forgive you of every sin, every shortcoming, every screw-up, every falling short and every mistake.

Acts 4:10-12: Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”

No other way to have your sin debt paid but through Christ.

Romans 5:8-13: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Acts 16:30,31:  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The invitation for salvation and eternal life:

Romans 10:9-13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

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

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.

Colossians 1:13,14: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In Christ all depression ceases. In Christ all fear and worry melt away. In Christ all oppression is crushed. In Christ all addictions are shattered. In Christ all the chains of bondage are loosed. In Christ all condemnation is obliterated. In Christ we are made free from all the forces of darkness that plague mankind. No religion, idol, and god whether Islam. Buddhism or Hinduism can set a person free from the exercised kingdom of darkness and the clutches of sin and death. Only in Jesus Christ is our redemption, salvation and liberation finished.

There is another ultimate certainty in life: The Lord is coming back!

James 5:7, 8 (Phillips):

But be patient, my brothers, as you wait for the Lord to come. Look at the farmer quietly awaiting his precious harvest. See how he has to possess his soul in patience till the land has had the early and late rains.

So must you be patient, resting your hearts on the ultimate certainty. The Lord’s coming is very near.

Hebrews 10:35-37 (Amplified):

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.

For a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay.

We cultivate a mindset of waiting on the Lord. He is coming back. Are you ready?

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you”   (John 14:18).

Isaiah 43:1,2: But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.

God has called you by name and you are His. With God as our Redeemer, no matter how high the waters or how hot the fire, we are safely in the arms of God and they cannot consume us.

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.”

The Lord is my helper. He is holding us by the right hand. He strengthens us and tell us to never fear for He is with us.

Psalm 139: 17, 18: How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God!  How vast in number they are! 18 If I try to count them, there would be more of them than there are grains of sand. When I wake up, I am still with you.

God thinks about you all the time. How valuable you are to Him.

Exodus 3:12a: Do not fear, Moses. I will be with you every step of the way.

2 Chronicles 20:14,15,17: Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 He said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.17 You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord, Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

  1. Fear not . . . God is with you;
  2. Fear not . . . God is your God;
  3. Fear not . . . God will strengthen you;
  4. Fear not . . . God will help you;
  5. Fear not . . . God will uphold you.

Stop defining and limiting your future in terms of your past and start defining it in terms of your God. Recognize that God is greater than your personality. God is greater than your past.

God is saying to us tonight: “I need you to let go the imitation so that I can give you the real thing. I need you to let go of your life and let me take control of your life.” With both arms embrace Jesus as the only one who saves. God should be our greatest pleasure. The gods of pleasure promise satisfaction but ultimately never deliver. You were not a mistake. What keeps us from pursuing Jesus is our heart ultimately is pursuing something else. We all follow something. We all serve something. We all have gods it we’ve devoted our life too. Gods of pleasure, gods of power, gods of self. What keeps us from truly following Jesus is this false god that is winning the war. .

Value of something is determined by the price you pay for it. God paid the ultimate price for you in the blood of His Son. You are not insignificant. Your life does matter.

God knows, God cares and God is with you.

Christ has already triumphed. He has broken all the cords of sin. He has broken every power of hell. There’s no new struggle there is no new battle that can bind you and take away the strength of God in you. With the anointing of God on you can’t be kept bound.

Acts 1:8 you shall receive power. This power can break the chords of sin and crush the power of anything that holds us in bondage.

Lessons of Ecclesiastes: Without God life is not worth living. All the pleasures of this world are vanity and vexation of spirit or like a vapor and chasing the wind. We need to see life with an eternity perspective. God has promised everlasting life.

Psalm 42,1,2 (NIV):

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Job 27:10 (Amplified): Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times?

Job 22:26: Delight yourself in the Lord Almighty and lift up your face to God.

II Chronicles 15:15-they sought Him with their whole desire.

Everybody has got a hungry heart. Only God can satisfy it. Everyone desires to cleave to something. God wants to be desired. God wants to wanted. God wants us to cleave to Him at all times. He will hold fast to us and not let go.

God is always only a turn away.

Joel 2:12, 13 (NLT): That is why the LORD says, “TURN TO ME NOW, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

The time is urgent. Time is fleeting and passes by swiftly. God is crying out: “Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Don’t let them be swept away. Return to the Lord your God.”

Psalm 63:1-8 (NLT):

1 O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. 3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! 4 I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. 5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. 6 I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.

7 Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.8 I cling (Hebrew word “cleave’) to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT):5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. 7 My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Tozer in The Purpose of Man describes God’s heart to Adam: “I am yours…this is your end, this is why you were created, that you might worship Me and enjoy me and adore me and glorify me and have Me as yours forever.”

The first words God cried out after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden was “Where art thou?” God so desired the worship, the companionship, the fellowship, the intimacy and the closeness of his wonderful man and woman even after they had sinned and broke God’s commandment. Isn’t this so true today that God still cries out, “Where art thou?” God desires us; to be close to us; to be our first love. God so loved us that He gave us the gift of His Son who paid the price for our complete redemption and salvation and restored our path and access to God Almighty. We must now worship, love and cleave unto the Lord. The basic heartbeat of your purpose upon the earth is to love and worship God and enjoy Him forever. This is our reason for being. Apart from this a man or woman has no purpose, no meaning, and no direction to their life.

Will you accept His invitation to come, feel His embrace and love and receive the free gift of eternal life?

Isaiah 55:1ff: If you are thirsty, come here; come, there’s water for all.     Whoever is poor and penniless can still come and buy the food I sell.     There’s no cost—here, have some food, hearty and delicious,   and beverages, pure and good. I don’t understand why you spend your money for things that don’t nourish or work so hard for what leaves you empty. Attend to Me and eat what is good; enjoy the richest, most delectable of things. Listen closely, and come even closer. My words will give life, for I will make a covenant with you that cannot be broken, a promise     Of My enduring presence and support like I gave to David. So turn your attention and seek the Eternal One while it is still possible; call on Him while He is nearby.Let those who are busy plotting violence and doing wrong     stop right now, turn, and do right. Let them turn back to the Eternal so they can experience His compassion.    God will excuse our past wrongs. Our God’s forgiveness is inexhaustible.

Matthew 6:33: Seek first the kingdom of God then what you need will be supplied

God knows, God cares and God wants you in the family of God. You matter. You are significant. Your life has immense value to God. The invitation for you is to come now and receive all that He has promised.

 

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The Secret War of Every Saint

battletactics

One of the great ironies of the Bible is found in the first chapter of the book of Exodus. At this time, God’s own people had forgotten their status and heritage. Their enemies, though, knew exactly who they were: “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them” (Exodus 1:9–10). Thus began a type of warfare that had the unique purpose of keeping God’s people blind to the power that had been promised to them. They became the object of oppressive regulation and increased mockery. However, when they began to cry out to God, they were miraculously brought back into their true spiritual standing. Oh, how history does repeat itself! As the Israelites once did, it’s time for you and me to prepare for an incredible journey. God is about to reveal our inheritance in Christ to us again. We may have to leave the familiar, but we will find again an incredible place of power and worship. “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned” (Hebrews 11:29).

Years ago, as Pastor David Wilkerson and I were walking down the street, we noticed two people sprawled out along the side of a building. One of them shouted at Brother Dave, “We’re going to get you! We’re not finished yet!” Although the man did not know who Brother Dave was, the demonic spirit in him recognized him as we passed by. I actually felt a little upset that no demonic spirit ever spoke to me like that. However, that changed when I was walking to church one day. A man who was obviously full of the devil started following me down the street, cursing all the way! It gladdened my heart that the devil finally knew who I was!

If you are going to be a true follower of Christ in this hour, you will need to fight. You will contend with all kinds of voices around you—and you will fight in your mind. This is the secret war that every saint must engage in, with no exceptions to the rule. At times it may not be as intense as others, but it never ends. We see in the Scriptures that even King David experienced this battle of the mind. If you are going to be a true follower of Christ in this hour, you will need to fight. You will contend with all kinds of voices around you—and you will fight in your mind. This is the secret war that every saint must engage in, with no exceptions to the rule. At times it may not be as intense as others, but it never ends. We see in the Scriptures that even King David experienced this battle of the mind.

“Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah” (Psalm 3:1–8).

David wrote this psalm during a season of struggling with a sense of past failure and present weakness. He had made a terrible mistake in his life—committing adultery with a woman named Bathsheba and then orchestrating her husband’s death. Consequently, rebellion had arisen in his home, and he soon found himself fleeing from his own son. As David was leaving for Jerusalem, there was even a man up on the hillside casting stones at him and cursing his name (see 2 Samuel 11; 15:13–14; 16:5–8). How difficult it must have been at that time for David to fully embrace the fact that he was still on the victory side—that God was proud of him and that the lineage of Christ would still flow through him.

We all can look back on our lives and see things we wish we had done better. Our failures and weaknesses can often instill in us a sense that we are far from where we should be. I thought my character was going to change more rapidly than it did. I never thought I would respond the way I have been responding to people in my workplace. I started out with such promise, but I have made so many mistakes.

The apostle Paul said it this way as he described a specific season in his journey: “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5). In other words, voices of mocking and cursing had been raised against Paul, producing fear within his heart. Suddenly he had to contend with a whole new level of voices—both from within and without—all attempting to take away his faith and courage. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOD’S PROMISES?

We see elsewhere in the Scriptures that another psalmist encountered a similar battle. Notice how he cried out regarding his own infirmity: “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will he be favourable no more?” (Psalm 77:7). The psalmist mistakenly assumed that he had been cast off and the favor of God was no longer upon him. Yet, in reality, God’s favor was just as strong as it had been when he was living on the mountaintop. This reminds us that we must be careful when we find ourselves in the valley—when we experience moments of such deep despair that our own hearts begin to overtake the voice of God. “Is his mercy clean gone forever? Doth his promise fail forevermore?” (Psalm 77:8).

In other words, can I trust the promises of God? What happened to His promise that He would give me a new heart, a new mind and a new spirit; that the wounding of the past would no longer continue to burden me? What happened to His promise that my household would be saved if I trust and believe in the Lord Jesus? “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?” (Psalm 77:9). Is God busy? Did I do something wrong? Maybe God finally looked down on me and concluded, “I have wasted so much time with this person. I am not going to waste any more effort trying to infuse life and gifts when they refuse to be used.”

This is the secret war of every saint! It is those moments when we grow weary of the journey—tired of seemingly always walking uphill, worn down by the voices from within and without constantly condemning our progress, feeling somehow forsaken by the Lord. Have you ever wished that you could just stay asleep because at least you have peace there? You dread having to wake up and face everything all over again. After all, it is not easy to live in a household where you are the only believer. It is hard to get up and go to school where your beliefs are mocked as narrow, bigoted, uninformed and uneducated. It is difficult to go to a job day after day where your integrity and work ethic are despised. It is hard to live in a society that calls the good that you embrace, evil, and the evil that you hate, good.

Eventually you begin to share the sentiments that David described in our opening psalm: “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2). In other words, nothing will make a difference at this point. The downward spiral is irreversible, so I might as well give up the fight. That is exactly what the devil wants—for you to give up! Stop believing for your home. Forget about that dream that God once planted in your heart. Give up on your marriage and simply walk out. Give up on the rebellious society around you. Simply shut yourself away. Be satisfied with being called a disciple of Jesus Christ; don’t believe that your life can actually make a difference. 

A VOICE LIKE NO OTHER

So how are we supposed to make it through this constant battle of the mind—the barrage of lies that never seems to end? Let’s take a moment to consider the story of Lazarus. After he was raised from the dead, he was sitting at the table with Jesus (see John 12:1–2). Not only did people come to see Jesus, they also came to see Lazarus, the one who had experienced this incredible miracle. The Pharisees even began plotting how to put this man to death, for because of him many believed in Jesus.

I can just picture Lazarus sitting at the table as people came up to him, asking, “How did it happen? How were you brought out of a hopeless place? How did you get this divine life infused within you?” He might reply, “I was so sick, so down; things were looking so bad. Jesus had visited me before, and I was certain He was going to come help me in my time of need. But as light began to fade in my soul, I started to hear voices talking about the hopelessness of the situation—how moment by moment things were only getting worse. And for some unknown reason, Jesus did not show up.”

Does that sound familiar? Perhaps you started out believing that your children or your coworkers were going to come to God. Yet, even though you continue praying, Jesus does not seem to be doing anything, and the situation only grows worse as time goes by. Lazarus would say, “Finally I heard voices telling me that the end had come. I was left with only one last cry within my heart—a cry for mercy before I fell asleep—Jesus, don’t forget me!”

That is exactly where many people find themselves right now. Before they fall asleep, their cry comes out almost as a whisper, “Oh, God, please help me. I don’t know how I am going to go on.” Of course, the testimony of Lazarus didn’t end there. As people gathered around the table, Lazarus would continue, “When all seemed to be over, suddenly I heard a voice— a voice like no other. It had the ability to call me out of hopelessness, to give life where there was no life. It was a voice so powerful that it drowned out the voices of all the wailers, all the weepers, all the prognosticators, all who gathered around saying, ‘ Too bad. Not even God can do anything now.’ This voice simply called my name; it was the glory and the lifter of my head. It called me to come out from where I was into another place that He had predestined for my life.”

Something came to life within Lazarus when God called to him. Suddenly Lazarus lifted his head and wanted to get up again. He had slept long enough! Lazarus heard a voice saying, “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you. A nursing mother may be able to forget her child, but I cannot forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. No weapon formed against you will prosper and every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. I give you the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” It was just as David said: “I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the Lord sustained me” (Psalm 3:5). In the original text, it says, “I abruptly awakened.” And when it says, “sustained me,” it means “gripped me; laid hold of me.”

In other words, “God laid hold of me, lifted me up and gave me courage not only to arise but to go farther than I had ever gone before.” God did it for David, He did it for Lazarus, and He will do it for you in the midst of your battle! He is faithful. That is why David was able to conclude, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly” (Psalm 3:6–7).

God called you to be more than a conqueror, to be a song of praise to His name in the earth. He called you to testify of what He alone is able to do through those who are surrendered to Him. God has opened a door before you, and despite the littleness of your strength, ten thousand people cannot close that door! 

DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEART

The Bible clearly warns us, “Today, if you can hear His voice, do not harden your heart as they did in the days of provocation” (see Hebrews 3:7–8). In other words, do not ask as Israel once did in her unbelief, “Can God furnish a table in this wilderness?” (see Psalm 78:19). Do not begin to question the Lord’s integrity or His commitment to you, even though you find yourself constantly battling in your mind. God told you that He would raise you up to be a testimony. He told you that He has allowed certain things in your life—some things you understand and some things you don’t—but that all things work together for good because you love Him and are called according to His purpose.

And now the Lord is calling you to get up. He is calling you to lift your head and sing that song He has put within your heart. He is calling you to come back to faith again and believe that you are not going under, you are going over. You are the Bride of Christ, and God stakes His reputation on keeping you and establishing a testimony of victory inside of you. Therefore, settle it in your heart today: “He is my glory and the lifter of my head. Even though I might be depressed when I go to bed at night, He is the One who will lift my head in the morning. He is the One who will give me strength to go through another day. If God has planted a dream inside of my heart, it will become a reality, for He has set before me an open door that no man can close. No matter how many voices rise up against what God has spoken to me, I will not harden my heart in unbelief!”

David did eventually come back to Jerusalem and finish his course. God gave David the pattern of the New Testament temple, which he passed on to his son, Solomon. The Bible tells us that the glory of God filled that temple! This serves as a reminder that despite what you may see or feel right now, it is not over, and not a single voice in this world can rightfully tell you that it is over. Only one voice is truth; only one voice speaks promises that never fail! So do not lose heart in the midst of the secret war you are fighting. Refuse to listen to the lies. Don’t give up on your family; don’t give up on the people in your workplace. Rather, hear God’s voice calling you today. Like Lazarus, all that remains on your part is to simply get up and move toward the hope that God is speaking to you. You will find Him to be faithful to supply all that you need—strength to get through the day, courage to stand in the marketplace, faith to believe for your family. Life and victory will be yours, for the glory of His name!

Carter Conlon

©2014 Times Square Church

 

 

 

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Why Does Truth Offend?

bible_study1-660x508There is a false belief held by some Christians, sort of a Christian myth, that if you are a good Christian you will not offend anyone. In fact, a Christian who offends people is sometimes considered to be just one more arrogant, insensitive, narrow-minded Christian, because it is thought that “true” Christians are sensitive and considerate, and never offend anyone.

To be sure, there are Christians who offend others by their tone of voice, overbearing manner, or by insistence on things that could be called “dogma” rather than truth. This article is not intended to excuse prideful Christian behavior, attitudes, or hardheartedness. History shows that there have been and still are many Christians who do not act very Christ-like. Much could be said about the great need for Christians to walk in love, have good character and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit.

While a lot could be written about walking in love, this article examines a different reason why people are offended by Christian activities. This article asks the question, “Why are some people offended by truth, even if it is spoken or acted out in love?” All we have to do is look at the life of Jesus Christ to realize there are plenty of people who are offended by truth even when it is lovingly presented. There are several reasons that truth is often offensive to some people.

Truth is Exclusive and Absolute

Some people are offended by truth because of its very nature— it is exclusive and it is absolute, not relative. The absolute nature of truth means that it does not depend on, nor is it changed by, people’s opinions. For example, if someone says, “There is no God,” that does not affect the existence of God. It only shows that the person is ignorant. Truth is also exclusive, meaning that it is “narrow” because it excludes anything contrary to it. Unfortunately, in the spiritual world, some people view the narrow nature of truth as “narrow mindedness.” We all recognize the narrowness of truth when it comes to the physical world. People do not put water in their gas tanks or jump from tall buildings if the elevator is full. We train our children to do what is “right” (like looking both ways before crossing a street), and not to do what is “wrong” (like running with a knife) so they will live safely in our “narrow minded” world.

Both the physical world and the spiritual world are expressions of truth and that is why they are exclusive, or narrow in nature. The Bible itself confirms that the spiritual world is very narrow, which is why God has specific commandments about what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Moreover, God expects us to learn about the spiritual world from the physical world, just as we learn about it from His Word.

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

The Bible teaches that God’s power and His nature can be understood from the world around us. Nevertheless, many people deny spiritual truth, which is easy because doing things the wrong way spiritually usually has very delayed consequences. If we put water in our gas tanks, right away the car does not start. If a person denies Jesus Christ and tries to save himself by his own works, it will not be until the Day of Judgment that he will learn that Scripture was correct when it said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). At the resurrection and Day of Judgment the things of God will be clearly seen by everyone, but then it will be too late for the people who reject the truth now. It is because truth is exclusive and absolute that it is essential for each of us to work hard to discover what is and what is not true. There are great blessings for obeying the truth, and serious consequences for denying it.

The Devil’s War Against God and Truth

Another reason people are offended by the truth is because the Devil has waged a war against God and truth for thousands of years. He fights this war on many fronts, and his primary weapon is lies. The Devil has been inculcating lies into the human psyche and society for so long that there are lies deeply embedded in every society on earth. The Devil resists truth everywhere, because, as Scripture says, “…for there is no truth in him…he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The Devil and his demons work hard to deceive people and lead them away from God.

The Devil is very crafty, and adapts his methods to the culture he is trying to deceive. For example, in Western culture today, we are very scientifically minded, and there are many instruments for measuring and tracking what happens around us, so the Devil does not often come out in the open. However, in ancient cultures, and in some cultures today, that is not the case. For example, the Devil wants to continue to promote the lie that dead people are not really dead, but alive as some kind of spirit beings. Thus, one of his common lying signs is to make dead people seem alive, and he does this in various ways, from giving information via mediums in séances, to “haunting” houses, to full demonic apparitions that resemble dead people. Many people, seeing this “evidence,” are turned from the clear biblical truth that the dead are dead until the Rapture or resurrection, to believing the Devil’s lying sign as actually true.

A major tactic of the Devil is to create a cultural climate in which there is a lot of disagreement over truths espoused by the Bible. That way, anyone who claims to have the truth is considered ignorant or arrogant, and is thus easily dismissed.

The Fallen Nature of Mankind

Another reason truth is often offensive to those who do not adhere to it is because people are selfish. We are flesh creatures who have a sin nature and live in a fallen world, and our flesh and sin nature combine to make us inherently selfish and self-centered. That is why we so often give in to temptation and do things that we know are not good for us, and it is also why it can seem so hard to do what is “right” all the time. Because we are self-centered, we can become offended by truth. We want to do things “our way,” but the exclusive nature of truth means we have to do them “the right way.” God calls our selfishness and the things we do from a selfish motivation “evil,” and shows it is a reason why people do not come to Him, but are offended by the truth.

John 3:19-21
(19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(20) Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
(21) But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

It goes against our selfish nature to always do things God’s way, but God is love and everything He asks us to do is in our best interest.

Truth Will Always Offend Some People

The combination of the absolute nature of truth, the Devil’s lies, and the fallen state of mankind combine to result in truth always being offensive to at least some people. For example, why is lying, cheating, and stealing so widespread? It is because people would rather get what they want than be self-sacrificing and truthful. There is an example that shows that people would rather get what they want than act selflessly and walk in love in the gospel of John. Jesus was trying to teach the people that he, not manna, was the real bread that came down from heaven, and that if they would eat his flesh and drink his blood (both idioms for involvement and commitment), they would have everlasting life (John 6:53 and 54). [1] This seems like a very fundamental truth, and it was spoken from Jesus’ sincere and loving heart to see people live forever. Jesus was asking people to turn from their self-centered lives and follow his ways so they could live forever. How did the people respond? Scripture records what they said and did. They said, “…This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60). What did they do? They left, as John 6:66 records: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

When Jesus asked the people around him, including his disciples, to turn from selfishness to truth, many of them simply walked away from him. Do we honestly think it will be any different for us? But if we know that many unbelievers will be offended when we tell them they have to come to Jesus to be saved, should we just ignore the subject of salvation altogether? After all, there are so many other things to talk about; do we have to talk about God, Jesus, or everlasting life?

Why Do We Speak About Jesus?

In order to honestly answer the question about whether we have to speak to unbelievers about salvation and obeying God, we have to become clear on why Jesus, the Apostles, and so many other dedicated Christians have spoken to others about those things. God is real, even if people do not believe it; the Bible is true, even if people do not believe it; and the Day of Judgment is coming, even if people do not believe it. It is an act of love to tell people about blessings they could have now and in the future, and to warn people about a potential disaster they are unaware of. What we need to realize is that not everyone we speak to will “feel the love.”

As Christians, we must face the fact that there is no way to present the truth about Jesus Christ and salvation to people without some of them being offended. Once we realize that, we have a decision to make: do we present the truth even though some will be offended?

The Stumbling Stone

While we are pondering when and how to present the spiritual truths of the Word of God to others, it helps to remember that God knew how people would respond to His loving advances. God knows the absolute nature of His truth, and that most people would reject it, and reject His Son. That is why God refers to Jesus as “…A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

1 Peter 2:6-8a (ESV) [2]
(6) For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
(7) So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
(8a) and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”

It is a profound truth that it is God who calls His Son “a stone of stumbling and rock of offense.” God Himself, who loves people much more than we could imagine, could not think of a better way to present His love, His Son, and His truth, that would not offend many of the self-centered men and women of the earth. Therefore it is safe to assume that neither you nor I are going to come up with a way to present Jesus Christ as God’s plan of salvation without offending some of them. And how will they react? Many will just think we are arrogant and narrow-minded, and shun us, and others will aggressively try to curtail our Christian activities. That is what has happened to evangelically-minded Christians through the centuries—they have been restricted or forbidden to meet, to own Bibles, to preach, to witness to others, and often they have been persecuted to the extent of imprisonment, torture, and death.

Evangelism and Persecution

Just as the Bible says that unbelievers will be offended at Christ, it says that those who live godly lives, which includes lovingly reaching out to others with the truth about Christ and salvation, will be persecuted.

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

This statement in 2 Timothy 3:12 is not a profound act of foretelling on Paul’s part, but rather an honest evaluation of what happens when the absolute truth of God meets the self-centered hearts of fallen man. Just as a thief is angry when he is caught and strikes back if he can, many unsaved people are angry when they are presented with the truth that they must come to Jesus to be saved, and they strike back, doing things like making evangelism illegal and persecuting Christians who speak and live the truth. [3]

There are Christians who try to make Christ acceptable by not mentioning him but only doing good deeds. They say, “I let my good works do my witnessing.” However, if we are honest about the subject, we can see that there are a number of problems with this approach. First, it is not really effective. There are not large numbers of people filling church pews who are there simply because they saw someone else doing good works or living a good life. No one can be saved until they make Christ Lord and believe God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9), and no one knows to do that unless someone else tells them. That is why there are so many commands in Scripture about speaking the Gospel to others. At some point someone must actually speak the Word to those who do not believe.

Secondly, doing good deeds is a common tenet not only of religion, but of service organizations. For example, the slogan of the Boy Scouts is “Do a good turn [deed] daily.” Therefore, a Christian doing good deeds does not necessarily point an onlooker to salvation through Jesus Christ nor to the fatal consequences of rejecting him. Thirdly, why would we not speak about Jesus Christ, salvation, and everlasting life? We speak to others about what is important to us, such as things we enjoy, things that have happened to us that are noteworthy, and people who mean a lot to us, such as our children. What does it say about us, when we will not speak to others about Jesus Christ and salvation? There can only be two answers: either Jesus and salvation do not mean that much to us, or we are concerned or afraid of how the other person will respond.

We have to be very honest with ourselves when we consider why we are not mentioning Jesus and salvation to the unsaved people we know. If the voice in our head says, “I do not want to offend them,” or “I do not what to ‘turn them off,’” we need to be honest about the emphasis we are putting on the word, “I.” Is the real reason we are not speaking about Christ a matter of protecting ourselves from being shunned, called “narrow-minded,” or being otherwise persecuted? It is often not the “I” that offends people, but the “stumbling stone,” Jesus Christ. People enjoy being lord of their life, and do not want to have another lord. It is loving, in fact, the pinnacle of love, to offer everlasting life to someone who is not saved. Similarly, it will be a time of great despair to be present at the Judgment and see someone get thrown into the flames if we had the chance to tell that person about Jesus but failed to do so.

Jesus Christ was loving, selfless, and giving in every way, and yet people rejected him. Jesus never told us we could get better results than he did. Instead, Jesus armed us with the truth by telling us how it would be when we ventured into the world to try to turn it from its selfish ways and offer it everlasting life.

Matthew 10:16-40 (NIV abridged)
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore…Be on your guard against men…All men will hate you because of me…When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another…A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master…If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! So do not be afraid of them…Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

It is never our desire to offend anyone, but we must realize that truth, even if it is presented in love, will offend some people. We each have the choice to either love people enough to offer them everlasting life, knowing that we might offend them, or we can choose to simply be quiet and not risk offending anyone. Let’s make the same choice Jesus did and tell people about Jesus and everlasting life, knowing we will live forever with some of them because of our efforts.

Endnotes

[1] For documentation see our Revised English Version® of the Bible, Commentary on John 6:54 at STFonline.org/rev
[2] Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are taken from The Holy Bible,English Standard Version™. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
[3] The free expression of Christian worship is outlawed in some countries today, and Christian evangelism is currently illegal in a number of countries, including many Moslem countries, communist countries, Israel and France.

Courtesy of http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/why-does-the-truth-offend

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