Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Purpose of the Law-Steve Bray

God must prepare every disciple before they will be ready to earnestly seek out the life and nature of Jesus Christ. This union of lives will never take place while we are still attempting to be good Christians in our own self-sufficient spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3) The “poor in spirit” have recognized their helplessness and have turned to the Lord in dependence upon His divine power to enable them to participate with Him in His nature. (2 Pet. 1:3-4)

As the apostle Paul depicted in his own life, everyone will naturally turn to the way of law and human effort until they are fully convinced of their own helplessness. It will require some time under law before we are willing to give up the years of conditioning we have received from the “spirit of the world.” (1 Cor. 2:12) Every new believer still has a naturally independent and self-sufficient spirit – a spirit they will not easily give up. The law has been designed to break this evil spirit.

The law is like a harsh schoolmaster who places a great burden on our shoulders and drives us onward until we discover the new and better way of life “in Christ.” God’s word first teaches us to obey all of His teachings. But we eventually discover our inability to manifest the Kingdom-life as our Lord has taught. Therefore, given an opportunity, the law will expose our corrupt heart and our insufficiency.

…The law was our schoolmaster {to first describe God’s righteous way of life and then make us aware of how we cannot become Christ-like through human effort in order} TO BRING US UNTO CHRIST, {so we will earnestly seek out His divine life}, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. 3:24 KJV) {As noted before, we receive our justification by earnestly seeking out Christ’s life and nature through faith.}

I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death...But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. (Rom. 7:10, 13)

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known...This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe… (Rom. 3:19-22)

Grace through faith does not release us from the righteous requirements of the law, but rather, God uses His powerful “Spirit of grace” to impart His divine life as a new nature from within our eternal soul. Once we learn the requirements of God’s law, which includes the teachings in our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, this harsh schoolmaster drives the true seeker of God into absolute dependence upon the power of Christ’s Spirit.

When false teachers turn the grace of God into a license to live in sin, they are effectively counteracting the work God is attempting to do through the law. If we ignore the teachings of God when they come into conflict with our fallen nature, then our self-sufficient way of life will never be broken. Consequently, those who use the grace of God for a license to live for self in their sin, will never enter into the kind of dependence that enables the children of God to participate with Christ in His divine nature.

Every Christian must learn to recognize how absolutely necessary it is to surrender themselves to a life wholly under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. Only those who are willing to die to human effort and live by faith in God’s power will be able to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

{Jesus said}, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets {which are the teachings of spiritual life in the Old Testament}; I have not come to abolish them BUT TO FULFILL THEM...“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law {who were very moral men}, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…” (Matt. 5:17, 20-22)

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature {the flesh - KJV}, God did by sending his own order that the RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS of the law might be FULLY MET IN US, who do not live according to the sinful nature {the flesh – KJV} but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)

…And his commands are not burdensome {when we are participating with Christ in His divine nature}, for everyone born of God overcomes {the willful ways of} the world… (1 John 5:3-4)

Paul has described the bondage that he once experienced while trying to live by human effort under law in Romans seven. “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” (Rom. 7:10) Paul was describing what everyone will experience when they are still trying to live by human effort under law. He wants us to understand the need of turning from a dependence upon the flesh to a dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Paul could not be set free from a bondage to the flesh by the “Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2) until after he had learned this lesson. But in Romans chapter seven he did not yet have freedom from the flesh. Romans chapter seven describes a man still in bondage to the flesh. It is not a depiction of what it means to be set “free indeed” (John 8:36) with the abundant spiritual life of Jesus Christ. (John 10:10) Christ’s life has much more power than the fallen life we have received from Adam. Jesus had promised to give Paul life, and life to the full.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, HOW MUCH MORE will those who receive God’s ABUNDANT PROVISION of grace and of THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS REIGN IN LIFE THROUGH THE ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST! (Rom. 5:17)

Before Paul could be set free, the law had to make him fully aware of the depth of his own insufficiency. He had to be broken away from the way of human effort {of obeying laws by human zeal and resolutions}. There was no power in the fallen life to enable him to obey the letter of the law. This is why Paul has taken such pains to explain how the law was designed to bring about a death to the self-life. Given its opportunity, the law will make us aware of the depth of the evil in our heart. Eventually, we will recognize our inability to fix it. Then we have two options, since everyone will follow one of two masters. We can then turn the grace of God into a license for our sin, or we can die to the way of human effort and turn to a true faith principle.

…For it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers {supernatural} righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness {with your self-will}, you have reaped evil {in your carnal nature}, you have eaten the fruit of {Satan’s} deception. Because you have depended on your own strength... (Hos. 10:12-13)

We must be brought to a real death to self and to the world’s way of self-sufficiency. The Spirit is then able to show us how to truly live by faith in God. Only through dependent faith in God’s power are we able to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:14)

It is amazing to see how many people are able to believe in a future salvation that looks forward to being united with Christ’s life in the heavenly realms, yet they cannot believe in God’s power to save them from their sinful nature while they remain in this world. They must either have doubts about His enabling power, or they assume He doesn’t want to manifest the light of Christ’s life into the current darkness of this world. But in either case, they will find themselves running up against many Scriptures that are in direct conflict with their way of life. It is also amazing to find so much faith in God’s ability to solve the temporal circumstances of this world, and yet so little faith in God’s ability to heal the soul. In effect, it is the devil that keeps the eyes of the sinful nature on this world. He knows how important it is to keep our hearts out of the heavenly realms and separated from God’s presence while we remain in a mortal body.

Everyone who believes in a sinning religion is right in one sense: The sinful nature will go on sinning as long as we are living by human effort. The willfulness of the flesh-life has its source in self-sufficiency, and that comes from pride. So as long as we are living by the strength of human effort – the flesh – we cannot help but go on sinning {live by self-will to some greater or lesser degree}.

The people who are still living by human effort in a sinning religion, which includes those who are zealous for the law, have overlooked a very important spiritual principle: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:63) If we want to enter into New Testament Christianity, it will be necessary to permit the Spirit to take our flesh-life {with its human efforts} to the cross.

If we are going to live in the CHRISTIAN FAITH, there is a question that each one of us must ask ourselves. Does God have the power and the desire to free me from my sinful nature? Or said in another way – Does God want to restrict His power and leave me in the darkness of my sinful nature? Of course, we cannot afford to answer this question with our own opinions. We must look to God’s Word for an answer.

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit {the carnal nature} for death. But now, BY DYING TO WHAT ONCE BOUND US {which includes the self-sufficiency of the flesh-life}, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit... (Rom. 7:5-6)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the {willfulness and self-sufficiency of the} sinful nature {the flesh – KJV} but according to the Spirit, because through Christ Jesus the law of the SPIRIT OF LIFE SET ME FREE from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own order that the RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS of the law might be FULLY MET IN US, who do not live according to the sinful nature {of human effort} but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires {and so they pursue the willful, self-sufficient and self-seeking ways of this world}; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit {by dying to self} have their minds set on what the Spirit desires {which is God’s will}. The mind of sinful man is death {which produces an emptiness in the soul}, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is {divine} life and peace…{Those who live by the power of the flesh – the sinful nature – will be worried and upset about many things.} Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature {the flesh – KJV}, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature {which is willful, self-seeking, and self-sufficient}, you will die {have a returning emptiness within the soul}; but if by the Spirit you put to death the {self-originated} misdeeds of the body, you will live {in the divine life of the Son and will “never thirst”}, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Rom. 8:1-6, 12-14)

So I say, live by {the power of} the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature {the lust of the flesh – KJV}...The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity...discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition {all ambition that originates or has its source in the flesh and not in the Spirit}, dissensions, factions and envy...I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no {need for} law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus HAVE CRUCIFIED THE SINFUL NATURE its passions and desires...Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the {willful and self-seeking} sinful nature {the flesh}, from that nature will reap destruction, the one who sows to please the Spirit {by dying to self}, from the Spirit will reap {Christ’s} eternal life. (Gal. 5:16, 19-24; 6:7-8)

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (Jas. 3:16 NKJV)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the {willful and self-seeking} ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air {in his self-sufficient way of pride}, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts...But because of his great love for us, God...RAISED US UP WITH CHRIST AND SEATED US WITH HIM IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS {making it possible to be set free from the bondage and corruption of the flesh-driven life that Satan holds sway over}... (Eph. 2:1-4, 6)

To him who overcomes {the willful and self-seeking ways of this world}, I will give the right to SIT WITH ME ON MY THRONE {in the heavenly realms}, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. {We are to enter into this unity of life with the Father and the Son while we remain in this world. – John 17:22-23} He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 3:21-22)

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in BODILY FORM, and you have been given {access to} FULLLNESS IN CHRIST, who is the head over every power and authority. {Because He now sits on the throne, He has the power and the authority to manifest His life and nature through our human body.} In Him you were also circumcised, in the putting off {or cutting off} OF THE SINFUL NATURE, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men {the Old Testament “type”} but with the circumcision done by {the power and authority of} Christ {by faith}... (Col. 2:9-11)

…Circumcision is circumcision of the heart {referring to the supernatural cutting off of the sinful nature – the flesh}, by {the power of} the Spirit, not by the written code {and human effort}. Such a man’s praise in not from men {because he has died to self and does not seek the approval of men}, but from God. (Rom. 2:29)

For it is we who are the circumcision {when the sinful nature has been cut off}, we who worship by {or live by} the Spirit of God, who glory in {the indwelling life of} Christ Jesus, and WHO PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. (Phil. 3:3)

If we have truly died to self and “no longer live,” we will stop living by human effort – the flesh. This puts an end to the sinful nature. All sin flows out of this willful and self-seeking nature. When we have died to our self-will – the sinful nature – then we can say with Paul, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” And Christ is not a sinner. When Christ manifests His life and nature from within our inner being, we will have His undivided desire to do the will of the Father in heaven. When we have His nature, we also have “the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) Our only hope for true deliverance, therefore, is to enter into the Sabbath-rest of God where everyone rests from their own work of human effort and participates with Christ in His divine life and nature. Of course, we must seek out a supernatural baptism by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit in order for this to occur. Our sinful nature must be cut off if we hope to have an undivided heart that only desires to do the will of the Father in heaven.

The Lord sets us free from the willful and self-seeking nature so we can joyously live fully under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) Death on a cross was a long, slow and painful process. God provided this spiritual type to prepare us for the kind of soul-suffering we can expect to experience within our soul as we go through the process of dying to self. He wants us to be prepared in advance for the kind of soul-suffering we will experience as we are being broken from Satan’s way of self-sufficiency.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you {as you go through the wilderness time of testing}, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed {in you as a new life and nature}, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Pet. 4: 12-13 NKJV)

For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives {into the Kingdom-life}. (Heb. 12:6 NKJV)

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat FALLS TO THE GROUND AND DIES, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me {through a death to the flesh-life}; and where I am {in the heavenly realms}, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves {follows} me {by exalting their soul with the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit}. (John 12:24-26)

The self-sufficiency that produces the self-directed way of life does not die easily. As the scripture above pictures, the seed first falls to the ground and lays there for a period of time. It gradually becomes covered over by the elements and is buried in darkness. After it lies there for a while, it suddenly rises up into new life by a supernatural work of God. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. When we find ourselves in the weakest possible condition through this slow death of the flesh-life, we can know that we are in a condition for God to perfect His power from within our inner being. (2 Cor. 12:9) When there is nothing left that is trying to assert its own rights, opinions, and will – with nothing but the carcass of the old life left – then the fire can come down from heaven to consume the remains. And thanks be to God, when this purification process is completed, the glory of the Lord can then fill the temple of our body.

{As a spiritual “type”} When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices {of the self-life}, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple {our body is the temple in this New Testament age of fulfillment – 2 Cor. 6:16}. (2 Chron. 7:1)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. SUDDENLY a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be TONGUES OF FIRE {coming down from heaven} that separated and CAME TO REST ON EACH ONE OF THEM. (Acts 2:1-3



Monday, January 11, 2010

New Page for Recommended Books

I have added several books to the Blog that have been a blessing to me, I pray they will bless others as well. Instead of listing them all individually on the sidebar, I have given them their own page with a link to it there. I will be adding more books soon. Click on the picture link that says “Recommended Books”.