Saturday, November 27, 2010

Following Christ unto Salvation

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. (Rom. 1:16)

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

The enemy has had many devices that have been used to discourage and distract us from this ‘high calling’ in Him “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. His purpose is to keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to us in our spirits. If we cannot hear him, how are we to follow Him? He will even use the scriptures to take the place of following Christ who IS the Spirit of Truth. Knowledge of the scriptures alone is unable to lead us; we need to be able to hear CHRIST who IS the Word, only He is able to lead us into a “perfect man”.

The Pharisees could not accept who Jesus was even though they had memorized and knew the scriptures because they could not hear the voice of the Father in their spirits speaking to them of His Son. Read what Jesus said to them:

(John 5:37-40) And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

The scriptures are meant to point us to CHRIST to be led of HIM. Scriptures are a witness of Christ just as WE should be a witness of Christ, but WE are NOT the Christ and neither are the scriptures. Apart from Christ neither we, nor the scriptures can pierce the hearts of men nor can we or the scriptures discern the thoughts and intents of the heart, ONLY CHRIST the Living Word can do this. We and the scriptures are a dead word without Christ.

Christ can use the scriptures or one of His servants to speak, but He is not limited to either of these tools. He has to be HEARD in the hearts of men no matter what means He chooses to use. He wants a relationship with His people that will hear his voice, recognize it and follow Him; this is how he will lead His own into the Sons of God that He desires for His people. This has been His plan since before the foundation of the world.

You can understand why Satan would not want us to hear the voice of the Lord. If he can keep people using our own understanding of scriptures, following men and their doctrines he has defeated them and they are no threat to his kingdom of darkness. But any that would be more spiritual and have a desire to hear from the Lord and to be led by him, Satan has to defeat them in other ways. There are so many different devices at his disposal, the desire for the things of this world, the approval of men are just a couple, but all of these can be traced back to our flesh and the lack of the cross in our lives.

If we are to hear a clear word from the Lord we must die out to our own wants and desires. Just as Jesus prayed in the garden let us pray, “Not my will, but thy will be done”, and pick up our cross and follow Him. We are warned in scripture that if we keep any hidden desire in our hearts apart from Christ’s will, we risk His answering us according to these “idols of our hearts” and He will allow us to believe a lie while the whole time thinking we have heard from the Lord. (See Ezekiel 14:4 2 and Thessalonians 2:10-11)

We should always be praying as David did. - Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). If we earnestly pray this kind of prayer to our Lord, let us TRUST that He has heard us. Let us BELIEVE if we “asked for bread, He would not give us a stone” (Mat7:9-11) and “He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him” (Hbr 11:6)

After all this, the biggest hindrance we face is TRUSTING that we will be able to hear from the Lord. Satan comes at every opportunity to discourage us, reminding us how wretched we are, how undeserving we are, making us feel that we are not able to hear from God. This has caused many to fall back to relying only on other people to teach them, reading scriptures and so forth. But thanks be to God that he judges the intents of our hearts and He is long suffering, bearing with us. He gently guides us in these things until we are able to come to the faith in Him that He desires for us. 

We have to remember that this is HIS plan and not ours. Can we believe that since this is His plan that He is also able to perform it? He said His sheep will hear his voice and they will not follow another. Thank God it does not depend on us; we do not have this ability in ourselves. But, He will cause us to hear His voice if we will deny ourselves and seek Him with our whole heart, for indeed He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  And if we miss this mark from time to time, this is part of our learning process.  Get back up and go to Him again with our whole heart trusting in Him and He will soon be there leading us again.

Let us encourage one another in this. We have an enemy that is constantly putting us down discouraging us, (remember he is called the accuser of the brethren) let us not agree with the enemy and end up fighting against the Lord. It will steal our faith to believe the Lord is able to perform this perfect work in us he spoke of in Ephesians 4:13.  In doubting we can only see our own inabilities in reaching such high places in the Lord, never realizing it is not our responsibility to “achieve it” as it can only come by hearing and following the Lord in faith. In reality, we are judging God in His ability to work out His plan in those that will submit to His will. But, "With men, these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible”. If we trust Him, it is HIS responsibility to “get us there”. Remember, it is HIS plan!

Yes, it is a process, as we learn to depend on the Him, He will teach us through many trials and tribulations. He uses these to burn out our old nature and replace it with His life and His nature. He is loving and he comforts us through these trying times and gently leads us along. Let us trust Him that He is able to do it, giving Him everything, for He is trustworthy! And then STAND AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salvation from Sin

by Steve Bray

The Gospel is a message that explains how Jesus Christ has come to save people from sin. And yet, many of those in the church think that Christ can only save them from the penalty of sin, while they themselves must keep on sinning {living by their own will} daily. In order to believe this way, we must either think that God does not have the power to save us from our fallen state, or that He intends for us to go on living in it.

Here is where we need to pay close attention to the Scriptures. Jesus came to save us “from” our sins, rather than “in” our sins. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Furthermore, this salvation is to include more than a few of our worst sins. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him…” (Heb. 7:25)

The term “uttermost” means both completely and without limit. We can therefore say that Jesus has come to save us from the very nature that produces sin. As an omnipotent God, He has the power that can enable us to become partakers with Him in His own divine nature.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life {the Kingdom-life of perfect love} and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises {promises that need to be understood and appropriated by faith}, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world {the kingdom of darkness} caused by evil {self-seeking} desires. (2 Pet. 1:3-4 NIV)

In a figurative sense, most Christians believe they are to receive a new life from the Son of God. However, they do not believe that He is able to provide them with the “life” that He received from the Father—the same divine life that overcame sin. This is the point where there needs to be a real renewing of the mind. Christians need to be built up both in their knowledge of the Son and in their faith, so they may look to the Lord in hope to reveal Himself within their hearts in such a way that it becomes possible to “reign in life {zoe} through…Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:17) The divine life that comes from Jesus Christ is able to reign over the old sin nature.

The apostle John has explained how believers can be fully saved from sin in these concise words: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9) Similarly, Paul has stated, “The life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:10) From these Scriptures and others that will follow, we will see how it is possible to be “saved” from our fallen nature by becoming partakers with Christ in His Kingdom-life of perfect love. The life of Christ does not sin. And once He has fully established His Kingdom-life of perfect love within our heart, we will begin sharing with Him in His complete victory over sin. This is what is meant by the term full salvation.

Jesus remained without sin because He did nothing “out from” Himself. He completely yielded Himself to be led by the Spirit. Although He had a will of His own while living as a man, He surrendered his own will in order to live by the will of the Father. He thereby revealed how man was created to live “as one” with God, by sharing with the Father in His divine life and will.

If we are living in our own strength according to our own will, which is the essence of Satan’s pride and independence, everything we do is sin. But because of what Jesus has accomplished, we may overcome this old flesh-life. It can be destroyed so that we may be delivered from the self-originated form of life—the root of sin—and begin living under the control and power of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did.

Scripture is clear on this matter. The “body of sin” can be “done away with.” (Rom. 6:6) Paul is not referring to the physical body with its God-given desires. Rather, he is referring to a body of sin that refuses to remain in complete subjection to the Holy Spirit. This fallen nature, which naturally wants to have its own way and live for itself, must be done away with before it is possible to live fully under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. The Son’s life of perfect love will establish God’s complete reign within the heart.

Jesus is called the Second or Last Adam because He has become the firstborn of a new lineage of people who all share in the same divine image. Every child of God is to follow Jesus and learn to live as He did. There needs to be a complete yielding of the human will. Only in following this path of the Son is it possible to come under the full control of God’s Spirit. And only in this way is it possible to share with God in His Kingdom-life from heaven.

God possesses the needed power to raise our spiritual life into a state where we can begin sharing with Christ in all the spiritual blessings that are found in His Kingdom-life within the heavenly realms. (Eph. 1:3) By dying out to the old fleshly way of life where people naturally live by their own will, it is possible to become a partaker with Christ in His eternal life of perfect love. This divine life originates in the Father and passes through the Son before it enters into our eternal soul by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This life is so unique and heavenly in nature that Jesus said we would know when we are living through Him. Jesus said, “Because I live {in the eternal Kingdom-life of perfect love}, you will live also {in the same life}. At that day you will know that I am in My Father {receiving the eternal life from Him}, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:19-20) We are enabled to know that we have entered into this Kingdom-life from heaven when the Son has begun to experientially reveal the Father’s nature of perfect love within our heart.

I {the Son} have made you {the Father} known to them {by revealing the divine nature of self-sacrificing love in a mortal body}, and will continue to make you known {by filling them with the same Spirit of divine love} in order that the love you have for me {perfect love} may be in them and that I myself {in the Kingdom-life} may be in them. (John 17:26 NIV)

Entering into a justified state places the believer in a position where it is possible to be led by the Spirit into the Son’s “life of promise.” We therefore should not think that this justified state is the intended salvation of the Lord. Justification does not completely set us free from the sin nature. While it will provide a real hunger and thirst after true righteousness and holiness, and this initial salvation will enable believers to repress sin, a defect within the heart {the evil root of self-centeredness} will still be noticed. The heart must be “filled” with Christ’s life of perfect love before it is possible to be set “free indeed” from sin. Again, this is the full salvation of the Lord.
Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. {It reveals how the evil root of self-centeredness has continued to captivate the heart.} And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free {from the self-centeredness that produces sin}, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. (1 John 2:1)

At this point we need to define the kind of sin that is overcome when we are set “free indeed.” John says, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:4-5) Jesus came to take away the “lawlessness” that is in the heart of fallen man. Because the Fall resulted in a self-centered nature that insists on living by its own will, Jesus must do away with this carnal nature if He is to save us from all sin.

At the same time, we need to realize that our knowledge will never be perfect in this world. It is therefore possible to be separated from God’s perfect will without realizing it. God does not hold us accountable for this kind of sin because it is not “lawlessness.” We do not enter into “sin” in God’s sight until we have knowingly violated His revealed will.

Jesus has come to enable us to share with Him in His nature of perfect love. In doing so, He is able to provide us with a heart that always yields to the divine will as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Perfect love sets us free from the self-seeking nature and empowers us to continually lay down our lives for the divine will as Jesus did.

It is in this sense that we can remain “blameless” before God. There can be no blame when something is done that we do not know to be wrong. A child cannot be blamed for doing something wrong if they have never been told it is wrong. Thus, it is possible to live blamelessly before God when our hearts have been perfected in love and we begin to live only for the will of God as it has been revealed to us.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body {every part of you} be preserved blameless… He who calls you {into this life of promise} is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24 Emphasis added)

Just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4)

While the person who keeps falling into sin is given an opportunity to live in the house of God in a reconciled state, he must press on in his faith until he has been set free indeed from the self-centered nature that naturally leads to self-will. No one can live in a blameless state until they have died to their own will and have fully yielded themselves to live by the divine will as Jesus did. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son {those who have been set free from sin} abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free {through the power of His indwelling life}, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)

We must note that self-will leads to self-seeking, and everyone who is living in a “self-seeking” form of life, in the end, will be under the “wrath” of God. He will give “to those who are self-seeking…indignation and wrath.” (Rom. 2:8). Therefore, people who continue to follow this course will not be permitted to remain in the house forever. “The {self-sacrificing} love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end {living wholly for the will of God} shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13-14)

Paul knew that a soul filled with perfect love would have power to overcome all the temptations of the devil. And yet he knew that Christians, when they are first justified, have not been strengthened with the Son’s life and nature of self-sacrificing love, which is the source of power over sin. He therefore needed to pray for his converts to be filled with this life of God so they could fully participate with Him in His divine nature.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ {with His nature of perfect love} may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you…may have power {from the Spirit of God}…to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19 NIV Emphasis added)

God is love, and he who abides in {divine} love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is {in His nature of self-sacrificing love}, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:16-17)

If we have not become like the Lord in His self-sacrificing nature of love and continue to be so until the end, we will not have boldness on the great Day of Judgment. God has created us to be a display of His life of love. Those who refuse to yield to becoming a vessel of the Son’s life and nature of love, which will also supply them with an inner compulsion to live by the divine will, should expect to find wrath in the end.

These Scriptures do not imply that we are to contain the infinite God. But the temple of our body is to be filled to overflowing with His life of divine love. For example, a greenhouse cannot contain the sun. But every part of a greenhouse may be filled with light from the sun. It is in this sense that we may now be “filled” with God’s life and nature of love. We can receive the life in the same sense that Jesus received the life from the Father through the power of the Spirit. And as we can learn from the Scriptures, the Son’s life does not live for itself in sin.

When Paul wrote about being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” he knew that he would be stretching the faith of many of his readers. When we look at our wretched and sinful heart, we wonder how this wonderful promise could ever become true in our own life. But it was for this very reason that he went on to say, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory…” (Eph. 3:20-21) He can do much more than you think or even imagine.

Yes, the power of the Spirit that has begun to work in you, can bring your hearts into a state of consecration that permits the Lord to fill the temple of your body with His glory. “The riches of the glory of this mystery…is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) He is the one who will display this perfect love that surpasses knowledge through the lives of individual Christians. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay {weak mortal bodies} to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV Emphasis added)

The Son completely emptied Himself of His own glory in order to live as a man in a weak mortal body. And yet, all the fullness of the Father’s life of love could still be revealed through Him by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. In the same sense, we are to receive our life from the Son. Our inner nature can become “as one” with the nature of love that Jesus revealed through His mortal body. (John 17:22-23, 26) “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given {access to} fullness in Christ...” (Col. 2:9-10 NIV)

We will be nothing but an empty vessel in ourselves. It is only as we permit God to fill the temple with His glory—His life and image of love—that we are made complete or whole. It is the innate sense of incompleteness or emptiness within the soul that produces the evil root of self-seeking. We are by nature covetous {always seeking more for ourselves and not being content very long with what we have, where we are or what we are doing}. Once this body of sin is done away with through an inner manifestation of God’s Kingdom-life of divine love {His life of love satisfies the soul as with the richest of foods}, we are set free from the self-seeking nature. It is Christ’s indwelling life of love that completely sets us free from the independent and self-serving ways of the world, so we can begin living wholly for the will of God and be a vessel of His glory.

Because this eternal life provides a form of love that “surpasses” anything that can be taught through means of human knowledge, or that can be achieved through human effort (1 Cor. 2: 9, Eph. 3:19), we can know that the life needs to be received supernaturally through a work of the Holy Spirit – by faith. This is why we say that salvation from sin must be received as a gift from God. This life is granted to those who have proven their faith by fully yielding to God’s teachings.

The Kingdom-life of promise that Jesus Christ intends to reveal within our heart must be received by following the same spiritual principles that God revealed when He gave the Jews of old a “land of promise.” It is possible to possess a “right” to the inheritance and have access to the “life of promise” before the fullness of the blessing is actually appropriated through a responsive faith. This is why we pray for you as Christians “that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Eph. 1:18-19) Your justified state, which is the initial salvation of the Lord, is not enough to hold you from the self-seeking way of life to the end. You will need to persistently press forward in your walk of faith, using the grace that God has already granted, until you have entered into the full salvation that Jesus Christ has made available to all true “believers” in this world.

Pastors and teachers are therefore needed within Christ’s church to build reconciled Christians up “in their faith” so they will be prepared to press forward into the life of promise. “And He Himself gave some to be…pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man {perfected in love}, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-13 Emphasis added)

Yes, the Lord expects each of His followers to “come to” this state of perfect love. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40)

Therefore, new Christians will need to learn what the life of Jesus Christ is like so they will have an idea of what they must receive through their yielded and dependent faith. Even though the natural mind cannot fully relate to His nature of perfect love, it will be necessary to have some perspective of the goal. Pastors and teachers are expected to help the members of Christ’s body “to grow” in their “knowledge of the Son of God.” And then, as an expression of their faith, these believers must be shown the necessity of surrendering their whole being to become a vessel of the same Christ-life.

The Lord requires His disciples to yield to every point of the divine nature that was revealed through His mortal body. Therefore, the disciple is to be taught what Jesus is like. We must agree to become like Him and then “let” {yield or submit to} the life that was in Jesus to become fully established within our own heart.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant… And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him… (Phil. 2:5-9 Emphasis added)

If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:21, 24 Emphasis added)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love {taking the form of a bondservant as you pour out your life for others, for the good of God’s kingdom}, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. (Eph. 5:1-2 Emphasis added)

Those who refuse to submit to becoming like the Son in His nature of love, will remain sinners. “Sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins {by providing us with His own submissive and loving nature}. And in him is no sin. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6 NIV)

In effect, people who do not hunger and thirst after the Kingdom-life of the Lord have not yet experienced the new birth. Everyone who is born again has a “seed” from the life of the Son planted within their heart. If they do not experience a longing to be like Him in His divine nature, which will be manifested in a real surrender to His ways, they have obviously not yet begun to taste of the glorious love that comes from the life of God.

No one who is born of God will continue to {willfully} sin, because God’s seed {a seed from the Son’s divine life of love} remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not {continue to} do what is right {as God expands their understanding of what He requires} is not a child of God… (1 John 3:9-10 NIV)

God will not make us like Himself until we have shown that we are willing to yield to the “light of truth” that He has revealed through the life of Jesus. We are required to consciously choose to become like Him at every point. For example, we will need to submit to becoming like Him in the meekness and humility that led Him to become a self-sacrificing servant who lived for the good of others. (Matt. 11:28-29) Of course, we can only receive His “life to the full” by looking to Him in faith to reveal His Kingdom-life of perfect love within our heart.

As we yield to the Son’s way of life, while being led by the Holy Spirit through the time of testing, He will prepare us for a definite entrance into His Kingdom-life of promise. Those who are willing to “deny” themselves and take the Son’s way of the cross will eventually come to the end of themselves. They will reach the point where they are willing to die to all forms of independence and self-sufficiency. Thus, in due time, they will be prepared to be lifted {exalted} by the power of God into His heavenly Kingdom-life.

The point of entering into Christ’s Kingdom-life, where the Lord reigns in the heart with His self-sacrificing life of love without rival, will be a sudden crisis experience in the same sense that God was able to miraculously take His called-out people of old across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. While the way into this blessed land is difficult, the Kingdom-life that is received is well worth the price that must be paid.

For if by the one man’s offense death {the loss of divine life from heaven} reigned through the one {Adam}, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness {in a second crisis experience} will reign in life {in the Kingdom-life from heaven} through the One, Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:17 Emphasis added)

The law and the prophets were until John {the Baptist}. Since that time {since the Old Testament dispensation} the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone {who believes} is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16)

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life {Christ’s Kingdom-life}, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:14)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God {by yielding to His teachings}, that He may exalt you {lift you into His Kingdom-life} in due time… But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory {to be vessels of His life of perfect love} by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while {in dying out to the flesh-life}, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you {in the Kingdom-life}. (1 Pet. 5:6, 10)

Because of what we see in the church today, there is a real need to keep emphasizing that the Gospel message involves more than being reconciled to God. Jesus came to restore the divine image of perfect love that was lost by Adam at the Fall. The true Gospel message teaches people how they must lose their old flesh-life and learn to live through the life of the Son, by faith, so they may become like Him in His Kingdom-life of love in this world. If we do not deny ourselves and press into this eternal life of love, so we may completely overcome the sin nature {the independent, self-sufficient and self-seeking nature}, then we have effectively neglected the great salvation that Jesus Christ has provided through His death and resurrection.

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord (Heb. 2:1-3)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. (1 John 2:1)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gospel Message

Steve Bray's book "The Gospel Message" has been added to the Recommended Books page.  The full Gospel Message is not known to the vast majority of Christians today as the enemy has been successful in diluting it's true power and has replaced it with a weak counterfeit.  This book will be a blessing to anyone that has a hunger for God and His Kingdom life in it's fullness.

Click here to read "The Gospel Message"


The Deceitfulness of the Heart

The following lesson is taken from “The Kingdom of God” – Steve Bray

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.... (Jer. 17:9)

…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:34, 36-37)

People who truly desire to produce righteousness in their lives are generally able to remove their glaring sins. It is possible to have many successes through our human efforts. We can become very moral and upstanding citizens, contributing significantly to helping our fellow man through our own discipline and hard work. And so from the perspective of this world, we are able to find many morally righteous people in our society. If they were professing to be Christians, we would praise the Lord for what they are doing with their lives.

But in truth, they have climbed their ladders of success without ever looking to Jesus Christ. If God only expected an outwardly moral life from His creation, we would have the opportunity to hold onto our independence while producing a reasonable level of righteousness through obedience to laws. But in truth, Jesus Christ came to purify the inside of the cup. He came to cure the envy and bitterness and anger and unforgiveness and lust that expose the bad heart found in the fallen nature. Our Savior has come to replace this sinful nature with His divine nature.

The Pharisees used the word of God to change their outer facade. They were able to confidently parade their righteousness in the streets, just as we find many church members doing today. They did an outstanding job of making themselves look like outwardly moral men. But then Jesus came along and began describing the kind of life we are to live in God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom-life, as Jesus described it in His Sermon on the Mount, would require a whole new nature. The standard was so high that it would require total dependence on Christ’s Spirit to manifest the life through the temple of our body.

The Son of God came to take the religion of human effort away from man, and the Pharisees {then and now} were not happy with this new principle. The Pharisees were very upset with Jesus when He told them that God was not impressed with their outward character. Even though they had taken great pains to study the Scriptures and conform their outward character to God’s laws, Jesus said their inner nature was not acceptable in the eyes of God. He was examining the corruption in their heart. And unless they gave up their evil way of self-sufficiency to receive the divine life from Jesus Christ, they would never be able to enter into God’s kingdom life.

Jesus is still saying to the Pharisees who live by human effort, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by {a belief in} them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to {die to self and} come to me {through the cross} to have life. (John 5:39)

The Pharisees were totally deceived about their condition before God. As far as they were concerned, they were God’s most honored servants. But they were sadly mistaken. And everyone who continues to live by this independent and self-produced kind of righteousness, will one day find themselves in the same kind of serious trouble. “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20)

We have this same kind of heart deception in the church today. Even though the Son of God has clearly described the innate evil within our fallen nature in His Sermon on the Mount, there is a natural tendency to overlook the importance of His message. Therefore, if we hope to avoid falling into the fatal error committed by the Pharisees, we must examine the difference between the righteousness that man is able to produce through his own works, and the righteousness that God wants to manifest through the temple of our body using the divine life of the Son.

The first thing we will notice about self-produced righteousness is how it naturally builds up pride and self-sufficiency. Furthermore, when people strive to be righteous through their own efforts, they will have a tendency to look down on others who remain in their sin. Our Lord has provided a clear warning about trying to live by our own strength in a self-produced kind of righteousness. To some who were CONFIDENT OF THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS and LOOKED DOWN on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)

The Pharisee, because of his pride and self-sufficiency, became exactly the opposite of what God expects from His creation. Even though this Pharisee was obviously trying to obey God’s laws, he was still walking in Satan’s way of pride. The devil also masquerades as an angel of light by producing a form of righteousness. He convinces his ministers to teach a religion of human effort. He wants his followers to manifest a self-produced righteousness so they will remain independent of God. “You have eaten the fruit of {Satan’s} deception. Because you have depended on your own strength.” (Hos. 10:13)

The difference between the kingdom of God, which is a life that must be established in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, and all the other religions of the world, is the difference between human effort and God’s power. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk {or our human effort to obey words} but of power.” (1 Cor. 4:20)

If we do not become utterly dependent on Jesus Christ and the power of His Spirit to manifest His life and nature through the temple of our body, we are going to remain in a religion of the world. We can recognize these worldly religions because a carnal life will continue to flow out of the fallen nature. Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were truly in “the faith.” They were to look for the fruit of Christ’s nature because Paul understood how a truly responsive faith would bring the life and nature of Jesus Christ into the born again children of God by the divine power of the Holy Spirit.
(2 Cor. 13:4-8)

There is a very significant difference between the nature of fallen man and the selfless nature of love found in the life of Jesus Christ. But not everyone is willing to die to the old nature so they may enter into Christ’s submissive nature. As the world has produced more and more things to capture the heart of fallen mankind, Paul understood how even the church would become filled with people who manifested a carnal nature while living in a religion of human effort. As Jesus once said, we will recognize them by their fruit.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud....conceited, lovers of pleasure {in this world} rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness {that comes from self-produced righteousness} but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

Nearly everyone today is denying that God has the power to remove our sinful nature and replace it with the divine nature of Jesus Christ. They are like the Pharisees who wanted to have a religion and be eternally saved, but who did not want to give up control over their own life. They insist on living in their own strength and directing their own affairs, and the last thing they want to hear is that the salvation of the Lord is found in dying to self and entering into the fullness of Christ’s life and nature.

If we could fill our church with men like the Pharisees today, we would consider our congregation a very spiritual organization. They had devoted their whole life to serving God. They even gave a tenth of everything they earned for the purpose of doing God’s work. But unless our righteousness exceeds this level of human effort, we will never enter into the supernatural kingdom of God.

Jesus made a statement that we cannot afford to overlook when He said these religious men, who were devoted to serving God, did not go home justified. Jesus pointed to the problem when He said they were looking down on other people. They had become proud in their self-produced righteousness. This will naturally occur whenever our religious life comes from our own strength. Once we have accomplished a work of righteousness through our own wisdom and human effort, there is a natural tendency to begin judging others by the works we have been doing.

Our fallen nature, which wants to be like God, desires to conform others to the “right” spiritual image we have created for ourselves. Consequently, the world becomes filled with people who are trying to conform others to their own concepts of what is right and wrong. This is what naturally occurs when people eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” – the human opinion tree. This is the reverse of the true Christian faith. In Christianity, we are to give up our own glory and self-produced “spiritual” image. Instead of promoting the way of life we have established it in our own little kingdom, we are to die to self and enter the kingdom of God where everyone manifests God’s spiritual image.

I have given them {access to} the glory {or spiritual image} that you gave me, that they may be one {in life and nature} as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity {be made perfect in one – NKJV} to let the world know that you sent me {to save them from their willful and self-seeking nature that wants to glory in itself}... (John 17:22-23)

Since we cannot produce a Christlike nature in our own strength, no one is ever in a position to take credit for what has been accomplished in their life. When we enter into this supernatural life through a gift of God based on our utter dependence on Him, we will never even consider trying to get other people to conform to this new nature. We know that everyone must receive it through miraculous work of God. In fact, we know that all righteousness that is produced by the pride of human effort is nothing but filthy rags in the sight of God.

There was only one way given for us to enter into the fullness of Christ’s life: The self-life would have to die. We must be able to say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) By giving up our own life in order to enter into Christ’s life, the Son is able to bring all glory to the Father. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much {divine} fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8) And this is how it will be throughout all eternity for the few who are willing to enter into God’s undivided kingdom.

The Pharisees of the world live by law. They enter into a natural progression of using laws to conform other people to the way of life they have chosen for themselves. Of course, everyone has a little different opinion about how everyone else should be living, and so people are always entering into a war of words with each other. If more Christians were participating with Christ in His divine nature, there would be less people being drawn into this foolish method of promoting righteousness through the worldly way of government by written law. “Are you so foolish?...are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?... All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.’” (Gal. 3:3, 10-11)

This is not to say that we do not have a need for laws in this world. “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful...” (1 Tim. 1:9) God has established the governments of this fallen world for all of the people who refuse to give up their willful nature in order to live under the control and power of the Holy Spirit. We can only be set free from the law by dying to our self-originated life and entering into a participation with Christ in His life and nature. Only those who have yielded their life to live wholly under the control and power of the Holy Spirit are set free from the law.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Rom. 7:6)

…For if a law had been given that could impart {divine} life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised {divine life}, being GIVEN through FAITH in Jesus Christ, might be GIVEN {as a life of true righteousness and holiness} to those who BELIEVE. (Gal. 3:21-22)

…The fruit of the Spirit {which comes from the divine life of God} is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no {need for} law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

Most Christians today remain under the law because they want to maintain some control over their life. Like the Pharisees, their heart remains blinded in its own self-centeredness. Truly, “the heart is deceitful beyond all things.” (Jer. 17:9) As long as we maintain control over our own life, which also carries over into a desire to control those around us, we will remain bound to the old willful nature and the law. And do not be deceived, there are still many Pharisees today who have committed themselves to serving the Lord while they are still holding onto their willful nature. And from this fallen nature comes the desire to conform others to one’s own spiritual image and judge them when they do not conform, just as the Pharisees did.

God will not justify someone or set them free from their sinful nature while they have chosen to live this way. Do not underestimate the eternal ramifications of this lesson. If you are living by law through your own human efforts, you will continue to experience a natural tendency toward judging people who have not produced a life of righteousness similar to the one you have produced, by the one you have produced. But Jesus says, if you still have sin in your own life while judging someone else by your own list of selected sins, God will judge you in the same way and with the same penalty you are using to judge them.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt. 7:1)

In other words, if you are making sweeping judgments against someone else, even if they are a prostitute or homosexual while you are still harboring sins such as resentment, bitterness, envy, pride, lust, unforgiveness or a spirit that condemns others {or any sin of the heart}, God will judge you with the same measure you have been using to judge them. In God’s sight, the sins of the inner nature, such as our anger and resentment towards others, are as evil as any of the outward sins, including murder.

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...{And} anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matt. 5:21-22)

…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:34, 36-37)

To escape judgment, we will need a new nature. And in order to receive a new nature, we are going to be required to have enough faith in Jesus Christ to present our body to Him as a living sacrifice. We must give up all forms of self-will and self-sufficiency. He requires us to die to our self-life so we can become a vessel of His life and will.

He is before all things...And He is the head of the body, the that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Col. 1:17-18)

And he made known to us the mystery of his bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Eph. 1:9-10)

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment {because he lives in Christ’s life and will}: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ {those who have become spiritual Christians}. (1 Cor. 2:15-16)

There is a difference between making sweeping judgments of others and discerning sin in the lives of our brothers. Sin is rebellion against revealed light. If someone has truly given up their life to the Lord, thus becoming our brother in Christ, and then has turned in rebellion against revealed light, we are to try to win him {or her} over with the gentle instruction found in a Christlike nature.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (Jam. 5:19-20)

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on {selfless agape} love, which binds them all together in PERFECT UNITY...Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom... (Col. 3:12-14, 16)

We have been sent into the world to show people how to be set free from their sinful nature. Our purpose is not to condemn them for the evil that remains in their heart. After all, they cannot free themselves from their corrupt nature. Instead, we must encourage them to seek out the purified heart that has been promised by the Father through the life of Jesus Christ. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given {access to} fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Col. 2:9-10)

When we have been united with the mind and nature of Jesus Christ, we do not condemn the sinful people of the world. The “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) sees nothing but the multitudes of helpless people who remain lost in darkness. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) They had not yet found their Shepherd.

People who are still living by human effort remain in the darkness of Satan’s deception. (Hos. 10:13) A Christianity that cannot do anything other than teach law to the lost people of the world will keep these people in bondage to their sinful nature. And their sinful nature is the source of their problem. We are here to draw them out from the darkness of their carnal nature by the light of Christ’s life. We must show them how to enter into Christ’s life and nature through a dependent faith in His power. They will not be able to completely escape the corruption in this world caused by evil desires until they are participating with Christ in His divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:3-4)

The Son of God came as a servant to everyone. He made Himself nothing and then demonstrated how the sons of God are to become instruments of the Father’s life and work. This was His plan for redeeming fallen man. He taught the truths about life in God’s eternal kingdom, and then invited people to seek divine life from Him in the same way that He had received it from the Father. Remember, He has come to give us His life, His abundantly full spiritual life. (John 10:10)

Jesus did not attempt to control other people. If they were unwilling to follow Him, He knew it was because His Father had not yet enabled them. (John 6:65) Of course, He also understood how their lack of enabling grace was always related to their pride and self-sufficiency. (Matt. 18:3-4; Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5-6) The Father will not enable anyone to truly follow the Lord into His divine life until they are willing to become nothing in self and live as humble, meek and dependent little children. The sons of God recognize how they must permit the Son of God to do everything through them. As Jesus so clearly stated, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The only way we can truly help the people who are living under the bondage of a sinful nature is by manifesting the light of Christ’s life through the temple of our body. We cannot argue someone into the kingdom of God through the wisdom of this world. Paul attempted to explain this principle when he described how there must be a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:4-5) The world must be able to see Christ’s supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control continuously flowing out of our life if we are to convince them of the need to die to self. Until we are enabled to demonstrate the all-surpassing power of God through our new nature, others will see little value in giving up their independent nature. People must see the Lamb of God living His life through the temple of our body before they will ever agree to pay the price for the invaluable treasure of the “pearl of great price” {our Lord’s kingdom-life}. (Matt. 13:45-46)

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the {divine} light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through {the all-surpassing power of} God. (John 3:21)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Living by Faith by Zac Poonen

Many Christians, through the ages, have sincerely sought after holiness and victory over sin by taking up their cross and denying themselves. But they have often found the Christian life to be a "hard grind" instead of the glorious life that the Bible describes. Their failure has been this that they never understood the life of faith under the new covenant. They sought to be holy by the principles of the old covenant and thus missed what God had for them.

2 Corinthians 3:6 tells us that the new covenant is a ministry of the Spirit that brings life, whereas the old covenant was a ministry of the letter that brought death! And if we walk according to the letter of God's commandments - even in the new covenant - it will still bring death. Only if we live by faith and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, will we enter into the "life of Christ".

Since Jesus has now ascended on high and sent the Holy Spirit to this earth, our life can be far more glorious than that of any Old Testament saint. So if we find ourselves living under condemnation, depression and gloom today, it must be because we are still living by old covenant principles (2 Cor.3:9).

There were two things that Jesus emphasised frequently in His ministry - faith in God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Adam missed this life of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit when he chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of the tree of life (Gen.2:9). He chose to have the knowledge of good and evil resident within himself, instead of being dependent on God for it.

The tree of life represents the life of faith under the new covenant while the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents a life of self-effort under the old covenant. If Adam had chosen the tree of life he would have lived by faith - in constant dependence on God. Then the Holy Spirit would have given him Divine life. But instead, he chose to live in dependence on himself, independent of God. And so he died. All unbelievers live like this - without constant dependence on God. Unfortunately many believers live this way too.

All religions teach their followers to do good and to avoid evil. Christians who seek after holiness also do good and avoid evil. And in their pursuit of holiness, they usually end up making finer and finer distinctions between good and evil, through various rules and practices!! Yet most of them still never come to a genuinely holy life. Why? Because they seek it by works and not by faith.

For 1500 years God taught the Israelites through the Law, what was good and what was evil. But obedience to the good works commanded by the Law did not lead a single Israelite to partake of eternal life. Living by any set of rules and regulations - however high the standard - will never lead anyone to genuine godliness, even today.

True holiness is the life of God in the soul of man - and God has to give this to us as a gift. We can never attain to it. We must receive it by faith. Paul said that in the days when he was unaware of the Law's demands, he felt he was "alive". But when he understood the demands of the Law of God, he became so aware of the wrongs in his life that he felt "dead" (Rom.7:9)!! This is the experience of many who are born again too. They appear to be happy and "alive" as long as they hear only about the forgiveness of their sins. But as soon as they hear about victory over sin and obedience to God's commandments, they feel condemned and miserable and "dead".

But Paul did not stop with the old-covenant law - and neither should we. God showed Paul another law - the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This was the law that finally set him free from sin ( Rom.8:2).

Many seek to be holy by doing good. Remember that Eve ate of the tree because it looked good!! She wasn't seeking to do something evil!! She ate the fruit, not because she wanted to become like the devil, but because she wanted to become like God - for that was what the devil had promised her (Gen.3:5). People who live according to the Law also make the same mistake today - thinking that they can be like God through external good works.

Much of the good that we see in the lives of many Christians comes, not from genuine holiness, but from a good upbringing. Many of these Christians are upright, but they don't have a passionate hunger after God. They spend their lives accumulating Bible knowledge, but without any revelation from God. As a result, their lives are not much different from the lives of some good unbelievers around them. All such believers have missed something vital that God wants them to have - the Divine nature.

God is not first of all trying to make us do good, but to make us trust in Him so that He can give us His nature. In His eyes, the righteous are not those who do good but those who live by faith (See Romans 4:5 and Habakkuk 2:4). In Habakkuk 2:4, God contrasts two groups of people - those who believe in the Lord and those who are proud. Those who are proud cannot live by faith. The reason many do not accept God's gifts freely, by simple faith, is because they are too proud to accept anything freely. They would rather earn their forgiveness and their holiness by doing something themselves.

Satan tells Christians even today (as he told Eve) that they don't need to depend on God to know the difference between good and evil. He tells them that they can know the difference through their conscience or by reading the Bible. But many unbelievers also live by their conscience - and live fairly decent lives. A Christian can live like that too - but he won't be righteous in God's eyes. Many believers begin their Christian life right - by trusting God alone for their justification. But then like the Galatian Christians, they seek to become perfect through their own efforts (Gal.3:3). They evaluate their spiritual worth by how much they have done for God or by the results they have seen in their ministry. And they feel satisfied. But when people asked Jesus how they could do the works of God, He did not tell them to do good works. He told them to believe in Him (Jn.6:28-29)! Without faith it is impossible to please God.

There are many paradoxes in the Christian life and here is the first one that we encounter when we are saved: We know that Jesus justifies us so thoroughly that we now stand before God just as if we had never sinned - for God promises never to remember our past sins against us (Heb.8:12). At the same time we are also told never to forget our past sins, lest we become blind and shortsighted (2 Pet.1:9)!!

So, on one hand we see that God does not remember our past sins and on the other hand we are told never to forget them!! How are we to live with this apparent contradiction?

Only by being MORE conscious of the fact that the blood of Jesus has cleansed away our past sins, than we are conscious of those sins themselves.

Read that last sentence once again, for this is one of the most important principles of the Christian life. If you believe it, this truth can liberate you.

There is no humility in feeling guilty about our past sins. That is unbelief, not humility, and is an insult to the blood of Christ. Such unbelief does not glorify God in any way. Paul called himself "the chief of sinners" even after being a Christian for 30 years (1 Tim.1:15). Yet at the same time he also said, "I am conscious of nothing against myself" (1 Cor.4:4). Both facts were true. This assurance is what gives us great confidence before God and great boldness against Satan's accusations and against the fears with which Satan tries to frighten us.

The most popular books in Christian bookshops today are those that deal with faith and the Holy Spirit. But most of these books lead Christians into a counterfeit faith and into counterfeit experiences. The "faith" that these books teach is faith to become wealthy and healthy - not to become holy and spiritual. Christians are told that they can get whatever they want from God, if only they can believe sufficiently. Such teaching is fundamentally opposed to the teaching and the practice of the first apostles and to that of godly missionaries (of the 19th and early 20th centuries) who sacrificed their lives for the promotion of the kingdom of God.

Genuine faith is that which enables us to overcome the world (1 Jn.5:4) - the world being "the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life" (1 Jn.2:16). As Jesus overcame this world, we too can overcome it. (See John 16:33 and Revelation 3:21). When we overcome the world, we will no longer be deceived by Satan telling us that the pleasures that come through health and wealth are superior to the pleasure that comes through fellowship with God.

God wants us to taste the pure pleasure of fellowship with Him. That alone can drive away the desire for other pleasures (Psa.16:11). Many are trying hard to overcome the attraction of sinful pleasures by human means. But only when we taste fellowship with God can we be truly set free. Faith in God and the power of the Holy Spirit can set you free from every bondage that Satan ever put upon you.

Do you find yourself unwilling to give up some particular worldly pleasure that attracts you. Then cry out to the Lord, like Peter did when he was sinking in the sea, saying - "Lord save me". You will find that God gives you not only the desire to be free from sin, but also a hatred for it!! In the new covenant, it is God Who works in us both to desire and to do His will (Phil.2:13). What a wonderful gospel the new covenant is!!

The life of Jesus is not something that we can imitate. We must partake of it through the Holy Spirit. Most Christians do not experience this because they are not poor in spirit. That means that they do not live their lives with a constant awareness of their need of God. They are self-confident and independent. Jesus invited only the thirsty to come to Him and drink. To walk by faith we must be constantly thirsty (poor in spirit), always aware of our need of the Holy Spirit's power. There must be a constant cry in our hearts (even if unspoken) to be filled with the Spirit and to experience His power. Those who come to Jesus and drink, will find rivers of living water flowing out from their innermost beings (a life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit - Jn.7:37-38). Thus the weakest believer can experience the glory of this life of faith in the new covenant and become as strong as the strongest. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

"WORD FOR THE WEEK" by Zac Poonen