Monday, December 27, 2010

The Despised of this World

   “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).

   “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

   “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

   “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” ( Matthew 11:25).

   “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21).

   “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” (James 1:9-10)

   “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5).

God’s ways are not our ways. What seem to be most valued assets in this world are not valued in God’s kingdom. Paul said “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty and not many noble are called.” But those that are wise, mighty or noble must become nothing in themselves.

   “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

Paul was highly educated and could have spoken with “excellency of speech and wisdom” but he said he “counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,” (Philippians 3:8).

   “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Do we judge each other the same way the world judges, using the same measuring stick they use to determine worth? Do we “grade” each other out, making some more worthy than others depending on what is important to us? Do we want to be seen walking down the street with someone in rags? Do we care if they have the right hair cut? Are we embarrassed? What makes us like that? Is it pride?

James addresses some of this:

   “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

   "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

   "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” (James 2:1-9).

Zephaniah prophesied in chapter 3 verse 12, “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.” Wow, what a testimony, the poor and the weak shall TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. Would we not rather be poor and weak and have a testimony from the LORD saying we trust in His Name? No better place to be!

Would we rather be loved by this world’s kingdom or loved of God in His Kingdom?

Coming out from the world and its ways has many aspects of which we have not always been aware of. Our thoughts and attitudes towards one another and of ourselves should be of the Lord and not by human reasonings, understandings or feelings. When we can see as the Lord sees, we will also love as He loves.

Reading the opening scriptures again, we can get a real picture of how much God loves those that seemingly have no earthly value; do we really want to be among the “abased” ones? Paul did!

The world admires greatness and those with talents and abilities, but Paul warned“…not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6b) He was speaking of himself as well, not wanting to be praised as if he had anything of himself. He said “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

   “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10).

Pride is an awful thing, if you could see it for what it really is, it would be a horrible thing to look at, a slimy cesspool of filth, but this is what the world runs on, it is the world’s fuel. Pride fuels our selfish wills to fight against the Lord’s will. Pride does not want to be seen as the “abased ones”, pride causes embarrassments and hurt feelings to well up when it has been crossed.

   “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3).

Pride can show up in many different places. If we are what the world would call inadequate in some area, we could become embarrassed or ashamed if these inabilities or short comings are seen by others. But let us remember, we are not of this world, ours is the Kingdom of God where these things do not matter, we are to be nothing in ourselves so He can be our all in all. The shame we may experience is nothing compared to the “glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18b). All those in the Kingdom of God will see each other in the same way and not judge according to this world’s standards.

   “Let your conversation (manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

So let us learn to be content in our state, this is where the Lord would have us be. All these things are for a reason and the Lord has us in His hands. Those who are not wise, rich or talented must learn to depend on the Lord for everything they have or do, as Paul said “when I am weak, He is strong”.

We have no ability to change this prideful Adamic nature in ourselves any more than a Leopard can change his spots; we can only try to control our response to it. But the Lord wants to remove it from us and replace it with His own nature if we will submit to Him and His will. He does it by bringing it to the surface with trials and tribulations in these areas so we can “see” how our pride has held us. Rather than condemning ourselves for our pride, let us see that it is the Lord working these things out in us and we are helpless to change it. As it shows up, submit to the Lord’s leading, thanking Him for His dealing with us, give it to Him and ask Him to remove it from us and give us His nature in its place. This is His plan, this is what He wants to do in us. This is the salvation that must come from Him and is not of ourselves. The Lord will cause us to reflect His nature rather than our own, from glory to glory. This is part of what Paul was speaking about when He wrote “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This salvation is a process, (from glory to glory), more of His glory in place or our own “glory”. The meaning of glory can be summed up with “nature”, “image” or “substance”. The more we submit to Him in these trials and tribulations that come to us periodically exposing our fleshly nature; He will remove it and give us more of “Himself” in exchange, changing us more and more into His image.

   “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

   “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Missing Element

And for this cause [receiving not the love of the truth] God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thessalonians 2:11)

A key ingredient is absent from the preaching and teaching of numerous Evangelical churches. The missing factor is the understanding of the role of tribulation, of chastisement, of Divine judgment, of suffering in the Divine plan of salvation.

The source of the error probably is the humanistic, man-centered, anti-Christian philosophies that dominate Western thinking. Democratic government is one manifestation of these philosophies. Another is the understanding of Divine grace to be an unconditional forgiveness of sins such that the believer is established in God's favor regardless of his conduct.

A third symptom of humanistic thinking is the recent doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture." The problem with the rapture error is not that of a misunderstanding of the time of Christ's appearing. A correct knowledge of the details of the future is not as important in the Kingdom as we may think. The problem is, rather, that the believers are not aware of the role Divine judgment plays in their salvation. They are seeking to be removed from suffering and so God has sent delusion upon them.

We have noted that in the churches in America the leadership often is terribly afraid of any preaching that does not flatter the congregation. This accent on "positive" thinking is widely accepted in the secular realm but it should never have entered the Body of Christ. The inroads positive thinking and preaching have made in the churches of America reveals an ignorance of God and His ways with men.

We are aware that as the demonic pressure increases on us we must, in order to survive, think about what is lovely and pure. If we do not, if we focus on the evil in our environment, we surely will go down in spiritual defeat. We must learn to sing and dance in the heights of Zion no matter how the forces of evil clamor for attention.

The "positive preaching" that is destroying the character of the believers is not an attempt to enable us to focus on the beauty and wonder of the Kingdom. Rather, it is a refusal to accept chastisement at the hand of the Lord. In many instances the ministry is seeking its own glory and is misleading the flock of God.

The Christian Church has suffered in the fire for two thousand years. The current teaching that God does not wish His beloved to suffer is understandable only in the wealthy democracies. The Christians in the rest of the world are suffering, as they always have. The twentieth century has been distinguished by persecution and martyrdom. To say God will not allow His saints to suffer is unscriptural and also unrealistic in terms of what has happened throughout history and is taking place today

If we will examine the Scriptures we will discover that suffering is an important aspect of the Divine redemption.

As we enter our brief study of suffering, its role in the Christian redemption, we must think again about the goal of salvation.

R. Thompsom

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Church in Laodicea

By Jeanne Guyon

Rev. 3:14,15,16: "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: '1 know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."

However unruly a group of believers may be, they are part of His Church. Jesus Christ here gives Himself marvelous qualities. I am, He says, the Amen, the true being.  There is nothing besides Me. I am essence. All other beings exist in Me and by Me. I am; and what is not Myself is nothing. Why this Amen? Because there is nothing to be added, for when Jesus Christ says: "I am that I am," this is all that can be positively said of Him.

He repeats He is the faithful and true witness and as He said it to him who did right, He says it to him who fails. For He is the faithful witness of righteousness. He is also the witness of evil, uncovering evil and recording it. That is why, being as exact as He is, it will be a terrible thing for us to fall in the hands of the living God. In order for this not to be so for us, we must put in His hands our whole life, acting only by His leadings and following His Spirit. Then all our works will be done with assurance; and He will be the faithful and true witness of them. He will not reject any of the works He has done Himself! Besides the literal sense that all creatures have been created by the Word and that all life springs from His, I say that all works, in order to come from God and be considered by Him as His works, must have this principle: that Jesus Christ must be the agent of them, that they are done under His Spirit, and done while in spirit. He must be the moving power of them.

The rebuke of Jesus Christ through John to this gathering is frightful. It is certain that there are no persons more opposed to receiving the true Spirit of God, the inner Spirit, than lukewarm Christians. The reason for this is that the carelessness with which they do all that pertains to God is so great that the little warmth that is left appears to them to be a great fire. They do not understand they do evil, and the love they have for themselves makes them believe so strongly they are doing well, that they cannot doubt it!

All that is said to them to get them out of that state offends them! Such words make them see in others a blindness which is their own! A blindness it is which they do not wish to recognize or admit.

This evil is then is almost without remedy! Further, it is nourished and established by self-sufficiency and self-love. They prefer themselves to sinners (whom they look upon with disdain and scorn). They prefer themselves, and their views, to the greatest saints of all time. They are opposed to receiving an effecting portion of the Spirit of God more than the greatest sinner is. That is why Jesus Christ says concerning the one spoken of here: "I would that you were cold." If he were cold he would be easily converted! He would be convinced of his coldness, and he would receive with humility the advice given him.

If not cold, then hot. But because "he is neither cold nor hot, I will vomit him out of my mouth."  Oh, this is the most frightful word in the world! Once you are vomited, there is no more hope, for a thing you throw away can be picked up again, but a vomited thing is never again gathered. How these words should make any who are thus to tremble. Doing right only through routine is dangerous! Odd, is it not, that the lukewarm believe they are filled with warmth, while these filled with warmth, in some seasons, believe themselves to be lukewarm.

Rev. 3:17: "Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,..."

What is most strange about lukewarm people is, they believe they are richer in graces than anyone else, and filled with spiritual goods. It seems to them that they need no one, and they believe that everyone else needs them. They invariably oblige everybody to accept their advice and their view. They believe themselves to be in a place in which they can advise all. They do not wish to be advised by anyone! While another gathering of believers in Asia Minor was apparently poor yet immensely rich, this group thinks itself rich while very "poor" in God and in His graces. Loving themselves, they are very wretched. They cannot be really glad; they lack everything since they lack what is essential-- perfect love, abandonment to God, perfect giving up of each life, resignation, submission to God's Will, unselfishness, etc. They are "miserable" because though they appear outwardly glad, they are driven inwardly by the love of glory, the desire to be counted as somebody though they are nothing.

Let one of these be touched by contempt or the least affliction... and he will be overwhelmed completely. They are "poor and naked." Why? Because they are stripped of all-- for being not clothed with Jesus Christ or animated by His Spirit, is to be poor and naked indeed. They are also blind, yet believing that they are all right.

Rev. 3:18: "I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see."

Oh Love, only You can impart the perfect love which is that "gold tried in the fire." Only You can place in our soul pure virtues. Only You can clothe us with this Spirit of faith which is a very pure gold. Only You can produce in us these works so perfect in love that fire cannot spoil them. To You then we must come "to buy this gold." But what do You want us to give You for its price? "Buy of Me, " He says, "without money and without price." He requires nothing as a payment because He knows too well that we have nothing. He just wants us to give ourselves to Him, to abandon ourselves to Him without reserve. It is He Who also gives us white raiment, the robe of innocence and truthfulness with which He clothes His servants. This robe of innocence must cover that nakedness of human nature. Do not think this is impossible, for the grace of redemption must exceed the grace of creation, and that repaired innocence must be more abundant than the original innocence. Moreover, Jesus Christ, inviting us to go to Him, speaks of love and innocence in terms of wine and milk. As for love, He imparts it to us, by His Holy Spirit-- an advantage which Adam never had.

He adds that He will put eyesalve on our eyes, so that we can see clearly. This eyesalve is simply the Spirit of faith which frees us from the blindness in which we are kept by our reasoning and our self love. We shall know then that we are poor, whereas we thought we were rich; that we are naked whereas we thought we were covered more than all.

Rev.3:19: "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent."

The greatest proof of love that God can give us is that He warns us about our faults.  An "inner" believer has, within, a director reproving unceasingly, a master correcting and chastening continuously; it seems that God has nothing else to do but reprove and correct this soul. This is the greatest proof of His love.

Rev. 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me."

Jesus Christ always stands at the door of our heart; He waits for us to open to Him. Oh Christians, whoever you may be, not opening your door to your Savior, are you not very ungrateful not to open your whole heart to God, He who opened His on the cross to receive you? At the very door of your heart He is knocking. There is not one of us, who paying attention to God within, would fail hearing His knock at the heart's door. But if you do not hear, it is because you do not pay attention. Get used to stilling your soul, they you will hear Him knocking at the door of your heart. As soon as you open, yielding yourself to Him unreservedly, He will enter. But how can we hear His voice if we do not listen?

Oh Love, You speak to the heart which has no ear to hear You because he is attentive to the voices of creation, about him. He is not attentive to You; he does not discern Your voice. If he would react against himself just a little to listen to Your voice, he would unmistakably hear it, and no sooner would he have heard, than You would come within. He would then sense Your divine presence in an unspeakable way -a way that would surprise him so because he was not expecting such a unique grace. But Jesus Christ would not stop there. He admits you to His banquet. With you who listen He shares His feast and love. Jesus Christ is your food, and gives Himself to you. Your Lord would have you taste the most delicious of all nourishment...Jesus Christ-- within! Oh Christians, you who are born for such great wealth which you can have if you only wish, shall you deprive yourself of it? We wrongly have in mind that this is a grace reserved for very few people and that it is almost impossible to obtain; however, everlasting truth assures us that there is nothing easier to have. Is there anything easier than opening a door to a person who unceasingly stands by it, knocking continuously?  And what is easier than hearing Him Who always speaks so as to be obeyed? There is nothing easier. However, He does ask for an opening. He asks to be heard so as to come in to us, to be unceasingly present. He asks us to accept admission to His feast, and He asks "to sup with us"-- that is, to share our troubles; and for us "to sup with Him"-- that is, to share in His divine delights. You only have to stretch out your hand! Ah, blindness today is so great, be not part of it.

Rev. 3:21,22: "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

The throne of Jesus Christ is nothing less than the bosom of the Father. The throne is given Him eternally. His humanity has been favored by His divinity through His death, and through the victory He won over hell and self. The throne is His. "He who overcomes" through Jesus Christ, will be received in God with Him and will share this throne. "He who has an ear" to listen "let him hear" these things and understand the kindnesses and mercies of God for His dear creation.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Purpose of the Law

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 by 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 taught by our Lord. 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 Christlike 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 are in 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 {striving in one’s own sufficiency and zeal}. There was no power in the fallen life to enable him to obey the spirit of the law, no matter how intent he was on obeying 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 {as the law has no power to change the sinful nature}, 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.

NATURE, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men {the Old Testament 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 {self-sufficient} 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 their own will – the essence of all sin} 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 still 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 {a feeling of discontent because I don’t have what someone else has}...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-will}, 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 and independent 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} FULLNESS 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 “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 is not from men {because he has died to the ways of the world 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. (2 Pet. 1:4) 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 lifting them up into a participation with Christ in the “divine nature” of self-sacrificing love, a place of abundant spiritual life}. (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)



[From – The Gospel of the Kingdom of God – Steve Bray]