Why All These Adverse Experiences as Christians?

acts16_25

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.”(Romans 5:3-5 KJ2000).

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18 RSVA)

What an interesting sequence of happenings that Paul names off here that builds up to Jesus’ love being shed abroad in our hearts! Then John goes on to describe how we may know that His love is abiding in us — lives laid down in service of others, walking on this earth as Jesus walked.

Paul starts off in his description of growth in Christ with tribulations! Not a very seeker friendly of a gospel, there Paul! What could you have been thinking of? Paul was not thinking of building lots of big church buildings and filling them with happy tithe paying people. His vision of the kingdom of God was made up of mature saints of God who were filled with His love for this world an would be demonstrating it in very practical ways. It went way beyond the temporal self-seeking desires of men to become rich, famous and powerful. Paul knew that all these things which can be seen would soon be done away with, but those things like the lives of the saints who live in His love would go on into eternity in a kingdom that can not be shaken.

I know that the love of God which surpasses all understanding did not just drop into your hearts, nor did it mine. We who have been called and chosen by God have gone through many trials and abuses in our lives before God’s love became fully functional in us according to HIS will. Many of us started out with a wonderful honeymoon period with Jesus as our Lover and Friend. We were also surprised when it came to an end. Being a “Christian” was the most wonderful experience we could have ever imagined! But then the trials started and I know that I wondered what I had done to deserve them. I discovered that God was trying to change me. I complained, “What ever happened to ‘Just As I Am’?” I thought He loved me the way I was, then I read where God uses trials and testings in our lives to bring us into a fuller walk with His Son. Like the saying goes, “God loves us the way we are, but too much to let us stay that way!” Many churches today never get beyond the “just as I am” stage of Christian growth. They perpetuate the babyhood of believers with easy believisms, fearing that they might offending anyone and have them leave with all “their money, marbles and chalk” as the saying goes. They want to make “doing church” a happy weekly event. These false church leaders have built a non-scriptural Baby Doc Benjamin Spock system of belief that is not the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Looking back now I can see that all those trials and sufferings I have gone through were from the hand of God and that they worked patience and endurance in me, two traits that God esteem highly in His saints. Jesus put it this way,

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks through you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:17-22 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Sound familiar? I know that many of you have already suffered many of these things. In all these experiences that we have endured God had given us great hope — the hope of Christ shining forth from our lives. God, somehow came through when all men failed us. We started being changed by experiencing His love for us as we came out the other side of these dark tunnels of pain and rejection. Jesus was there loving us and healing us the whole time. Though we often felt sorrow for the things we went through and shame for our own failings, He took away our sorrow and shame with His love for us. We love HIM because He first loved us and brought us through it all and wiped away all our tears. For “He has given us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for morning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. That we might be HIS Trees of Righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that HE might be glorified!”

God wants us to live lives that glorify HIM and not just ourselves. He wants sons and daughters He can be proud of who gladly do HIS will, just like Jesus and be a fountain of His love for this dying and sin-sick world.

Marantha! Come Lord Jesus IN US!

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A Story of Deception and Deliverance

temptaton of Christ

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:22-24 KJ2000)

Lie not in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall by calamity.
(Proverbs 24:15-16 KJ2000)

He who misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit; but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (Proverbs 28:10 RSVA)

I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as an infant and raised in it, so I didn’t have a lot to say about that until I was old enough to see that it was doing nothing for the hunger that God had put in me. Out of frustration as a young man, I finally went looking for something that could scratch my spiritual itch. Being steeped in religion, my next stop was the religion my wife grew up in, an Armenian type Bible church that at least knew about the scriptures pointing to salvation in Christ. The problem was that they did not believe that the Holy Spirit was needed to be a Christian, and that only the “ascended masters” (I jest) in the church got the Holy Spirit when they had “the very seed of sin” removed from their lives. The rest of the unwashed masses had to struggle along Sunday after Sunday, going up for the altar call and getting saved all over again because they sinned during the week. In reality, it was no different from my RCC experience there they told us that the sacraments were needed every Sunday for the same reason. As my wife put it, “They believed that Jesus had the power to save them, but not enough power to keep them saved, so they had to do that on their own.”

That church experience only lasted a couple of years until the itch to really know God in a personal way grew unbearable once again. He kept calling me to find His power that I needed to walk upright before Him as His son instead of groveling at the church altar every Sunday.

I became most miserable from some deep rooted issues that were hanging over and in me from the Vietnam War. I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and didn’t know it. In 1969, nobody even talked about this mental disorder. I knew from what I was doing to my family that I needed help that I was not finding it in the churches. Finally, one Sunday in June 1970, I came out of my up tight little church and found a hand bill on the windshield of my car. It told me the Jesus People were holding park meetings. We went to check them out.

The park where the meetings were to be held was the local hippie hang-out park where local rock bands put on a free concert every Sunday afternoon during the summer. Imagine what this very straight laced couple thought as we saw hippies walking around with their wine jugs, toking on pot, and hippie girls in their long dresses and combat boots. The real shocker was a girl about 8 months pregnant wearing a bikini! But I was determined to see what these Jesus People were about, so we sat there in our Sunday best looking totally out of place.

Finally, a group of kids gathered that were not like the rest. They had the long hair and funky clothes (no bikinis), but they were different. Their faces shone with the presence of the Lord and I had never seen that in any church! I found out what they had that I didn’t–they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. By the end of a couple more park meetings, I found out what God wanted–an unconditional surrender of all that I had been, was and ever hoped to be, everything I owned and clung to on this earth, and even my family! One young man explained that if I was going to be filled by His Holy Spirit, I had to be emptied of myself. I knelt down after one meeting and did business with God. I confessed it all, sins past and present, and surrendered everything to Jesus without any conditions.

That was the turning point in my life. The next morning I woke up a new man in Him. I fully expected that God would take away everything and in time many things that had been so important to me dropped away as He put His order in my life. And yes, I got to keep my wife and kids. I didn’t speak in tongues and all that Pentecostal stuff, at least not at first, but for the first time in my life I had power over sin. I could choose not to sin or to cave into it and that was a real breakthrough for a man who was still a Catholic sailor in his mind. I was now a new creation in Christ!

As usually happens, the enemy could not allow a group of people to be running around in the freedom of Christ with shining faces. A man came in among all these new believers that were saved out of Hippie-dom and started to take the preeminence one small step at a time until he had total control over all our lives. He knew the Bible better than any of us and also knew how to twist it to give him the power he needed to take control. My wife and I were under this man for six years and by the time he was through, he had replaced Jesus in all our lives, His Spirit was quenched in each of us, and the voice of His Spirit was drowned out by this man’s cleaver arguments and teachings. Later we learned that the leader had studied the mind control books by Peale, Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill and was using them against us.

After escaping from that man-made hell, we tried some “normal” churches for a while, found them lacking, and ended up in non-denominational church that was small and personal and started to feel like family. They loved us back to life and we started to recover our freedom in Christ among them. That went well until the pastor resigned and the assistant pastor rose up and brought in men from outside the area that took over and started to shape the group into another cult under their control. We recognized what was going on quicker this time and got out, but not without some severe spiritual wounding in the process. If cults cannot control you they try to kill who you are as a person.

Don’t kid yourselves, even the so-called “main line churches” are guilty of these practices! They do this by bringing your salvation into question or even saying that you are demon possessed. Some dear saints have their faith destroyed by watching the church leaders fall into sexual sin or even being sexually molested by the leaders themselves. Satan is good at what he does and knows just where we are vulnerable. In my case the cult leaders used a brother in Christ I had walked with for many years, meet with me and ask me if I had ever been saved. After that I was gladly ready to go off into the wilderness for I had had all that “fun” with these Christians I could stand.

The next part of my walk–a spiritual wilderness–lasted 14 years. Part of the wounding from the cult was what I call “scape goat-ism.” They lay their hands on you and put all their sins (blame casting) on you, and send you out in the wilderness to die (see Leviticus 16:20-22). Many of you know what this is all about. I was angry and bitter most of that 14 years and that had a lot to do with it lasting so long. I was mad at God for what He let His people do to me, my wife, and my family! After about 12 years, I finally came to see my sin against God and confessed it to Him as sin. Then He started to slowly heal my heart over the following two years.

In 1994, I was totally released of all the pain and wounding and had an encounter with Jesus that restored my first love for Him. Since then, my church experiences weren’t any better, but I was able to see what was of Christ and what was of the flesh and not come under condemnation any longer. I knew who I was in Christ and that kept me clear of deceptions and condemnation. After that the Lord brought me into a writing ministry and put me in fellowship with George Davis. We have co-authored several books and articles on spiritual matters concerning God’s kingdom and what we have learned along the way. If you are interested, you can find them on our website at: http://www.awildernessvoice.com.

God bless you for taking the time to read all this. I hope it helps you see how “the very elect can be deceived,” yet overcome the wicked one by the power of God calling you to Himself as your loving Father and releasing others as He does.

They Saw Jesus Only!

Glorified Christ

And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, except Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8 KJ2000)

Here we have a clash of the two covenants — the old one that was based on the works of men and their adherence to the law and the New Covenant based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God did a miracle in that He brought back the representative of the Law, Moses himself; a representative of the prophets, the mightiest prophet of all, Elijah; along with His Son, whose face was as bright as the sun and who was clothed in light.

This was also a clash of two mindsets. In Peter we see the mindset of the old law, a need for carnal man to do something, to add to what God is doing and “seize the moment” by the enthusiasm of the flesh and enshrine that moment in a building project. In Peter’s mind, God dwells in temples made with hands. Everything that was of the law was typified in that building down there in Jerusalem. The very temple dedicated to God would be torn down in a few short years to demonstrate one thing—that the works of the flesh can not please Him. Only what is accomplished by the working of His Son will survive and remain–the very Son who created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them at the foundation of the world.

In this passage we see another great contrast between the Old and New Covenants. At one time the glory of God was seen on the face of Moses, but no more (read 2 Cor. 3:12-18). Even the glory that once lived in the temple in Jerusalem was gone when they lost the ark hundreds of years earlier during Babylonian invasion. But here we see the glory of the Father resting not on Moses or Elijah, but on His own Son. It was not only seen on the face of Jesus, but His whole body, signifying that God is only pleased with the leading and the works of His Son.

So what is man’s part in the New Covenant? To listen to and obey the Spirit of His Son whom He sent to take His place on earth: “Hear you Him!” It is not to listen to your own flesh, even if that flesh is inspired to do something that you read in the Bible!

Austin-Sparks said it so well,

 We talk about our motives, and we say, “Our motive was right!” We talk about our conscientiousness, we talk about our intentions; but you and I do not know what lies behind what we call our good motives. There is a deceitfulness about this human heart that defies our greatest attempt at tracking it down, and we shall never do it…. Here is where the church has become such a confused thing, and such a tragedy; for the prevailing idea is that if you give yourself over to God He will take you up and use you: “Bring over your humanity and consecrate it to the Lord! Consecrate your old man to the Lord, and go out and serve the Lord, with a consecrated old man!” It is utterly contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. The result is that in the work of God all the world over you have people serving the Lord in the energy of the flesh, in the reasoning of the flesh, in the emotions of the flesh. Meet them, counter them, frustrate them, and you meet something evil; you meet with a fight, a division, a schism, a scattering, and wholesale resignations.

Do you see what a havoc the enemy can make in that which is called the church, because people with best intentions and purest motives have come to serve the Lord with all their own intelligence, their own strength, and their own emotion? They have not seen that God has closed the door to the old creation, and that God’s attitude is this: “The only thing that can satisfy Me, that can serve Me is My Son, and if you are going to come into My service, He has to be the energy of everything, the Life of everything, the Wisdom of everything!” He has to be the governing, ruling reality in everything. It is not to be a matter of your impulses, but of His urgings and leadings by the Holy Spirit; not your sitting down to reason out what it would be good to do for the Lord, what ought to be done, what needs to be done, but what He shows you, nothing more… You and I must not bring over our old creation and give it to God, expecting God to use it. God begins with birth. The church of the firstborn is something quite new, and it comes out of a death. That death is the death of an old creation, and the resurrection is of something that is not the resuscitation of an old creation, but the resurrection of something wholly of God. ~ By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Church of the Firstborn – Chapter 1 

Matthew’s account above continues, “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, ‘Arise, and be not afraid.’ And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, except Jesus only.” They heard the voice of God and it brought all their carnal thoughts and imaginations to a halt. If everybody who calls themselves Christian could hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to them, we would quit looking to men. “And… they saw Jesus only!” What a difference it would make in the church. We need a godly fear in the hearts of believers so they will not touch what God is doing as Uzzah did that fateful day (see 2 Chronicles ch. 13). Death is in the hand of carnal man. Everything he touches dies. But here Jesus touched the disciples and something miraculous happened. Where they saw Moses and Elijah and Jesus before, now they saw only Jesus.

Dear saints of God, let us be hungry for Christ and His works and as persistent as those Greeks who were not content with meeting the apostles of Christ. They did not want a mere representation of Him. They wanted the real thing!

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired of him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip came and told Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (John 12:20-23 KJ2000- emphasis added)

May Christ be glorified in us as we seek Jesus and only do the works we see Him doing. Amen.

Love in Action

Jesus & Peter

The following is from T. Austin-Sparks and says so well what has been on my heart as well as many of you. God is calling us into His kingdom in action and not just in word or theory and that requires that we love others more than we love ourselves. Sacrificial love is that which loves others even though it is humbling and it may hurt. Father, give such a strong love for one another that the world might once again say of the saints of God, “Behold how they love one another!” Amen.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them… Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:9,10 NLT)

“He loved them unto the uttermost.” And I think in that statement, there is the most wonderful thing that ever came into this world. Jesus had had a lot of trouble with those men. They had often misunderstood Him. They had often disappointed Him. They were really a very poor lot of men…. He knew what a poor lot of men they were, but He loved them unto the uttermost. That is the first thing about this love. It is not offended by our failures. He does not withdraw His love because we make mistakes. We may often disappoint Him, we may often fail Him, we may often grieve His heart, but He goes on loving us. He loves us unto the uttermost, right to the end. He is not offended by our failures. That is a very different kind of love from our love. This is God’s love in Christ….

You know, it is so easy to talk about love, to pretend to love, to use the language of love, to sing hymns about love, and it can all be sentimental; perhaps we all know people who have told us that they love us, but very often they are the very people who have hurt us most. Now, the love of Jesus was not sentimental, it was practical. He did not go in with His disciples and say, ‘Brothers, I do love you very much.’ He showed that He loved them by what He did for them. It was not sentimental love, it was practical love. And this is the love with which He loved them unto the uttermost…. These things which characterize the love of Christ for His own ought to characterize us in love for others. That is why the Holy Spirit has come. So that as He loved us to the uttermost, so ought we to love one another.


By T. Austin-Sparks from: “That They May All Be One, Even As We Are One” – Meeting 3 

Overcoming Love

Love

Divine love suffers long; divine love is kind; divine love envies not; does not make a display of itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself uncomely, seeks not its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but it rejoices in the truth; it bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things, it endures all things. Divine love never falls: but whether there are prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 GDBY_NT)

Something that I have been mulling over in the last few weeks is the necessity of the saints of God being so dead to themselves and alive in Christ that they abide in His love and nothing else. The times we are in in this world as it is coming apart and relationships are being strained to the limit, demands of us something supernatural if we are to remain faithful and to those who God has given us for it is written of this time, “Because of offenses the love of many shall wax cold.” The following is an excerpt from T. Austin-Sparks’ book, “My Bold Servant.”

Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. (John 13:1 NIV)

No ministry of the servant of Jesus Christ can be a triumphant ministry unless there is a deep, strong, abiding love…. Love is going to solve our problems and to bring us into victory; but apart from a sufficient love, the problems of human make-up, the many differences of disposition and character and all that goes to make up a company, and the continuous drain and strain, with all the pressure that comes from the enemy, will present a problem, a perplexity and a paralyzing task….

We may ask, “How did the Lord manage to maintain the relationship with His disciples?” They were so difficult, so different, so disappointing. “Having loved His own… He loved them unto the end.” That is the answer. Love got above all that they were; love gave the extra thing which enabled Him not to take them just as they were and end there. So in our relationships, the spirit of the true servant is only possible as there is a deep love. Upon all those who have ideas of serving the Lord and working for Him I would urge this consideration: that the work of the Lord is not some thing which you outwardly and objectively take up. It is (if it is the true thing) the outworking of love for the Lord and for those who are the objects of His love. That is very simple, but it goes to the heart of things. Sooner or later you and I will be brought to the position where the question will be, Have we sufficient love to go on? Can we find enough love in our hearts to get us through this particularly difficult situation? The situation will be constituted by all those factors which resolve us into servants, bondslaves. It would not have become so acute if only we had been esteemed and honored, and held in high regard. But when the situation is created by a great deal being expected of us, by demands being made upon our generosity, our kindness, calling for an almost inexhaustible fund of patience, and the letting go of personal feeling; when really the main issue in the crisis is this – I am being imposed upon: too much is being expected of me: I am treated as a servant – that is where we are found out. Love alone can support this service. (emphasis added)

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001747.html

Pilgrims in a Strange Land Called Christendom

Tree of LifeOver the past few years I have heard many woeful stories of people’s experiences in Christian churches. In the process they had many questions that church leadership could not answer or they gave them answers that were unsatisfactory. In my own search for a meaningful relationship with Jesus and His bride, I also had many questions, but the worst ones of all were about the way the church leadership treated people that just did not fit as a cog in their well-oiled machine. If you wanted to “have a ministry” in that system you had to swear unquestionable allegiance to the king and do everything HIS way. And even if you didn’t feel you had a “calling” on your life, well you had better financially support that kingdom or your Christianity was soon called into question. And worst of all, if you came into a “church growth” minded church with a boat load of problems from your past, even problems that were caused by other church leadership, you were classified as a “high maintenance” church member and not encouraged to hang around.

Well, I often seemed to end up in one of these undesirable categories for I started out with a lot of baggage from being raised in a dysfunctional, alcoholic Catholic family that was always at war. When I finally did get saved in my early 20’s I soon found out that the churches I tried to fit in were also dysfunctional families with leaders that abused their authority. I say, “soon found out,” but that is not quite the case. You see, this kind of leadership along with their own dysfunctional followers fit the mold in my mind as what a “family” is. So it took me submitting to many years of abuse and studying my Bible to finally figure out that THIS was NOT the kingdom of God that Jesus and the early church taught about and lived! Finally, after almost 30 years of “trying to find the right church,” my wife and I gave up!

But this was not all bad. I remember praying about my bad church experiences and I said, “God, I DON’T FIT! I JUST DON’T FIT!” To this He replied, “YOU are not supposed to fit!” I finally started to suspect that I was barking up the wrong tree when one Sunday (during another sermon by an egotistical pastor) I heard the Lord say, “Why do you keep seeking the Living among the dead?” Woe!!! I said, “Lord! Is that how you see all this?” Then shortly after that I was sharing some of my many bad church experiences with a sister that was heavily invested in that system and she said something that I did not expect, “Michael, if you go into a yard and are trying to get to the front door and a dog always comes out from under the porch and bites you on the leg… you should get the message that you DON’T BELONG IN THAT YARD!!!” Well, I finally got the message!

So, that was it for my wife and I. We have not been part of a Sunday church since about 1996. And you know what? The longer I have been removed from that man-made system, the clearer the voice of the Spirit has become to me. It is amazing, but true and just like John wrote while warning the early church that there were already many anti-christs among them, “You have no need any many teach you, for you have an unction and He will lead you into all truth.” And HE HAS! Praise God that “there is only ONE Mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ” and Father never meant for a hireling or thief and a robber to take Jesus’ place over His flock. And as we read in John chapter ten, Jesus calls us each by name goes out before us and we who are HIS sheep are meant to HIM. In Hebrews we read,

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with various and strange doctrines [all those conflicting pulpit sermons and Bible studies]. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace [the supply of Christ in us]… We have an altar [the Holy Spirit teaching us], of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle [organized religions of men]… Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13:8-14 KJ2000)

Yes, it can be lonely outside the camps of Christendom, but I have found by experience that as we become securely attached to Christ as our ALL, He then leads us to find fellowship with others who have done the same. Remember, Jesus prayed, “Father that they might be ONE IN US.” As our unity is secured in the Father and the Son, then we can find unity with others who have this established in their lives as well. Until this is the common bond, our relationship attempts will always fail. We are only members one of another as long as each of us is holding to the Head as individual members of His body.

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Deity bodily. And you are complete in him, who is the head…” (Colossians 2:6-10 KJ2000)

The Dominion of Sin vs. the Law of Love

KingQueenThroneYesterday as my wife, Dorothy, and I were talking with a brother in our back yard, the Spirit brought to mind a verse I have read for years in a whole new light. We were talking about how people’s actions and reactions are often governed by pains, abuses, and sins from their past. It was then that this verse was given new life for me:

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14 KJ2000)

Sin as a principle seeks to have dominion over our lives. Sin in many forms wants to rule over us and dictate to us how we act. We are all familiar with the sins of drug addiction or adultery, anger, hatred, and such, but there are other sins that no church would list that we might not be aware that we are in bondage to. For instance, I remember many things that my mother said and did to me from my youth that were not always kind. So what happened? I married my dear wife and I was loaded for bear. Without thought I was looking for her to do or say anything that reminded me of my mother and when I thought I recognized something, I squashed it without mercy. On the other hand, she was watching in me for anything that reminded her of her father’s old habits and would react against that. The sins of our parents still had dominion over us and were taking dominion over our marriage as well.

We were both projecting our fears on one another and if we do that long enough, guess what? That person will finally start acting like we are expecting them to! It is a form of witchcraft—soul projection. The stronger our soul (what Paul called “the natural man”) is in us, the worse it can be and the more damaging to our relationships. It got so bad between my wife and I that she finally started to lose her personality out of fear of my reactions to anything she might do or say. She was becoming a non-entity. When I saw the damage I was doing to her and our kids, God woke me up. I finally had to repent of who I was and ask God to change me and give me a new heart. I had a great change immediately after that and it saved our marriage, but He keeps bringing more things to the surface for me to repent of as well. Thank God that He has given my wife and kids much grace to put up with me while these changes have taken place.

Sin desires to rule and take dominion over us. We start saying things like, “You always blah, blah, blah!” Or “You never do what I tell you!” We start formulating laws in our minds we hold other people to. We even formulate laws that we hold ourselves to. Laws like, “I will never let that happen to me again!” Or, “I will never trust another woman (or man) again!” Or, “I will never be like my mother (or father) and do thus and thus.” Laws come in many forms besides the ones written in law books. The ones we write in our hearts are often the hardest to be free of.

If we are the saints of God and walk by the Spirit, we are no longer under the law, but under grace. You see God’s grace frees us from law. It heals us and then frees us to follow the Spirit wind of God wherever it blows. There are no longer any “nevers” or “always.” To walk after the Spirit is to be free to go with His wind wherever He leads us not where we or law leads or forbids us. Don’t take me wrong, I am not teaching lawlessness, but freedom that is our as we abide IN Christ! There is a higher law that covers all God’s laws and that is the law of love. The love of God provides us with an inward motivation that empowers us to do right. In Hebrews we read about Jesus being our new High Priest of the New Covenant not after the order of Aaron, but rather after the order of Melchizedek, the King of Salem.

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law… And it is yet far more evident: that after the similitude of Melchizedek there arises another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For He testifies, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. For there is verily an annulment of the previous commandment because of the weakness and uselessness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw near unto God… The Lord swore and will not change, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7:11-22 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Did you get that? We are not under the law of a carnal commandment, but now, like Christ, are under the power of an endless life! So what is this new law that we are under in the new Covenant, this better Covenant? Jesus gave us a very simple answer. “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:34-35 KJ2000). When we are under the grace of God, He takes our stony hearts out of us and puts in new hearts. His new commandment, the law of love for one another as Christ loves us, is written on our new hearts. The ravages of sin in our lives are dealt with by His great grace and His love is inscribed on our hearts as He heals us.

Dear saint, if you find yourself under many laws because of the ravages of sin in your life, ask Jesus to heal you and make you whole, a bride that has been made ready for the coming of her Bridegroom, without hang-ups binding her. Let us all go forth with our lamps filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit and our wicks trimmed of all their dead, fleshly ways to meet Him at His coming.

With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow. (Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV)