Fullness IN Christ or Fullness of Iniquity?

Smokey Sunrise over Fernan Lake

Smokey Sunrise Over Fernan Lake, Idaho ~ by Michael Clark

There seems to be no end to the terror, murder and civil unrest that is going on around the world these days we live in. We are watching Syria destroy itself in a civil war, North Korea threaten the United States with nuclear attack and the U.S. government reacting with counter threats. We see thousands of Christians and others being killed and maimed by Islamic terrorists around the world. The murder and crime rate in our American cities is appalling. And just in the last couple days we have seen the civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia end in many injuries and even murder.  How does this measure up to the prophesies about Jesus? For example:

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isa 9:7, KJ2000)

This might seem confusing if Christ did not point out that His kingdom would not come with outward manifestations, but would rise within the hearts of those who love Him (See Luke 17:20-21). And what about Jesus’ own prophesy regarding the end?

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt 24:9-13, KJ2000)

Many, even many would be Christians, are offended with one another, betraying one another and even killing one another as they are coming under the spirit of this age–murder and lawlessness. What is amazing to me is that even so-called preachers are helping to spread this disease with their words. It is easy to see how radical Islamic clerics are fulminating terror and murder using the Koran in the name of Allah against the infidels, but aren’t some of these Christian preachers and teachers doing the same in the name of Christ? As Jesus warned, “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”

With great insight into the workings of God Paul wrote:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:18-23, KJ2000)

There is much groaning in the pain of childbirth in our hearts as we await the full manifestation of the children of God — those who will be set free from their bondage to their own fleshly corruption and obtain the freedom and glory of the children of God. Father is bringing forth many sons and daughters in the likeness his own glorious Son to manifest His glory. As for the increase of Christ’s kingdom I spoke of earlier, T. Austin- Sparks seems to have summed up what I have been trying to say.

It is a glorious prospect to know that the universe will be filled with Christ, and God is going to have His end. When the Lord gets hold of a life utterly, and when the Cross has really entered into that life, so that that life can say: “I have been crucified with Christ”, nothing passes, nothing gets through that is not Christ. God keeps intensely short accounts with that life. God is alive to everything concerning the first Adam. That is the meaning of: “He that hath the seven spirits of God”. That phrase means the perfection of spiritual vision. Go back to the prophecies of Zechariah and you remember it speaks of “seven eyes”. That means that the Lord Jesus, who has the seven spirits of God, is alive to everything, takes in everything, comprehends everything. Nothing escapes Him. Especially is that perfection of perception related to the things that would be a menace to His ultimate purpose, and in all that we do He knows exactly where the point is which marks the end of what is of Himself and the beginning of us. We do not know, but He does, just where these things overlap, and He is letting nothing pass.

That represents a challenge to us! We have been seeing that God, for His own satisfaction in relation to His own ultimate purpose, must have a candlestick all of gold, a vessel which represents what Christ is in an utter sense, that means a deep cost, a great measure of suffering. That is the challenge which comes to us. Until the Lord reveals it with a heavenly light we do not see how big the difference is between self and Christ. When the Lord does a thing, it is eternal.

Are our hearts set upon God having that which is wholly of Himself? That means ‘I’ crucified! No longer I, but Christ! And that means that Christ in us is the basis of our conformity to His image, until we partake with Him of His own nature – pure gold. It is something to face seriously before Him. It brings to us a challenge, but surely it also brings to us a glorious possibility! What Christ is can be made good in us!

…This is what God is doing in the groaning creation. It does not appear to be so, for to all appearances the ‘fullness’ seems to be evil. Do you remember a very illuminating phrase in Genesis 15:16: “The iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full”? The context shows that Israel’s exodus and occupation of the Promised Land waited upon the Amorite’s full cup of iniquity. “Amorite” is a representative name for all the nations then occupying the land. When that cup of iniquity was full God emancipated Israel. The exodus synchronized with a condition in the world. The filling of the land with what was of God required the enemy’s extension of his evil nature to its limit; then God acted.

We need say no more. The end time will be marked by ‘iniquity abounding’. The rapture of the Church will take place – as its exodus – when “the man of sin is revealed”, when the cup of iniquity is full. We are living at a time when there is a positive landslide of moral iniquity…

God is taking account of this. He is causing the simple facts of His salvation to be made known on a scale unprecedented in the world’s history, and when the whole world has had its opportunity “then shall the end come”. Two things are UNMISTAKABLY evident: the world-encircling by the simple gospel of salvation as never before, and the headlong rush of iniquity to ‘fill up the cup’. There is a third feature: it is the ripening of saints by suffering unto the grape-harvest. These three things are the “work in the groaning creation”. (http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/001617.html)

What Is the Purpose of the Old Testament for Those Who Walk by Faith?

woman_at_the_well

Recently I was asked what is the place of the Old Testament in the life of a believer?

When we read the Old Testament we will soon come upon the importance of the Mosaic laws, all 613 of them and how we must keep them perfectly if we are to live under that covenant.

“‘Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27:26 RSVA)

But we who are of the New Covenant are IN Christ by faith and are not under that curse.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:11-14 KJ2000)

So how did God deal with the filling up of the just requirements of the law that we might live by faith in Christ alone? Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17 KJ2000)

And just before He died on the cross He cried out, “It is finished!” Jesus came and filled up the just requirements of the law in one perfect sacrifice for all. In so doing he did away with the first covenant and introduced the New Covenant. Jesus came to establish a New Covenant for the Jews broke the first one and did not keep it for the law was week because of their flesh (See Romans 8:3).

But now has he [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord. (Hebrews 8:6-9 KJ2000)

Then what good is the Old Testament to we who walk by faith? It is there to point us to Christ!

And he [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27 RSVA)

So what is the nature of this entirely NEW Covenant? Is it more rule keeping as it seems to be in many of today’s churches that make a law book out of the New Testament and mix in with it the Old? Is it one in which Jesus has the power to save us from our sins, but it is up to us to keep ourselves saved like many churches teach? NO! This covenant is ALL about the power of God to save and to keep us.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12 KJ2000)

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 RSVA)

 Here we read God saying eight times how HE will and not a single “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not!” It is all about the power of God to come into us and give us a new heart and put His Spirit in us.

What is this law written upon our hearts in this NEW Covenant. Is it the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant? Not at all. In Hebrews we read,

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest [Jesus] to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:11-12 RSVA)

What is this NEW Law? Jesus told us what it is saying,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 RSVA)

As for the old law and where are we with that as we walk by faith? Paul wrote,

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.. (Romans 8:2-4 RSVA)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 RSVA)

Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 KJ2000)

So, as long as we read the Old Testament and look for how it points us to Christ and the vast difference between the Old Covenant based in the weakness of the flesh and the NEW Covenant based on the power of the Spirit of Christ in us, it is good. But if we read it as a pointer putting us back under the law of the first covenant, we are totally missing the point.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17 RSVA)

 Let us not be as foolish as some who worship the shadow and have missed the ONE who is casting that shadow.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1 RSVA)

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 RSVA)

May God bless each one of you with a new heart and His spirit within you as you walk by faith in Christ alone.

(Note: All bold and italic type in scripture verse was added by me for emphasis – mdc)

How Does the Bride Make Herself Ready?

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints. (Revelation 19:7-8 KJ2000)

 Bride_getting_ready1

And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25 RSVA)

The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. Right away they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to make something to cover themselves. Late in the afternoon a breeze began to blow, and the man and woman heard the LORD God walking in the garden. They were frightened and hid behind some trees. The LORD called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?” The man answered, “I was naked, and when I heard you walking through the garden, I was frightened and hid!” (Genesis 3:6-10 CEV)

God created men and women to be naked before Him in perfect harmony and communion with Him, but with sin consciousness came a need in man to cover up and hide. It was the first time that man was aware of his self apart from His Creator. Suddenly he could see both good and evil within himself. What he saw was out of harmony with God for the first time. The wonderful fellowship he once had with God was broken.

We do many things to hide from ourselves, others and God. But we cannot really hide from God because He does not look at the outward, but rather He looks at the heart (See 1 Sam. 16:7). When God looks deep into us, we have one of two options–we can let our sin remain and start trying to cover what is there, or we can confess our need for healing, be stripped of our filthy garments of self, and put on the garment of the righteousness of Jesus Christ His Son. Paul wrote:

For as many of you as have been baptized [immersed] into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s descendants, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character.” – Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”

I think that for most of our lives we have been like Adam and Eve in the garden after they became conscious of their sin – we set out to cover up our nakedness with garments of our own choosing. Some of our shame came on us by evils others have done to us or the evil things we have done ourselves under the influence of the prince of this world (see Ephesians 2:1-6). So, what is our reaction? Many of us try a new persona to cover over that one that is crippled by shame, so we set out to find our identity, but do so again and again without looking to our Father. The mantra of the Hippie movement of the seventies was, “I am trying to find myself.” So we seek an identity and start putting on airs so that others might either find us more acceptable or that we might be “big and scary” enough to keep away people that might want to hurt us again. Some hide inside themselves by putting on gross amounts of weight. Down through life we become like the kid, who being told to change out of his dirty clothes, goes to his bedroom and puts on a new set of clothes over the dirty ones. The old layer has become part of us and it is too painful to remove, so we just add one dirty layer upon another. Is it any wonder that when God starts stripping us of all that is not of Him, we feel like an onion that is being peeled?

Religion is one of those layered garments that people choose so that they look better to others on the outside and thereby find acceptance without being stripped first. Religion is all about outward appearances, but Jesus said the reality of His kingdom is just the opposite. “The kingdom of God comes not with outward observation… behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” It is His kingdom within that He wants to reveal to us and to others, not our religious fig leaves. All the time we are covering, Jesus is bidding us to bare all before Him and to let His light and love be our covering as we are immersed into Him and put on Christ. Jesus wants us to stand before Him naked so we can be clothed in Him. He even is there to help us undress, but we keep putting on more layers, more masks, more veils. Zechariah records such an undressing and re-clothing of a man named Joshua.

 THEN [the guiding angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before [1] the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand to be his adversary and to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! Even the Lord, Who [now and habitually] chooses Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [returned captive Joshua] a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and was standing before the Angel [of the Lord]. And He spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And He said to [Joshua], Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel. (Zechariah 3:1-4 AMP)

Isn’t this a picture of what happens to us as we struggle to be free in Christ? We are like a brand He rescued from the fire. He then strips us of all our filthiness and clothes us with His own rich apparel. None of our own covering can be left. Only He provides our wedding garment. Beware of coming to the wedding feast dressed in your own garments (see Matt. 22:1-14). The righteousness of Christ is our covering, not our garments of shame and self-righteousness. We read in Revelation, “He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white clothing; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5 KJ2000). And how does this happen? Further down in this chapter we read, “I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:18-19 KJ2000). But what is the attitude of the Laodicean church? “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” They had bought into their own prosperity! To them He says, “Know you not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?” (Revelation 3:17 KJ2000).

Paul wrote:

Nevertheless when one shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror 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 3:16-18 KJ2000)

What a promise! We turn to the Lord and He takes away our veils as well as the veils over our eyes, fills us with His Spirit, and gives us perfect freedom. It is in this state, filled with His Spirit and clothed in Christ, that we are changed as we behold Him. We no longer look in a mirror and see ourselves as broken and shameful, but we see Jesus in all His beauty because we are being changed into the same image from glory to glory.

I have been reading a book by Becky Johnson called, “A Grit and Grace Collection.” It is written like a diary of things she has been experiencing as a Christian sister. One entry is called “The Mud Room.” The “mud room” in a house is the room where we come in from the outdoors in country living and shed our dirty clothes before going on in. Coats, boots, muddy clothes and such are left hanging there. She saw that the mud room is where Jesus has called her to take off all those filthy things that this life had done to her. She wrote:

“Something is happening in the mud room. Suddenly it’s filled with divine light as He draws with a relentless love that moved Him to death. I feel the holy tension that stirs me to do the unthinkable, to walk towards the impossible. I find myself removing all the layers and am now before Him, all raw and shaky. And He fills me with Himself. It’s the only way. It really is the only way.” (page 23)

http://www.amazon.com/Grit-Grace-Collection-Reflections-Tender/dp/1500385042

Faithful Is He Who Calls You, HE Will Do It!

He is Faithful

Few realize the vast difference between the Old Covenant with its 613 Mosaic laws and the New Covenant which is free of such things. The old one was based on human effort, “Thou shalt and thou shalt not…” There were 365 commands on what NOT to do and 248 commands on what Israel had to do to keep this covenant with God. It was all on man’s shoulders and human abilities to keep them. All of them had to be kept perfectly or “Cursed be he that confirms not all the words of this law to do them” (Deu. 27:26). You cannot pick and chose when it comes to law keeping.

The New covenant is not based on the works of man at all, but on the work that Jesus has done for us.

But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10 KJ2000)

We who belong to Jesus were reconciled to God by His death, but we are saved by His life! “Christ in you, the hope of glory!”

Jeremiah and Ezekiel both saw this change coming—the change that is based only on the works of God in our behalf through His Son, not on our own works.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I WILL make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I WILL make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I WILL put my law within them, and I WILL write it upon their hearts; and I WILL be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I WILL forgive their iniquity, and I WILL remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 RSVA – emphasis added)

For I WILL take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I WILL sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I WILL cleanse you. A new heart I WILL give you, and a new spirit I WILL put within you; and I WILL take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I WILL put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24-27 RSVA – emphasis added)

God announced even back then, hundreds of years before Christ began His earthly ministry, that Israel broke that covenant and that He was about to replace it with a covenant that cannot be broken because it was no longer based on the obedience of men to a set of laws, but rather on the power and the grace of God Himself. God swears that:

  • He will be our God and we will be His people
  • He will give us new hearts
  • He will put His law within us and write it upon our new hearts
  • We will not need human teachers
  • He will forgive us our sins, cleanse us and remember them no more
  • He will put His Spirit within us
  • He will make us obedient to Him
  • He will gather us from all nations into HIS land, His kingdom and give us a singular common identity, Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:2-29)

From 613 “thou shalt’s and thou shalt not’s” to eight New Covenant changes that God makes by the power of His might and Spirit for us who believe in the completed work of His Son. These eight acts cover everything we need in Christ to become citizens of God’s eternal kingdom and conformed to the image of His Beloved Son. They are all internalized by the power of our heavenly Father; none are external commands written on stone for stony hearts that are too weak to keep them. This is what Zachariah saw in his vision (see http://awildernessvoice.com/Grace.html) in chapter four and it was summed up with the words, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”

Peter said that the law was a yoke and a burden that no man could carry (see Acts 15:10). Paul called it a yoke of bondage (see Galatians 5:1). Paul went on to write in Romans:

For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]. (Romans 8:2-3 AMP)

Jesus said,

“Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJ2000).

He described those who enforced the O. T. law this way:

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matthew 23:4 KJ2000)

So what is the goal of this New Covenant? Is it so we can live lawless lives? Not at all, but rather that we would be empowered by God to live lives that reflect His Son here on earth. John wrote,

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 KJ2000)

Paul wrote, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

“The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best.” `~ Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”

Mere religious observations are considered “good” by men, but do not require a changed heart, and often end in pride that isolates us from God. He requires a complete transformation that makes those who are His into new creatures, no longer dependant on the outward observations of religion. Seeing Jesus as He is is the key.

Nevertheless when one shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror 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 3:16-18 KJ2000)

As we behold Him with all our hearts, the Spirit changes us into the same image. It is a matter of beholding Him and then the Spirit does the rest. When the eye is single the whole body will be filled with His light. The New Covenant is never about outward observations and conformity to rules, but rather an internal change wrought by the power of God as we yield to Him.

The Prisoner of the Lord

paul-in-chains

The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in Him. (1 John 2:27 NIV)

I often sit at my keyboard waiting for the unction to write something from the Lord on our blog. Each time He makes me wait and as time drags on I wonder if He is through with me. This morning I read two quotes back to back, one on the blog of a dear sister in Germany (http://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/on-receiving-more-of-the-holy-spirit/) and the other a quote from T. Austin-Sparks from a sister in New Zealand in my daily devotional, “Open Windows.” http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/openwindows/003437.html. I hope you don’t mind me quoting from them here.

Seeing the unction to write in terms of a beggar waiting at the door of the rich man’s house for a scrap of bread helped me a lot…

“That our watching and waiting may be of a proper kind, and be successful, we must turn entirely away from all created things, and appear in the presence of God, with a heart entirely empty, and hungering and thirsting after grace, so that we may boldly say, ‘Lord, here is my vessel, here I wait, here I continue lying on the brink of the waters; here, O my God! I expect the promised power from on high, with perfect resignation and in child-like confidence, that thou wilt, in due time, fulfill thy promise! Thou hast promised thy Holy Spirit to me; and thou wilt also perform. Do not look at my poverty and wretchedness, my nakedness and destitution; for it is for this very reason I need thy grace the most; on this very account I am worthy of compassion.’

It is thus that a soul, which is entirely turned away from the world, and directed to God, and which hungers and thirsts after God, waits in a right and proper manner, and therefore shall be filled with the blessings of salvation, and most assuredly made partaker of the Holy Spirit.
When the beggar, at the door, has said, ‘Give me a morsel of bread!’ he does not immediately go away, but waits; and if he is left to stand long, he repeats his request, again and again, until he has really received what he desires. And although he be refused, yet he continues to beg, and does not move until he be attended to. So ought we also to act. We must stand at the door of God’s grace, and wait, until we have received what we ask for. (Gerhard Tersteegen, Spiritual Crumbs from the Master’s Table, pp. 250, 251)

And this timely word from T. Austin-Sparks…

“Do you ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Why do you ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Is the anointing something that you crave? To what end? That you may be used, may have power, may have influence, may be able to do a lot of wonderful things? The first and preeminent thing the anointing means is that we can do nothing but what the anointing teaches and leads to do. The anointing takes everything out of our hands. The anointing takes charge of the reputation. The anointing takes charge of the very purpose of God. The anointing takes complete control of everything and all is from that moment in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and we must remember that if we are going to learn Christ, that learning Christ is by the Holy Spirit’s dealing with us, and that means that we have to go exactly the same way as Christ went in principle and in law… ‘The Son can do nothing out from Himself.’”

(How much is our own reputation worth? Are we willing to give it over to God for Him to deal with? For most Christians I have met, that is a bit too much. Most want to at least salvage that much from their own lives and they fight to save it “so they can be more useful for the Lord.” But even that has to go if we are to be yielded totally to God. Remember, even Jesus made Himself of no reputation when He came down to earth in the form of a lowly servant).

As we yield to God are we then “controlled” by the Holy Spirit? Demons possess people and take control, but the Spirit of the Lord leads. Paul wrote, “I Paul, the prisoner of the Jesus Christ…” To be yielded to the Holy Spirit is being controlled like prisoners are controlled, the guards open and close doors in their cell block from remote that either allows or denies them access to other areas (See Acts 16:6-9). They still have a modicum of freedom, but it is orchestrated freedom. Jesus said to Peter, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, When you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall dress you, and carry you where you would not.”(John 21:18 KJ2000). The more we pursue the Lord and the anointing of His Spirit, the less freedom we have to do things the way we used to, yet the more unction we experience as we yield to the will of our Father and part of that is the continuous working of the cross of Christ in our lives. It takes us from being “when you were young” and self-willed into “when you shall be old,” becoming yielded vessels of the Spirit.

So our sister in Germany I mentioned above has remarked often how she felt “empty headed.” She is an intelligent and educated woman, but as she has yielded to the working of God in her life He has taken control of that intelligence more and more and has been governing it with the mind of Christ. So, she has to wait on Him to give her what she is to write. This can be very unnerving at first for those of us who are used to depending on our own minds and abilities to get things done (I was the “go to guy” for my bosses in the world), but that is what the cross of the Lord in our lives does as we yield to the Spirit of God. Using our prison analogy above, sometimes He even puts us in a time of solitary confinement to break that self-seeking will in us! But the fruit of all His wonderful work in us is good. We have a promise…

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt [the world and its ways]: open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalms 81:10 KJ2000)

God bless each of you as you seek His will to be done in your lives and my fellow bloggers as you write.

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)

It’s a NEW Covenant!

A New Day

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:5 ESV)

I was on the phone with a brother in eastern Montana, USA, a while back and the Lord had me key-in on one statement he had made, “Most Christians don’t know what the New Covenant REALLY IS!” I immediately asked myself, “Just WHAT IS the New Covenant anyway?” I know that I had gone to many churches and sat through years in time of accumulated sermons and Sunday school classes, but had I ever heard about the nature of the New Covenant and just what makes it NEW??? So, I admitted to my friend and brother in Montana that I did not know what the New Covenant was! I new that what we see, calling itself “the church” was NOT it for sure, for it in its present day form is not found in the Bible! I wanted to KNOW!

Bud started me on my search by referring me to a little known (at least in Christendom) passage in one of the prophet’s books in the Old Testament which was quoted again in the Book of Hebrews (a book that is ALL about the difference between the New and Old Covenants, by the way)…

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he says, ‘Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not,’ says the Lord. ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord; ‘I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.’ In that he says, A NEW COVENANT, he has made the first OLD. NOW THAT WHICH DECAYS AND GROWS OLD IS READY TO VANISH AWAY.” (Hebrews 8:7-13 KJ2000- emphasis added)

Ezekiel saw the nature of this NEW thing that God put in place 2000 years ago and said, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 KJ2000)

The Old Covenant was all hinged on man doing what pleased God, but NOT the New! In this NEW Covenant it is all about what GOD is doing IN US for it is “NOT by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

HE takes out of us our stone cold hearts!
HE gives us a NEW heart!
HE writes His law (His will) upon our hearts
HE puts His Spirit in us!
HE removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west!
HE will be the only Teacher we will need (see also 1 John 2:26-27)!

You see, it is NOT about US any longer (not a single “Thou shalt…” or “Thou shalt not…” to be found here), but it is ALL about HIM and what He is doing in our lives. Jesus said, “Apart from ME you can do NOTHING!” What part of “NOTHING” don’t we understand???

So, what is our part in this NEW and lasting Covenant that Jesus inaugurated with His own death and resurrection and the infilling of His Spirit that took place on the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago? Our part is to only rest by faith IN HIM! In Hebrews we ALSO read,

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11 ESV)

Did you get it? There is a rest in the here and now for those who walk by faith where we cease from all our striving, fretting and doubts, but rather we rest confidently in the finished work of Jesus Christ and enjoy HIS presence as we abide TOTALLY IN HIM and no longer in or of ourselves. This IS what grace really is, my friends. You see, once we are resting IN Christ; grace, peace, rest, obedience to God, abiding IN the Vine, following the voice of THE Shepherd… ALL these things become one and the same and part of what it means to be true members of this NEW and LASTING covenant. If you are NOT there, then pray that God kills that old sinful, striving religious nature in you that finds HIS GRACE to be such an insult to that Old Adam that still has possession of your heart.

Pray, “Father, whatever it takes! Do what you must to get your new heart within me which really believes that you love me and have made all provision for me IN your Son. Father, kill this old striving person that I have been and put the faith of your Son in me. Amen”

Then hang on, for NOTHING is going to be the same once He sets out to make you HIS NEW CREATION!

Note: this post was inspired by another blog that I read by a sister in Germany. Check it out:
https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/lets-get-real-friends/