change is personal

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

 

When a person comes to Jesus He accepts them the way they are as they accept Him as their Lord and Savior. There is nothing they could do to merit their salvation or prequalify by some good work to get it. It is a gift to be received by faith. Just because He accepts us the way we are does not infer He wants us to stay the way we are. He wants to change and transform us into all aspects of Christ-like attitudes, behaviors, and actions. This potential for change is placed within us by the new nature we receive at salvation but for any change to happen we must take personal responsibility. Change is possible but all change is always personal.

 

The Bible says when you are saved you become a new creation, or God did a creative act inside you and gave you a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4). God puts His nature in you, and that Godlike nature is who you really are, it’s the life of Christ in you. This new nature has these characteristics or expressions: love, joy, peace, long‑suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. The fruit of the spirit listed here are the fruit of the spirit in a Christian. It’s called fruit because they manifest visibly like fruit.  They are recognizable like fruit on a tree and fruit on a tree cannot be imitated.  A tree is either bearing fruit or it isn’t.

 

I like to call them the Christian’s new nature or character traits or characteristics of the new nature in you.  We can say, “because Jesus lives in me, my new nature is one of love, joy, peace, long‑suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”  The nine fruit of the spirit listed here are really a picture of Jesus in His true character in us.  The Father’s plan is for our character to grow up in Him in all things.  Jesus came not just to die for us but also to show us how to live, and He wants our life to reflect love, joy, peace, long‑suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

 

If you are in Christ, you have received a new nature.  As you walk by that new nature, it prompts these characteristics, and at the same time cancels the old nature’s characteristics. For every human character weakness, there is in the new nature of a Christian nine corresponding Christ‑like character traits potentially available. These are strengths potentially available for every natural weakness so no one has to stay the way they are. Every drug addict, alcoholic, murderer, adulterer, fornicator, unclean person can be transformed. The potential for change is in you in Christ (Colossians 1:27 Christ IN you the hope of glory) so no Christian needs to stay the way they are in the areas of their life that are not Godly or Christ‑like.

 

If Christ is IN you, there’s a new nature, the potential for fruit is there, but it’s not automatic. We must personally continue to be involved in:

 

  1. FELLOWSHIP

Remain in fellowship with God by staying in His Word and staying out of sin toward God and others (John 15:1‑8; 1 John 1:9).

 

  1. RENEWING

Grow in and be renewed in knowledge of who we are in Christ which gives us a new identity as well as the power to choose right and not wrong (Colossians 3:10).

This includes being renewed by the Word of God in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23/Romans 12:2) so that the mind of Christ within our spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16) governs us.

 

  1. SOWING

Do things that deposit or sow spiritual life to our new nature (Galatians 6:7‑9), like reading, studying, meditation in the Word, prayer, worship, praise, fellowship at church and involvement in serving God.

 

  1. OBEYING

Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) by walking in line with our new nature and by obedience to God’s Word. We have to be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22) as we work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12). Change becomes more and more permanent as we act and obey.

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GRACE WAS NOT FREE

GRACE WAS NOT FREE

 

When God created Adam and Eve and before sin entered the human race the Bible says that they were uncovered or naked with no consciousness of shame (guilt), “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed Genesis 2:25.” The Bible also gives a suggestion that although they didn’t have clothing for a covering they were covered with light as a garment like God. Psalm 104:2 says, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” Psalm 34:5 says, “They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.”

 

Upon sin entering through Eve being deceived and Adam’s transgression, they lost their innocence and became conscious of  being uncovered. Genesis 3:7-10 says,  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” When Adam hid God came to him and after confronting the sin provided them with animal skins, which I believe were also bloody, for a covering. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

 

What they did after they sinned, sewing fig leaves together making themselves aprons, indicated they were used to being covered. When they sinned, they became conscious of  being uncovered. Sin created something they would not have known or experienced.  An awareness of being uncovered and ashamed. Sin always creates a consciousness of  being uncovered and ashamed. To provide the provision of the covering, God did not just zap it into existence but through an ugly, horrible event, an animal was slain before their eyes. After killing the animal, God removes the coat from the dead body still warm and wet; and puts it on them, making them a covering with coats (the root meaning of “coats” is “a cover”) of skin.

 

What was God saying here in Genesis by His actions of slaying an animal and using the coats of skins to cover Adam and Eve? Shedding of blood is required to cover the guilt of sin and you cannot have a relationship with Me without this blood. He would provide the sacrificial substitute and cover the guilty Himself. God would bring judgment on the sacrifice and accept the life of the innocent for the guilty. This should always be a part of our understanding of grace in the New Testament.

 

Later we see the application of a blood covering sin the law in the blood of the Passover lamb over the doorway of a house in Exodus 12 and in Exodus 25:17-22 as the mercy seat.  It was upon this mercy seat that the blood of the sacrifice would be poured and above the mercy seat God declared that it is “THERE I WILL COMMUNE WITH THEE.”  Without the blood and mercy seat God would see the three items that symbolized the events surrounding their rebellion to His Word: Aaron’s rod, the golden pot of manna, and the stone tables of the law but instead He sees the blood that purchases mercy. This concept was developed even more in the law as the blood-atonement covering Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” What should we realize from all of these types that pointed to the final sacrificial substitutes blood of Jesus Christ?

 

  1. SIN COST GOD THE LIFE AND PRECIOUS BLOOD OF HIS SON JESUS.

1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

 

  1. GOD’S COVERING A MAN’S SIN WAS NEVER A MATTER OF:
  2. Ignoring it.
  3. Pretending it did not happen.
  4. Giving man a break.
  5. Saying sin doesn’t matter anymore.

 

  1. THE ONLY REASON SIN WAS COVERED IS BECAUSE AN INNOCENT SACRIFICIAL SUBSTITUTE WOULD FACE THE FULL WRATH OF GOD FOR SIN FOR THE GUILTY.

Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin didn’t just cover our sin but it also dismissed it and paid the price to buy us back from the slavery of sin.

Thank God for the Blood of Jesus.

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DO NOT CONFORM BUT BE TRANSFORMED

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Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 3:18 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.

 

Christians are not to blend in with the world’s crowd but we should stand out in a crowd. God’s plan once we are saved is to change us to look, act, and think like Jesus. Our destiny and what He has predestined for us is to be fashioned and formed into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). His main process to accomplish this transformation is called the renewing of the mind (Rm. 12:2) (and saving of the soul James 1:21).

 

When we talk of conforming to the world we mistakenly think of it only in terms of outwardly observable things such as what we wear, where we go, and what we do but what about the way we think, feel, decide, talk, and what we value? These are not always outwardly observable by others. Many have the same fears, moods, attitudes, reasonings, thinking, talking, and values. This is also being conformed to the world.

 

God’s plan of the renewing the mind is to change all of this conformity from the world and transform us into Christ-likeness. The only true and secure source of identity comes from who God says we are in Christ. At salvation old things are passed away and all things are become new. What has become new is our new identity called “In Christ.” The word “transformed” means to change into another form; it is a shaping; molding; forming and fashioning from the inside; it is a radical alteration and noticeable change. It is all about change but it never happens without our cooperation.

 

Without this change from the renewing of the mind we create and are controlled by a false basis of identity (who we are and where we come from). A false basis of identity is based on and is the result of being shaped, molded, and conformed from:

 

PAST EXPERIENCES – what life has said we are. If life experiences define our identity or who we are then whatever has happened to us in our past determines our now and future and fixes us on a course like a robot with no hope of change.

 

PERFORMANCE – what our actions say we are. If this defines who we are we feel good about ourselves as long as we are doing good but miserable if we are doing bad. The problem is that good people make mistakes, fail, and can do bad things.

 

PEOPLE’S OPINIONS – what people say we are. If people’s opinions define us, it makes us subject to being manipulated, dominated, and intimidated by people.

 

PERSONAL PERCEPTION – what we have concluded and perceived about ourselves. We can be deceived and self-absorbed and not always think objectively about ourselves. What we perceive may not be the truth or reality.

 

POSITION – what our occupation or positions we hold say we are. Problem is that our occupations and positions can change as time passes.

 

None of us consistently acts different from the way we see themselves. The renewing of the mind helps us to behold or see ourselves as God’s Word says we are. The only true and secure source of identity comes from who God says we are in Christ. We must renew our minds to who we are in Christ. This is only found in God’s Word (James 1:21) and accomplished in us by the power of the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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TAKE HEED WHAT YOU HEAR

take-heed-how-you-hear

 

Mark 4:20-24 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. 21 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

 

The Word of God is called the incorruptible seed that God has given us to produce fruit in our lives. Jesus explained this in the parable of the sower and the seed in Mark 4. The subject of the parable is the Word of God, which is God’s seed, and the object is how it can produce results in our life. All four types of soil mentioned (wayside, stony, one with thorns, and good ground) all had one thing in common, all heard the Word. Jesus also explains to us what our enemy satan is after. Upon our hearing of the Word of God, satan comes immediately to steal the Word of God. All of the pressure he throws at us is designed to stop the Word of God from working in our lives. He comes to steal the Word, to pressure us through persecution and affliction, or to trick us to allow things to enter into our life such as the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, or the lusts of other things to choke the Word.

 

            He is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. We have to be wise to his tactics and to what threatens his operations. If we don’t know what the thief is after we could be guarding the wrong thing. I believe he is initially after our ears or our hearing of the Word. It seems like the enemy is using every means and media possible to get into people’s ear to influence what they are hearing.

 

We can also learn what Jesus thinks is important from observing the unusual frequency of the mention of hearing in one form or another in Mark 4.  In verse three through thirty three, hearing, hear, or heard is mentioned fourteen times. It is because the hearing of the Word is how the seed of the Word is planted, germinates, and is watered until it produces fruit. It begins to produce the moment we hear it (Colossians 1:6). Hearing the word of God is essential to so many wonderful things:

 

  1. SAVING FAITH

Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Rom. 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

  1. HEALING

Acts 14:7 And there they preached the gospel. 8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

 

  1. BEARING FRUIT

Colossians 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

 

  1. MIRACLES

Galatians 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

 

  1. PREVENTING APOSTASY

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

 

  1. CONTINUING IN SOUND DOCTRINE

2 Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

  1. ACQUIRING WISDOM

Proverb 22:17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

 

  1. DWELLING SAFELY

Proverb 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

 

 

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GRACE DID NOT CHANGE GOD

GRACE DIDNt CHANGE GODS CHARACTER

 

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

 

God’s goal in redemption was to restore both righteousness and holiness within man’s nature which is what we become as new creations in Christ (Ephesians 4:24). This was the main reason for His grace which accomplished what we could never do on our own. God’s nature is holy and His nature did not change under grace or in the New Covenant. This holiness is now made possible by God’s empowering grace (Ephesians 1:4).

 

Holiness in the Book of Isaiah is portrayed as a highway, the way of holiness (Isaiah 35:8-10) and a standard (Isaiah 62:10). Some portray grace as a change in God’s standard, that there is no standard or that the high holy moral standards of God have been adapted down. His standard of holiness does not change as we move from being OT times to NT times because it is His nature which never changes. This is a perversion of grace and not the true grace of God. The true teaching of grace, though, doesn’t change the standard but helps us reach it by imparting God’s righteous and holy nature within us (Ephesians 4:24).

 

The standard of holiness is under assault both within the church through extreme unbalanced teachings and in the Last Days culture of the world’s sliding into more and more immorality.  Within the Church some respond to the standard by:

 

  1. Implying there is NO STANDARD under grace (which is lawlessness).

 

  1. ADJUSTING THE STANDARD or adapting it down (this is compromise).

 

  1. GIVING UP UNDER THE STANDARD because they feel it is too high (faint under it or rebel to it).

 

  1. PRETENDING TO MEET THE STANDARD when in fact they do not (this is hypocrisy).

 

 

None of these are Biblical responses or options that will lead to liberty and life. God made us righteous and holy in Christ to enable us to live right and holy. We must also understand mercy along with holiness. As grace does not change the standard but helps us to meet the standard by the new nature we have in Christ, so mercy helps us when we fail to measure up to it. His mercy allows us to keep reaching for His high holy standard. God’s throne of grace is where we can find grace to help but also where we can obtain mercy Hebrews 4:16. His mercy endures forever.

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GOD’S LAWS INTERNALIZED

 

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Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

Hebrews 10:16, 17 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

 

God created Adam and Eve in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27). Man’s spiritual nature was righteous (morally blameless/measuring up to God’s standard of moral perfection) and holy (sinless; pure; set apart for God). This was man’s standing before God and what he was conscious of. This was lost when sin and spiritual death entered their spiritual being in the Fall. God’s goal in redemption was to restore both righteousness and holiness within man’s nature.

 

Being made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) restores our standing before God where we are no longer under the condemnation that passed upon the human race because of Adam’s sin and the nature of sin within man. Condemnation carries the idea of being under judgment for wrongdoing; a verdict being against us because of a transgression; irreversible punishment and impending doom. It is like being on death row with no chance of parole, no hope of reprieve, and awaiting our sentence. Since Jesus paid the price by being made sin for us and the judgment for sin was upon Him we are made righteous in God’s sight and no longer under a condemning sentence.

 

Condemnation is not the same as conviction which is still possible for a Christian to experience. In the New Covenant, Hebrews 10:16, 17 says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” The morality of God’s character, will and nature inscribed on Adam’s heart in innocence but destroyed by his sin is restored in the new covenant of grace. What was formerly written on tables of stone under the law God gave Moses is reinscribed in our hearts in the regeneration of the Holy Ghost. The Old Testament prefiguring of God’s intent to do this is seen in the Ark of the Covenant that housed the tables of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4).

 

God’s laws have been internalized or written in our hearts and because of that we experience conviction, guilt, and reproof when we break God’s laws. We have a conscience that when it is fully informed by the Word of God it can accuse or excuse us (Romans 2:15). This isn’t bad but good because it tells us something is wrong we need to fix. I say this is good guilt because it lets us know a problem exists that needs attention, like an oil indicator light in a car that flashes. It is flashing because something needs attention, it is time to go aside and drive no further. Get it fixed. What if we were driving and the oil indicator light starts to flash and we get angry, take out a hammer and bash the indicator light with it. The whole engine will eventually lock up. This is what many Christians do when they fight their conscience or bash their conscience. We’re supposed to keep a tender conscience (Acts 23:1, 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:19).

 

 

We also have a new nature within us to enable us to live up to God’s moral standards of righteousness and holiness which is Christ-likeness. As we walk in the Spirit and allow our Christ-like nature to rule us we will always fulfill God’s moral law in our behavior.

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THE JOY OF A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

 

THE JOY OF A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

 

The troubles and trials of life cannot stop the joy of the Lord from strengthening us. Any and every Christian can have the joy of the Lord because it comes from the fruit of our born again spirit within us (Galatians 5:22), Jesus has already overcome the world (John 16:33) and we are a part of the Kingdom full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).

 

The only thing that can cut the flow of joy is a guilty conscience. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:12 our rejoicing is also connected to the testimony of our conscience which is a part of a lifestyle governed by the grace of God. Sin always sets up an inner conflict in a believer. When we sin, God’s Law, written in our hearts (Hebrews 10:16), is designed to resonate or ring like an alarm bell in our conscience. This lets us know something is wrong and needs attention. We are supposed to be bothered, feel guilty feelings, and lose our sense of confidence before God. Certain truths in the word of His grace will reprove, tell of a fault, or admonish a person to repent. This is called conviction and it is good guilt, not condemnation which gives impending doom, irreversible punishment, and no hope of forgiveness. The testimony (witness) of our conscience should be good (Acts 23:1) and void of offence (Acts 24:16) which gives cause for rejoicing.

 

What we have going on in some circles in the Body of Christ is a “No Bad Feeling Grace Message.” People are still sinning but have been told through teaching in the name of grace or by implication that we should never feel bad because we are forgiven at Calvary. They are being seduced to think that any bad feelings, “that’s condemnation,” so the teacher must have a condemning spirit, or that they are legalistic. True Biblical teachers are accused of putting people under the Law if anything they say causes any degree of bad feelings. True, we are forgiven of all past sin when we receive Jesus for the remission (dismissal) of our sins but what about current sinning after salvation? We can still sin after salvation and our conscience once properly informed by the Word of God will make us feel guilt. We have to confess that sin and receive forgiveness which restores our consciousness of being right with God.

 

All the New Testament is the word of His grace (Acts 20:32). The word of his grace itself in 2 Corinthians 1:12 connects a lifestyle by the grace of God with the testimony of our conscience being a cause of rejoicing. We can’t say, “Don’t make me feel bad, that’s condemnation,” to cover up the conviction of our conscience. When we sin it is supposed to convict us when it is informed by the knowledge of the word of His grace. Those that teach or imply otherwise are leading others to defile and sear their own conscience which also gives place to the devil.

 

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