Archive

Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Andrew Farley – Free Jesus!: Freedom

 

Free Jesus! is a 45 minute companion video to the book God Without Religion by Andrew Farley exclusively available at Wanderlust Productions website. This is a 7 minute excerpt from that video where Andrew talks about true freedom.

Rejecting Rejection

“…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6)

The emotional soil our roots are planted in has a bearing on our entire lives. God designed that we should receive love, care and protection in the family. As a child is born into a family it is totally defenseless, and dependable on the family that surrounds it. It is during the formative years of its life that it will receive its identity message. A child brought up in a loving atmosphere and home will face future relationships with security and confidence. Our family loved us and valued us; therefore we must be people of worth.

Psychologists confirm this. They tell us there are three parental attitudes that are absolutely necessary for a sense of security and to develop a wholesome personality. These are acceptance, affection and approval. A lack of any of these things will be interpreted by the child as rejection. Rejection may come as a deliberate hostility from others, or as a failure to communicate acceptance. Often it is communicated in its more subtle form of parents not being emotionally available to their children.

If for some reason love and acceptance were not there for us in the formative years of our lives we will face all other relationships with suspicion, mistrust and insecurity. If a life has not been properly rooted in love, its entire lifetime will be a struggle against fear and anxiety. We expect to be let down, left out, ignored, rejected. The rejected expect the present and the future to be a repeat of the past. Some people seem to get hurt in almost every encounter with others. The fear of rejection is a severe form of insecurity.

Parents who reject their children usually do so because they were rejected, or are going through problems of their own. Sometimes children are rejected because they were unwanted from the start. Rejection says nothing about the real worth of the child. It is a perception. Since a child has such a high regard for its parents it will naturally think that there is something wrong with him, when rejected.

Rejection is not being wanted, valued or regarded as significant. It brings shame. Shame, like guilt, has to do with how we feel about ourselves. Unlike guilt, which is based on my performance, shame is feeling bad based upon the way others have esteemed me. But shame is deeper than guilt. Guilt says, “I made a mistake.” Shame says, “I am a mistake.” If I make a mistake there is hope. I can confess and be forgiven. I can change what I do, but not who I am. Shame causes us to hate ourselves. Robert Louis Stevenson once confessed that he was suffering from “crushed wormery”, i.e. the feeling that he was no more than a worm, groveling on the ground.

One Hebrew word for shame is also translated as blushing, another word as contempt and another still as nakedness. Closely associated with the idea of shame is nakedness. When Adam & Eve sinned they were ashamed, and knew they were naked. Shame is a feeling of being uncovered. It is the feeling that everyone is looking at you and can see every part of you. It comes from being abandoned by the significant others in your life. Those who should have covered you have actually exposed you, uncovered you, abandoned you and made you feel vulnerable. Shame strikes at our identity and makes us hate ourselves and feel worthless.

Rejection can result in:

Spiritual consequences. There will be difficulty in relating to the Fatherhood of God.

Physical consequences. E.g. identity is found in performance and achievement therefore this leads to burn out.

Emotional consequences. When there is a breakdown in the human family, or a failure to communicate acceptance, there are profound emotional and personality effects in the lives of the children involved. This later results in personality and relationship problems., such as:

 Inferiority, isolation and the fear of abandonment.

 Withdrawal for protection.

 Will never get into situations that we cannot control. Thus no risks, no creativity.

 Driven to cover mistakes. Not allowed that luxury.

 Because rejection tells us that we do not have a legitimate reason for being it leads to constantly wanting to justify our existence.

 Fear of failure. Fear of trying new things. The need to succeed in order to be accepted.

 A reluctance to ask favours. Giving, but not receiving. A “repay” mentality.

 Fear of saying “no”.

 It is wrong to have a need. It is wrong to express your opinion.

 Shame is veiled by dress. Great emphasis on appearance.

 Drawing back from God.

Ministering to the rejected.

Only God can minister effectively to the rejected. David said, “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” Psa.27:0. If you have been rejected God knows all about it. In fact Jesus suffered rejection more than any other person. Isa.53:3&4 tells us, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He is despised and we did not esteem Him. Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.”

He was rejected:

 By His own people. “He came unto His own and His own received Him not”

 By the religious authorities. He was “the stone which the builders rejected.”

 By His disciples. “They all forsook Him and fled.”

 By the Father. “My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

The Bible says that Jesus was made perfect through sufferings. This is not a reference to moral perfection but to being perfected or completed as our High Priest. He passed through every kind of suffering known to man and is now equipped in the role of a sympathetic High Priest, able to identify with us, and minister to us in our pain. The Bible says He bore our rejection. (Isa.53:3&4). He, Who died of a broken heart (Psa.69:20), now lives to heal the broken-hearted.

The opposite of shame is glory. God created us for glory. At creation He crowned us with glory and honour (Gen.2:25). Glory is the feeling of dignity, being of value. Satan wants to fill us with a sense of shame. He uses significant events and people to do that to us. When Jesus was crucified they took His garments. This is figurative of what took place at the Cross. He took our sin, rejection and shame and exchanged it with the robe of His righteousness and glory. We are in Christ. And the glory has been restored to us, 2 Cor.3:18. We are no longer products of the past, but of the cross. We are no longer rejected, but accepted in Him.

Rejecting Rejection.

We must be willing to part with rejection, including the lifestyle that goes with it, self-pity, etc. Do you think often of past failure and rejection. When you recall past experiences is it with strong, painful emotions. Do you believe that certain past experiences have ruined your life and that you only have second best now? Do you have a victim mentality? Do you withdraw from people? The Bible says that you are no longer a rejected person. Therefore, reject rejection. Do it once, do it well.

Receive God’s unconditional acceptance of you. Eph.1:6. God took the initiative. He knew what we were like before we were born. His plans for us are positive. He acknowledges us, has established a relationship of permanence with us, has a purpose for us, is patient with us, has granted us access to Him, and accepts us unconditionally. There is a difference between acceptance and approval. Acceptance is a legal matter that deals with our status within the family of God. Approval has to do with our actions. These do not affect our position in the family.

Forgive all who have ever rejected you.

Ask God to heal you of a wounded spirit and make you a whole person with a whole personality. Knowing the truth will set us free.

Understand that you have been empowered with meekness. Knowing we are no longer rejected people does not mean that others will no longer reject us. But we need to understand that we do not have a problem with rejection any longer. “Rejected people, reject people. Healed people, heal people.” Meekness is the ability to handle rejection. God’s grace does not just free us from the past, it empowers us in the present.

Enjoy human relationships, but draw your confidence from your relationship with God. Heb.13:5. Rejection is like the bottom falling out (lack of support). But underneath are the everlasting arms.

Mark Rutherford once said, “Blessed are those who heal us of our self-despisings!” Thank God for His wonderful grace to us in Jesus Christ.

“Ministering to the Rejected” is one of the subjects covered in “Counselling God’s Way”, by Ken Legg Counselling God’s Way.

Grace: Before and After

We are objects of His Workmanship!

Ephesians 2:7-10 (New International Version)

7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I want us to know how God look at us.

Before:

Ephesians 2:3-10 (NIV) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Now:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Oh dear friends let me read this verse to you: In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

How does God show the incomparable riches of his grace? By expressing his kindness of his grace TO US. TO US. TO US! That means the world will know God incomparable riches of grace THRU US! This means HE IS NO LONGER MAD WITH US BUT PROUD TO SHOW US OFF! That is why Paul then says “We are God’s workmanship!”

Paul hence tells us that we are richly blessed, highly favoured and dearly loved:
Ephesians 5 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Thought of the Day

God is not upset with you; you are His work of art!

Of “The Faith Of The Son Of God” Not “Faith In The Son God”

The Wink of Faith..Excerpt from Bill Volkman’s book…..

Galatians 2:20 is familiar to most Christians, as it is probably one of the ten most quoted and memorized verses in the Bible. Through the years no verse has presented more of a challenge to ” deeper life”seekers. Countless pamphlets and pages of books have been written about and around this verse. The key to a liberated and fulfilling, productive life is recognition — recognition of who we are.

For forty-one years I was unable to answer the question, ” Who am I?” I glibly talked about being ” a new creature in Christ, but those were only words. No wonder my apparently ” successful” life had been marked by periods of questioning, unrest, spiritual drought and what I considered to be ” hidden sins. No wonder I had such a poor self-image. I had answered the question ” you born again?” , but I had never answered the more fundamental question: Do you know who you are?”

I had not yet adequately nor correctly seen who I really was. The ” real I was more than the Bill Volkman I thought I saw when I looked in the mirror. The big breakthrough in my understanding came when I suddenly saw that the King James Version of the Bible reads, “I live by the faith of the Son of God, rather than,”I live by my faith in the Son of God,” as I had memorized it from the New American Standard Version. All along I had the impression that my spiritual success was related to my faith in Christ (which always seemed to be faltering!).

Now I could relax. In my union with Christ I would live by His faith — His perfect faith was expressing itself through me! Do you see the difference? As long as your perception of spiritual success is contingent on your personal performance as an independent self, sooner or later you will fall short of your personal goals and expectations. Once you see that Christ in you is more than a “positional” truth -that He, as a living Person, with the attributes of faith, hope and love, actually lives His life through you, as you — then rest and creative freedom is attainable.

Excerpt. ©

Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Are You Afraid of the Gospel?

By Tullian Tchividjian
(This article is adapted from Tchividjian’s recent book Surprised by Grace:
God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-GraceRelentless-Pursuit-Rebels/dp/1433507757) )

I’m ecstatic about the resurgence of gospel centrality taking place in the evangelical church. The idea that the gospel is not only for those outside the church but also for those inside the church; that it not only ignites the Christian life but is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing everyday, may seem like a new idea, but it’s really old. I’m glad it’s re-gaining traction, but as far as we’ve come, we need to go further.

For all the talk of gospel-centeredness, there’s still some fear and trepidation fueled by a common misunderstanding regarding the radical nature of grace. Even amongst the proponents of gospel centrality, I still hear talk about there being two equal dangers that Christians must avoid: legalism and lawlessness.

The False Balance of “Legalism vs. Lawlessness”

Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, or rules. Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. Sometimes, legalism and lawlessness are presented as two ditches on either side of the gospel that we must avoid. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. But I’ve come to believe that this “balanced” way of framing the issue can unwittingly keep us from really understanding the gospel of grace in all of its radical depth and beauty.

The Primary Enemy of the Gospel
It’s more theologically accurate to say that there is one primary enemy of the gospel – legalism – but it comes in two forms. Some people avoid the gospel and try to “save” themselves by keeping the rules, doing what they’re told, maintaining the standards, and so on (you could call this “front-door legalism”).

Other people avoid the gospel and try to “save” themselves by breaking the rules, doing whatever they want, developing their own autonomous standards, and so on (you could call this “back-door legalism”).

In other words, there are two “laws” we can choose to live by other than Christ: the law which says “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I keep the rules” or the law which says “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I break the rules.” Either way you’re still trying to “save” yourself-which means both are legalistic because both are self–salvation projects.

So, it’s a mistake to identify the “two cliffs” as being legalism and lawlessness. The one “cliff” is legalism but it comes in two forms – what some call license is just another form of legalism. And if people outside the church are guilty of “break the rules” legalism, many people inside the church are still guilty of “keep the rules” legalism.

Why We’re Afraid of Grace

This is super important because the biggest lie about grace that Satan wants the church to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be “kept it in check.” By believing this we not only prove we don’t understand grace, but we violate gospel advancement in our lives and in the church. A “yes, grace…but” disposition is the kind of fearful posture that keeps moralism swirling around in our hearts and in the church.

I understand the fear of grace. As a pastor, one of my responsibilities is to disciple people into a deeper understanding of obedience – teaching them to say “no” to the things God hates and “yes” to the things God loves. But all too often I have (wrongly) concluded that the only way to keep licentious people in line is to give them more rules. The fact is, however, that the only way licentious people start to obey is when they get a taste of God’s radical unconditional acceptance of sinners.

The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience, but Christ’s. The people who actually end up performing better are those who understand that their relationship with God doesn’t depend on their performance for Jesus, but Jesus’ performance for us.

Imperatives Minus Indicatives Equal Impossibilities

People need to hear less about what we need to do for God and more about all that God has already done for us, because imperatives minus indicatives equal impossibilities. If you’re a preacher and you’re assuming that people understand the radical nature of gospel indicatives, so your ministry is focused primarily on gospel imperatives, you’re making a huge mistake. A huge mistake!

Long-term, sustained, gospel-motivated obedience can only come from faith in what Jesus has already done, not fear of what we must do. To paraphrase Ray Ortlund, any obedience not grounded in or motivated by the gospel is unsustainable. No matter how hard you try, how “radical” you get, any engine smaller than the gospel that you’re depending on for power to obey will conk out in due time.

So let’s take it up a notch. Don’t be afraid to preach the radical nature of the gospel of grace. For, as the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “If your preaching of the gospel doesn’t provoke the charge from some of antinomianism, you’re not preaching the gospel.”

Tullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL & is a visiting professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. Printed from the Catalyst website (www.catalystspace.com). The online version of this article can be found at

http://www.catalystspace.com/content/read/NOV10_article–are_you_afraid_of_the_gospel–tullian/

Do Believers Have The “Sinful Nature”?

Because of an unfortunate misinterpretation in some translations of the Bible of the Greek word “sarx” (which directly translated means “flesh”), the doctrine of the sinful nature or indwelling sin has been propagated and preached with amazing conviction for centuries. It has caused sincere believers to try and live up to manmade moral standards, but not realizing that in doing this, they only subject themselves to endless frustration, lack of confidence before God and an expectation of punishment to come their way.

In the original Greek language the New Testament was translated from, the word “sarx” was used to describe over a dozen different concepts, such as the sinful nature, human flesh, sexual intercourse, carnality, etc. The W.E. Vines expository dictionary of Bible words lists 14 different meanings for the word “sarx”. The only way to determine the meaning of “sarx” in that particular part of scripture was to look at the context. Some Bible translations attempted to translate “sarx” into what they thought it meant in that particular context, but many got it wrong. Only the literal translations (e.g KJV or NKJV and a few others) did not change “sarx” into what they thought it might mean, but left it in the verses simply as “flesh”, allowing the reader to interpret the context. That’s why Romans 7 and some other passages appear to be so confusing in some translations, because “sarx” which means “flesh” was replaced with “sinful nature” the whole time! Here’s an example:

Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally (sarx). (NIV)
Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh (sarx), (NKJV)

Now, when the Bible talks about the “inward man”, the “new man” or the “new nature” it speaks about the born-again spirit of a believer. The “sinful nature” or “old man” refers the evil nature every person is born with, being at enmity with God and alive to sin. But “flesh” means something else. “Flesh” in this context refers to the un-renewed mind of the believer, a topic we’ll dig into deeper next week. “Flesh” in this context does not refer to something spiritual; it refers to the realm of the mind (soul, will & intellect). Soul = mind. You can read our previous message on this topic by clicking this link: http://www.newcovenantgrace.com/spirit-soul-body/

At salvation, a Christian’s sinful nature is crucified & buried with Christ. Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old man (sinful nature) was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. After we are born again, we are NOT “sinners” anymore, even though we sometimes make mistakes. There is not 1 verse in the entire New Covenant that calls a born-again believer a “sinner”. The term “sinner” refers to a person that has not been born-again yet, and yet you’ll find most Christians today think: “I am just an old sinner.” No you are not!!

Under the Old Covenant people had to be circumcised on the 8th day in obedience to the laws of Moses. Under the New Covenant God circumcises the heart of the believer, removing (cutting out) the old evil nature, and giving us a new resurrected spirit that is created in 100% perfect righteousness like Christ. Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh (old sinful nature), by the circumcision of Christ. God also writes His laws on our hearts which simply means He gives us the desire to please Him (but of course we know He is actually already pleased with us because of what Jesus did on our behalf). Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. This means that our new reborn spirit desires to please God and delights in Him.

The following comparisons between a literal and conceptual Bible translation clearly illustrate this misconception (please note we’re not bashing or criticizing certain Bible translations, rather we’re addressing the misconception in the church about a born again believer’s inner nature, and the translation of the word “sarx”):

Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature (sarx) (NIV)
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me, that is in my flesh (sarx) nothing good dwells; (NKJV)

Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature (sarx) but according to the Spirit. 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature (sarx) have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (NIV)
Romans 8:4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh (sarx) but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh (sarx) set their minds on the things of the flesh (sarx), but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (NKJV)

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature (sarx); rather, serve one another in love. (NIV)
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh (sarx), but through love serve one another. (NKJV)

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (sarx). (NIV)
Gal 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (sarx). (NKJV)

There are many more examples to illustrate this point, but I think we get the idea. Now consider this: The above verses, coupled with the fact that most people today believe whatever they read (without thinking about it) in whatever translation of Bible they have, plus the fact that the modern church has taught for centuries that Christians DO have a sinful nature (and that we have to deny this nature, fight it and put it to death!) it is easy to see that we can be conned by texts read out of context. Conned by text, get it..?

Now you may ask: “Why then do Christians still sin? If we don’t have a sinful nature, why do we still keep on making mistakes, feeling like we are disappointing God, and falling short of what we think God expects from us?” And this is what we will be talking about next week. In the meantime we encourage you to think about whether you may have been deceived by this doctrine, to repent (which simply means to change your thinking) and be open to receive more truth next. Has God left us with a remnant of our old, evil nature (which would mean He did an incomplete job), or did He do a complete work and remove the whole thing?

Yours in Grace
Andre van der Merwe

Continue in God’s Grace

All of us at some point as Christians were impacted by Christ in a powerful way.  I would argue that at no point were any of us impacted by the law, I would argue that the impact was purely based on His love and grace.  You were blown away by His mercy, you were blown away by His love.  My friends at the point of accepting Christ you are imparted with a tremendous amount of His grace and love and everything turns into sunshine and rainbows at the hour that you call his name.  Do you realize that it does not have to change?  Better question is do you know why it changes?

When people turn to the law instead of His grace the sunshine and rainbows go away and duty, guilt and condemnation come into the picture.  Paul in Galatians warned about following a different gospel instead of the one that they were called in the grace of Christ.  Paul even goes as far to tell us that when we follow a different gospel than the one of the grace of Christ that we pervert the gospel of Christ.  Let me make this very clear; attempting to be justified by the works of the Ten Commandments is a perversion of the gospel of Christ.

Paul asked the Galatians whether they received the Spirit by their works of the law or by hearing of faith?  He goes on to ask if people are so foolish to begin hearing by faith and now trying to be perfect by the flesh (self-effort).  Do not start with grace and end with the law.  Our world is filled with worldly thinking by Christians.  My challenge to you is simple; start with grace and end with grace, don’t start with the new covenant yet turn back to the old covenant.  There are even those who believe they are not justified by the law but believe they should keep the law for sanctification.  My friends let me be crystal crystal clear; both justification and sanctification come by our faith in Jesus’ finished work alone.

My friends start to realize how God sees you.  Too many of us base our worth on our evaluation on how we perform and how they feel about themselves; this never is how God feels about us.  When you realize how loved you are by God and how he sees you, it cannot help but change you and how you look at yourself.  Beloved, we have access all the time to His full blessings simply based on Jesus finished work.  TODAY, think, talk and act knowing that it is not about you or your works — it is about Jesus and Him alone, and step out into His blessings for you!

…Having began in the Spirit, and you now being made perfect by the flesh?   —   Galatians 3:3

Don’t start with grace and end up with the law.  Don’t start with the new covenant, only to turn back to the old covenant.

%d bloggers like this: