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Be Safe For Success – Keep Your Eyes On Jesus

Today’s blog is going to be very short but I wanted to make one thing very clear.  The Lord knows greater what is best for you than you do.  When you lean on your own wisdom, understanding and merits we get what our finite mind understands and knows what is best for us.  These self understandings, wisdom and merits end us unfulfilled and constantly searching for joy, happiness and acceptance.

However when you focus completely on His wisdom, understanding and righteousness He will add it to your account.  When you rely on yourself you make yourself very vulnerable but when you rely on Jesus fully He will give you the kind of success that He wants to give you which never fails.  When you rely on Him and Him alone you are safe for success because the blessings are more than enough and great things are put to your name.

When you have a greater revelation of Jesus righteousness, peace and joy and realize that He will put it to your account you suddenly have less worry and stress and fear.  What Jesus gives you for success may not be what you have planned but it is best for you and it never disappoints.

Every failure I have had is based on my own knowledge but every success I have can be pointed toward the Grace of God.  I often say that I just stop trying to make plans because any plans I set never end up happening as I think.  Why is that?  Because God knows better than me and directs my steps, puts things to my account and grants Grace and Favor in my life when I never deserve it.

My point of this blog is to get you to realize that the more you know about Jesus and His love, mercy and grace the less and less you will depend on your own wisdom and might.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.   —   Matthew 6:33

The more you focus on beholding Jesus in all His loveliness and the less you struggle to earn things by your own merits, the more you become safe for greater success.

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10 Myths about the Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Religious people tend to view the Holy Spirit as a kind of Divine Bookkeeper, a recorder of men’s sins. But if Jesus did away with sin once and for by the sacrifice of Himself (He 9:26), what’s left for the Holy Spirit to do? He must be unemployed!

In Part 1, we looked at 10 myths surrounding the Person of the Holy Spirit. In this post we’re going to look at 10 myths regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit…

Myth 1: The Holy Spirit teaches me to keep the commandments
Truth 1: The Holy Spirit guides you into a relationship with Truth Himself (John 16:13-14)

What did Jeremiah (31:33) mean when he prophesied that the Spirit would write His laws in our hearts? Was he promoting a relationship with the rules? No. Jesus is the law-keeper who lives within. Think of the Holy Spirit as a match-maker wooing you to Jesus. As we rest in Jesus and let Him live His life through ours (Galatians 2:20), we find ourselves keeping the commandments effortlessly. “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4)

Myth 2: The Holy Spirit is like a Divine Policeman enforcing law and order
Truth 2: The Holy Spirit strengthens, encourages and prospers the church (Acts 9:31)

Since many believers have been brought up on a diet of law and obligation, it is natural to think of the Holy Spirit as a Policeman enforcing God’s commands. But this is confusing covenants. How does the Holy Spirit strengthen and build up the church? Principally by revealing more and more of Jesus (John 16:14, Philemon 1:6). The Holy Spirit is so good at what He does, that Jesus said that it was for our good that He leave so the Spirit could come (John 16:7). Think about that! We’re better off now with the Spirit than we were with Jesus in the flesh.

Myth 3: The Holy Spirit is unpredictable, sort of the solo agent of heaven
Truth 3: The Holy Spirit speaks the words of Jesus and the Father (Matthew 10:20, John 14:26)

They really are all on the same team.

Myth 4: The Holy Spirit is mysterious and secretive – He’s hard to figure out
Truth 4: The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and revelation (John 16:14, Ephesians 1:17)

The Holy Spirit is in the business of making known to us the mystery of God’s will (Ephesians 1:9, Daniel 2:19, Romans 11:25). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide us, not into some truth, but into all truth (Jn 16:13). He is not the author of confusion – that would be the devil. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the One who helps us make sense out of all Jesus said and did and everything that is about to happen (John 16:13, MSG). He really is the most wonderful Guide. Keep in step with the Spirit and you’ll never put a foot wrong.

Myth 5: The Holy Spirit scares me
Truth 5: The Holy Spirit releases rivers of peace and joy (Romans 14:17)

The Holy Spirit is the most powerful Being in the universe and He is for you (Romans 8:31). Some translations call Him “The Friend” for He truly is the great Friend of sinners (leading them to Jesus) and saints (encouraging and guiding us). He never leaves us for He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus said the Spirit would be in us like a river (John 7:38). Just as a river needs to flow, so too does the Holy Spirit desire to flow out of you to refresh and bring life to others. One emotion which is consistently linked with the Holy Spirit is joy (Luke 10:21, Acts 13:52, 1 Thessalonians 1:6). If there is no joy in your walk, lean on the Holy Spirit. Believe that He is with you and in you to strengthen you with the Lord’s joy. If you are timid in your witness, understand that God has not given you a spirit of intimidation (2 Timothy 1:7). His kingdom is characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Myth 6: The Holy Spirit is in the background somewhere – I’m not sure what He’s up to
Truth 6: The Holy Spirit actively partners with us and empowers us to be bold witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:14, Acts 1:8)

In Greek the Holy Spirit is described as a paraclete (Johnn 16:7). The image is of a soldier who partners with us side-by-side in combat like Jonathan’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 14:7). And what a Powerful Partner He is! He never loses, He bears no scars, and His enemies have already been defeated! If you are saved then you already are acquainted with His work, for you could never have confessed Jesus as Lord without His help (1 Corinthians 12:3). (Have you ever thanked Him for that?) Many Christians know what it is to walk in the authority of Jesus’ Name, but they do not fully operate in the power of the Spirit. They’re like a cop with a badge but no gun. Jesus gave us authority (Luke 10:19) but said the Spirit would give us power (Acts 1:8). When the Spirit came on Saul in the Old Testament, the Bible says he was turned into another man who was empowered to do “whatever the occasion demands” (1 Samuel 10:6-7, NKJV). Similarly, in the new covenant the Spirit turns you into a new creation who is empowered to preach and demonstrate the gospel of the kingdom (1 Corinthians 2:4). This includes healing the sick, driving out demons, and raising the dead, as the occasion demands (Matthew 10:8). See Acts 3:11-16 for a picture of what this looks like.

Myth 7: The Holy Spirit leaves me speechless and anxious
Truth 7: The Holy Spirit gives you words to say so you need not worry (Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12)

Do you have an opportunity to speak but you’re stuck for words? Never fear for He is here! The gospel message is conveyed with words and wonders and the Holy Spirit provides them both. Trust Him – He’s really in you and with you! – and ask for His wisdom. He gives generously (James 1:5) and His wise words come pre-packaged with boldness (Acts 4:31).

Myth 8: The Holy Spirit is a euphemism for the warm fuzzies I experience in the mood music that follows the preaching
Truth 8: The Holy Spirit reinforces the preaching of the gospel with signs and wonders (Romans 15:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:5)

The modern church has diluted the role of the Holy Spirit to accommodate their limited experience of the supernatural. But Jesuspromised that “signs will accompany those who believe” (Mark 16:17). What miracles were attributed to the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? All of them! It’s the book of His acts. Every time the good news is preached, the Holy Spirit is looking to confirm the message with signs following. His ministry is revealed in a Show and Tell gospel. “With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose…” (Acts 4:8, MSG). Cool huh?

Myth 9: The Holy Spirit crushes me with impossible demands – He teaches me how to die daily
Truth 9: The Holy Spirit raises the dead, makes us new, gives life, warns us of dangers, and frees us from the burdens of religion (Romans 8:11, Titus 3:5, Acts 15:28, 20:23)

More covenant confusion! The ministry of the law brings death and condemnation, but the ministry of the Spirit brings life and righteousness (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). True, He’ll let us come to the end of ourselves so that we might learn to trust Him. But He loves you just the same whether you stay in the boat or dance on the water. He comforts, He doesn’t condemn. Jesus promised life in abundance (John 10:10). The Holy Spirit delivers on that promise by replacing fear with courage, weakness with strength, and death with resurrection life (Acts 4:8-13, 2 Corinthians 1:9, 12:10).

Myth 10: The Holy Spirit gives different groups different revelation which is why we have different denominations
Truth 10: The Holy Spirit baptizes us into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13)

There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all (Ephesians 4:4-6). We see the distinctions and call them “flavors,” but God sees one body with many members (Romans 12:5). God gives diverse gifts for a common purpose – that we might mature and reach true unity in the faith. Unity will happen when we believe exactly what the Son of God believes and know accurately what He knows concerning us (Ephesians 4:13). The Holy Spirit produces unity in the body, not division.

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Moved by the Spirit, Not Human Honey..

Leviticus 2:11
11 ‘No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the Lord made by fire.
 
 
Imagine yourself walking past the prodigal son sitting in the pigpen. (Luke 15:11–24) You look at him and see him salivating for the pigs’ food. Believing that it is good to show kindness, you give him money to buy food for himself.
 
That is human kindness which says, “I am a Christian. I should be kind, good and forgiving.” Such human sweetness or kindness may be likened to honey. Interestingly, while we elevate it, God tells His people not to bring Him a grain offering with honey in it.
 
The grain offering speaks of Jesus’ life on earth. Not mixing honey in the grain offering speaks of how the compassion and goodness we see in Jesus during His earthly ministry were all divine. There was no “honey” of human goodness that is tainted with human weakness.
 
In retrospect, the worst thing one could do for the prodigal son was to give him money when he was in the pigpen. Not only would he not have gone home, but what the Lord was doing in his heart would also have been spoiled. This is what happens when we go by the goodness of our human hearts instead of the goodness of God in our hearts, which is directed by His love, wisdom and perfect timing.
 
My friend, God does not want you to be moved by what you see but by His Spirit. There were many needy folks surrounding Jesus during His time on earth. But He did not heal every sick person around Him, feed every hungry stomach he passed or raise all who were dead. Isaiah 11:2–3 tells us that the Lord was not moved by what He saw or heard. He was moved only by the Spirit.
 
You too have the Spirit in you. (1 Corinthians 3:16) Be moved by Him. Follow the peace that He puts within your spirit to do or refrain from doing something. That peace is the peace of God. Acting on that peace will cause God to be exalted, and His divine goodness and kindness to really be a blessing to you and others!
 
 
Thought Of The Day
Don’t be moved by the honey of human kindness but by God’s spirit.

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God Is On Your Side Today!

Many believers are so caught up in looking to their own faith to save them and bring about blessings in their lives.  What they don’t realize is that it is not their faith that saves them.  It is His grace, His blood alone that saves them.  When you believe that it is the blood that saves you, God sees that as faith in the blood.  Yet, it is not your faith in the blood that protects, delivers, or saves you.  It is simply the blood alone that saves you.  Let me illustrate this truth with an enactment of what might have happened on the night before the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt.

On the night of the Passover, God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.”  Remember, there were nine plagues, but it wasn’t the plagues that delivered the Israelites out of Egypt.  It was the blood of the lamb.  After the nine plagues, Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened, so God finally used His trump card and only then did Pharaoh release the Israelites.

God’s trump Card was the blood of the lamb.  The devil has no defense against the blood.  You see, the Israelites firstborn children were protected not because they were good.  They were protected because of the blood of the lamb.  If the children of Israel had failed to apply the blood of the lamb to their doorposts, their firstborn children would not have been spared  —  they would have died along with the firstborn children of the Egyptians.  They were protected not because they were Jews either, but because of the blood of the lamb.  God did not say, “When I see your good family name, all your wonderful titles, or that you are a particular nationality, I will pass over you.”  No, it was based entirely on the blood of the lamb!  “When I see the blood…”

What does the blood of the lamb speak of?  It speaks of the blood of our sacrifice, Jesus Christ.  He is the true Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.  In the same way, today, God does not look at your good behavior, law-keeping, Christian heritage, or titles to bless you and keep you from all evil.  No, He looks at the blood of Jesus.  From the moment you received Jesus Christ, His blood covers you perfectly!

Now, let’s look at how two Jewish families might have spent the Passover night. 

In the first family, where both father and son are firstborn children, the son asks his father, “Daddy, did you put the blood on the doorposts?”

His daddy says, “Yes, son, I have done as Moses instructed.  But I really hope that I have enough faith in the blood.”

“Daddy, Daddy, do you have enough faith?”

“I don’t know,” the father shrugs helplessly.  “I really don’t know if I have enough faith in the blood!”

As they hear the screams and cries coming from the Egyptian houses, they hold each other tightly, trembling in fear throughout the night.

In the second family, another firstborn father and son are waiting to pass this significant night.  But in this household, both father and son are singing praises and worshiping God.

The father smiles at his son and says, “Son, we have done what God told us to do.  We have put the blood on the doorposts and lintel.  Now, we leave the rest to Him.  He will protect us.  We don’t have to fear.”

They too hear the heartrending screams and cries coming from the Egyptian houses, but they continue singing praises and worshiping God.

Now, let me ask you this:  Which family was delivered?  Which family was saved?  The answer is BOTH!  Both families were delivered because the angel of death saw the blood on their doorposts and passed over both households.  The first family therefore feared and suffered needlessly.  For the second family, it was neither their faith in the blood, nor their praising and worshiping God that saved them.  The blood alone saved them!  However, because they believed that the blood would save them, they did not worry and tremble in fear needlessly, but spent the night in rest, joy, and shalom peace.

When you believe that it is the blood that saves you, God sees that as faith in the blood.  Yet, it is not having faith in the blood that saves you.  It is the blood alone that saves you.  Stop wondering if you have enough faith and just believe that it is His blood that saves, delivers, and blesses you.  Believe that it is His blood alone, and not His blood plus your own works (your own faith), or His blood plus your keeping the commandments, that saves you.

If God is for us, who can be against us?   —   Romans 8:31

God is for you today because of the blood of the perfect Lamb – Jesus Christ.

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Understanding 1 John 1:9

Whenever we talk about the gospel of Grace, about the forgiveness of sins once for all, many people raised this question:

What about 1 John 1:9. which says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?”

This verse has always been misinterpreted by many churches. When we read the Bible, it’s very important that we read it in context of which each book is written. Before I go into the context of 1 John 1:9, let me establish first that you cannot build a doctrine based on one verse in the Bible. The teaching needs to be confirmed and established by various verses in the Bible before it can be sound.

Now, have you ever wondered why Paul, the apostle of God’s unmerited favour, the man who wrote over two-thirds of the New Covenant epistles, did not make the slightest mention of ‘confession of sins’ to all the churches he wrote to? Don’t take my word for it. Review all the letters that Paul worte: Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Paul wrote extensively to all these churches, and yet there was not one mention of the confession of sins in all his Spirit-inspired letters. Why was this so?

Paul has the perfect opportunity to teach the Corinthians to confess their sins of fornication when he wrote to them as they had clearly sinned. But what did Paul do instead? He said,

1 Corinthians 6:19 “… do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…?”

He did not say,”Do you not know that your body was the temple of the Holy Spirit? Now go confess your sins and restore your fellowship with God and perhaps He will put His Spirit back in you.” There was not even one mention that they had to confess their sins. Instead, Paul reminded them of their identity in Christ, and even in their failures, he maintained that their body is (note: present tense) still the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul apparently believed that to remind believers to be conscious of who they are and what they have in Christ continually is the key to victory over their sins.

If confession of sins is so important for the church, how could Paul have left it out in every one of his letters to the churches? If our forgiveness of sins is indeed contingent on our confession of sins, hasn’t he done us a great injustice by not including this teaching in any of his letters? Don’t you think that Paul, who loved the church, would have written about the confession of sins in every one of his letters, and given us detailed instructions on how to confess sins, if the confession of sins was truly necessary for us to experience forgiveness of our sins?

Now, all the Scripture was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Would God Himself have forgotten to include this teaching in all of Paul’s letters if the forgiveness of our sins was based on the effectiveness of our confession of sins? Of course not! Instead, we have clear and certain passages in all of Paul’s letters that state beyond the shadow of a doubt that all our sins are forgiven, and that our forgiveness of sins is “according to the riches of His grace”, and not by our works!

Now the questions you might ask in reference to 1 John 1:9 are these:

“Who was John’s audience? What was he trying to convey in this letter?”

Since Paul did not mention the confessions of sins in his letters, we are left with only one verse – 1 John 1:9 – that people have used for years to justify this teaching.

In school, when you were doing those “fill in the blanks” questions and you don’t seem to know the answers to those questions. My English teacher used to say this: “If you don’t know the answer, it really helps to understand the passage, not only you need to know what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, what is it intended for, with what circumstance, considering what goes before and what follows after”.

I said it before and I will say it again. When reading the Bible, always look at the context of the verses. Read everything in its context.

When you are reading chapter 1 of 1 John, one of the things that you need to be clear about is whom it was written to, Notice that in the first part of 1 John, there are no greetings to believers. If you look at Paul’s letters, you will see that it was common during those days for the author to greet believers when writing to them. For instance, Paul would write “To the saints who are in Ephesus”(Ephesians 1:1) or “To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints”. (1 Corinthians 1:2)

When you compare 1 John with the greetings found in 2 John and 3 John, you can see that John greets believers directly in the other two letter. In 2 John, he writes,

“… To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth… Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God…”(2 John 1:1-3)

and in 3 John, he writes,

“… To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things, and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:1-2)

In contrast, there are no greetings to believers in 1 John 1. Why is that? It is because John was not writing to believers in that chapter. He was addressing the Gnostics who had infiltrated the early church. Gnostics are heretics who do not believe in the existence of sin. That is why John wrote:

1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

John used the editorial “we” in his writing, but we know that this does not mean that he did not believe in the existence of sin. This passage was clearly written to the unbelieving Gnostics to encourage them to stop their denial of sin, acknowledge the truth that sin exists and acknowledge that they have sinned. It was written to bring them to the realisation that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

John was preaching the gospel to the Gnostics and telling them that if they confessed their sins, God would be faithful and just to forgive them their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. That is why at the beginning of 1 John, John said:

“… that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

John was clearly preaching to non-believers (in this case, the Gnostics) about Jesus and His finished work, and inviting them to fellowship in Christ with the other believers in the early church.

With this context in mind, it becomes clear that 1 John 1:9 was not written to believers. This verse is reference to the prayer that a sinner prays to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour. If you are a believer, it means that you have already prayed that prayer. Now, let me ask you this: How often do you have to pray the sinner’s prayer? Only once! You are “born again” only once! You cannot be born again and again.

In the same way, how often do you have to confess you sins for Jesus to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness? Only once! In that very instance when you prayed the sinner’s prayer, all the sins that you would commit for your entire life were forgiven once for all. You received the full redemptive work of Jesus on the cross into your life, and all His blessings. His favour, His health and His success became yours! You do not need to confess your sins again and again to be forgiven. You are already forgiven! Today, you can be honest with your Father about your mistakes and failures, knowing that He loves you and has already forgiven you. You don’t confess your sins to Him in order to be forgiven.

While 1 John 1 was written to the Gnostics, John directs his attention to believers in Chapter 2. It becomes immediately clear that he is talking to believers once the chapter begins he writes:

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

Right after John addresses to the believers, he states clearly that if anyone of us sins, we have an Advocate with the Father! Notice there is no mention of confession of sins at all. This is the same John who wrote 1 John 1:9, which has been wrongly misinterpreted to teach believers that they have to confess all their sins and to keep short accounts with the Lord to have fellowship with Him.

No, when we as believers fail today, our Advocate fights for us. Our Advocate shows any accuser His nailed-pierced hands as a receipt for the payment that He made for our sins at the cross. Whenever we fail today, there is no power in confessing our sins, but there is power in confessing our righteousness in Christ, our identity in Christ and our unmerited favour in Christ!

Furthermore, in verse 12 of the same chapter, John states:

“I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

 Here, John takes it for granted your forgiveness of sins without confession. It would be a strange double-talk for John to write 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 2:12 both to believers.

Instead of being sin-conscious, become righteousness-conscious, and receive the power of God to step out of that sin that seems to have a grip on you. Receive the power and wisdom of God to turn around any failure in your life. Sin-consciousness will make you depressed and keep you in a cycle of sin even when the unmerited favour of God is on your side. Every time you search your heart for sin and failings, guess what? You will find something! Instead of looking at your own failures, turn away from yourself and look at Jesus. Look at His heart of love and His forgiveness towards you. When you know, that you do not deserve His grace, and yet receive it, how can you help but be transformed? How can you help but want to worship Him?

Jesus wants you to have no more consciousness of your sins. Instead, He wants you to have a consciousness of your righteousness in Him. The more you are conscious of your righteous identity in Him, the more you are transformed by His unmerited favour, the more the desire to sin dissipates and the more you become a true worshiper. Believers who know that their entire life of sins is forgiven by the blood of Jesus won’t want to run out there and sin like the devil. Instead, they become true worshipers of Jesus with hearts purified by His blood and having no more consciousness of sins! (Hebrews 10:2)

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Your Problem Must Bow To Jesus’ Name

Whatever is troubling you, if it has a name, it must bow to the name of Jesus! Cancer must bow to the name of Jesus. Poverty must bow. Shame must bow. The Bible tells us that God has highly exalted Jesus and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow!

That is exactly what happened when a severely demon-possessed man saw Jesus. The demons in him — called Legion for there were many of them — not only begged Jesus not to torment them, but they also fled when Jesus commanded them to go. The man was left whole, healed and in his right mind. (Luke 8:26–35)

If your child is sick, lay hands on him and say, “In Jesus’ name, cough, stop. Fever, go in Jesus’ name. Health flows in your body in Jesus’ name!” If there is strife and confusion at home, deal with it the same way. I have used the name of Jesus as I prayed for a couple who were quarrelling in a food center. It was amazing. All the strife between them seemed to melt away and they started to talk calmly after that.

That is the power of the name of Jesus because that is the name of the one who died for you, who rose again and today is at the right hand of God, for you! That is the name which is above every name, and at which every knee must and will bow!

Philippians 2:10 … at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

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Balancing Grace with Law?

The first question I want to ask you is this: Is it okay to take something less than pure?

Today, most believers tend to “jump” between covenants. If they feel they are not worthy, feeling very lousy, they go back to the Old Covenant and obey the Law in order to please God. If they are in a good mood, they put themselves back in the New Covenant, the grace of God. Let me tell you this: WE CANNOT JUST PICK WHAT WE LIKE FOR ANOTHER COVENANT!

When Jesus died, He brought an end to the Old Covenant and that marked the beginning of the New Covenant. When we accepted Jesus as our Lord, we become part of the New Covenant. We are already under Jesus’ will and testament in the New Covenant. We cannot take bits and pieces and pollute the New Covenant.

Need for balance?

I’m sure you heard the following statements (made by believers) before:

“Preaching pure Grace leads to a careless life.”
“Taking the Law off gives people a license to sin.”

The reason that believers would come up with such statements is that they think that there are some Christians who are discipline and mature enough and that they don’t sin but there are some younger, new or “weaker” Christians that may sin and they need to learn certain aspects of the Law.

Concern: “Weaker” Christians do not have “maturity” to handle such freedom.

Therefore need to “balance” Grace with Law to warn against the perils of sinning.

They think that they need to come up with rules and regulations in their lives but they forget that we have been delivered from the Law and the Spirit of the Lord lives in us in which He leads and guides us.

Grace Brings About Godliness

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. (Titus 2:12)

What is it that teaches us and for what?

The grace of God, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly. (I will be repeating this sentence quite often to show EMPHASIS)

When people talk like that (previous statements in ‘Need for Balance?’), they forget what the Bible says. The Bible never says that the grace of God will leas us to sin. The Bible says that the grace of God will teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust and to live soberly, righteously, and godly. So you want to listen what other people say or what the word of God say?

Sometimes we also forget that the Holy Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit reminds us of our right standing before God. The Holy Spirit has come to convict us for our righteousness in Him! When you know that you are holy and clean, you don’t want to go near unholy things.

The Holy Spirit completes the transforming work in the life of a believer. (Philippians 1:6) So don’t be fooled by what people says around us. Go back to the Scriptures! It is the grace of God that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and because of the teaching of the grace of God that we may be able to live soberly, righteously, and godly in our life in this present age!

Why Cannot Mix?

Grace is unbalanceable! The moment you balance grace with human works or human responsibility, it stops being grace.

What is grace?

Grace is the unmerited favour and it is not something that you do. You cannot balance unmerited favour with merited favour. 

It is only by the finished work of Jesus and that’s all! Otherwise, it is my works trying to finish the finished work of Jesus. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

New Wine and New Wineskins

Matthew 9:14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

John the Baptist was known as the last prophet of the Old Covenant.

Jesus’ disciples were just not measuring up: Why are they not doing what religious people do?

Implication: “We keep the rules and are therefore righteous, so why don’t You and Your disciples keep the rules?”

Jesus’ time with His disciples: like a wedding. He’s the bridegroom, and they are the guests.

When the bridegroom is there, we don’t talking about fasting. It is a time of joy and celebration, isn’t it? It’s really ludicrous to go to a wedding dinner and fast! What Jesus was telling them was:

“Hey, you don’t recognise who is in your midst. I am in your midst. The Son of God, the Saviour of the world. the One who would die for the sins of the world and the One that causes you to be righteous forever by the shedding of My Blood. You don’t recognise that I am in your midst. And when I am in your midst, you don’t have to fast for your righteousness.”

He thus spotlights the One they are trying to discredit, who is breaking their precious rules.

Matthew 9:16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.

You cannot repair the old, damaged garment by simply adding the new, unfinished cloth to it – result would be something even more damaging. The new piece of cloth will shrink and that will cause a bigger tear to the whole piece of cloth.

New, unfinished cloth = His plan of salvation by grace

Old, torn garment = condition of Judaism distorted to produce their own self-righteousness.

The Lord gave them the Law to the Israelites but over the years, the Pharisees in their eagerness to show their zeal and at the same time, unable to keep up with the Law and distorted it so much si that now there so many glaring holes in that garment now. And that if they cover it with the New Covenant then that doesn’t work. God is doing a new thing in Jesus. The New Covenant is not the Old Covenant patched.

Matthew 9:17 Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

The old is still incompatible with the new.

Now you begin to understand why people are so afraid of the teaching of grace. It is because it is the new wine. It would destroy and burst the old wineskin. It would destroy all the concepts of praying.

Some people say:

“You must pray very hard, then God can hear you.”

If we adopt this, then we are no different than any other religious system in the world.

Others say:

“You need to fast so that God can hear you.”

There’s nothing wrong about fasting. If the Lord ask you to fast, by all means go ahead. But if you fast in oder to gain favour from the Lord and to enable the Lord to hear you then you are still in the old wineskin.

The new wine of the gospel of grace would destroy those trapped in their rigid, religious ways. The new wine can only be contained in the new wineskin of the Church, a grace-based community.

Luke 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’

Not that the old is better, but that people think the old is better.

Why do they want to go back to the old wineskin?

The old wine gives you comfort. There’s so many rules. You must wake up in the morning, pray and after that, read the Bible. There are rules to govern you. You feel safe within the rules and that’s why they want to go back and said that the “old is better.” Warning: do not resist change, overvalue the old or find false security in it.

“old” = palaios = something whose time has passed, lost its usefulness or is worn out.

As far as our standing before the Lord is concerned, we know that in the old wineskin, we can never attain the righteousness that qualifies us to stand uncondemned without guilt before the Father. The Old Covenant had lost its usefulness.

Galatians: Example of Mixture

What happened to the churches in Galatia?

– Influenced by Judaistic legalism.

– Added to the New Covenant’s gospel of Grace the practices of the Law of the Old Covenant (Circumcision – to put yourself under the Law)

– Adopted a practice of observing the days, months, times, and years.

– Growth process was stopped and Christ was not “formed in them”.

As a result, works of the flesh predominant instead of the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatianism = mixture of covenants.

The intermingling of teachings about God that contain part grace, part law. From Paul’s severe tone in the epistle, this was very serious issue for him.

Paul’s views:

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel —7 which is really no gospel at all. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! So now I say this again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

The Galatians did not even make a stand against the Judaistic legalism. Paul said clearly it is really NO GOSPEL AT ALL!! Paul pronounced a double curse on those who preached a different gospel. There is only one gospel. The gospel is Jesus who died for our sins.

Hebrews 10:10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

There are many people who wanted to be an associate saviour but there is only one Saviour of the world. In the same way, we all tend to add or contribute a little bit more to the gospel. But the gospel is so simple. There is only one Saviour of the world and His name is Jesus!

Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Gal 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God —or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?

Galatians 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will  never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”

Paul took an example of Abraham’s time.

Abraham, by his own effort, bore a son named Ishmael, a slave woman’s son. He also had a son named Isaac, the son of promise, The two sons cannot stay together. The instruction that was given  to Abraham was to get rid of the slave woman and her son. You cannot live by Grace and by the Law.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Christ died for us to set us free from the fact that we need external restrain on our lives instead of living by the Spirit in us. We don’t need a cage to stop us anymore. We can choose not to go beyond because of the Spirit of God in us.

Galatians 5:13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.

Many of those who tell us that you need to obey the Law and do this and do that to be more holy and sanctified and so on. They themselves are not there yet!

Today we are also facing the same pressure like what the Galatians faced:

“Yes, you are saved by grace, but now you have to start living a holy life by keeping the Law.”

The same thing when John the Baptist’s disciples and the Pharisees were always trying to point out to Jesus. Sometimes we come up with good intentions. Because of their lack of understanding, it may come up with good intentions. They really want you to be more holy but they are choosing the WRONG way, the WRONG method and the WRONG path.

You are going back to the Law again. What is the Old Covenant?

Obey and expect to be blessed. Fall short and fail, there is guilt, condemnation and expectation of punishment.

What is the New Covenant?

It is not because of our obedience but because He obeyed. Jesus obeyed and He took the pain. Because He took the pain, we don’t take the pain anymore. Jesus took the curse and became the curse so that today we won’t be cursed. We will be blessed instead!

What man calls balance, God calls mixture.

To God, wrong believing is far worse than wrong behaviour! Right believing always leads to right living.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

If we know who are in Christ, that we will affect how we behave sooner or later. If your spirit is clean inside you, sooner or later, your spirit will influence the way you think. It will influence the way you act. The Bible says:

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...

How does your mind renew?

If you believe you are not right and you try to make yourself right, you will never be right. If you think you are not completely right because of what Jesus has done for you, that you need to add something to it, then you will never be right.

Laodicea and Lukewarmness [With reference from Paul-ine Theologian (hischarisisenough.wordpress.com)]

Revelations 3:15-16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Lukewarmness = apathy or lack of zeal?

– Better to be on fire for God or coldly opposed to Him than be halfhearted in the middle.

Three problems with interpreting this verse in terms of zeal:

1) Zeal is subjective

What is hot to you may be lukewarm to someone else.

2) Zeal implies God’s acceptance of us is based on our performance

– Things we should do, or rather things we aren’t doing enough of.

Performing to be acceptable to God = self-righteousness in disguise.

Defining lukewarmness in terms of performance implies some middle ground when it comes to our acceptance. But there is no middle ground.

3) Jesus says we’re better off cold

Jesus said either hot or cold is good. If referring to enthusiasm, why would He say it’s better to have none than have some?

Lukewarmness is not about human zeal.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.”

Something they were doing made them lukewarm and unacceptable. What was it? Lukewarmness is about mixing some things. Two good things in the Bible that, if mixed, ends up bad: law and grace.

The grace of God is good, but what about the law?

Romans 7:12 “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”

The law is good because it leads us to Christ that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). It shows that we can never be qualified because of the Law. The law has no power to make you righteous and good, but it will reveal your need for a Saviour, Jesus Christ.

How do you dilute the power of the law? 

By lowering God’s holy standards to attainable levels of human performance. The Pharisees are very good in that. Jesus exposed them completely through the Sermon of the Mount. The Pharisees brought the standards down. Example: On the Sabbath, you cannot do work. But when they want to do work, they make another law so that they could do work and therefore circumvent the law.

How do you negate the unmerited favor of God?

By trying to earn it through observing the commandments and other acts self-righteousness. When we mix the two covenants, we are bringing both of it to destruction. That is why Jesus said if you out new wine into old wineskin, it will destroy both of them.

Laodicea’s problem:

Not complacency, but trying to attain through human effort that which only God can do. The problem was far more serious than a poor attitude. They were trying to make themselves righteous. They negated what Jesus has done on the cross.

God never makes us sick but it’s possible for people to make Him feel sick! Jesus said the Laodicean church’s lukewarmness made Him nauseous:

Revelations 3:16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Grace + Law = a toxic mixture far more poisonous than the Law on its own.

It leaves us burdened with guilt and shame in our attempts to please God.

Legalism = any belief that any part of salvation is based on anything other than the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Mixture (legalism + grace) = anything extra to be more saved, holier, fit for the kingdom or entitled to inheritance and reward of grace.

Only Christ’s righteousness entitles us to salvation and our inheritance.

1 Corinthians 1:30 It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God —that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.