Tag Archive | Law

Everything I once held dear

So, now that I have a newborn son I’ve found that my concept of “morning” and “evening” are getting somewhat skewed. I wanted to start this blog by saying, “This morning while I was spending some time with God and holding my son…” Only to realize that what I thought was morning was actually 1pm. Things are getting weird around here! Little Isaac is bent on making midnight his bedtime for now. Thankfully Tuesdays are one of the few days where I can sleep in.

…This afternoon while I was spending some time with God and holding my son, the song, “Lead me to the cross” came to mind (by Brooke Fraser of Hillsong). I have found it a valuable practice not to consider such “random” songs as distractions during my quiet time, but instead assume that the Holy Spirit is at work and that I should flow with what He’s doing. I have found spontaneous, private and acapella worship has added much to my fellowship with God.

One line in particular stuck out to me in this song:

Everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss…

 

Click here to listen to the whole song.

If you are unaware, this is taken from a verse in scripture. Phil 3:8

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

I have had this impression that this verse is often translated and applied like this:

My past life that I thought was awesome (you know, drinking, sleeping around, drugs, violence, and killing puppies) I now consider lame when I compare it to being in relationship with Jesus.

We want to make sure everyone knows that life with Jesus is SO much better than the life of sin we lived before He destroyed our sin nature (Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24) and breathed His own nature into us (John 20:22, Romans 8:9). Unfortunately that’s not what Paul was actually talking about here.

The apostle Paul was not comparing a life reeking of sin against a life with Christ, no he was actually comparing a life of religious piety to life with Jesus! Check it out:

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised (a religious ritual thought to make you right with God) to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! Philippians 3:2-4

Paul was one of the most “Christian” people of his time. He followed all the rules, went to “church” all the time, fasted on a weekly basis, memorized tons of scripture and did everything “right.” He was required to be ceremonially clean and could not participate in “sin.” Let’s not forget that this life of apparent self-righteousness was the very life that Paul said he now considered a loss. Loss = negative, in the red and anti-productive.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. Philippians 3:7-10

Our hope is built on nothing else. Not our righteous Biblically-based laws, not our abstaining from sin, not our ability to figure it out and get everything right. Our hope is built on a belief that God can be trusted. We need to believe in the promises God has made and live as if they are true. Every amount of human effort is worthless. In fact, Paul says that the human effort of law-following had to first be discarded as garbage before he could gain Christ! This is so different that what many of us have been taught.

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Putting our Country Under a Curse

I hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about the coming judgment of God on the Nation if we don’t repent from our evil ways and turn back to God. I hear a lot of voices saying that this election is about biblical principles and godly values. I hear believers all over the place saying that this is the most important election in our life times because this or that candidate is standing in opposition to God’s laws.

Who is “we”?

When people say that “we” need to repent from our evil ways and turn back to God, who are they talking about? Every single person in America who is in sin, or just those who are deep in the extra-bad sins? Like what? Like sex traffickers? Those who abduct, rape, use, violate, and throw away precious young and old throughout our country? Not according to all the “prophetic” evangelical voices out there. Judgement is coming because of homosexual unions.

So, if everyone homosexual in the country repents and turns from their evil ways, the God’s judgement won’t come on the nation? Well, no, because we also have the issue of life being stuffed out legally and unchallenged in the country. What do you mean? Like “legal” foreign wars that aren’t approved by congress and have to be technically labels as conflicts because, according to our own laws, we can’t go to war without congress’s approval? Do you mean all those people who are being killed my our military? No? Oh, you mean legally killing people in the prisons through our justice system? No, that’s justified killing. It’s justified because it either is considered justice to kill those who kill us or because other people need to be scared into behaving properly. No, judgement is coming on the nation because we’re aborting babies in the womb.

So, the conclusion is that if homosexuals and those who are getting abortions would humble themselves and turn from their evil ways, God would heal our land.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (bold-ifying mine)

God’s law

Apparently we are in trouble as a country because our leaders are not very good at upholding godly values and honoring God’s laws in the way we do business as a country. If our political leaders would just do a better job enforcing godly laws and principles, then we would be doing okay.

  1. God’s law doesn’t create righteousness.
    You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. Colossians 2:20-23
  2. God’s law gives sin life.
    But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. Romans 7:8-11
  3. All who life under the law are cursed.
    But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” Galatians 3:10
  4. Anyone trying to live under the law is guilty of it all if they fail on one point.
    For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.”So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free (not the law that bring condemnation – 2 Cor 3:9). There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. James 2:10-13 (Bold-ifying and additional commentary mine)

The curse of those in authority

People in authority have a special position to bless or curse with their words. We see with with Jacob crossing his arms to bless the younger of Joseph’s two sons over the older one (Gen 48). We see it with Malchizedek blessing Abram (Gen. 14 & Hebrews 7) The more authority someone has, the more power their words have in the spiritual realm to ignite a shift in the heavens.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1:19-23 (Bold-ifying mine)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:12-14 (Bold-ifying mine)

What if, we, as people who carry the name and authority of Jesus, have more authority and power than any ruler or power on this earth? As such, what if our words have a ridiculous ability to bless or curse?

Since the church has been given the right to speak in Jesus’ name and Jesus’ name has authority over everything, how are we using that authority to speak over our country?

Speaking the law

So, we have seen that God’s law is a curse on everyone who lives under it because it empowers sin to utterly sinful, which means that they will, without question, break the law, which will result in all the curses of Deut 28. We have also seen that those in authority have a significant amount of power behind their words and that the church has the most supreme authority on earth far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that has ever been named when we use the name of Jesus Christ.

Now, consider what a large majority of the church is saying about this election. “We need to better follow God’s law”, “We need to stand and vote for “biblical” principles.” Most of those biblical principles that people are talking about are simply a desire to return America to live under the law.

Now, the Law hasn’t been abolished, but it has been accomplished. People who live under the law continue to live under the curse of Deut. 28 because the law is still in effect (Matt 5:17). The only solution that the church is offering in the election season and political discussion is for America to better follow the law! But, we can see in Romans 7 that enforcing the law actually brings spiritual death! We are killing the spiritual future of our country by insisting that it follow God’s law. We think we are protecting America, but, as the people of ultimate authority, we are actually killing it! We are the ultimate wolves who think we are the ultimate sheep.

Why does it matter what the church says? Because our words have more power to shift things in the heavens than any other voice in heaven or on earth because we carry the authority of Christ. If all this is true, we have been deceived and are using our ultimate authority to destroy our country’s spiritual condition. This is, hands down, from the enemy. He has usurped the church’s authority and coerced us to speak the curse of the law over our land and our people.

Solutions

If there is judgement coming on our nation is not because the world is being so worldly. It’s because the church is living in sin. “My people who have been called by My name…” Well, the church‘s sin is nothing compared to the nation’s sin! Not true. We have no excuse for any sin. Read 1 John 3. We are no longer defined as sinners, we who have received the circumcision of the heart which is the removing of the sinful nature. (Col 2:11-12) For more info on this topic, check out my other blog Struggle with Sin?

Well, what kind of sins are in the church? How about the worship of the heathen god of entertainment whom we pay our weekly and monthly tithes and offerings to while we suddenly start showing “good stewardship” when it comes to giving to the poor and tithing to our churches; analyzing and critiquing every detail of how every dollar is spent until we feel justified in not giving.

The church needs to humble itself and realize that all the crap we’re in might reflect more on us than “those sinners” out there. The church needs to spend more time praying. Seriously. I’m not talking about your morning two-minute devotion time. Ask Father how much time you should be spending in prayer for something outside of your direct circumstances. And the church, as a whole, needs to break free from the patterns of this world and turn from evil. If that required us to perfectly uphold the law it would include our abomination of the sanctity of marriage (50% divorce rate in the church), our other forms of sexual immorality like pornography, soft porn (TV commercials that we willing subject ourselves to), allowing brothers and sisters in Christ to suffer hunger and death while we live in our 3-bed 1-bath mansions, and our condoning the killing of sons and daughters of God (in the Acts 17:29 sense) because they don’t agree with our democratic/religious stances or they “threaten” our luxury (Iraq, Afghanistan, and future wars with Iran).

In the end, the solution for our country’s woes is not in placing it (or the church) back under God’s law, it is in turning the hearts of men and women to the source that frees us from God’s law by accomplishing it for us. Jesus Christ.

The issue is not that we, as a country, are breaking God’s laws, the issue is how we have suggested we solve that problem. The majority of what I hear from the religious community is that we need to do better at following God’s law. This was never Jesus’ solution because it has never been a possibility. It’s an impossible standard that results in a curse.

I say, “In Jesus name, let America live under grace. Let our sins be forgiven. Let our iniquities be removed and forgotten. Let the grace of Christ reign over this nation, not the wrath of the law. I ask, Father, that you would release our country from your Law and the curses that would follow. Show us unmerited favor in the finished work of Christ. Also, let the church awaken to our own idolatry and turn from our evil ways, turning fully to Christ and living as a follower of His ways. Let the church be forgiven and live under grace. Let her iniquities be removed and forgotten. Heal our land.”

Politics

So, how do we vote then? The government obviously has a role to play on earth. “They have been sent to punish those who do wrong and honor those who do right.” 1 Peter 2:13 (also see Romans 13). So, you should vote according to however you think the government would be able to better accomplish that role.

You don’t have to agree with me. I welcome your comments and thoughts if you promise to keep it civil and add to the discussion instead of name called and bashing other’s opinions.

Struggle with sin?

This is controversial. That’s your warning.

A few years ago I was reading through Romans in a very short period of time. I had never read it so quickly like that before. Something struck me as I got to chapter 7 that made me wonder if I was thinking heretical thoughts. What if, in Paul’s famous, “I do what I do not want to do” passage, he wasn’t talking about his struggle with sin as a Christian, but his struggle with the law as a Pharisee? Honestly, I kept this to myself for a good while since I was sure that I was either way off base or, at the very least, I would offend someone’s theology.

This is the way this passage has been taught to me all my growing-up years: “You’re always going to struggle with sin just like Paul did because of your sin nature. So, even though you may want to do right, you can’t, you’re just going to be naturally inclined to sin forever until you die.” I’m sure many of you who are reading this have been taught the same way.

Let me propose a new perspective.

Chapter 7 starts off by talking about how laws only have a hold on someone until death. This is the, “till death do us part” that Paul is talking about in regards to marriage. If you’re married to someone and they die, you are free to remarry without becoming an adulterer.

Then Paul continues, wanting to clarify that, although the Law highlights sin, it, in its self, is not evil. It just gives the opportunity for sin to show is total sin-ness. The Law invites sin to show its head so that it can be exposed, bringing the evil into the light.

Now, I’m no Greek scholar, but up until this point Paul is talking past-tense in all the translations I have been looking at. In verse 14, when he starts his “do what I do not want to do” craziness, he switches to present tense. So, of course, Paul is talking about himself, now, as a Christian. Right? Remember, he is talking about how the law and sin operate, hand in hand, to expose sin. He is still on the same subject and hasn’t switched topics. Now, he is simply giving an example to illustrate his point of what it looks like to empower sin by living under the law. He uses himself as that example.

In verse 14 he says, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” This is the message that has been preached in the church for many generations. “You are a slave to sin.” Wait a minute… Can we back up for a second?

Chapter 6 verse 6.

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Bold-ifying mine)

So, which is it, Paul? Are we slave to sin or aren’t we? What are you talking about?

Romans 6 verse 14.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6 verses 17 & 18.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6 verse 20.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Romans 6 verse 22.

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

How can we say that Paul is talking about his current condition as a believer?

Now, back to chapter 7 and our passage in question. Verse 16 says, “But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.” Here he is again adding to the example of the partnership between sin and the Law. Is he really applying the law to himself, as a believer, if a few verses earlier (verse 6) he said, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”

Finally, Paul brings this all to a head when he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” He voices the frustration of trying to live under the law, and being unable to fulfill it and only empowering the sin to raise up within himself (Chapter 7:8-11). The more he tries to follow the law, the more sin is given opportunity to kill him. He is recognizing that he is powerless to fix himself and powerless to try harder to make things better. This very much sounds like the frustration of a Pharisee, living under the strictest laws and rules. This does not sound like someone under grace and free from the law, as he has clearly stated is the stance of all believers in Christ.

What is his solution then? Is freedom from the slavery of sin and the law found when we finally die and go to heaven? It is found when Jesus returns to earth? Is it found when he “raptures” us away so that we don’t have to deal with the crap around us anymore?

No, the solution has already come. Romans 8 verses 1 through 4.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

I want you to realize that many translations take the word “flesh” here and translate it as “sinful nature.” This, I believe, is where our modern-day idea of this Christian sinful nature has come into play. Whether the word is flesh or sin nature, it doesn’t matter, because we no longer live under that body of death.

Romans 8 verse 9.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

I contend that with all of this, it is not possible that Paul was talking about a Christian struggling with a sin nature, but rather a Pharisee struggling with the Law.

So, what’s the point? Romans 8 verses 14 throught 17

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

You, if you have accepted Christ as Lord and savior, have been adopted. You are no longer a sinner, you are a son or a daughter of Abba. As such, we have an inheritance. Our expectation for the future is not a continuous sin struggle, it is suffering like Christ suffered for the lost and lowly and it is an expectation of glory.

Your past was sin. Your present is self-sacrificial love (and you can still choose to sin if you want to). Your future is glory.

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