Archive for the ‘Biblical insight’ Category

While focusing too much on the enemy of our souls can become unhealthy, there is a need to know how the enemy operates. Starting in Ephesians 6 we read where the enemy isn’t flesh and blood. It seems I can never hear this enough because it is so easy to be fooled into thinking family members, church members, co-workers etc. are the ones we are fighting but that is far from the truth.

Since the beginning Satan has used basically the same four things to attack God’s people and today he’s going to be exposed. His first strike at Eve in the Garden was to inject doubt into her mind about what God had said. He said to her, “Has God said…” So you see right at this moment is when Eve had to make a choice. But the enemy added a bit more to convince her to follow him when he said, “You surely will not die!” So he injected her mind with doubt and then he made what God had said sound as if it was unreasonable. Then he hit her with one final blow by telling her if she ate of the forbidden fruit her eyes would be opened and she would actually become “like” God. So we see that doubt was his first shot which lead to full on deception eventually ending with Adam and Eve hiding in fear of God because they believed a lie about who He is.

As soon as Adam ate of the forbidden tree they saw they were naked and ran to hide themselves. You see up until then their relationship with God was built on trusting Him to be a loving, caring, wonderful God but once disobedience took place their view of Him changed. This I have found is huge when it comes to understanding the enemy’s strategy. He wants to cast dispersion on God’s character. If he can get us to see God as a mean tyrant in the sky we will never find reconciliation because we will remain aloof and in fear.

We have already seen doubt is the enemy’s first punch which leads to deception. Once we are deceived and we have partook of the devil’s lie we discover he turns on us. He tempts us toward something off limits for us, gets us to agree with him and suddenly he turns on us and accuses us. He starts to tear down our identity by telling us things like—you are a fool!, you’ll never do any better!, you’ve gone too far this time!, God will never forgive you for this one! Do you see? He’s like a bully who persuades you into some disobedience and then runs away leaving you to hold the bag.

In John 8 we see Jesus dealing with the enemy as he even operated through the religious leaders of the day. Jesus announced “the truth will make you free” and the religious Jews became upset saying, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You will become free?” Right away we can see they had been deceived because the story of the Jews as told in their very own scriptures is filled with the telling of Israel (Abraham’s descendants) being slaves in Egypt for over 400 years yet they claim they’ve never been enslaved to anyone. Obviously this deception ran deep.

As Jesus’ conversation with these guys continued He told them, “If Abraham was your father you would act like him but instead you’re wanting to kill me.” They could not receive Jesus’ word because they were being used by the enemy which was their father. Jesus told them they were “of their father the devil and they were doing his lusts.” He said, he was “the father of lies” so when they heard the truth they simply couldn’t receive it. Jesus clearly understood the people standing in front of Him were not the enemy but were in fact being operated by him. This is what we are called to do. We are called to fight the true enemy by seeing through those he operates in and understanding how to combat him.

My friend Sylvia Pearce says, “Don’t try to untangle the lie rather speak the truth and let the lie untangle itself.” I thought this was excellent advice because when you attempt to untangle every little detail of the lie confusion will set in and there is nothing better to clear things up than the truth. The conclusion Jesus came to in John 8 was “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” This may sound harsh but Jesus does have a way of getting to the point doesn’t He?

While there are many places we could turn to see how the real enemy operates let me show you just one more. In Revelation 12:10 we read where the devil is called “the accuser of the brethren.” So accusation is one more weapon in his arsenal we need to be aware of. In other words when we are being accused it isn’t God. You see God wants restoration with us therefore He has done all there is to do in order for that to happen meanwhile the enemy wants us to stay on the outs with God so he throws everything he can at us to keep us separated from Him.

Let’s do a quick review. The enemy’s tactics are to cast doubt about God’s word and character. He uses deception because he’s the father of lies. He accuses us before the Father in an attempt to cause division. One last thing I failed to mention and that is he loves to condemn us. The good news though is “there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ!” You see Christ took all of what the devil could throw at Him, died and rose again in order for us to be truly free from any bondage we used to live in. This is why the enemy’s tactics are only doubt, deception, accusation and condemnation because the best he can do is to get us to stop believing the truth about what God has done for us in His One and Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. The only thing that stops Christ is our unbelief!

Louie

I wonder what the average person would say when asked, “What is sin?” I think many would say it means missing the mark or breaking the law. Both of these may be good definitions but let’s look a bit closer at what breaking the law really means.

The Bible tells us “God is love” and He gave us the Ten Commandments which are really just a written out version of who He is which is love. Jesus himself said, when asked which commandment was the greatest, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Now that we know the law is love we might need a working definition of love don’t you think?

God’s character, which is defined as love, is always for others. Love as defined by God is sacrificial by nature and will always go the whole way for those He loves. Hence we have been given that most famous of verses, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). You see love is for others even if it means the ultimate sacrifice.

Okay so now we’re getting somewhere. If God is love and the Law is love, which is always for others, then sin which is broken law must be categorized as being selfish or being for ones self, right? So, if God is love and sin is for itself then could it be said that “Sin” is a person? Let’s think about this for a minute. God is love which is for others and breaking this law is sin then it means someone is being selfish which breaks the law of other-love.

In the old, old story of Cain and Able found in Genesis, God speaks to Cain saying, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” Genesis 4:7 NASB). Then in Romans 7 we read, “But sin, taking opportunity…produced…deceived me…dwells in me.” The Apostle Paul said, “If I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:20 NASB). So we have sin crouching, desiring, taking opportunity, producing, deceiving and dwelling in me. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a person to me.

Someone might say, “If sin is a person who might it be?” I’m glad you asked. I would say start by looking in Isaiah 14:13-14 where we read about Lucifer’s fall. It reads, “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God…I will make myself like the Most High.” So the original “sinner”, if you will, is described right here as being all about exalting himself above God and making himself like God. You see this is the root of that self-for-self nature which is also known as sin. We might even call Satan “Mr. Sin” himself.

In Ephesians 2:1-3 we discover all of us used to “walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Just like Cain, “Sin” crouches at our door and desires to have us, but thank God Jesus Christ has provided deliverance from sin if we would only receive Him.

We have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and been joined to Mr. Sin himself. Since the fall of Man in the Garden, everyone is born walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is working in the sons of disobedience. You see “Mr. Sin” took up residence within mankind, but he’s the father of lies so he’s done a pretty good job of hiding it from us. In fact most just think they’re independently making their own decisions when according to the Bible we have all at one time or the other really been doing the “lusts of our Father the Devil” (John 8:44).

In summary let me say, God is love and everything came out from Him so everything is designed to love and be loved. Lucifer, attempting to be his own god, exalted himself, found himself cast down, manipulated our forefathers into joining him in his folly and even now lives his self-for-self life through fallen man. Of course God knew the depth of our deception so He gave us His Law, or the written version of “Love God and others” so we might learn we couldn’t keep it. Upon discovering we can’t obey this perfect law of love, we cry out to Him and He delivers us. Just as Paul said when he finally came to the end of his trying to keep the commandments in his flesh. He said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 NASB).

The good news is now we see that on our own we cannot keep God’s love commandments but we also discover He always knew that and never expected us to. You see His plan all along was to live in us and live out His love-for-others life through us. “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” (Romans 8:3-4). So Mr. Sin has been condemned and replaced by Mr. Righteousness. The requirement of the Law of loving others is fulfilled, now that God Himself has moved in and lives His very own self-for-others life through us.

Louie

Isn’t it interesting how the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians “each man must be careful how he builds” on the foundation which is Christ? He told the Corinthians they were God’s building and Christ was the foundation but they should be careful how they build because the materials were either gold, silver and precious stones or they were wood, hay and stubble. At first glance this may look as if Paul is telling us to examine ourselves to be sure of what materials we are building with but as you read a bit further he also tells them “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise….The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”

As you read the first part of 1 Corinthians 4 you see that Paul himself didn’t even examine himself. He said, “For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” Wow, so let me see if I’ve got this straight. He tells us to be careful how we build but don’t think, or reason, the way the world does because things may not be exactly the way they appear. In other words, those things that at first glance may appear to be wood, hay or stubble may in fact be gold, silver and precious stones. The reasoning of man can’t show us this only God.

Walking by faith rather than sight means we can’t always know, or see with our natural eyes, what God is up to. He may take something that we think is insignificant and change someone’s life forever and, on the other hand, some things in which we place our greatest emphasis may simply blow away in the breeze. This is why he says, “wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

While not examining yourself may sound dangerous to some it truly does leave things up to the Spirit of God. In the Psalms David understood this principle therefore he prayed like this, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart” (Psalm 26:2). Once again he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). You see we have to learn to leave the examining to God. When we take it into our own hands we will inevitably have a bias opinion and we will find ourselves justifying our behavior and either blaming others or crediting ourselves. This is what it means by the reasonings of the “wise”.

A friend of mine, Brian Coatney, has said many times he lives his life in green lights. He said occasionally he’ll run into a yellow light and maybe even a red one; but until the Spirit shows him to slow down or stop he lives safely in the green. While this may sound dangerous to some my thoughts are how else are we going to travel? I mean there is no end to the swirling thoughts and ideas that come with attempting to reason these things out. So let’s be done with our reasoning and trust what Jesus said the Spirit would do. He said, “He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…and “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come”(John 16:8 & 13).

Either The Spirit will show us or He won’t, but I’m thinking He will. What do you say we learn to look to Jesus rather than ourselves?

Louie

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

The word “burden” is defined as a weight or load. Bearing one another’s weight or load can mean a variety of things. It could mean helping others to pay their bills, find shelter, employment, reconcile with their family etc. In other words we are to get joined with others in their life not just stand far off pointing out or telling them what to do. Sometimes we bear another’s burden because they simply can’t carry it alone. Then there is the burden we carry for them of what God wants for them when they just can’t seem to get there. This is when we go to God on their behalf and by the Spirit pull them through.

This verse tells us bearing one another’s burden is the fulfillment of the “law of Christ.” Hmm? The Law of Christ? We’re not under law are we? No, we are not! The term law means “the way something works.” In other words, when we bear the burdens of others we are operating in the way Christ works. You see, that’s what He does. He bears the burdens of others because that’s His nature. God is love and love is for others, so He came here as a man in order to bear our burdens. He even invited us to come to Him for rest and said, “Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He didn’t say it wasn’t painful though did He?

Way back in the 28th chapter of Exodus God instructed Moses to design the priestly robes to be worn in the Tabernacle. One aspect, a very important aspect I might add, to the Priest’s garment was the ephod. The ephod consisted of a breastpiece and shoulder pieces. God told Moses to put an onyx stone on each shoulder piece with the names of six of the tribes of Israel on each stone. Then he was to place twelve individual stones on the breastpiece to represent each tribe. So each tribe had their own stone and the priest was to carry the whole nation before God on his shoulders and over his heart. What a great illustration of intercession and bearing one another’s burdens.

In my own life I have experienced a burden for a few people to come to know the Lord, or maybe for those that do know to realize who Christ is in them. Either way I have discovered bearing another’s burden is not a fun thing to do. In fact it can be excruciating. But I do know that this is God’s will for his children. He wants His children to grow up and participate in what He is doing in the world. Just as the Old Covenant priest’s were meant to stand in the gap for others before God, we too are called to the same. In a word, the work of a priest is intercession. A priest is one who goes before God on behalf of another, maybe even one who doesn’t know or understand.

While the job of priest may sound at first like something joyful and something you would want to do it can be very frustrating and tiring. Even though as a believer we want others to come to Christ, most of the time we don’t want it to cost us anything. We would rather just point people to Christ and the work of the cross and that’s a good thing but what about getting in the intercession with him? The Apostle Paul told the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Wow! So there is a part that is our share. Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins or our being born again rather it is about us joining in the role of priest as a co-intercessor. The Spirit of God does the work but He does it in and through our bodies for His body the church.

One of the most memorable times of intercession for me started with me becoming extremely agitated with someone. It seemed I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and how their life was in a mess, and they just seemed to keep on as if it didn’t matter. In fact it seemed they just dug the hole deeper and deeper. Of course we all have our own story of trying to run our lives ourselves, rather than letting Christ be our life, but for some reason this person bothered me more than others. Everyday I found myself praying for God to put a guard over my mouth so I wouldn’t go off on them and believe me I wanted to. As the time went by and the agitation never seemed to end I found myself praying for them. After all, I am a believer, filled with God’s Spirit, told to love my neighbor, right? Of course the prayers at first were all about me wanting to know what to do but at some point they changed to I know you want more for them God.

During this time I really had no Idea what God was doing but I know I prayed and prayed even more. Now looking back I can see this is what God was after all along. He wanted me to stand for this person and pray for God to pull them through and He did. One day they came to me and asked, “When is your Bible study?” I was floored. Shortly after that they came to me with tears in their eyes and told me “I’m ready. I’ve finally come to the end.” My response was, “You don’t know how long I have been praying for you.”

Since this time things have completely changed. Now I enjoy their friendship and they regularly attend our Bible study and go to a church of their own on Sundays. Even now what was really going on during those painfully stressful months is becoming clearer to me. So I guess if there is anything I would like for the reader to take away from this is that as believers we are called to bear one another’s burdens and it may start as being extremely frustrated at first. I don’t know about you but I didn’t see that in the beginning but you know God will get our attention one way or the other. I for one am thankful that He didn’t let me off the hook on this because now I am rejoicing and getting to watch God transform others in the same way He did me. That’s what bearing one another’s burdens is all about.

Louie

In John 17 Jesus prays for His disciples and those who would believe because of their word. He prayed that they would be one even as He and the Father are one. He said, “as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…”

Later, after the cross and the death, burial, resurrection and ascension, the Apostle Paul teaches us nothing less than this same thing has actually occurred. He said in Colossians 1 that he was made a minister of the church in order to declare a mystery that had been hidden for ages and generations, but has now been manifested. He said this great mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In preaching this message his goal was to present every man complete in Christ. You see until we have Christ in us we are incomplete; for God created us to be one with Him and that only takes place through the cross.

In Romans 6 we discover those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death and joined with Him in His burial and resurrection. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself; so for those of us who place our faith in Him we have Him in us and we are complete. This word complete is actually not the word used in the trusty King James Bible rather it’s the word “perfect.” Hebrews 10:14 tells us “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

Not only did Jesus become sin on the cross, He has joined us to himself spirit to Spirit in the process thereby making us the righteousness of God in Him. Just as Jesus prayed we have become one with Him, a new creature. In fact according to Ephesians 2 not only have we been raised, as in resurrected, we have also been “seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3 instructs us “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” This is why Paul says things like “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” So you see Christ not only lives in us, He is our life. The Bible clearly states Christ is the head and the believers are His body. You can’t separate a head from a body so when you see the body your’e seeing the head. The two truly are one.

Louie

The blood shed, and death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, did way more than just wash away our sins. If you look closely you will discover it also severed our union with the “god of this world” and joined us to the One True God.

God told Adam not to eat of the “Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” He said, “The day you eat of it you will surely die.” Of course we know he did eat and yet he didn’t seem to have died because immediately he saw that he was naked and ran to hide. So what really happened that day? There is a sense in which the Serpent was truthful, he said, “The day you eat of this your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” It seems Adam’s eyes were opened that day but being opened to this world they were actually closed to the Spirit realm. This is why later on in chapter 3 of the Gospel of John we read where Jesus is telling Nicodemus “unless you are born-again you cannot see the kingdom.”

While Adam, and subsequently all of us born from him, were born with our eyes open to this world we were born blind to the kingdom from which we fell. This of course is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin. His birth bypassed the blind, sinfulness passed down by our earthly fathers. This is also a clue as to what our new birth is all about because we too must be born from a virgin womb, or should I say born from above, but that’s a subject for another time.

What is the root cause of this blindness we have all inherited? The root cause of disobedience to God is unbelief. The Apostle Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” According to Ephesians 2:1&2 we all were dead in trespasses and sins, we all used to live according to the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. In other words, Adam not only disobeyed God he actually joined himself to a deceiving spirit which he then passed on to all that would come after him. 1 John 4 calls it the “spirit of error.” It is this spirit which has blinded us, and our union with this spirit is what is severed at the cross of Calvary for those of us who have been born-again by placing our faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Now we can look at what baptism is really all about.

In Romans 6 we find out real baptism isn’t about water at all it’s about being baptized into a person. Those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. If we have been joined with him in His death then we are also joined with him in His burial and resurrection. You see on the cross Jesus became sin. He, being sinless, took sin into Himself and died. His body was truly dead which is evidenced by His being buried for three days. A spirit needs a body so when Jesus, and us in him, died, the “god of this world” had to go out. The “Good News” is that after those three days God raised Him back up, and us in Him, by His very own Holy Spirit. So now we are no longer a slave to “Sin” or the “god of this world” the “spirit of error.” The cross breaks our union with the one in order to join us to the other and this is what really happened at the cross.

The Bible teaches us that mankind is never his own. Part of the lie we have believed about ourselves is that we are independent beings living our own lives. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and once we really start to see the deeper meaning of the cross we’ll finally be set free to be who God always intended us to be.

Many are walking around in bondage to the enemy and don’t even know it yet. This is why Jesus told His disciples, which includes all of us, to “go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” God’s plan is to reunite His creation to His Son Jesus Christ. This is what being baptized into the Father, Son and Spirit really means. This means we are once again in union with God never to be severed again.

“He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).

Louie

Today I had the privilege to share a little about the blood and body of Christ with my home church. We have been going through quite a transition lately because the pastor of forty years has retired. When I say retired I mean he has step down from being pastor; I don’t suppose he will ever stop sharing the gospel but for now he is no longer our pastor. This means others have to step up and fill in the gap left by his departure.

We usually celebrate the Lord’s supper or communion on the last Sunday of the month so today was the day. Joe Scott moved into the role of preacher today and when the time came for us to take the bread and juice of communion he asked me to come and share a bit, so I gladly did.

As most, who have attended church regularly and have participated in communion services before, know there are two elements set on the table–one being the juice, or wine, symbolizing the blood of Christ and the other being bread symbolic of His body. I shared with them how most understand the blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, but many have never even stopped to think about what the body part is all about. The scriptures tell us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission, or forgiveness, of sins.” So, in other words, the blood deals with our sins, meaning plural, or sins we have committed but what about the body?

The bread, or body side, has yet another significance. As I have heard it put “The body death” deals with the sin-maker. It is an amazing thing to know that Jesus’ bloodshed covered, or dealt with my sins, but it is an altogether other thing to know the death of His body did away with the “Sinner.” Let me see if I can explain it this way. If I wanted to get rid of all the alcohol in this country I could go around to every house, grocery, liquor store and bar and smash millions of bottles but that wouldn’t really solve the alcohol problem would it? No! The reason is because the factories, or distilleries that bottle the liquor, would still be producing them. So if I really wanted to do the job correctly I would deal with the bottles, but I wouldn’t stop there, I would shut down the place producing it. This is exactly what God has done in Jesus Christ’s blood and body death on the cross. His blood was shed for our sins, or deeds, and His body died to shut down the sin-producer.

All of us were born with what is commonly known as a “sinful-nature” except Jesus. He of course was born of a virgin therefore bypassing the sinful-nature in order for Him to live a sinless life. Since He was sinless He was the perfect candidate to take our sins upon himself in order to redeem us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” What this is telling us is Jesus became what we were, our sin-bearer, so we could become what He was which is the righteousness of God. Wow! This is indeed “Good News” isn’t it?

We were crucified with Christ in order for us to be set free from the Sin master. Romans six tells us we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness but we are always a slave. You see in the fall Adam actually joined himself to the sin-boss, Satan himself. In Ephesians 2 we read how all of us “used to walk according to the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”

God created humanity to be containers or vessels in which He could dwell. The Bible tells us we are temples, branches, vessels, bodies etc. We were always meant to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God but in the fall another spirit, the spirit of error, the spirit of the prince of the power of the air came to live within us. A spirit requires a body in which to live therefore in order to rid us of the deceitful, indwelling spirit of error we had to die. This is the whole point of the cross and us being co-crucified with Christ. A spirit needs a body so when Christ died on the cross with us in Him the spirit of the god of this world left and God raised Him and us out of death by way of His Holy Spirit who now dwells in us. God has moved back into His property.

The blood of Jesus Christ shed for the remission of sins is His job alone we do not participate in it in anyway. The body, on the other hand, includes us for we too have been crucified, buried and raised to walk in newness of life in Him. The spirit of error has been cast out never to enter into our inner man again. That’s not to say he doesn’t shout at us from the outside and tempt us to join him, but the difference is now we can say no to him whereas before he ruled us. Thankfully we have a new boss now and His name is Jesus!

Louie