Archive for the ‘Biblical insight’ Category

The following is the result of a word study on the word “Serpent” found in the Garden of Eden story in Genesis. Was it really a serpent or another kind of creature known as “Nachash”? One definition of “Nachash”, according to Strong’s Concordance, is “to hiss, i.e. whisper a magic spell; to prognosticate…divine, enchanter, enchantment, learn by experience, diligently observe.” So with this understanding of the term “Nachash” it is easy to see how “serpent” came to be the translation. A further search into the root of the word “Nachash” is described as “copper” or “shiny” which then lead me to look into the word Lucifer which means “to shine; to make a show, to boast; and to rave, celebrate, commend, glory, give light…” Are you getting the picture?

The idea is that Lucifer was created to shine, to be a “light-bearer”, meaning he was meant to be an expression of the light of God but apparently he started to think he, himself, was the light. Obviously he began to believe his own hype therefore he was evicted from God’s Holy Mountain (Ezekiel 28:11-19). So, we see the “Nachash” (i.e. serpent) was shiny, and “Lucifer” was covered in precious, or shiny stones which would be shiny, right? The fall of Lucifer from the Mountain of God was quite the fall and couldn’t get much worse than the sentence of crawling on the belly and having dust for food could it? By this time you’re probably asking yourself, “What is this all about? What is he getting at here?”

The nature of a serpent, especially a constrictor, is to slowly squeeze the life out of its prey and then consume it. You see this is exactly what the enemy of our soul does. He has been “observing” us for quite sometime, and he knows just what it takes to “enchant” us into his range. Once he has attracted us by something “shiny”, he slowly wraps himself around us and begins the squeeze. The process of squeezing us may be so slow that the natural eye can’t even perceive that it’s happening, and that’s just what he wants. The last thing he wants to happen is for us to become alerted to his methods and be loosed from his bondage. So throughout the Bible the serpent is synonymous with the fallen Lucifer, also known as Satan, the enemy of our soul.

The good news is God has provided a solution. In the Gospel of John, Jesus used an Old Testament story to enlighten Nicodemus. He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Even though the old serpent has been putting the squeeze on humanity God has provided a door to freedom and His name is Jesus. Let’s look at the story of Moses and the serpent to refresh our memory.

In the 21st chapter of the book of Numbers, the Children of Israel are complaining, which wasn’t unusual for them to do, and God sent fiery, or shiny, serpents among them and they were bitten. Moses prays for God’s deliverance and God tells Moses to make a bronze, i.e. copper (shiny) serpent and place it on a pole. Now this serpent was specifically called a “fiery serpent” in the text, and the word “fiery”, interestingly enough, is the word “Saraph.” If that doesn’t ring a bell let me just say the word “seraphim”, as used in Isaiah 6, is derived from this same Hebrew word which is defined, “burning, poisonous creature (copper in color). So God’s provision for the bite of the fiery serpent is to place the image of a fiery serpent on a pole, and have all who have been bitten to look to it in faith, so they might be healed and live. This is exactly what happened on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus became sin! In His body, though sinless, He took in the nature of the Serpent, or Nachash, and died. Now before you get in an uproar hear me out. I am not saying Jesus committed sin or that He was joined to Satan in a spirit to spirit union. What I am saying is the Serpent spirit, which is Satanic, entered into Jesus’ body. When His body died and was buried the spirit no longer had a place to dwell. Then God, by way of His Holy Spirit took up residence within Jesus’ body again and raised Him back to life! This is prefigured for us in the Old Testament with the provision of the scapegoat. The scapegoat took the sins of the people upon himself and was driven out of the camp. This now makes sense as to how we are set free through His death, burial and resurrection because when we are joined to Christ we are taken through death and the grave only to be brought back out to walk in newness of life. Death is what frees us from the grip of the serpent.

With that being said, we can now understand 2 Corinthians 5:21 more clearly, “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” All who look to Jesus Christ, made sin (the serpent on the pole) on our behalf, in faith are healed! We are no longer in the death squeeze of that old serpent. We are now able to breathe freely walking in His nature and loving others in the way God intended.

In the end we are all either in the serpent’s clutches, filled with the serpent’s nature, or we are free in Christ, filled with His divine nature. Either way the solution to our problem only came about when Jesus Christ, the only one who should be shining, humbled himself in order to rescue all of us.

The following was borrowed from an unknown author, but I think defines these two natures very well so I will leave you with this.

“All love emotions are expansive, all emotions of hatred are restrictive.

Hope and faith are of the nature of love and expand the soul, while fear and doubt and despair are of the nature of hate and contract our souls, making us feel uneasy, and unhappy. The snake stands for contraction, for tightness and indrawing; while men fight and quarrel with one another they always resemble more or less the old snake, each drawing to its side, anxious for self-preservation. Freedom from the snake’s anguish can only be had by ceasing from the snake’s ways, and learning to obey the law of love, the first dictate of which is self-sacrifice.”

Of course without the Spirit of God there is no way for us to really love or be sacrificial, but thankfully God Himself resides in the believer, the one who continually looks in faith to Christ lifted up, and then He lives His loving, self-sacrificing life through us as though it is us.

Louie

If you know your Bible you probably know the Apostle Peter to be quite the go-getter. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on water, it was Peter who cried out for Jesus to let him come out to him on the waves. Whenever the disciples had a difficult time understanding Jesus’ teaching it was usually Peter who asked him to explain further. When Jesus asked “Who do men say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?” Peter spoke right up to answer without hesitation. In other words, Peter was usually the first one to jump up anytime there was a task at hand right up to the moment Jesus was arrested in the Garden. When the soldiers seized Jesus it was Peter who drew his sword and cut off one of their ears.

On one occasion after the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter saying, “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Of course this led up to Jesus being arrested and what we might call Peter’s hitting bottom. During the time of Jesus’ arrest there was quite the upheaval and many accusations flying around about who was with him. Peter, just as Jesus had predicted, denied even knowing Jesus obviously out of fear for his own life. This I believe was the sifting Jesus had warned Peter about only mere hours before.

Remember Jesus’ words to Peter were “I have prayed your faith may not fail and once you have turned again, or repented, strengthen your brothers.” Isn’t that just how it usually works? We have times in our lives when we seem to be full of faith, seeking God and riding on the magic carpet of the Spirit and then Boom! the bottom falls out. Suddenly everything falls apart and you begin saying to yourself “how could I have done that?” Don’t you just love Peter for this? I mean isn’t it marvelous to know that even one of Jesus’ most intimate disciples failed in such a way? Don’t get me wrong it isn’t that I would ever wish failure on someone, but it does help us to see the amazing forgiveness and restoration of Christ and how we can get back up and keep going.

Recently an inmate asked me about backsliding. He said, “What do you think causes someone to do that?” He then admitted he, himself, has done it on many occasions. He said, “I do well for a while but then for some reason I end up falling away from church and eventually end up back in jail.” My response to him was “I think it’s because we start to think we can live the Christian life rather than realizing only Christ can.” You see once God “fixes” or “heals” things in our lives and we get back into life’s normal routine we take back over as if it is our lives to lead. In a word our trouble is “Independance.”

This is why reading in 1 Peter 1 we see Peter going out of his way to tell us our being born-again, our salvation (inheritance in Christ) is all God’s doing. He said, “God caused us to be born-again, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…and our inheritance in Him can’t fade away or perish because it is reserved for us in heaven.” He then goes on to tell us we are kept, or protected, by the power of God through faith. In other words our salvation and we ourselves are safe because it is God himself who is keeping us and not us. You see the Satanic sifting Jesus spoke of had done its work. Peter had been shaken and now in the 1 & 2 Peter letters we see a new man who is encouraging us to place our faith in Christ only rather than thinking we can do anything for Him.

Louie

 

 

According to the Hebrews letter, Jesus couldn’t have ever become a priest because He was from the line of Judah. In order to be a priest during the Old Covenant period one had to come from the line of Levi. Once the author of Hebrews establishes this, he goes on to tell us why. Because the priesthood of Levi, which was also known as the Law, could never perfect the worshiper, God revealed a New Covenant. Whenever the priesthood changes there arises the necessity of a new law also. You see whereas the Old Covenant of the Law, and the priesthood coming from Levi, was a Covenant which was destined to end because it had only earthly men as priest. In the New Covenant a new priest arises, who is after the order of Melchizedek, which isn’t based on the physical requirement of coming from Levi rather it is based on the power of an indestructible life. So, like the mysterious Melchizedek, Jesus is priest forever because He will never die, and so will never need another to take His place.

Well, okay so Jesus is now priest forever so what about the New Covenant? Let’s compare the Old with the New for a minute. The Old Covenant was based on the worshipper’s commitment to God. God says, for instance, keep my commandments and the worshipper says, “Whatever you say we’ll do.” If the truth’s told no one could ever fulfill God’s commandments, it’s just that we tend to take a long time to discover this. The good news is God has always known this and at just the right time, He did something about it. He offers us a New way.

The first Covenant had troubles because we simply couldn’t live up to our end of the deal. So now God institutes something else. He says, “I will effect a New Covenant…not like the covenant before…no. This is the covenant that I will make with you now. I will put my laws into your minds, and I will write them on your hearts. I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” You see this New Covenant is entirely one sided. The old one required us to perform up to a perfect standard of righteousness. In the new one God is going to do it all. That’s right, you heard me!

The Old Covenant’s priesthood, sacrificial system, Temple and altar and everything has been superseded. Christ is greater than the Old Covenant priest, sacrifices, temple and everything. “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” There is nothing left for us to do. God has done everything He is ever going to do for us in His Son Jesus Christ! I know that’s a profound statement but I encourage you to search this out for yourselves. Read Hebrews chapters 8-10 and see if I’m steering you wrong. These chapters even go as far as to say, while the blood of bulls and goats could cleanse the worshipper’s flesh, the sacrifice of Christ himself can even cleanse our consciousness of sins. What, even the consciousness of sins? This truly is good news isn’t it?

Louie

The following is a discussion that came about based on a question to Christians. The question read as follows: Which is appropriate for a Christian to say about themselves?

A. I’m a sinner, saved by grace
B. I was a sinner, but I’ve been saved by grace

For me the real point of this little quiz was to provoke people to think about their identity in Christ and how God truly sees those of us who have been saved. While the names of these participants have been exposed to the internet already, I am going to use only first names here. Also I am going to edit some of the comments for the sake of space but will do my best to keep the original sentiment intact. This exercise confirmed for me what I’ve known for quite sometime which is for the most part Christians have an identity crisis; and when we don’t know who we are in Christ it affects every area of our lives.

The overwhelming majority of people who responded see themselves as sinners, more than twenty, even though they claim to be saved and or born-again. I’ll let the responses speak for themselves. Here they are.

Dave: A. for all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God.

Dona: B. I have been made perfect in Christ…!!!

Tammy: We are still capable of sinning…but with his love and forgiveness “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13

Joyce: A…we are still sinners…but, one day we will be like HIM!!

Ron: Not sucking me into this one.

Louie: Thanks so much for the responses but before I tell you my answer let me ask one more question. When Paul addresses his letters to the saints at Rome, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, etc. is he addressing you? If so does that mean the terms “saint” and “sinner” is interchangeable?

Dawn: A. God’s grace saved me. I’m still a human, still sin and won’t be perfect until He calls me home.

Dawn: I believe yes to your follow up question. Saints and sinners are the same. Saints saved by grace.

Louie: Here’s a thought: Before Adam disobeyed (ate the forbidden fruit) he wasn’t a sinner was he? I would say no. This means we don’t have to be a “sinner” to commit a sin. I think the Bible is clear that if we are “in Christ” we are a new creature (saint). This of course doesn’t mean we cannot commit a sin but according to 1 John it does mean we will no longer “practice” sin. So with all that being said, I think B. is the appropriate answer. If Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost I am either lost or found. I cannot be a lost/found person can I? “By His doing you (me) are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). All of this is the work of the cross. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). “All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…” (Colossians 2:9-10).

Tammy H.: This is to your follow up question…saints are not sinless. The word saint means sacred. All who belong to Christ by faith are saints. We are born in sin. You become a saint by being reborn. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t sin.

Tammy H.: I was wrong it is B…sorry. I should have thought longer before answering…

Ron: 1 Cor. 13:9-12: We don’t always see ourselves as he sees us. Face to face is when we see the perfect complete creation. We know that we are complete/perfect in his eyes! Still have to live in an imperfect world in an imperfect sack of flesh! We still make mistakes. Face to face we will know as we are known. Amen

Louie: my thing with this line of questioning is based on my desire for us Christians to really see ourselves as God sees us. Jesus Christ paid much too high a price for us to go around seeing ourselves as sinners. He has bought us with a price, made us whole and set us apart for a purpose. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are a branch for Him to produce fruit through, and we are to be an expression of Christ for the world to see.

Ron: Don’t forget about the thorn that Paul carried around his whole earthly life. Think Grace.

Tim: What difference does it make A or B whether we believe we are a sinner or not?

Louie: Tim, the short answer is we are what we think. If we see ourselves as a sinner we will continue in sin. If we see ourselves as someone freed from sin less sin will manifest. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Viewing ourselves as a sinner tends to become a cloak for sin. If we see ourselves as that we give ourselves an excuse. Well, I’m a sinner so I guess I can’t help it if I sin, so I might as well.

Ron: Got some people in the Word tonight. If you noticed I never did give my answer. According to the Word I believe in my spirit that the answer is…

Louie: Think about the song “Amazing Grace.” I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” Part of being a witness for Christ is telling others I once was one way but now I’m another. It is all about our identity. Here’s another illustration. When we are born we are born a sinner (Pig). When we are born again we become a brand new creature not just a washed off pig. The nature of a pig is to wallow in the mud and like it. Once we are born again we become a new creature let’s say a sheep. The nature of a sheep isn’t to wallow in the mud and like it. No, in fact a sheep may very well find himself in the mud (sin) but rather than stay there he will get up and go the shepherd to clean him. So we are no longer pigs (sinners) we are sheep (saints).

Tim: This is what happens when we take proof texts to try and describe a biblical concept. Paul takes the whole book of Romans to systematically outline the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. Legally in God’s eyes we are as you say, perfect sinless saints, but experientially we still wrestle with our sinful nature. So in a sense both A. and B. are true. The danger for each is that if we lose sight of our position in Christ we will live like sinners. However, we should not let our guard down to our sinful condition.

Louie: This idea of a sinful nature is a tough one, but I believe once we are born again we no longer have a sinful nature. In fact I believe we humans have no nature of our own. According to Ephesians 2:1-3, we were all dead in trespasses and sins and were “by nature” children of wrath because of the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. The good news is now that we are in Christ we are a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). So in my view we are either by nature a child of wrath, because of the spirit of error indwelling us, or we have been born again and have become a partaker of the very nature of Christ. Either way we have no nature of our own rather we are joined to the nature of another.

Tammy S.: Sinner does not mean one who sins. In the Word, sin and death means separation. So a sinner is one who is separated from God by sin. The thing is we should only say about ourselves what God says and He NEVER calls His children sinners so neither should we. You know I bowl sometimes but I don’t identify myself as a bowler. I was a sinner, but I got saved by God’s marvelous grace, and now He says I’m a saint. In my spirit I am the perfect new creature that I am going to be throughout all eternity, and I am in the process of renewing my mind to think like the new creature He created me to be. Hallelujah!!

Tim: Oh boy, this could turn into a big can of worms based on our different understandings of the doctrines of the human condition and such.

Karen: I like to say it like this; I am not a sinner because I sin. I sin because I am a sinner born with a sinful nature however now saved by grace in Jesus name.

Louie: There are no worms here Tim just some people discussing what faith in Jesus Christ means. I don’t think there’s any bad vibes here. “Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Heather: There is none that is perfect…No not one! Salvation is a free gift of undeserved mercy for the sinner, so we are saved by Jesus Christs’ sacrifice and grace. We are to turn from sin and follow Christ. However, we may fall and stumble along the path until we are made perfect in Heaven with our Lord. So we are a sinner, saved by grace. A.

Ron: Are we done yet? Just kidding. Good debate. No winners. Saved by grace through faith. Sinner or saint doesn’t matter what word you use to describe yourself. Saved by grace through faith is what’s important. Amen.

Tammy S.: Thank you Lord for revealing to me who I am in you.

Keith: We are new creatures. Thinking that we are not sinners doesn’t make us not sinners, and having a sinful nature/body doesn’t cause us to sin more…unless we use that excuse. There’s only one human who walked the earth that was sinless: Jesus Christ. There’s no way we can say we ever become sinless, or that we don’t sin anymore. We ALL sin no matter what. So when we do sin, what then? Are you not born again? A child of God anymore? You still are!

Louie: Wow! This was amazing. Obviously there are deep rooted beliefs about whether or not we should call ourselves “sinners” after we’ve been born again. This reminds me of how many people, who have had an addiction, see themselves as an addict forever. To me we have a choice to make either we see ourselves as the world or (tradition) sees us or we see ourselves as the Bible sees us. According to the Word, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’m going to leave it here but maybe we’ll try another little quiz soon. Thank you so much for the great participation. I’ve learned a lot.

Keith: In addition to being a deep-rooted belief (because of what God’s Word tells us), you/we have to take his Word collectively, as a whole, and base you beliefs on that, not on a verse here and there. **I’m not saying you are I’m speaking in general about KNOWING what God says.

Kelly: After reading all of your posts, I still agree with answer A. Our spirits are saved by faith and God’s grace, and because we seek to be like Him, we ask for His will and guidance in our lives, and we trust Him to “lead us not into temptation,” so to speak. But, while we are still human, our nature is still sinful from birth on. We sin daily…even the slightest rude thought towards another is a sin. Angry reactions and harsh words, even simple sarcasm, to people and circumstances, is sin. Ever thought of another woman Louie? Lust? Ever wished you had as much as someone else? Envy or coveting however you chose to say it. Ever told a teensy weensy, well-meaning lie? It’s still a lie. Ever cursed in your mind but not out loud? God still hears it. Not one of us can say not to any of these. But, as Christians, we know it is wrong, and we repent daily, even minute by minute for some of us (me!!). I am no theologian by any means, and I don’t have 100 verses of scripture to back up what I’m saying. But I DO know I can never lose my salvation, if I am truly saved. And because He lives through me, I can have the strength to go on KNOWING I am a sinner, saved by His grace through my FAITH in Him. It is through that very faith that we turn to Him to forgive us, daily, of our sins and to try to keep from those sins to the very best of our ability. And when I get to see Him, because of my faith and trust in Him, I know I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I screw up daily, not because I want to, but because I am not God. I am not perfect. But I love Him for loving me despite all my wretched faults. And I will sleep well knowing I am a forgiven child of the King every night. God bless you for making me think on this tonight, I hope and pray I haven’t offended anyone with my beliefs. Goodnight.

Louie: No one is indicating a Christian can’t or won’t sin. The original question was about how we identify ourselves. Jesus himself said, “I came to seek and save the lost.” The good news is once He has saved us we are no longer lost. Whenever a blind man was touched by Jesus he went away seeing, so do we still call him a blind man? When a lame man was healed by Jesus, was he still lame? What about Lazarus? After Jesus raised him from the dead would we consider him to still be a dead man? Look to nature for a minute with me. Have you ever looked at a butterfly and said to yourself, “Look at that beautiful caterpillar?” Pertaining to thoughts, do you think, no pun intended, Jesus ever had a “bad” thought? For instance in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus didn’t appear to want to do what God wanted, He said, “my soul is deeply grieved and sorrowful (thoughts and feelings), even unto death” and “If there’s any other way.” Thoughts and feelings come and go all day everyday and we simply cannot control all of them nor do I think they are necessarily sin. There is a place where a thought becomes lust but simply having a renegade thought doesn’t automatically mean it’s sin.

In conclusion let me saypart of my job as a student of the Bible is to question traditions and rituals to see if they line up with the Word of God. I hope this has rattled a few of you, at least to the point of making sure of what you know. All I ask is that you don’t allow your thoughts and feelings to override what God says to be true about you. Our thoughts and feelings are to be the caboose not the engine.

Louie

 

The Bible tells us, “God is love”, so I thought I would try something. If we were to take the word “love” and insert it into scripture passages talking about God what would happen?

“In the beginning was the Love, and the Love was with God, and the Love was God” (John 1:1). “Love came to His own, and those who were Love’s own did not receive Love. But as many as received Love, to them Love gave the right to become children of Love, even to those who believe in Love’s name” (John 1:11-12).  How about this one? “And the Love became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw Love’s glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Love, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Love by its very nature requires more than one person, right? I mean, I can’t love by myself, there has to be an object of love. This I think is why God as a Trinity, (Father, Son and Spirit), makes sense. Although God is one, just by the mere fact we are told He is love reveals we are dealing in some sense with more than one doesn’t it? Think about it this way; in the scriptures we read where the Son is well pleasing to the Father; and the Spirit’s role is to point to the Son. Jesus said on numerous occasions “I only do what I see the Father do”, “the Son can do nothing on His own”, etc. Then He turned around and, speaking of the Holy Spirit, said, “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. He will glorify me, for He will take of mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that He takes of mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-15).

While defining love is not so easy to do, one thing is for sure; love is always “for others.” If you take that to be the defining point you will see clearly how God the Father was well-pleased with the Son and the Son promises us the Holy Spirit, who will always take what is the Son’s, which is really the Father’s, and reveal it to us. So the Father points to the Son and says, “look to Him”, while the Son says “Oh no, I can’t do anything apart from the Father”; and the Spirit says, “Pay attention to the Son; because He is the exact representation of the invisible God” (Colossians 2:9).

How does all this apply to me you might ask. Well, this brings us to what the Bible calls “The Gospel” or “good news”. The Good News is this God, who is love, has come to invite us to join Him in this “Love Triangle.” According to Romans six, we that have been baptized into Christ have been joined with Him in His death, therefore we have been joined to Him and raised with Him to walk in newness of life. So we have been co-crucified with Christ and that’s not all. Reading in Ephesians 2 you will discover we have not only been raised, but in fact we have been “seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We as a born-again believer, or receiver of Christ, “may now have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). This is all the work of the Holy Spirit through the Son’s full obedience to the Father, who is Love.

“Whosoever will let him come.”

Louie

The following is an e-mail conversation that took place over a couple days. I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope to do more, but for now I thought I would share it in the hope it helps encourage others too.

Louie: What do you think about discussing a verse or two, and each of us can add a comment or question at our leisure. What do you say? If you’re in then let’s begin with spirit/soul and body.

Check out these verses and let me know what you think.

Hebrews 4:12
1 Thessalonians 5:23

Tracey: I love this idea of email biblically based conversation. So here it goes…Hebrews 4:12 is one of my favorite explanations of dividing between Spirit, soul and body. It gives us permission to be human. For example, the soul, joints and thoughts go together because they all move and we don’t necessarily have control over them. But the Spirit, marrow and intentions are steadfast, unmovable, and where the life is. So, it explains that being human is okay. It doesn’t give us permission to sin, however, but it gives a great explanation of how the Word of God divides the three parts.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 this verse points to my sanctification, as if it isn’t my mine at all, but that of Christ. He doesn’t leave any thing out as if I may mess it up. It is Him who I am depending on for my Spirit, soul, and body to preserve me until the coming day of Jesus Christ.
What a load off of my self effort and we can fully or wholly, depend on Him for our keeping. All parts of us.

Cindy: Is our spirit and soul not the same?

Louie: One of the main things I wanted to look at in these two verses is that spirit and soul are in fact not the same. This is why all three: spirit, soul and body are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians and in Hebrews 4:12 we are told, “The Word of God divides (or distinguishes) between soul and spirit.”

Like Tracey said, “soul, joints and thoughts” are one category and “spirit, marrow and intent” are the other. If you think about the joints of your body and how they are designed to move, and how they coincide with our soul, you will start to see that our soul level was created by God to change or fluctuate. The reason for this is because our soul is primarily made up of our thoughts and feelings (emotions) and they change all the time don’t they? On the other hand, our “spirit” is a bit deeper coinciding with the marrow of our bones which is where the real life is. Then again if it wasn’t for the life in the marrow (spirit) there could be no life or movement in our joints (soul). So the truth is we are spirit beings designed for God’s Spirit, joined to our spirit, to be expressed through our souls (thoughts, feelings, personality).

But the real point here is that we are spirit and if we’ve been born again “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This means we are designed to live from our spirit, where the life (Spirit of God) is instead of our soul that is designed to move with thoughts and feelings we like and thoughts and feelings we don’t like.

I admit this is a huge topic and I don’t want to write a book here but getting an understanding of this is life changing. Once we see we don’t have to be ruled by our thoughts and feelings, we will begin to walk in the spirit and stop fighting things on a soul level, which will change if given enough time. So we learn how to wait.

Tracey: I was going over this again and something hit me. (not literally) Is that it’s the Word of God that divides. Meaning we live our lives (all 3 parts) as by the Bible (The Word) who is Jesus. This is our guide line, not what the world says, or even our sister (ha), but we let the Word of the Lord divide it, and we live by Him.

Cindy: We have to let the word of God open our eyes to the fact that we don’t have to be controlled by our soul, that the word shows us that we are NOT our feelings. We have to choose to not be lead by our thoughts and feelings, because God is not the one driving the confusion and condemnation.

Louie: Amen to both T and C. Sometimes Christians think the enemy is going to stop his attack once we’re saved. The truth is the enemy no longer lives within the inner citadel of our hearts, but he still has access to our body/soul level. He can still inject thoughts and feelings we don’t like. So the question is what do we do with them once they come? This is where we are told to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Once we realize the thoughts aren’t from God, we turn to Christ and see what He has to say about it. For instance if the enemy says to us “You’re no good and you never will be.” We say, “That’s strange because God says He loves me and has great things in mind for me and I’m not who I used to be” (John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Thoughts and feelings we like and don’t like will continue throughout our lives but we learn to detect their source.

Cindy: What we choose to do with those thoughts and feelings is the point. We know to well how they can be persuaded by the enemy, which in turn causes us to lash out that the ones close to us. Idle time will cause us to fight with the thoughts and emotions that Satan throws at us, and make you totally miserable. Like the Bible says, God gives us an outlet to temptations, so too He gives us a way out of the thoughts…..look to Him!

Louie: That’s right Cindy, we can’t control all of our incoming thoughts but in Philippians 4 we are told what we can do as an offensive. The Apostle Paul said, “Think on these things: whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.” In other words we redirect our thoughts and think of these types of things “On purpose.”

What Hebrews 4:12 is telling us though is it takes “The Word of God” to distinguish between our soul and spirit. This isn’t just talking about the written word but it’s talking about God’s very word to us. When God shows us the difference between our soul and spirit we know it. For instance we may feel angry or jealous but we begin to see those are emotions and not the real “us”. We begin to be able to see these feelings as apart from us rather than thinking they are us. In other words, I’m not angry; I’m feeling angry and so on. This enables us to step back from within and let them pass through without ruling us. We look at anger or jealousy and say, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Cindy: Being able to “just be still” and listen to the voice of God as he instills his word in us to be able to distinguish between what is soul or spirit is a struggle for me at times I must admit.

Louie: Now you’re onto something Cindy. I think most people don’t really want to be still because they are afraid of what God might say to them. One more thing I would like to add to this about Hebrews 4:12 is this whole chapter is talking about entering into God’s rest. I think the key to “His” rest is learning how to walk in the Spirit even while all Hell may be breaking loose in the soul/body level. Jesus promised us His rest if we would just come to Him…Matthew 11:28-30. This is a rest even in the midst of life’s storms.

Cindy: Why is it so hard to walk in the spirit, especially when all that Hell has to offer is being thrown at you and the ones you love? Why is it so hard for us to actually just say, “OK God, here you go, take over”. When your world is falling apart, why is it so much easier to use the excuse of what you use to do in the past for “rest” you are seeking, instead of looking to God for the real rest….because we know the other “rest” just wore us out. Made us ache and cry out in despair. Turn to God, we will tell anyone that quick, but sometimes it seems to be the last resort when it comes to ourselves.

Louie: Wow! This is quite insightful Cindy. Let me quote our friend Brian Coatney here. He says, “Walking in the Spirit is easy. It’s excruciating at times but it’s easy.” In Romans 8 we discover “to be carnally (flesh) minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity (open hatred) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” So what we really need is to learn to walk in the mind of Christ, which we have according to 1 Corinthians 2:16 “We have the mind of Christ.”

A counselor Tracey and I spoke to before we were remarried seemed to do everything in his power to convince Tracey I would go back to drugs as soon as something difficult came along. Little did he know Christ truly had taken up residence within me, and He would keep me! Later on this man’s wife actually apologized to Tracey once she saw and believed God had truly changed me and it wasn’t just me, or “my flesh”, attempting to “turn over a new leaf.” God did in fact transform me into a new creature. So to make it real simple, the only way we make it is to be kept people. We learn to “NEVER” trust in ourselves, and our old ways, but in the “ONE” who raises the dead!

Sometimes the way things are and the way we see them may be two different things. Since the fall of man all of us start our lives double-minded. We see and evaluate everything to be in one of two categories, either good or evil. This is a good thing because we need to understand the difference. But what if we could start to see how God is working good even in the most evil circumstances?

There’s an interesting story about King David found in 2 Samuel 16 where he and his mighty men find themselves at the receiving end of some pretty awful accusations. A man named Shimei, from the house of Saul, came out cursing and throwing rocks and dust at David saying, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!” David’s men offered to stop Shimei saying, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.” Rather than simply giving the word to shut Shimei up, David said, “If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?”

I don’t know about you but this wouldn’t be my first response. You see David had come to a place where he fully understood everything in his life was in God’s hands. Nothing, absolutely nothing, came to him without God meaning it, even a man cursing him. Seeing the bad things in our lives as coming from a loving Father’s hand is much easier to take than stopping short and perceiving it to be coming from the enemy of our souls don’t you think? So learning to see through is the goal here.

Jumping ahead a bit to the story of Job we see a similar instance. As you read the story of Job you will discover God himself actually pointed Job out to Satan. In other words, Satan’s attack wasn’t a surprise and in fact it was meant by God. Job lost his children, livestock, barns etc. and then to add insult to injury his very own wife turned on him. She said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity (evil)?” Wow! Job had learned to see through the appearance of evil and understood God was in fact all powerful, and whatever evil or misfortune came his way hadn’t caught God by surprise. Job had learned God “works all things after the counsel of His will.”

Looking into the New Testament, we see Jesus standing before Pilate. Pilate has to make a decision concerning Jesus but as he questioned Jesus, and He didn’t respond. Pilate said, “Do You not know that I have authority (power) to release You, and I have authority (power) to crucify You?” Notice what Jesus said: He said, “You would have no authority (power) over Me, unless it had been given you from above…” Jesus, standing before a man who had the authority to declare His judgement, wasn’t out of sorts because He understood God was the ultimate source of authority and even the horror of the cross was ordained by Him. The next time you’re tempted to think God is MIA in you life, remember Jesus was directly in the middle of God’s will as He hung on the cross. Sometimes being in God’s will means experiencing unthinkable pain and feelings of abandonment.

In 2 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul gives us yet another example of seeing through evil to God and His purposes in it. Paul had a great experience where he saw and heard things he described as “inexpressible.” Then he went on to say, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” Paul understood his troubles to be from Satan but at the same time he knew God was ultimately the one behind it. You see the devil is still God’s devil. In other words, the devil cannot act independently of God. Even though he is always up to no good God has a purpose and plan in all of it.

As Paul prayed to be released from his thorn, his messenger of Satan, God’s response to him was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” So we see God’s plan is to express Himself through us, but we will be hampered as long as we are living with a divided consciousness. My hope is that we will begin to see with what Jesus called the “single eye” which means we know and understand that nothing, absolutely nothing, comes into our lives apart from God. We don’t go as far as to call evil good but we do start to see God actively engaged in all of life’s circumstances whether they are good or evil.

Louie