NOT I BUT…

Have you ever done something and afterwards thought, “Why did I do that? that’s not who I am.” If that wasn’t you who was it?

The Apostle Paul discovered it was sin in him but not the real “him.” He 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). Once Paul discovered this he cried out for deliverance saying, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Then it’s as if he remembered he was already free in Christ, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

After seeing that it was not really “he” but “sin” in him, he remembered Christ had already set him free. Now, Paul says, “It is no longer I but Christ who lives” (Galatians 2:20). Either way it’s not only “I” ever, because we are always joined to another. We are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). We are either producing fruit for death or fruit for God (Romans 7:4-5). We are joined to the True Vine or another but we are always a branch (John 15:1-5). We are operating according to “the spirit of truth” or “the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).

We were not created to operate independently. We humans are built for union with God. In the fall, that union was severed but it doesn’t mean we are independent, it means we were deceived. The Satanic lie is, “You can be like God.” In other words, you can be independent like God. This is what Satan wanted all along (Isaiah 14:12-15) so he tricks man into being in union with him but he can’t do it openly for fear of being discovered. So, the father of lies, lies! He deceives us into thinking we’re in charge of ourselves when the reality is we are simply doing his bidding all along. He speaks to us in the first person so we think it’s our ideas when the truth is we “are doing the lusts of our father the devil” (John 8:44).

We are his slave, producing his fruit and getting to share in the consequences. Once we hear the Good news that Jesus Christ became “sin” so we can become the “righteousness” of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21), we are freed! We by faith claim we have died to sin! (Romans 6:7) We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness! (Colossians 1:13) We have been forgiven, freed from Satan’s dominion and have received an inheritance among those who have bee sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18).

The Cross worked!!

Louie

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BEING HUMAN

So many say things like “nobody’s perfect, I’m only human“ as if being human is their problem or maybe being human is a bad thing. God created us to be human in His image and said “It is good.” Being human is not a bad thing at all. What’s “bad” or “wrong” is that the fall found us a slave to sin. So being born again doesn’t really change our fundamental humanity rather it frees us from being a slave to sin. Now, our humanity is in it’s correct place by being joined to Christ and we are now a “slave to righteousness.” We were one with “the spirit of error” , now we‘re one with “the spirit of truth.”

When someone says, “I’m only human” I think to myself, what is really underneath that statement? Are they saying, “I should be more than human?” I wonder if this comes from the root lie of “The day you eat of this you will be as god?” Could it be that God’s plan all along has been to live within, and joined to humanity? Maybe it really is true that God’s “power is perfected in our human weakness.” What do you think would happen if we simply learned to rest in our being weak, limited men? The Apostle Paul not only rested in it, he gloried in it! He said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Louie

BEING HUMAN ISN’T THE PROBLEM

Dog we met at the God unlimited conference 2012
Mans best friend we met at the God unlimited conference 2012

Is there really any such thing as human nature? Or does our nature derive from the one we are in union with, either the spirit of error or the Spirit of Truth? Could it be that we humans have no nature of our own?

It seems most of the time when someone messes up one of the excuses is “Well, I’m only human” or “It’s human nature.” These responses come across almost as a way out, as if to say, we’re “only” human what more can you expect? After all nobody’s perfect so don’t blame me; or what did you expect anyway?

I suppose what I’m really getting at is the fact that being human isn’t a bad thing. God created man and said “It is good.” Jesus Christ walked the earth as a human and even now sits at God’s right hand as a human, although he is now in a glorified body. So, please stop talking about humanity as if it is a bad thing, because it isn’t. In fact God thinks mankind is pretty keen.

Back to my first thought about our nature and how it seems to me to be derived from somewhere, or better yet someone else. God created man to be a branch attached to a tree never to be a branch on our own. So if we are indeed a branch that is attached we simply express the nature of the one to whom we are attached.

Because of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden we all are born with a sinful nature. This sinful nature isn’t our nature because we are humans but rather because we are joined to what the Bible calls “the prince of the power of the air…the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” When the fall of Adam took place mankind became indwelt by the “spirit of error” which has been passed down from generation to generation. This is why Jesus says, “You must be born again.” Or maybe you have heard it put this way; we must be regenerated. In other words, we need to be placed into another family which is the way we receive a new nature.

In Christ we become brand new creatures with a brand new nature. In 2 Peter 1:1-4 we discover through God’s “precious promises we may become partakers of the divine nature.” So when Jesus tells us in John 15 “I am the true vine and you are the branches” He is subtly telling us we, as human being’s, are a branch no matter what, but the question is are we attached to the true or false vine? In other words our humanity isn’t the problem but rather an expressor of the one who is the problem.

God looks to the source behind everything. He isn’t looking at us thinking there’s a pretty good one but that one over there is another story. No, he simply sees either humans that have received his Spirit or not. He sees branches attached to two different vines and wants all of them to be cut off from the false one and joined to the true one which is his Son. He knows unless we are joined to Jesus Christ we can do nothing that is of value to him so he patiently waits wanting all to come to repentance.

When the Apostle Paul walks us through his struggle in Romans 7 we discover something invaluable. After he suffers trying and failing to perform up to God’s perfect and holy standard he shares quite an insight with us. He says, “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” He goes on just a few verses later to say again, “I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” This is some of the most remarkable things anyone has ever written.

Paul tried and failed and tried and failed in his own strength until he finally saw the truth. In his humanity alone he could never be pleasing to God and the longer he tried the more he sinned. He then realized that sin was in fact the problem not his humanity. He said, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” He didn’t say his flesh was no good rather the sin that dwells in it. He began to see where the source of sin in his life really came from and it wasn’t that his humanity, in itself, was the problem but rather the spirit of error or sin dwelling in it. He saw that he had been attached to the false vine.

If you look at Galatians 2:20 you will see the very same thing on the other side. Paul said, “It is no longer I but Christ…” So you see it isn’t about Paul, or you and me, it’s really about who is dwelling in Paul and you and me. If we see ourselves as just human we will have no choice but to blame our humanity. On the other hand if we could just get the revelation that our humanity is joined to another, either sin or Christ, we will have come a long way in discovering being human isn’t the problem.

Written by Louie

IT SEEMED GOOD

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Isn’t it great we don’t always have to have the answers? Sometimes in life there are things that are clearly right or wrong and other times, well we just don’t know. For instance, some people really fret over what job to get or car to buy. What if God was happy with whatever decision we made in these neutral areas? Of course if you were thinking about a job that might harm your conscience or lead to sin you might want to steer clear, but otherwise go for it.

It seems most of the time Jesus was on earth with his disciples they didn’t know what he was talking about. Jesus would teach them something and a moment later they would ask him what do you mean? Jesus sometimes expounded on his point and sometimes he didn’t. In fact, at one point, he told them “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all 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.” In other words, upon the arrival of the Holy Spirit he would clear up some things. Once the Spirit of God took up residence within the disciples they would begin to understand more of what Jesus was all about. They would have the mind of Christ.

In the early days of the Apostle Paul, and his preaching to the Gentiles, there were some important questions that had to be answered. Some Jews were giving Paul and the new Gentile believers a difficult time about whether or not the Gentiles needed to be circumcised. This was a topic of quite the debate because throughout Jewish history circumcision was a sign of the Covenant God made with Abraham and the nation Israel. Anyone not circumcised was outside of the Covenant. When Gentiles started being saved the circumcision issue had to be resolved.

After some discussion the council at Jerusalem sent a letter to Antioch telling them what they had decided concerning the Gentiles. They told them “to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” The thing that caught my attention was how it was said. The letter read, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials.” Wow! “It seemed good” they said. Obviously they didn’t have a direct scripture or commandment from the Lord so they went with what they agreed on. These men, these Apostles and elders, were filled with the Spirit and they followed what they believed to be the leading of the Holy Spirit in this decision. We too have to make decisions that way when there is no clear scripture concerning the quandary at hand. As we come to know God we come to know his character and we learn how to follow the prompting of the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul made several statements in 1 Corinthians 7 based on the fact that he had the mind of Christ rather than a particular command. He said things like “But to the married I give instructions, not I but the Lord…But to the rest I say, not the Lord.” He even went as far as to say, “I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.” Like Paul, we have the Spirit of God and the mind of Christ. The Spirit prays for us when we can only groan, and I am so thankful he intercedes for us according to the will of God. Sometimes when there’s no clear directive we too will just have to go with what “seems good to us and the Holy Spirit.”

Written by Louie