It is all too easy to get high centered on just about anything in life. Here you are cruising along at speed and the peripheral things of life begin to take a blurred perspective. It is that place where reaching speed requires a set of skills and focus but have you ever thought about what happens to you after you have reached the top speed limit? I have observed many of today’s young people doing things like texting, or putting a foot up in the seat. It is as if they have reached a magical mode where the car is driving itself. The prospect of being alert, or intentional while driving has gone right out the window. If you are older like me, I have a tendency to be all about the adventure and exploration. My focus is on what’s just around the corner, maybe a mountain or waterfall. This is when the proverbial deer jumps into the road and many swerve out of control or drive off the road.
When my father taught us to drive, he engrained a perspective in both of his boys that has also flowed over into other areas of our lives. He would say, “If a critter jumps out in front of you while you’re going down the road, hit it!” The whole idea is to maintain your course without getting high-centered on something that you ultimately have no control over thus redirecting your focus.
When I am in a race, the object is to win the prize, reach the goal and obtain the victory. From start to finish it typically means that I will maintain my concentration on the finish line throughout the whole race. When it comes to my walk with the Lord, I think that this is the approach to everyday living that Paul was trying to drive home in (1 Cor 9:24. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.) I can’t ever remember a time during a race, (I’ve had a few) where I was trying to text a buddy, taking a selfie, hitting the cruise, or stopping at a rest area.
Don’t get bogged down in your race with, social media, political propaganda, keeping up culturally, being concerned about being relevant or, if you measure up with everyone else! Those are the peripheral blurry thingy’s that by God’s design is that way, so we won’t be distracted from the race and will maintain our speed. It is bad enough that some of these blurred distractions have a way of making themselves relevant inside of a split second. They will dart out in front of you like a deer that has a hot date with Bambi at your local front bumper & grill.
So how do we run a focused race and at the same time get there in simple faith!
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The answer is. “In Christ Jesus.” In other words, He does the driving. In the morning, I just get in the car with Him. That’s it! That is all the focus that is required of me. Jesus is calling us to race with Him! We’re ride’n shotgun and while being impressed by the driving skills of the one who has already won the race, we get to experience the checkered flag, the victory lap, and a trophy at the end!
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace!
How do we navigate life in a culturally driven world, with those we love, those who are religious, those who have failed, messy folks, good folks, and how in the world are they going to get along with the worst version of me as we travel?
1st, Realize, Nobody’s Perfect!
You can have all the training in theology, and doctrine, be an expert counselor and still not get it! However, Salvation, Sanctification, Justification, Propitiation, Mercy and Grace are all being worked out and into the lives of believers all around us. We must cut each other some slack. Too often in our cultural Christianity we have a knee-jerk response to the weakness of those around us. Nowhere is this more readily identified than in rants on various blogs where folks will take the opportunity to flog their masochistic constituents in an effort to drive a point home, thus slowly killing their following while elevating their self righteousness. We must begin to realize that in the case of the self righteous, they are the weaker brothers! They are not our enemy and we stand to benefit a great deal by forgiving them and praying for them.
Luke 18:9-14 KJV
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Fix your eyes on Jesus
Hebrews 12:2 KJV
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus has a way of bringing fit and finish to even a tough project like myself. It is one of the many inherent benefits of being the son of the Master Creator. Being a man who for much of his life has been involved in construction, born of a father who was and still is a master craftsman, I can relate to the idea of looking to the author and finisher to bring completion to my present project!
See the signals for what they are.
Do you ever feel like you are traveling alone? Let the seasons of isolation turn into opportunity to develop your intimacy with your Heavenly Father. The first response to the typical isolation scenario is to recoil. I have found, however, that it is an opportunity to understand just how our Heavenly Father feels about us without the distractions and influence of others. I firmly believe that God allows these kinds of seasons to produce a great spiritual awakening in us and to prepare us for ministry in the next season. For more insight to this kind of living, study guys like Elijah at the Brook of Kidron. (See 1 Kings 17). I’m sure at some point he would have characterized His circumstances as - “for the birds.” God on the other hand was preparing a miracle at the end of this season he was in.
Set the dial to Jesus!
Hebrews 10:16 KJV
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Jesus is the one real resource for discipleship! I’m not implying we don’t need relationship with one another, rather I would say that true relationship and discipleship is a response to the work that Christ does on our behalf and is what His Spirit does in us. This drastically changes the impact that our disciple-making has on those who are part of the body of Christ. No mixed signals! God has made a covenant with us, His will is written on our hearts and in our minds to the point that it is transformational.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Forgive, Forgive, Forgive, and Forget!
Hebrews 10:17-18 KJV
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
If we believe in forgiveness for all then we must begin to function properly in the area of forgiveness. The way to do this is simple. Forgive others in the same way you have been forgiven. To further amplify this idea, we must forgive in the same way Christ forgave. This conjures characterizations and words like; completely, forgotten, undeserved, just as if I’d never sinned, free pass, it’s ok now, and my favorite, “What you talk’n bout Willis.” If one’s idea of forgiveness is doling it out over a period of time as it is deserved or merited, then your idea of forgiveness is flawed!
Choose your accountability well!
A true story was shared with me about a pastor who fell in his own sinful pride and had an affair. I won’t go into details except to say that many will identify two things about the restoration process that he was made to go through. First, He did “The walk of shame.” This is to simply say that those in authority around him and ultimately those he was accountable to, made an example of him. This is where he was made to walk the isle of his church and stand before that body while he divulged the details of his sin. This is no more than man perverting the authority that was given to Christ alone. I will say no more! Suffice it to say that His peers in the denomination he belonged to have formulated the conclusion that He chose the wrong accountability partners. Sad!
What to look for
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace!
Give a dead guy this kind of armor and he'll be unstoppable!
Do you let Him fight all your battles?
When defending my little brother...I remember this question being sarcastically thrown out to him as a child. It still never bode well for his would be attacker!
One of the Adversary’s primary objectives is to destroy your simple faith in God. His intricate schemes and hidden diabolical drive is focused on one thing: diminishing the power of the Word of the Lord by undermining our trust in it. The very universe itself along with everything in it was created and is upheld by the Word of God according to John 1:3 and Hebrews 1:3, so in order for Satan to win, his efforts must be centered on discrediting the simple and freeing Good News of the Gospel.
Will the real you please stand up!
The enemy constantly seeks to alter our perception of reality. This is why so often we are prone to believe his condemnations rather than the Word of God, which frequently points to our righteousness in Christ being secured and in play while grace and peace are perpetually being multiplied to the weak!
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
The enemy seeks to distort the truth. He does this by making destructive things look enticingly desirable. He seeks to make the most wonderful things look unbearably boring and dull. He seeks to make the most trustworthy things look unreliable through conjecture. He seeks to make the one, true fountain of joy look like a dry well, and a broken cistern look like a spring of refreshment. He will even try to convince you hell is entertaining.
Ever been lost?
It is the enemy’s tactic to cause disorientation through temptation, condemnation, intimidation discouragement, disappointment, doubt, illness, weakness, weariness, and to appeal to our pride and shame. The spiritual powers of evil seek to keep us off-balance, confused, and turned around. If we lose our focus on the truth, we lose our sense of direction and confidence in God, which ultimately leads to losing the simple faith that we have been chosen to walk in.
I had a feeling about that guy!
The enemy is the conjurer of suspicion and he accomplishes this by infiltration into our relationships. He seeks to pervert the exchange of trust between our loved ones and us. Marriages break, families fracture, friendships rupture, churches split, movements derail as sin infects, and suspicion breeds. In the skirmish we easily lose track of who the enemy really is and sometimes we end up fighting against even our own flesh and blood.
I hope you Croak
Jesus was right when He said that we would have tribulation and that the way would be hard. It has been far harder than you or I may have ever expected!
But Jesus was right about something else: In Matthew 16:18 He says, “the gates of hell will not prevail”. John 14:6 reads, “The way is hard, but the way is sure!” Well now that you think you have a pretty firm grip on the obvious, and have committed to go a few more rounds in the ring of hell, don’t miss the most simplistically profound statement of our faith that is found in the Bible. In John 1:1 it simply says "The Way is the Word."
While many of us will go for years struggling in the mire of self-sufficiency, attempting to deal a deathblow to our enemy, the simple secret of simple faith, the great mystery is…ready for it? Die! Die, die, die, die, croak! Stay with me because I know I may have lost you!
The Left Hook from Heaven
All the brutal forces of hell, with all the distortion it can conjure, disorientation it can cause, and suspicion it can sow, simply cannot break the Word of God. For that Word is God himself John 1:1. And the Word came to destroy the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8.
The Stand In
It seems illogical that someone would take my place in the Octagon! But, the Word of God destroyed the works of the devil by being broken. Yes, all hell broke loose upon the Word of God in a ring that spanned from Gethsemane to Calvary and the Word was broken. It was for you and me that he took all of the arm bars, left hooks, take downs, and all the rest but He was not broken in the way that the enemy tried to break Him. The Enemy tried to compromise the Word, but the Word held fast by being broken, by being submitted. What the enemy didn’t understand is that while Jesus was broken on the mat, he wasn’t submitting to Satan, He was submitting to His Father!
So Ur Say'n The Dead Guy Wins?
Catch the simplicity now! In being broken, the Word of God kept unbroken the word of God, the great covenant. Justice was upheld when Christ stood in the ring for me and became both “just and the justifier of the one who has simple faith in Jesus” see Romans 3:26.
That Word, otherwise known as “Jesus Death-Blow Christ,” stands above all earthly powers and smashes against the gates of hell.
Things may be hard for us. But Jesus, the Word, the Way, will pour out His wrath on our enemy - literally hell for hell.
The key to our clarity in the face of the enemy’s distortion, focus in the face of hell’s disorientation, and our persevering, longsuffering love in the face of our adversary’s suspicion, is to listen to the Word of God by soaking in the words of God in the Bible. The Word is our refuge, Psalm 18:30; the Word is our peace, Acts 10:36, Philippians 4:7; and the Word is our weapon, Ephesians 6:17. Scripture declares we are dead in Him and resurrected into a new life with Him.
Join the Resistance!
We must remember that the devil is after one thing our faith. And we must remember that we will overcome him by one thing: our faith,
1 John 5:4. Jesus summarized our one and supreme defense against hell in this statement: “believe in God; believe also in me” John 14:1.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him; be firm in the simple belief in the faith of Jesus. This faith is not yours but His faith in you. Know that everyone around you is experiencing the same kind of suffering. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:8-10)
Now, Grace and Peace be multiplied unto you!
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace!
Simple Faith’s relationship with Righteousness.
2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)
1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Defining Simple Faith
First, we must have a simplistic understanding of what simple faith truly is and how it has provided for the sinner!
For too long now the Christian constituency has walked in perpetual defeat, I am amazed at how frequently we throw ourselves out there for examination from others and even more importantly the examination of self. I have hated exams since my early adolescence! Perpetually being measured against something or someone else and attempting to dodge the pressure of standing out in performance, acceptance, and achievement. Embedded in the realm of spiritualty, the idea of self-awareness has become an unbiblical doctrine where we are to constantly reflect on our failures, inconsistencies, and repetitive sin nature. This forever keeps us of point in that; simple faith, precious faith is living in and embracing the righteousness provided once and for all through the work of God and our Savior Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. This Grace and peace is also perpetually multiplied through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.
That folks, is what we are to examine. Are you walking in the simple faith that Jesus has provided everything pertaining to “life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”?
I believe that the enemy of our faith catches us in a trap when we submit ourselves to a perpetual “I” exam! Peter gives encouragement that was never designed to be self-examination or to put a noose around our necks rather, it was to focus us on the only thing that matters, the only thing that effectively finalizes my right standing with God as a sinner saved by Grace. You are the Righteousness of Christ because Jesus passed the test! There is no more "I", no more self-examination, no more condemnation and no more on and off faith, based on how well you are doing at any given point in the day. For too long this has been the theological and doctrinal proclamation of self-righteous, sin sniffers in the world today.
(Example) A "Christian Phycologist" once told me that my approach to simple faith in the righteousness of Christ was too dogmatic and that it may be the result of some past hurt or deep burried sin that was never dealt with. What often follows is a lack of biblical support and nominal fees being charged!
So, how do I examine my faith in simplicity?
Simple! Start your day with the affirmation that you are in Christ! Ask yourself the question; Has Christ died for me? Has He completely restored me to right standing before the Father and hidden me in himself? If the answer is yes then you pass the exam! Not only that, but even though you are a weakling, you have also graduated into living with Him by the Power of God toward you!
Take some time to let the reality of these two passages soak in. Converse with the Lord and pray through each verse, everyday until you can naturally defend the assault of self-righteous and your adversary the Devil.
2 Corinthians 13:3-6 (KJV)
3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
It doesn’t take long to wrap your brain around this new, and fun way of kicking the enemy in the booty!
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace!
Getting off the cultural bandwagon.
One of the biggest distractions we are faced with today is the Cultural Bandwagon. It comes rolling into our lives laden with packages of social blogs and friendly forums with the promise of keeping everyone connected as one big happy family. The highlights of life are displayed in an array of spectacular photos and videos and then compared to the messiness of our own lives. Real life is held captive just out of our reach and the byproduct of this pseudo community is the belief that everyone will come to our defense on the messy matters of life and what we end up with is an emoticon or likes.
Over the years I have lost precious time with my best friend Jesus because I was caught in the net of cyberspace. This place is best described as the place where conjecture breeds an unclear view of others and self. Productivity goes out the window and personal validation of ones self, life, and accomplishments are never affirmed. I can go on for a good while about the snares of the net but I think you get the point and I think if your were to ask Jesus yourself your would arrive at the same conclusions!
One of the most important aspects of my relationship with my Heavenly Father had become non-existent. I will refer to it as “A walk in the park.” You all remember the story of Enoch in scripture.
A walk in the Park
And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
The purpose for identifying Enoch is first in order to glorify the grace of the God who is mightier than death and secondly to understand the simplicity of His walk. Further delving into the other aspects of His life to credit or discredit him only serves to bog one down and miss the whole simple point. The majority of Enoch’s devotion in life was spent walking with the Lord in what must have been a park like setting not far from the original Garden of Eden. It must have been like going to the Redwoods with your bestie!
On the first matter-the grace of the God who is mightier than death.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins, and was raised to life for our justification.”
“…we were reconciled to the Father through the death of His Son….”
“don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
On the second matter-the simplicity of his walk.
The achievements of men are vast and varied but their work dies with them, but this man Enoch towers in significance above all the others. “I shall walk with God,” he determines. What greater ambition can there be to a lifetime spent walking with God? You won’t find that kind of perspective to be the priority of the FB!
In the Old Testament we find two related expressions: ‘to walk before God’ and ‘to walk after God.’ In the military a soldier always walks before the eyes of the sergeant. He walks just as he’s been instructed, and so to walk before God suggests the same kind of lifestyle, and one that is pleasing to Him. The psalmist put it this way, “For thou hast delivered my soul from death, yea, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life” (Psa. 56:13). He has saved us so that we might spend our lives walking before Him.
Then there is this other phrase, to walk after God, and it suggests submission. As you know the sheep follow after the shepherd.
“You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice.”
That is where the simplicity of our walk begins. It is the core component of a walk with Jesus. You cannot have Jesus Christ as your Lord and walk like the rest of the world walks, or walk as your piers walk. We must follow the Lord in all sincerity and holiness. Why did God choose us in Christ before the foundation of the world? That we should be holy and blameless before him and that we should walk with him. What kind of Christian is a Christian without these two components?
Now, before you overload yourself with the idea that you will never be able to do anything to warrant this kind of walk with Him, realize that the relationship isn’t about you, it’s about Him and what He has done for you! A walk with God is definitely more than thinking that He is some kind of cosmic sheriff or just being aware that His eyes are on us while we follow Him each day. What God desires is much more! It is a life of communion with Him, a life of lifting up our hearts to Him often and instinctively, as someone we rely on moment by moment. It’s like this. You start a journey and you pray a silent prayer; you go to a event and you pray that God will make it an honorable occasion; you make a phone call as you you’re asking the Lord to be part of the conversation. There are two persons meeting, a Father and his child, and that fellowship makes our sincerity truly sincere, our holiness beautiful, our obedience an inner urge. There was intimacy between Enoch and God, a movement back and forth, a living relationship between them day after day. It wasn’t that Enoch spent five minutes in the morning considering the Word of God, making an occasional comment on it and then a having a brief prayer so he could then dismiss God from his life. There are men like that who say, “I’ve done my daily portion. I’m right with God,” and then they go on with their lives without another thought of God. No, to walk with God is to realize his presence and appropriate him as your Lord and Savior again and again, over and over, everywhere and at all times.
The cultural bandwagon brings community to your area absent of any room for time alone with God. Our devotion to Him is subtly traded in for a false since of community when in contrast, communion with God is not only satisfying but is a friendship that He longs to have with you. Ask yourself why am I so often prone to conjecture, discouraged in my walk, feeling condemned by the enemy and those around me? Last but not least, ask yourself why do I have such a large cyber friend’s list and still feel so isolated?
My prescription for you present predicament.
Cut the net.
Go for a walk with God.
Re-discover true community through communion at His table.
And jump off the cultural bandwagon.
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace!
Getting your head on straight.
With everything that life is handing down these days it is easy to forget that our one hope and focus is in heaven. So often I find myself wondering just how the day is going to pan out. It subtly robs me of my true focus and keeps me perpetually off point. I wake up in the morning in speculation about how people feel, having a feeling of loneliness, wondering if I’m the only one who is going through these things, and I can be prone to immediately step back into isolation, condemning myself for the failures of my past. David, a man after God’s own heart was also a man who was highly susceptible to the same everyday approach to life that we take. This is why in Psalms he makes his this proclamation for starting his day.
But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
Praise produces a spiritual defense mechanism in the life of those who are in trouble. The powerful work of simple praise produces a supernatural work in the midst of trouble, specifically me. It was and still it is the mighty weapon for dispersing the enemy and keeping my head on straight! I have learned to make this a natural part of my life; it’s like getting out of bed! Praise and acknowledgment of Gods authority, power, strength, mercy and refuge should become the first thing out of my mouth on any given day. The rest of our day then becomes the anticipation of what God is about to do rather than despair over what He hasn’t yet!
The adversary wants to rob you of your hope of heaven, your intimacy and trust in the Lord, and a walk of simple faith. Here is a special secret for you! I have found every single day to be a day of trouble it’s true! But, by His grace I have been able to experience His strength and power, living in the hope of heaven and His soon return!
What are you hoping for today! What are you anticipating will play out through the coarse of your day? I would suggest to you this simplistic way to get your day going the right way by following the psalmist’s example!
P.S. Don’t get all wordy and theological with the Father. He is your friend!
Example for those who think it has to be profound:
Good morning Father, that’s a lot of power you’re pack’n there! I am sure glad I have your favor today. Thank you for having my back! Help me keep my eyes on you and to realize just how wonderful heaven is going to be. Now, feel free to put as much hurt on the devil as you see fit! (The rest of the conversation and praise will come).
You’ll be amazed at how well it puts your head on straight!
The pit of despair
It is a real tendency among men to want to defend anything that compromises their territory, relationships or honor. From a very young age we are poised to give an answer for our actions. In many instances we have all heard the proverbial question, “What do you have to say for yourself.” This leads us to believe that we better have a good excuse for our sin and instills in us the trigger to immediately cover up and justify our unrighteousness. With out an understanding of who God is and what He has done on our behalf, we move into the abyss of self justification and moral depravity, spinning endlessly, deeper into a web of lies and deceit, ultimately unable to see who we really are or have become. The defense of our own lives eventually becomes spiritual pride and legalism where we are the only one’s who are right and everyone else doesn’t get it. It generally takes a devastating event in life to pull us back into recognition that we have taken the work that only Christ can do into our own hands.
The characteristics of this kind of lifestyle naturally generate an unhealthy view of world, family, friends, leadership, and the church. Everyone becomes suspect, some become judge and jury, and the very things that you yourself have become are now identified as sin in others. In most cases we become prone to conjecture and unable to see others through the lens of Christ and the work of the cross.
My Adversary’s new Enemy
Once we begin to recognize that the pit of despair is too deep for anyone to crawl out of on their own, it leaves us with a host of decisions on how to proceed. If you have been a Christian like me for most of your life or even if you have been one for a short time. The accuser starts his attack almost immediately and we must decide right then whom we will listen too. This is a pivotal point in Christianity where you now choose how you will live, how you will love and if you can walk in the profound simplicity of Jesus. You will find many around you love the broken and contrite heart, they rally behind your new found desire for change but, just for a moment and when it does not match their accepted protocol you once again are set aside to fade into the backdrop where no one is bothered with the messiness of your sin. This is where you make the glorious switch from defending yourself to the defense that Jesus provides.
1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Jesus our Advocate and our Defense
As you have gathered by now, Jesus is the central component of your success. It will not come through your piers, accountability partners, psychology, counseling, or by the opinion of others have of you. The self-righteous man is just as guilty, if not more so, than the unrighteous individual. In the story of the prodigal son, who was guiltier? Was it the prodigal who spent time in the pigpen and came back repenting, or the elder son who complained and murmured because his father never killed a fatted calf for him? The heathen and the Hebrew alike are without excuse. One might sin in the flesh, the other in the spirit—but both sin. Only God sees what’s going on internally, only He can judge righteously.
Too often, regardless of being the Hebrew or the one in the pigpen, we’re so sure we’re right—when in reality we don’t have all of the facts. In the Day of Judgment, we will be shocked at how wrong we were and how little we knew when all the books are opened and all things will be judged truthfully. Watch out for the self-righteous person. They are the ones who perhaps are most vulnerable to despising the goodness of God when their brothers are glorifying God fresh out of the pigpen. It happens all to frequently when grace is extended to people who come from the pigpen and the self righteous gather in their own spiritual pride and begin to manipulate the work of grace to their benefit, not seeing their own depravity.
You must now rely solely on the work of your new advocate Jesus. Let’s take a commoners approach to some of the characteristics of this work in the book of Romans.
Romans 3:22 KJV
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
1. Justification is apart from the law. If you’re trying to relate to the Father on the basis of your own goodness or devotion, your consistency or your Bible study, your do’s and dont’s—you’ll never be justified. The law cannot justify you. It can only bring you to the realization that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith…
2. Justification is by faith in the Lord. Our justification comes from our being linked not to God generally, but to Jesus Christ personally. Do you have a general relationship where you say “I’m religious” or, do you have an intimate relationship with the Lord. James says the demons believe in God, but they’re not saved. They’re not justified. They won’t be in heaven (James 2:19). It’s not enough for a person to say, “I believe in God and go to church.” No, he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because the source of justification lies embedded in the Person and work of Jesus.
Romans 3:22 (cont.)
…of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
3. Justification is for everyone. Whether Jew or Gentile, yuppie or hippie, heathen or Hebrew—there’s only one way to enter into salvation: by faith. It’s not faith in what you’ve done or who you are, it’s not my fickle faith in Jesus Christ. Simply put, it is just believing that it is the faithfulness of Jesus towards me, in me, and for me. And that he loved me while I was ungodly so much so that He gave up his own life so a wretch like me could have new life being perfectly, completely and instantaneously justified!
Justification is by faith in the Lord. Our justification comes from our being linked to Jesus Christ personally.
If that doesn’t do it for you then… Propitiation!!!
God Himself became a Man and absorbed the wrath of His own indignation. The mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of propitiation is that God actually inflicted death on a cross upon Himself.
Now we won’t go into the deep theological perspectives of grace, justification, and propitiation here. Let’s not forget, I too am a commoner, a sinner. That being said, the custom of many is to dissect Romans in such a way that we will get bogged down in theological debate rather than simple application. So, allow me at this point to throw out one big word and make propitiation simple to apply to a common pin head such as myself.
Hilasterion, or “propitiation”—the word we don’t hear much today—is used only five times in the entire New Testament: Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:1–2; 1 John 4:10; and Hebrews 9 are four of them. The Hebrews reference, I would say, is a real key to unlocking this understanding, because in describing the mercy seat, the author of Hebrews uses the word hilasterion. The mercy seat, or hilasterion, covered the ark of the covenant. It was like a lid. The ark of the covenant contained the law. Therefore, through the mercy seat, God says, “I know you’ve broken the law. I know you deserve to be consumed because of it. But I’m going to put a lid on it through the sacrifice of My Son. He is the helasmos, the mercy seat, the propitiation. It’s not something He gives. It’s who He is! You see He has come between you and the broken law. The wrath that He should have vented on me and you was instead placed upon His Son, who died in your place.”
Now take a few moments to wrap your brain around that and then continue reading.
The fifth use of the word “propitiation” is found in Luke 18:10–14. It is a brief vignette, concerning the prayers of a Pharisee and a tax collector. Look at verse 13: “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” It begins with “God” and ends with “sinner.” The middle phrase, “be merciful”—the verb form of hilasterion—stands between God and sin. Every one of us is in one of two categories. You’re either the self-righteous Pharisee, or you’re the tax collector, grateful that Jesus is standing between God and your sin.
Now when I begin to understand the work of propitiation it blows my mind. Propitiation adds an entirely different dimension to what Paul calls “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). It’s not just the Father saying, “I’m going to settle mankind’s problem judicially.” No, He deals with it personally. That God would love me so much He would actually become the object of His own wrath frees me up in a profound way.
I know I’m a sinner. But because He absorbed the anger that should have been poured out upon me, I can walk throughout the rest of the day, week, and year be cause I am the recipient of His incomprehensible love.
Need help applying this?
Tomorrow when you wake up, It won’t take long for your adversary the Devil to begin to accuse you. He may come in many forms and is highly distinguishable because he never encourages, he never has a solution, and he never leads you to the cross. Anything or anyone who comes to you and meets those criteria should be promptly introduced to the new Adversary of your Enemy. Let Him put a lid on it! Meanwhile you can be free!
Next Start, Pleading the Blood!
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace
Developing an understanding of confession.
How should we confess our sin?
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
A right view of sin carries with it the understanding that sin deserves judgment. That is why David pleads for mercy rather than justice. He realizes that God hates sin.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Not only does sin deserve judgment, but also it demands cleansing. Before revival can come, there first must be removal. Many times, we seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit when, in reality, what we need is to be emptied of our sin. So, this is where I begin to confess my sin to the Lord. I become transparent with the sin I am aware of and ask Him to reveal and wash me thoroughly from all my sins.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
David took responsibility for his sin. “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned,” he said. Sin declares guilt
“What about Uriah and Bathsheba?” “Didn’t David sin against them?”
They were innocent victims perhaps but sinners nonetheless. We rush to place blame, thinking there must be someone wrong and someone innocent. But that’s not scriptural, for we’re all guilty (Romans 3:23). We’re all in need of salvation.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
The Holy Spirit is faithful to extract the deepest of sin and failure. There are sins that I am unaware of. I desire that the Lord will root out everything and will give me wisdom to understand my error and to walk in truth.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
I need to be holy, not only for the for the sake of the sinner, but for God’s sake. The sacrifice God desires is a humble sacrifice—not mixed with pride of my spirituality or satisfaction with my own righteousness, but with an acute awareness of my own need for mercy.
I pray this prayer daily now. It is how I began to receive and accept forgiveness, correction, and develop a dependency on the Lord.
I am a broken man. I can fix nothing! I limp through life while others think I should have it together. Lord, You have brought me here so that I might lean on you, depend on you, and trust in you. I pray that the life I lead would not be one that demonstrates spiritual prowess, theological correctness or even Christian notoriety but that it may be one that blesses others because of my total dependency on you. I will meditate on you, cry out to you and wait patiently for you. This is the key to my success. I will take my hands off and allow you to do your work for you are my defense, my rock and my salvation and I will not move from there because my expectation is in you. It is you who changes me, you increase my faith, and you deal with the hidden things. You extract those things, which do not belong, and you revive me with you Spirit. Faith is living without scheming and only trusting in you. No manipulation, or maneuvers, no polishing or pushing, just trust and pouring out my heart to you at all times. All power and mercy belong to you so I will set my heart on you only. When I am thirsty and dry I will bless you and be satisfied by you as I rejoice in you because you have kept me.
A lot of believers hear condemning thoughts, and some believers even think it's God telling them these things. In this day in age we have perpetuated the idea that God only speaks to a select few and are highly susceptible to the lie that God sends his direction for your life to another persons mailbox. Nothing could be further from the truth! God NEVER tells you what a loser you are nor does he send people around you that kind of message. Jesus said He came not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 12:47)!
So, How do I identify condemnation?
Condemnation comes from our advisory Satan and is meant to tear you down. Many professing believers are often the delivery system for the adversary because they have never gotten a grip on grace or, should I say grace has never gotten a grip on them. They will tell you in their legalistic approach that the grace you are embracing is sloppy or to good to be true. I would suggest to you that if the gospel of grace was easily understood or not to good to be true then it wouldn’t be the Good News at all! Unlike conviction, condemnation continually points out what a failure you are, and how badly you've messed up. Condemnation is showing you the problem, but avoiding the solution.
Jesus did NOT come to condemn the world (John 12:47). There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Satan on the other hand is KNOWN for accusing the brethren (Rev 12:10).
Why won't you ever hear God telling you what a failure you are? Because Jesus said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (John 12:47)
So, How do I identify conviction?
Conviction is known in the Bible as Godly sorrow. God's Word tells us that Godly sorrow is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Condemnation tells you, "You are such a flake! Look at what you did!" while conviction tells you, "Come to me... and I will forgive you!" “Cast all your cares upon Me.”
Not only is God willing to forgive your sins, but He longs (deeply desires) to do so!
"Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him." (NASB)
1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."
"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
Conviction shows you the answer to your problem and leads you to the cross of Christ. Conviction shows you the blood of Jesus that wipes away your sins!
So, What’s the difference?
Conviction shows you the answer (the Blood of Jesus, which washes away sin), while condemnation shows you the problem (the sin, the past and your failures). Condemnation shows you the problem, but conviction shows you the answer.
Condemnation shouts, "Your past! Your sins! You loser!" But conviction shouts, "The Blood of Jesus washes away sins! Come to Jesus and be forgiven of your sins! You can be forgiven! Your sins and past don't have to be a part of you anymore!"
Understanding the nature of God's forgiveness.
I have often said that one of the greatest attributes of God is His forgetfulness!
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
It's so important to understand the nature of God's forgiveness and His desire to wash us clean from our pasts.
Life is complicated and even stressful. In this every day environment, it’s easy to lose sight of how simple our walk with Jesus should be. Many are realizing the importance of getting "back to basics". While many stress the importance of the church and its many characterizations and facets of ministry, subtlety we have been lured into busyness and a walk absent of intimacy with Christ. Christianity becomes task oriented and the simplicity of our walk with Him becomes non-existent. The Bible warns us that our advisory wants us to believe that this is just the way life is, taking us away from “the simplicity that is in Christ”.
2 Corinthians 11:3, King James Version But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
This Blog is about re-prioritizing and rediscovering the simple walk with the Lord.
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