Such tremendous power in restoration!
Galatians 6:1-2 (KJV)
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
After having gone through this process personally, because of my own need for restoration along with the almost 7 years It has taken to see it play out. I have learned many things from my personal story and by the grace of God have a completely different perspective on matters of restoration.
First let me state my personal perspectives on what restoration should never look like.
Don’t Ignore the “lest thou also be tempted,” part!
Here are some of the good things I have seen in the process of my personal restoration. They have forever changed my thinking.
Food for Fought!
My how we have strayed from the New Covenant!
I’ve watched very closely and it seems to me that every moment, of every day provides some new method, some new covenant, some new inside edge on what to believe or how to belong. It seems to me that everyone has the inside edge on everything but Christ and Him Crucified. They will tell you that there is always more to it than just a simple walk of faith and resting in the promised seal of His Spirit for everyday living. It reminds me that anything that adds performance or work to the intended rest we are to walk in under the New Covenant, eventually dries up and dies!
Big Word "Ecclesiology" Explained!
It is the study of the Christian Church and the origins of Christianity however, sometimes it stops short in relationship to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of ecclesiology, the doctrines of the Church and how it operates in the lives of God’s people when it is a response to the work that He is doing in us and not just another millstone around the necks of His children. In Fact, a good understanding of ecclesiology is like saying sic’em to a dog when it comes to fulfilling our part in the body of Christ. We have been given scriptural mandates as a body of believers to be a place of comfort and compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), a place where encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11) helps God’s people grow in knowledge and faith (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31), all for the glory of God.
As an individual member of the Body of Christ, He gives us all responsibilities within the local body.
Side note, but an Important one!
If God has moved on you to sign contracts, be committed to other covenants, and you belong to something you deeply care about then put this article down now. It is not intended to draw lines in the sand, or to cause division in the Body of Christ. I am a firm believer that He who began a work in each of us is faithful to complete it and that it may look differently for you than it does for me. I don't know how He is doing it but He promises to bring us all into the Unity of the Faith. Suffice it to say however, God has laid it on my heart to share the Good News that Christ made things very simple for one and all. Some in the Body of Christ tend to make it more difficult than it needs to be. They do it by burying the purposes of the church and responsibilities of its members beneath rules that have nothing to do with the church’s mission. It is then implied that there are other covenants and agreements to be made with men or the local church.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
1 John 4:1.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
The problem with man's covenants is that they are often unbiblical, unneeded, do not bring unity, and alienate others.
The Old Testament is full of covenants God made with his people: Edenic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic. If those aren’t familiar to you, don’t worry. The point is that God makes covenants – a type of binding promise – with his people. Today we live under the new and lasting covenant Jesus established. It had been promised in prophecy centuries before.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-32.)
Under this New Covenant, God enables you to know him intimately.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34.)
This is the promise Jesus brought to reality through his death and resurrection. I imagine his friends couldn’t help but recognize Jeremiah’s prophecy when, the night before his death, Jesus said to them at the Passover dinner:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:20.)
This is the covenant God has with his people.
You are part of the body of Christ organically, that is, the Body of Christ is a single organism. Here are a few ways the Bible describes Christ’s body:
Every single one of those ways of looking at our place in the body of Christ – the church – is dependent on our relationship with Jesus, not with one another. And it is because of our relationship with Jesus that we are in relationship with one another. Your relationship with Jesus is under the new covenant that Jesus described to his disciples. It is the new relationship God promised he would create with his people. And this new covenant with God is the only one that counts.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25.)
God’s covenant with you leads to fellowship with others who are also in covenant with him. These are the relationships firmly supported by the Bible. And it’s all based on God’s covenant with you, not some extra-biblical covenant with other Christians, Clubs, Denominations, etc. After all, God’s the one who keeps covenants and promises perfectly, so let’s leave the covenanting up to him.
1 As a prisoner in the Lord, then, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 and with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 Now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Why is this so important to our understanding!
I run into a lot of folks who are constantly being taught to strive for more. These folks are bound up like a hound Dog trying to pass a peach pit! To me, this is like trying to catch a bus you’ve already caught! It is especially important for those of us who have been freed from religiosity to understand because we have leaned on dispensationalism and old covenants in the past. They became a hindrance to our understanding of the complete work of the New Covenant that Christ established because they are always packed with the emphasis on personal performance. I don’t know about you but the enemy tries to distract me enough from the perfect rest that comes in the finished work of the cross as it is. So, let’s take a fresh look at where we are at in this dispensation, right now as we are walking with and in Him.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10.) I like to phrase it this way:
I may never be the cool, mega-church pastor and I may never be used in the ways I was before, but make no mistake about it. I am on the inside of the only body that really matters, and it has room enough for all. I have no need of any other covenants because for those who have failed, those who live in fear, those who have been labeled, those who have been wounded, those who are weary and weak, flawed, scared, given up, shipwrecked, in prison, bitten by the enemy, and even the religious. Ours is the New Covenant and our position and authority is in Him.
Opps! I forgot to sign a contract with the one who justifies the ungodly! Am I really Righteous?
In Romans. Paul is shows the difference between being made right with God by works, as opposed to by faith. If we could be justified before God by works, Paul wrote in the previous verses, then God would owe us righteousness.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 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:
It would be like our paycheck for services rendered: a transaction with the God of heaven. Paul has already demonstrated in Romans, however, that nobody can accomplish this work. Instead, we all sin and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).
So now Paul points to the opposite of earning something by work: receiving it as a gift. The difference comes in not laboring with a mind to "earn" or purchase that benefit. The one who receives a gift, as a gift, does not try to earn it. What would be the point? Instead, this person simply believes in the God who justifies the ungodly. His simple belief on the name of Jesus is what causes him to be declared righteous by God. There are no contractual agreements to be signed with the New Covenant, No defaults, tickets, citations, reprimands, condemnation, and no separation from the love of God for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Law was fulfilled once and for all by Christ. Paul gives a new descriptor to God: "the one who justifies the ungodly." This is the entire point of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God does not wait for us to become godly, or righteous on our own apart from Him, before welcoming us into His family. Because of our faith in righteous Jesus, God justifies us in spite of our sinfulness. There is no greater gift than this.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
Paul's point to his opponents, the Jewish religious leaders, is that this is from the teachings of Scripture itself and not something he has invented so, look to the only Covenant that matters and enjoy the New Covenant for this Dispensation!
The one who tied my shoes and zipped my britches!
Never did I fully understand the impact that a single person could have on my life until I met my Kindergarten teacher. She was the epitome of Grace and it’s work in the lives of those who lack understanding on matters of navigating life. You know… like tying your shoes and zip’n your pants. I truly would have stumbled around or exposed myself much worse in life, had it not been for the teacher of grace that she was in my formative years. She in my kindergarten year was the object of my affection and in my eyes the most beautiful person on the planet. She had a way at putting me at ease when it came to learning my letters and how to spell my last name. You see, I had come to the conclusion that life as I new it would be insufferable and difficult for me. I would never make it into the first grade with a last name like Fairrington. My buddy had been blessed with the good name of Cox. Three letters to my Eleven!!! He could sign his name to his papers and be done with his work while I was still writing out my last name. In a world that seemed so unfair, there was only one thing that would get me through to the next grade. It was Grace! Grace that would teach me, Grace that was slow to anger, Grace that would teach me how to keep from stumbling, grace that covered me when I was exposed and feeling unworthy. Yes, it was Grace! Teaching me then and it is Grace that teaches us all how to walk in Godliness.
Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Grace is what brings Holiness. It does not demand anything from us. Its work is done for us. I thought it would be something more along the lines of me proving to you that its work is present in my life. I thought it was based on an evaluation of my performance by others. I thought that it could only be substantiated by the recognition, evidence and validation of those who have been wounded by me before I could move on. Now some would say that this is just another way to embrace sloppy grace and continue in sin but look at what the verse says. “Grace teaches us to be Holy”, “Grace teaches us how to say no to sin” More than the Law, More than Religion, More than my self-righteousness, More than my commitments, covenants, piety, or performance, more than anything else Grace is teaching me to be Holy. It is teaching me how to not stumble! This is why we forgive one another, This is why we love each other through the ugliness of life. When I really grasp that God is gracious and slow to anger in my heart, it doesn’t cause or encourage me to sin more, it causes me to sin less. So my understanding of grace is that it is provided not because of sin and not so we can continue in sin, but it teaches us so that we can know how to say no to sin.
When you finally realize you are kindergartner and in the most unqualified state for God’s favor and yet have received the teacher of grace anyway, now all you want is to rest and to walk in the ways of God because His grace is the teacher and she is beautiful, and loves you, and makes you feel as if you are the most important kid in the room!
The Holiest thing you can do is to rest in the finished work of the cross of Christ. You cannot add to Jesus’ work. When we rest from our own works in order to merit Gods favor and blessings, we are honoring Jesus for a job well done!
No more effort on my part. Its all Him, all Jesus.
Never let anyone make you feel guilty for resting in His Grace. It is teaching us to be Holy!
Jimmy's core beliefs on conscience will get you killed!
Let this mind be in you!
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
A Cricket Tried To Kill Me!
The statement “Always let your conscience be your guide, is a profound one if you are a singing cricket with a top hat!” I personally believe that if that perspective becomes one of your core beliefs, eventually it will only produce depression, anxiety, and a trip to the loony bin. Scripture is right when it proclaims that “there is a way that seems right unto man.” It was that kind of Cricket mentality, pride, and self-dependency, that just about killed me. It’s true! A dependence on your self-proclaimed spiritual prowess and matters of conscience will produce the kinds of beliefs that will lead you off course in your simple and restful walk of faith.
Contrary to the hyper-spiritual concepts we have embraced, the Bible has a much different view on the matter than we have adventured out to discover. It tells us that while your conscience may be a good helper, it is also a harsh master. Whenever there are negative implications linked with conscience in the Bible and when words like sinful, evil, defiled or seared are used in conjunction with conscience, it always pertains to the self-effort of one who is striving to appease their conscience apart from the finished work of the Cross. The only way sinful man can have a perfect conscience is by having it covered with the blood of Christ. When we look at The Book of Hebrews in the Bible, any other conscience is a “sinful” conscience and it always results in “dead works.” When I engaged in works to appease my conscience, those works become tainted and impure in motivation. In my spiritual pride I thought I could fix people, denominations, and the church. These perspectives are a direct result of compensating for sin or failures and thus become self-serving at their very foundation. Simply put, this kind of conscience and core belief is nothing more than a mission of self-righteousness because it doesn’t come from a pure conscience.
Identify the presence of Self-Righteousness.
Just a few Examples and Statements of a self-righteous conscience (See more in Galatians 5):
What the Bible does refer to, as a pure conscience is one that is absent of ulterior motives and hidden agendas. That can only stem from a “perfect” conscience. Simply put, it is in resting in the Finished Work of the Cross that our conscience finally finds perfection and rest. It is there that we are freed from the mind numbing guilt, depression, and self-righteous spirit that will drive us straight into the mental ward.
1 Corinthians 15:10 KJV
 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Despite my newfound conscience and a changed heart there are still some who would say that I am a botched up mess and that I don't warrant or deserve grace on any level. That is because my cup is perpetually dirty on the outside but clean on the inside! So, I always reply by saying, You would be right! But here is the deal, I am what I am by His grace! It wasn't something I acquired or earned, or even traded up for. It was given freely to me by the Lord and not in vain as some would suspect, He filled my dirty on the outside cup and made me clean on the inside!
After Jesus had called Lazarus forth, Lazarus’ sisters were given the responsibility of simply removing his grave clothes. I am most certain that he had a look of death about him and quite possibly a stench about him while still wrapped up in the rags of his past. But they didn’t say we can’t be around him nor, did they take the position that Jesus hadn’t really brought life to one who was once dead. To often we disassociate with people who have been brought to life but are still in their grave cloths. The fact of the matter is, we are all packing around a few pieces of the old wrappings. So, try not to be so offended by my old grave clothes that you won’t fellowship with me, lest we make the grace which was bestowed upon each of us in vain. I simply need help to get these grave clothes off! And by the way… So do you!
Now I am free to live in His grace and with a clean conscience but my labor characteristics have changed! Now I labor even more! Not to boast in my self righteous pride or to be a spiritual authority and not for the sake of laboring to be recognized by my good works but now I labor to stand firm in the grace that is with me and unto rest in the work that His grace is already doing! Furthermore I can rest in knowing that He has bestowed His grace upon you too and that it was not in vain!
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The work is done and the rest has begun! His strength has been made perfect even while you're in grave clothes and you are at your weakest point. Yes I have failed and so have you so let’s together glory in the fact that even though there are inadequacies and the outside of our cup may be a little dirty, the power of Christ is resting upon us! Your cup is clean and full on the inside!
Be free, keep your faith simple, and walk in forgiveness with a clean, perfect conscience, through the Shed Blood of Jesus Christ today! Anything else, tramples on Jesus the One who became sin, the One who became the worst version of me, the One who stood in our place and took all of God's wrath so that you and I could be free from the guilt, condemnation, and judgment that we all deserved. Why would we ever want to deprive ourselves of such amazing grace? Unless of course our confidence is rooted in the strength of our own flesh.
The purpose of this thought is to unpack the sin of spiritual pride and self-sufficiency and to remove your grave cloths.
Miracles Await! So Here’s Spit in Your Eyes!
When we finally get what it means to live a simple walk of faith and focus on the Faithful One... Your Miracles Await! So Here’s Spit in Your Eyes!
Did I just really say that?
I know the above statement may sound foreign to the typical culturally relevant train of thought so allow me to lay the groundwork for some simple thoughts and conversations that I have had all by my onesie with the Lord.
Have you ever wondered “Why did Jesus use spit for some of His miracles?” Our pastor Ben touched on this some time ago and because I am a big proponent of a walk of simple faith, I have often pondered this subject and worked through some things as I converse with the Lord bout stuff.
In Mark's Gospel, somewhere near Decapolis, some people brought Jesus a deaf man who could hardly talk. Jesus healed the man, of course, but in an interesting manner; “Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue” (Mark 7:33). Later, in the town of Bethsaida, Jesus healed a blind man. Again, the miracle was preceded by spitting: “He... spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him” (Mark 8:23). To heal a man born blind, Jesus “spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9:6).
Certainly, Jesus, the divine Son of God, does not need physical props to work miracles. In many cases, Jesus merely spoke, and healing followed (Matthew 15:28; Luke 17:12-14). Yet, in three cases, Jesus used His spittle in the process of healing. One possible reason for Jesus’ use of His saliva has to do with the beliefs of His contemporary culture. Several Roman writers and Jewish rabbis considered saliva to be a valid treatment for blindness. Since the people of that day had a high view of saliva’s healing properties, Jesus used spit to communicate His intention to heal. Those being healed would have naturally interpreted Jesus’ spitting as a sign that they would soon be cured.
Whose Faith Is Really At Work Here?
Now the verse that really jumps out at me is the one in Mark 8:23. It says, “And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.”
There are those who would say that the greater need of each of those who were healed required the need for increased, proportional faith. I like to work through this perspective differently than others may so allow me to break it down this way. I say, "It was the Faith of Jesus that produced the miracle, not the profound faith of the person being healed."
We are all equally faithless when you think through it!
One thing to consider is that each individual was equally faithless; otherwise they all would have already been healed. Then, there is the matter of spit. The last time someone spit in your eye… Did it get your attention? I believe the whole point was not to increase their faith but rather to get them to put their focus on the One who is Faithful!
For too long in life I have tried to increase my faith, speak things into existence, exert my own spiritual fortitude. Could it be that Jesus the Faithful One just wants my focus and attention? Could it be that all this time He has been taking me away from the common beliefs on matters of profound faith to get me alone, to redirect my focus off of the issues and the questions about how I am going to survive or get through the day and simply put my focus on Him?
You see… When we are weak He is Faithful! Now feel free to go get rid of all those anointed prayer cloths you paid good money for while you were waiting for your miracles.
2 Tim 2:13 NIV
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Could it be that the key to seeing increased but simplistic faith produced in my life is as simple as getting away with Jesus? 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In Mark 8, Jesus called this blind, faithless man away. He literally takes him by the hand and leads him out of town away from all other influence and the man begins to connect what little faith he has to the One who is faithful. Look at the flow in the process of developing simple faith. Let it saturate your heart.
First, Jesus, after spitting in this man’s eyes and putting His hands on the man, asked him, “Do you see anything?” I like that! Jesus is not expressing His own lack of faith, instead He is taking this man on a journey of anticipation and simple expectation that the work is being done. He is learning to lean on and depend on Jesus and His faithfulness. Slowly, the man begins to get it. Things are still fuzzy but he realizes there is something happening in His life. Jesus now puts His hands on the blind man’s eyes and he is fully restored.
The real miracle is not the physical eyesight being restored. It is this man embracing and understanding what a walk of simple trust and faith in Jesus is! Once this happens, Jesus tells the man, “Don’t go back!”
Mark 8:23-26 (KJV)
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
I have a real tendency to revert back to the old perspectives that would imply that my profound faith had something to do with a needed miracle. I have an old cowboy poem called Jake the Rancher. It was handed down to me by a person I call a good friend because of the simplicity that he once shared with me when I was failing miserably in my walk and ministry. His name is Gayle Erwin and this poem is a perfect example of the misunderstandings we cultivate convoluting simplicity in our walk and the work Jesus does.
Jake, The Rancher
Jake, the rancher, went one day to fix a distant fence. The wind was cold and gusty and the clouds rolled gray and dense. As he pounded the last staples in and gathered tools to go, The temperature had fallen and the snow began to blow.
When he finally reached his pickup, he felt a heavy heart, from the sound of that ignition, he knew it wouldn't start. So Jake did what most of us do, if we'd have been there He humbly bowed his balding head and sent aloft a prayer.
As he turned the key for the last time, he knew he'd lost his luck, They found him three days later, frozen stiff in that old truck. Now Jake had been around in life and done his share of roamin' But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked -- it look just like Wyomin'.
Oh, there were some differences of course, but just some minor things, One place had simply disappeared -- the town they called Rock Springs. The BLM had been shut down, and there was no grazin' fees, and the wind in Rawlins and Cheyenne was now a gentle breeze. (cont…)
The Park and Forest Service folks -- they didn't fare so well, They'd all been sent to fight some fire in a wilderness called Hell. Though Heaven was a real nice place, Jake had a wondering mind, So he saddled up and lit a shuck, not know'n what he'd find.
Then one day up in Cody, on a cold fall afternoon, He saw St. Peter coming, and he knew he'd be there soon. Of all the saints in Heaven, his favorite was St. Peter, Now, this line, it ain't needed but it helps with rhyme and meter.
So they set and talked a minute or two, or maybe it was three, Nobody was keepin' score -- in Heaven time is free. "I've always heard," Jake said to Pete, "that God will answer prayers, But one time I asked for help, well he just plain wasn't there.
Does God answer prayers of some, and ignores the prayers of others? That don't seem exactly square -- I know all men are brothers. Or does he randomly reply, without good rhyme or reason? Maybe, it's the time of day, the weather or the season.
Now I ain't trying to act smart, it's just the way I feel, And I was wonderin', could you tell -- what the heck's the deal? Peter listened very patiently and when Jake was done, There were smiles of recognition, and he said, "So, you're the one!
That day your truck, it wouldn't start, and you sent your prayer a-flying, You gave us all a real bad time, with hundreds of us a trying. A thousand angels rushed to check the status of your file, But you know, Jake, we hadn't heard from you in quite a while
And though all prayers are answered, and God ain't got no quota, He didn't recognize your voice, and started a truck in North Dakota.
As humorous as it may seem, we go through life lacking in faith, and absent of the peace and rest that comes from the faithful one!
My final, stupid, simple, silly, observation.
Now, to further illustrate what simple faith is and that it has nothing to do with my merit, tune in to this for just one final moment. I was seated on the throne in our back throne room the other day pondering all the places I had looked for my keys over the last 45 minutes, while I did my morning business. I was late, frustrated, and had given up all hope when from my lofty perch, I threw up a prayer for a miracle. “Jesus,” I said, “You alone hold the keys, now would you help me find mine?” Three minutes later I had my keys and was on my way. I have had this scenario play out more times and in more ways than I can count now and I know you have too! You see, It is never because of our spiritual prowess or posture, rather, it is because of his faithfulness that miracles happen every day in the most naturally supernatural way.
Questions to Ponder…
Unpacking My Flawed State!
Unpacking My Flawed State!
How do I revel in Grace when being perpetually reminded of my sins? First, it is helpful to come to grips with the fact that we are all equally born into sin, equally can’t fulfill the Law, and therefore equally depraved. All this time, I thought that I was just a special kind of stupid when it came to sin! As it turns out, we’re all in the same boat!
Let me give you an understanding of what I have walked through as a commoner to prequalify what I am about to say to you. Please note that the intent is not to unearth a dead body here! The purpose is to simply identify everything that is common to man and relevant to the days we live in presently and to tell you my story so that may walk in newness and freedom in Christ.
I am a man with a call on my life. Understanding just what that looks like has been difficult and convoluted for most of my life. I can surmise that there are many reasons for this. Some of the reasons deal with influence, others deal with denomination, some with family or work, and some of it has to do with being gifted with the ability to do many things. But, the one major underlying factor running congruent with and intertwined in all of what I have done and where I have been is that of my own Sin. Ah… There it is! The S… word. I ever avoid it to place the blame on my surrounding circumstances.
With men, so often it is packed in an onboard characteristic called pride. From a young age we are taught to take pride in an assortment of things. We make them the object of our affections ultimately transferring our accomplishments to be a reflection of our self. It subtly roots itself into our very make-up without us being aware it and then when it has its firm grasp, it manifests its ugly side in ways that clutter our ability to navigate life, make decisions, understand God’s will, and walk in the freedom of simple faith and justification that comes by the work of Christ.
How did this all play out in my life? Just like it does with all of us! At a very young age. I’ll bet we can all remember the very first lessons on how to hide our sin. For some, it starts with hidden promiscuity, with others it is drinking, or drugs. We sneak off, or out when no one is watching. We hide our true feelings, we fail to look for the signs in each other because we are too busy trying to measure up to someone else's standards. We self train ourselves to be the bearer of our own burdens rather than bearing one another's burdens, absent of guilt and condemnation. That is why we hide everything and it is also why it often takes many years and even into adulthood to have the bonds of living with our sin secretly come to the place where they are loosed once and for all. We perpetually deal with the consequences of sin in many areas of life simply because we do not have a good understanding of the work of Christ on the cross.
As time goes by Sin polishes and packages our pride to be the perfect bedfellow. If you are one of the folks who gravitate towards religion rather than relationship, it becomes easy to embrace perspectives that are not scriptural and embrace the mindset of adapting scripture to propagate a position of spiritual pride. We will manipulate others with our spiritual prowess and biblical knowledge; everything seems to be in perfect place while at our core there is a continual battle. A battle for a right spirit, a clean heart, a clear conscience, where our very freedom seems to escape us at every turn leaving us confused, bitter, worked up, judgmental, isolated and alone.
This is where I found myself, disillusioned with ministry, unable to track the right path, the narrow path, the old path of the Lord. I was buried in sin and pride to the point that it had affected those around me. At the point that spiritual pride had unraveled me internally, life around me began to unravel. In a season when I should have been at my best, I allowed myself to walk in weakness. There are no reasons to go into the depths of my depravity any longer, thank you Lord! When I first wrote the book, “The Simple Jesus” I went deep into the nature of my old dead body. When it comes right down to it though, all have sinned! Now, and for your own simplicity, you can just make the assumption that in regards to John Fairrington that there was a swamp full of varied sin and that it was all drained, forgiven, and forgotten, just like yours was!
As a result of all of my sin, suicidal tendencies, fear of losing my wife, along with the physical pain and medical misdiagnosis of what was happening in my body, my discretion and ability to do what was right had been refashioned into the justification for my flawed state and blindness to my own sin. My loneliness and lack of intimacy in my relationship with God led to finding satisfaction elsewhere and the outcome ultimately destroyed relationships and trust. After having walked for many years with folks who we thought would be there though our difficulties, very few of them knew our struggles and that is when my wife and I came to the realization that Jesus was the only one who could fix us.
God Had a Purpose!
When I began to repent, my eyes were opened to not only my own depravity but I began to see the flaws in how we as believers navigate unbiblical perspectives handed down over generations and the impact that it has had on the church, our families, and each other. Justification at the foot of the cross is a level playing field. The sins of the accusers are just the same as the accused. This is especially hard for the religious to wrap their heads around. Even today there are only a handful of people I know who can and are willing to walk along side of us through this kind of process. Even to this day some who were co-laborers and piers in ministry or, folks who I asked to partner with me in mutual accountability, and those who heard my confession have had little contact with me.
There are many who teach and understand the biblical principles of Romans and the wonderful work of grace and justification but, very few who follow the patterns of Jesus and the 2 Corinthians perspectives of Paul. Religious leaders can often be found rallying to the cause of the offended and hoping that the sin factors and the offenders will just go away. Religious protocol is followed forgetting the fact that whether we are the offender, or the offended, we all deserve the penalty of death as much as we all get to experience and receive restoration at the foot of the cross. This has unfortunately been a very present part of the cultural christianity movement.
How Do We Know That We Are All Guilty?
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 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.
5 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!
People will ask, “What about Uriah and Bathsheba?” “Didn’t David sin against them?”
Yes! They were innocent victims perhaps but sinners nonetheless. We rush to place blame, thinking there must be someone who is wrong and someone who is innocent. But that’s not scriptural, for we’re all guilty (Romans 3:23). We’re all in need of salvation. Nevertheless, so often the victim is embraced with open arms and the offender is left to isolation.
It’s Not That Way with Jesus!
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 don’ts—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. It is the belief 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!
If you are a man or woman who has been weighed down with sinful pride then I hope that this will be a fresh starting point for you. It really is simple! And although there may be few around you who understand what you are going through, know this, if you can just place your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus and you can confess your sins and failures right now, it will put you back on the right path, the narrow path, the old path and you can take your next steps being fully, instantaneously, and gloriously justified through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Simple!
2 Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
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.
Christ puts simplicity and peace into our faith and for you who have walked in condemnation from your sins and failures, Jesus has declared you the innocent ones. Don’t allow anyone to subtly corrupt your new found simplicity in Christ.
Romans 8:1 (KJV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Can a Walk of Faith Be Simple?
My Faith or, His Faithfulness?
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 and My Discovery
I was never under the impression that my faith was simple! So, first it was important that I have a simplistic approach and understanding of what simple faith truly is and what 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 always 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 this realm of self-awareness is the unbiblical idea that we are to constantly reflect on our failures, inconsistencies, and repetitive sin nature. This forever keeps us off point. 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 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 those bound by their own self-righteousness and sin sniffing. Admittedly, I was once an authority on both of these prideful traits!
Examining Faith with Simplicity
It can be made 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!
2 Corinthians 13:4
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.
Take some time to let the reality of this passage soak in. Converse with the Lord and pray through each verse, every day until you can naturally defend the assault of self-righteousness and your adversary the Devil who ever lives to complicate a simple walk of faith!
Why you will hear a lot about SIMPLE here.
It is becoming increasingly harder for Christians to understand their purpose, lead their families, build their careers, and most importantly understand God’s voice. As time goes by, folks who gravitate towards religion rather than relationship begin to embrace perspectives that are not scriptural. They adapt scripture to propagate their spiritual pride. They then manipulate others with spiritual prowess and Biblical knowledge; everything seems to be in its perfect place but, at their core there is a continual battle raging. Our adversary is at war with us and wants to twist our understanding of God’s Word. Perpetuated by misnomers and the selfish motivations of religious folk, our failure and lack of desire to drink from the cistern of the Water of the Word has left us dry. There are many believers today, some who are considered to be folks of profound faith that will tell you that where the Lord is leading them and how to navigate it all for His glory is foggy or indiscernible and that a walk of faith in Christ is difficult at best.
It has taken many years for me to understand the path that the Lord has had me on and for many those years in ministry, construction, and various other occupations I have stumbled on and off of it. After a season of repentance, confession, and devotion to renewing the simplicity of a walk with the Lord it has been on my heart to share the simple truths of Christianity; Simple Faith; and a genuine, intimate, real-deal relationship with Jesus; that for so many years had evaded me and clouded my walk with the Lord because of my own sinful pride.
God Justifies the Ungodly!
Here is the Good News, (Romans 3:20-4:5) God justifies the ungodly who trust in him. God acquits the guilty! While I have frequently stumbled in life, God has been gracious! This understanding is crucial to the success of folks who desire to walk closely with the Lord, and are wanting to enjoy their freedom to be who God created them to be but who struggle with depression, isolation, their own sins, hearing from the Lord, and moving past the mistakes of their past. There are many who live in a perpetual state of condemnation or have been unable to accept forgiveness. They carry with them a constant reminder of their faults. This comes from many angles. Churches, family and loved ones, even friends often do not know how to navigate the messy side of forgiveness. Ultimately restoration through the justification of Christ is immediate but the rest of His followers have a tendency to dole it out over long periods of time and as they see fit. I have been on these types of journeys and have been learning how to walk in the full-on provisions of Christ. It is something that we as Christians need to revel in and I have committed to share this message and my story with those who will hear it, one on one, and in simple settings. It is my story! It is just one of the many things the Lord has began in me; Post Churchianity, post religiosity, post the acknowledgment of my personal depravity and forgiveness of my real and hidden sins, and all the other things that cultural christianity didn't want to bother with because it left their rooms messy! In His presence (His room) I, the ungodly, have been justified! I, the guilty, have been acquitted! Simply put, I am forgiven!
Should we constantly second guess our past decisions?
Stay with me because this is important to look at!
Now I know that is a lot to take in so allow me to blow some holes in the philosophical principles surrounding theoretical decision making.
Romans 1:17 KJV
 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Let’s get right to simplicity!
There was a young woman whose husband left her. Not long after that she went to school and became a lawyer, She married a great Christian guy and continued to practice law. It wasn’t long that the couple discovered that they were unable to have children. This is their story! She is quoted as saying “Theoretically, if I had been able to have children in my first marriage maybe things would be different.”
Hmmm! This just doesn’t jive with the idea that the just shall live by faith. Another problem is that it is horribly confusing for other christians to see conflicting views and mis-understandings of what God has been doing in any of our individual stories. At some point, we can't give credence to the ways that seem right in our own eyes. A walk of faith demonstrates rest and trust in the work that God is doing in us even when we don't fully understand how He is authoring our story. Furthermore, we all have to come to a place in our walk where we recognize our position in Christ in and reconcile it with what the Author and finisher of our faith has done in our story.
Now back to the story of this young woman. What if she did have children in her first marriage? Would she still be locked in an abusive relationship? Would she be where she is now? It’s all theoretical yes. but it has also been part of a bigger story of what God does in the lives of broken vessels like me and you.
The point of this thought is to free us from the chains of theoretical responses in our choices and in the navigation of lives. Just because you are in a rut doesn’t mean that God isn’t producing something in you. Just because you life has had storms doesn’t mean that shipwrecks didn’t have a purpose in your story. Grace positions us for being the winners in the fight of faith. Our strength is in the Lord.
Jesus Makes Fishers of Men!
Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Discipleship has become one of the trademark elements for a thriving church in this modern era but sadly, we have traded in a work that Christ does in us for the methods and spiritual calisthenics of a church culture.
We are never told by Jesus to go and make disciples rather, He told us to “go” and that He would make us fishers of men. Later in Matthew’s Gospel we are told; Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: We have substituted “teach all nations” with “Make disciples of all nations”. We can all acknowledge that the early disciples were called and devoted to the discipline of following Jesus in obedience and with devotion and it is as if Jesus was telling them to go live out the things He was doing in them before all of the people.
Fishing for men was the byproduct that He produced in them as they followed Him and Jesus alone is and has always been the maker of disciples and not us. It is easy produce programs for discipleship and everyone has one! How much better would it be if we simplified our methods for discipleship, embraced this very evident biblical modicum, and finally came to the realization that in an intimate and relational walk with Him, He alone produces fishers of men who are what I like to call Living Epistles. What I mean about that is… Everything in the life of an individual who is centered on Christ will supernaturally in a very natural ways, walk as one of His disciples, and that it is fleshed out and flushed out of these cracked pots we call earthen vessels in the most unconventional ways as we “go”.
I personally think that we can become very high centered on programs for the production of discipleship and that when we make those programs the centerpiece of our cultural christianity; Jesus gets left out, we feel good about producing disciples but we still feel alone in our walk, and that we build huge impressive gatherings of the disciples we made, but still, nobody ever goes fishing!
Practically, I know this works because I have recently set across the table from two different men who have most effectively discipled me with their life and not their methods. Their central focus was Christ and not their status, or accomplishments. The power in their story comes from a life devoted to following Christ and it makes true disciples of whoever they come in contact with.
Food for thought!