Monthly Archives: February 2014

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GRACE – A LICENCE TO SIN?

Question: Why, O why, do you who oppose Jesus’ grace claim that preaching grace is a license to sin when the scriptures teach the exact opposite?
Rom 6:14  Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

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CARNAL LOGIC

1Co 2:14  The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
It’s because Jesus’ grace is offensive to carnal, soulish, thinking (1Co.1:12-16) and can only be accepted in one’s spirit by the Spirit. God’s grace always offends and confuses all who ultimately exalt carnal knowledge and logic above Spirit revealed, scriptural, truth. There is no worldly logic in God’s grace. No logic in the fact that God himself died for Sin and freely pardons ALL our sins.  This is because it’s God’s heavenly wisdom, thinking and His ways are simply not man’s ways. God’s way of Grace offends the flesh and fleshy thinking but exalts the Spirit within that reveals the deep truths found in Christ alone and confirmed by the scriptures.

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SIN IS BAD AND DESTRUCTIVE

Rom 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Please hear me everyone… Sin is evil, destructive and harms us all. No one is sayings sin is good and no one is handing out licenses to sin. Anyone claiming that teachers of Jesus’ Grace are saying sin is OK and sin doesn’t matter, are simply confused or at worst, lying. What we are saying that sin isn’t our focus and obsession anymore -Jesus is.

sin sucks
 

ANTI-LAW? – NO!

Rom 3:20 No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin….. Rom 5:20  The law was brought in so that sin might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
Are we anti the law. In no way! We are not anti the Law, we uphold the Law as the Law is good and powerful when used for its correct purpose. i.e. To emphasis and expose sin, especially the sin of self righteousness, and lead Sinners and Pharisees to Jesus and His Grace. We are anti the misuse of the Law which harms and condemns believers. At the moment the Law is being misused by many, as a means of bulling and controlling believers, as a tool for maintaining justification and sanctification and for instilling fear into believer’s lives – all of which is error.

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GRACE IS GOD’S SOLUTION FOR SIN

Tit 2:12 Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…. Rom 6:14  Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
In some Christian circles, grace has become a swear word. But despite all this opposition to grace, let’s be clear – whether you like it or not, the Bible teaches that God’s solution for sin is His Grace released through the cross. Not our moralizing, not our ranting again sin, not our legalizing, not self righteousness, not our own logic and strength and not our denial of God’s grace – its Jesus’ grace alone that has dealt with Sin and empowers us to live righteous lives.

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WORKS RELIGION

Heb 9:14  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
It may be that those who won’t fully accept the gospel of God’s Grace needs go elsewhere with their law gospel. There’s a Mosque or an Orthodox Synagogue near you and the self righteous feel very comfortable there –  living by laws, rules and regulations. I believe they are looking for good law preachers….but seriously brothers, don’t abandoned the Gospel of Grace, God needs us to share the Good News, not the bad news of Law, works and condemnation.

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A LICENSE OF FREEDOM

2Co 3:15  Even to this day when Moses is read (i.e. The Law), a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I know freedom scares law preachers, because at the end of the day they don’t believe the Word in the New Testament scriptures or the Holy Spirit’s ability within believers to do the work of holiness. They believe more in the power of sin than the power of the Cross. But where the Spirit of The Lord is there is freedom. In Christ, we preach HIS gospel of Grace and Kingdom (Acts 20:24) and we handout licenses of freedom from sin. The bold print is clear: We are forgiven and have freedom from the slavery to both sin and death. We are now citizens of a new Kingdom, with a new King – and by His Spirit we live.

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NO SMALL PRINT

On a Grace License, signed with the blood of Jesus, there’s no hidden, horrible, legal conditions written in small print, so we are not afraid of being deceived or dragged off to court again. The conditions are clear, we are free, forgiven and now under Jesus’ grace and beloved children of the Father.

Finally, let’s proclaim the good news; “Sin is no longer my master, because I’m under Jesus’ grace”. The question is for all of us: “Is sin still my master?” If so turn away from your dead works and unbelief, be humble, repent and accept Jesus’ free gift of Grace and forgiveness today.

Be blessed and loved.
http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=925

 

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hebrews

THE BOOK OF HEBREWS – CORRECTLY USED

The book of Hebrews is a wonderful letter written to the Jewish believers, probably living in Jerusalem. It declares the glorious divinity of Jesus, His eternal heavenly priesthood on our behalf, the finished work of the Cross, the sufficiency and uniqueness of His blood and the Grace of a new and better Covenant. It is an important letter for us all, in that establishes the replacing of the Old Mosaic Law Covenant by a New Covenant of Jesus’ Grace along with the foundational truth that no other sacrifice except that of Jesus, is effective in dealing with sin.

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Heb 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

 

THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF KEY SCRIPTURES IN HEBREWS

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Sadly, some parts of the book of Hebrews have been badly misunderstood and are being widely misused and quoted out of context by those who oppose The Gospel of Grace (Acts.20:24). Therefore, we need to be clear on how to rebuff these arguments that undermine the sufficiency and the finished work of the cross and rob Jesus of His glory. Certain scriptures from Hebrews, quoted in isolation can lead to condemnation, a lack of confidence and a waning assurance in the enduring sufficiency of the Cross. These scriptures need clarification in light of our foundational New Covenant beliefs that we are saved only by grace through faith and not by works (i), that we  proclaim the Gospel of Grace (ii), the Spirit of Grace (Heb.10:29) and Jesus’ New Covenant (Heb:10:16-17).

THE BATTLE BETWEEN GRACE AND LAW

Firstly, we must again reiterate that one of the major issues addressed by all the letters of the New Testament was the division in the Early Church between those who believed Jesus’ work on the cross to be sufficient for all sin and those that wanted to add Mosaic Law and religious rules to the Cross. Basically the fight was between two opposing camps….
1) Salvation and living by Jesus’ Grace alone.
2) A mixing of Grace and Laws.

This battle arose because the Early Church was made up of two distinct groups, Jews and Gentiles, both of whom had strong but opposing cultures. For more detail on these divisions see the teaching The context of Pauls letters. By the way the battle between Law and Grace still continues today.

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THE CONTEXT OF HEBREWS

The first thing that maybe a revelation to many modern Christians is that the letter of Hebrews was written to Jews and not to Gentile  – I’m stating the obvious, that’s why it’s called Hebrews. Unlike most of the letters (except James) it was not addressed to a specific church, to an individual believer or to the saints (meaning born again believers) but to Jews of various beliefs with regard to Jesus who were influencing the church in Jerusalem. This is a crucial point to understand as it was written to a specific people, the Jews interested in,  or  to committed to Jesus, for a specific purpose of bringing them free from the Law, their traditions and the Temple sacrifices. However as I said before it is also an important book for everyone, especially in the African context where many false teachers are mixing Christianity with ancestor veneration and animal sacrifices, just like the Jews of Paul time.

TO JEWS WITH CHRISTIAN LEANINGS

The tone of the book of Hebrews indicates that it is addressed to a mixed bunch who were either Christian or dappling in Christianity. Today there are many Jews who identify themselves as Christians, or with Jesus teachings, and still maintain their Jewish cultural identity. These Jewish background believers as well as Messianic congregations can be found throughout the world. Praise God! The common thread is that they all recognize Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. However as in Paul’s day, within the modern Jewish Christian / Messianic camp there are many different beliefs with regard to what it means to follow Jesus, who Jesus is, what He did on the cross and how this affects a Jews obligation to both Jewish cultural traditions and the Law of Moses.

In Paul’s day, we have shown in the link above, that there was a huge debate going on over these very issues. Even Peter, James and Barnabas, who like Paul all grew up as Jews, fell into error and sometimes even came out against Paul’s “grace only” teaching.

MIXED BELIEFS ABOUT JESUS

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Like today, the Jewish “Christians” of Paul’s time had a mixed bag of beliefs about Jesus. Many knew about Jesus, but did not know Jesus as Lord and Savior – they were not “Born Again” (Jn.3:3) and not all were saved despite their interest in Jesus. Even some of his closest disciples did not fully understand who Jesus was and eventually fell away. Here are some of the beliefs the Jews had about Jesus, some of which The Book of Hebrews was correcting.

  1. Like Moses, Jesus was a powerful and good Jewish Rabbi (teacher) – but nothing more (iii).
  2. He was the Messiah /Savior that would save Israel from Rome’s occupation and establish the final Messianic Jewish Kingdom (iv).
  3. He was the prophet Moses had spoken of – but not the Son of God (v).
  4. He was the Son of God to be worshipped (vi).
  5. He was the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world (vii).
  6. He was a God given sacrifice to unite Israel (viii)
  7. A blasphemer and false prophet (ix).

The Jews in Jerusalem were struggling and many had their feet in both camps, Christianity and Legalistic Judaism. Hebrews tries to draw them fully into Christ.

(To give you a taste of what some Messianic Jews believe here is a link to a Messianic fellowship in Israel Shema- what is Messianic Judaism?)

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THE JEWISH ISSUES ADDRESSED IN HEBREWS

The general themes of the book of Hebrews are:-

Chapter 1: Jesus was divine and provided a finished atonement for sin (1:3)

Chapter 2:  A call for the Jews to pay attention and receive Jesus’ salvation (2:3).

Chapter 3: Jesus is greater than Moses, but the Jews had hardened their heart to the gospel and were still in the sin of unbelief (3:12).

Chapter 4: Like their forefathers were still trying to obtain their righteousness by works (4:10) instead of accepting and resting in the finished work of the cross (Ro.9:31-10:4).

Chapter 5: They were spiritual infants, they did not understand that true righteousness is a gift received by faith (5:13).

Chapter 6:  Many of these Jews had heard the gospel and knew the doctrines of Christ and they had seen the Holy Spirit’s miracles. Sadly they still chose Moses Law and the Temple’s animal sacrifices over Jesus’ sacrifice. Having known what Jesus had done on the Cross and then rejecting it for another sacrifice, they could not have their minds changed (6:4). To repentant actually means to change one’s mind and actions and this they refused to do, they would not give up their animal sacrifices. They may have followed Jesus as a Rabbi but they would not accept his sacrifice for their sins and therefore were lost – and in fact were never saved in the first place.

Chapter 7: They were still following the Levitical Priests in the Temple and seeking perfection through the Law instead of righteousness though Jesus, our Eternal High Priest in heaven.

Chapter 8: These Jews were being called to let go of the Old Mosaic Covenant and fully embrace Jesus’ New Covenant in which their sins are totally forgiven (8:12).

Chapter 9: These Jews were rejecting Jesus’ blood sacrifice and still attending the Temple sacrifices (9:12). They were basically claiming that the blood of Jesus was not good enough and they could not enter into Jesus’ salvation because they could not let go of the Laws animal sin sacrifices that were so much part of their traditional culture.

Chapter 10: Here the Law is declared as set aside by the New Covenant (10:9). Those Jews who kept sinning through unbelief, despite knowing the good news of Jesus’ gospel – cannot be saved (10:26). Anyone rejecting grace and Jesus’ blood as sufficient is eternally condemned (10:26-29).

Chapter 11: These Jews are reminded that the father of the Jewish people was Abraham who received righteousness by faith (11:6). Their father was not Moses who taught righteousness by Law – which always failed to produce righteousness.

Chapter 12: The Jews are reminded that the sin of unbelief had always hindered Israel and the Lord had often disciplined and punished them for it (12:5) and yet they still rejected Him (12:14). They were now called to leave the Law given on Mount Sinai and come into the New Covenant through Jesus blood (12:24).

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WE CANNOT LOOSE OUR SALVATION IF TRULY SAVED

Hebrews 6:6 and 10:26 are often misquoted to teach that if a Christian backslides or deliberately sins, they lose their salvation. It can be seen that when they are taken in their correct context these scriptures mean neither of these things. Using these scriptures in this incorrect way shows a complete misunderstanding of God’s Grace, righteousness, the work of the cross and how we are saved in the first place. Our salvation is not and never was, conditional on our performance (i) or our self righteousness. Salvation has and will always be God unearned and undeserved gift of God’s love to all who would take hold of it in faith. If salvation is based on our performance then we are all lost (x) because at some point in our lives, if we are honest, we may either backslide or may intentionally sin – without grace, no one is righteous, so if we say we haven’t or won’t then we are deceived and are self righteous.

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The parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:22) clearly teaches that the Father never lets His sons go, once a son always a son, even if you reject being a son. We may be unfaithful to God but he will never be unfaithful to us. He will never let’s those who are truly saved walk away, it’s no longer our choice. We no longer live but Christ lives in us (xi), we are now an inseparable part of Him. We are sealed eternally by the Holy Spirit (xii).

RESCUED BUT THEN THROWN TO THE SHARKS

Teaching that we can lose our salvation is like a Coast Guard who rescues his own son from drowning only later to throw him back in the sea because he behaves badly or is not grateful enough. Come on, God’s not like that.

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So brothers and sisters, be of good cheer and get rid of any doubt that you can lose your salvation, it’s a lie that denies the effectiveness of the Cross and God’s unconditional love. If you are a “back slider” or have deliberately sinned and allowed that to separate you from God, call out to the Father and receive His forgiveness and love once again. He will empower you in grace to hold the course and say no to sin.

Be loved and blessed, Jesus is Lord!

www.gracelovetruth.com

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THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

(i)                  Eph 2:8  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Eph 2:9  not by works, so that no one can boast.

(ii)                Act 20:24  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Act 20:25  “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.

(iii)               Joh.3:2  He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

(iv)              Act 1:6  So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

(v)                Joh 6:66  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

(vi)              Mat 14:33  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

(vii)             Joh 1:29  The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

(viii)           Joh 11:49  Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! Joh 11:50  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Joh 11:51  He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, Joh 11:52  and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

(ix)              Mat 26:63  Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Mat 26:64  “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”Mat 26:65  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.

(x)                Rom 3:9  What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. Rom 3:10  As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.

(xi)              Gal 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(xii)             Eph 1:13  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

 

 

 

 

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context

UNDERSTANDING THE KEY ISSUES OF PAUL’S LETTERS

To properly understand some of the most important parts of the New Testament and to be properly founded in the New Covenant and Jesus’ Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24) we need understand one of  the major issue which most of Paul’s letters were addressing.

READ SCRIPTURE IN IT’S CONTEXT

Scriptures are often quoted out of context, when this a happens they can take on a totally different meaning. As the saying goes ” A scripture taken out of context is a con”. A very important principle is that the context of scripture is essential to correctly understanding scripture. For instance  Jesus said : Mat 5:29-30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away….. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.”
We all know that there is no was way Jesus expected us to go around doing this, otherwise we’d be a church of one eyed, one handed people. However taken out of context some may justify doing exactly what it says – as they do in Saudi Arabia. Taken in context of the whole teaching which starts at Mat.5:1 and ends in Mat.7:28 we see that the actual issue was the self righteousness of the Pharisee and the Jews not the chopping off or hands and digging out of eyes (see The Sermon on the Mount).

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THE CONTEXT OF DIVISION IN THE EARLY CHURCH

The major issue of Paul’s day was the division(i) and conflict within each church between Christians from a Jewish background and Christians from a Gentile (Pagan) background. Even Peter and James (i) fell into the trap of legalistic division and Paul rebuked them for it.

“So what!” you may say? “I don’t have any religious Jews in my church”. That may be true, but this basic issue is still evident today among all Christians and it affects the way we read the scriptures, the personal way we understand the gospel and live out grace.

THE DIVISION BETWEEN LAW KEEPERS AND GRACE FOLLOWERS

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The conflict between these two groups, Jews and Gentiles, arose because …
1. The Christians from a Jewish background believed that they were more Godly and holy because they and their families had kept Gods Law for generations (ii). They believed that their “Jewish culture” had refined them and made them a holy people. They believed that they came into the church with a holy advantage, a holy credit, earned by their families generational good works in keeping the Law of Moses.
2. Sadly these Jewish Christians looked down on, and judged the Christians (iii) with a Greek/Roman culture because their culture was idolatrous and prone to be sexually immoral. Admittedly many of the Greek believers had not fully come free from the “free love” that their culture permitted and in Jewish eyes this made them second class Christians. However the Jewish believers secretly did the dame things! (iv).
3. The Jewish Christians believed the Gentile (Greek/Roman) Christians needed a good dose of Mosaic Law to get their lives right. After all they claimed “It worked for us Jews”.
4. Intrinsically these judgmental Christian Jewish believers did not believe that Gods grace and the Spirit of Christ in the new Gentile Christians was enough for their sanctification.
5. They proclaimed to the Gentiles “The Law is needed as we are all saved by grace but only the Law can control the immoral lives of our The Christian Gentiles”.
This self righteous attitude of the Jewish believers and their call to implement the Law to curb the Gentile sin was found throughout the church, in Rome (v), Galatia (vi), Corinth, Ephesus and it caused great hurt and division in the churches.

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It is this error that Paul’s letters address:
1) Holiness and righteousness is by the grace of Jesus Christ only (vii).
2) The keeping of laws imposed on us by others no longer has a place in the Christian life (viii).
3) We are now lead by God’s Spirit and God’s Word living in us (xi) and not by rules, cannons, regulations and laws.

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The interesting thing that has been missed is that Paul points out to the Jewish Christians is that their Godly inheritance and history was actually far from holy. As even though their Jewish ancestors knew and heard God (unlike the Pagan nations) they still chose to worship idols and engage in sexual immorality right under Gods nose …. Even when the Mosaic Law was being given at Mount Sinai.
Paul rebukes the Jewish believers in Romans 1:21-25 because of their sins (x) listed in (xi) (Jer.32:34)(Ezek.8:10) (Jdg.19:22) (Exo.32:1-6): Basically Paul says “How dare you judge the Gentiles who didn’t know God when you and your forefathers, who did know God, chose to do the very same things. So much for Israel’s Law keeping you holy, you self-righteous hypocrites!!”

People, the same applies today. We are called to live in the grace of Jesus Christ, He alone can enable us to live holy (xii) not outside laws and rules imposed on us by others. We are righteous by the blood, lead by the Spirit and empowered by the Word.

When we read the Bible let us read and seek revelation with the glasses of Grace on, not with the glasses of law.

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Praise God.
www.gracelovetruth.com

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THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

(i) Gal 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Gal 2:12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. Gal 2:13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. Gal 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Gal 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ Gal 2:16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

(ii) Rom 2:17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; Rom 2:18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law.

(iii) Rom 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

(iv) Rom 2:23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? Rom 2:24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

(v) Rom 4:13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Rom 4:14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, Rom 4:15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

(vi) Gal 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. Gal 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Gal 3:4 Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Gal 3:5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

(vii) 1Co. 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

(viii) Rom 2:27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. Rom 2:28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. Rom 2:29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.

(ix) Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(x) Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Rom 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

(xi) Jer 32:34  They set up their abominable idols in the house that bears my Name and defiled it.  Eze 8:10 So I went into the Temple and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel.  Jdg 19:22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” Exo 32:5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

(xii) Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Tit 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

 

 

 

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Roman

NINE PRACTICAL STEPS TO LIVING IN VICTORY

NINE PRACTICAL STEPS TO LIVING IN VICTORY

As a born again, Spirit filled Believer, establish yourself by renewing the way you think. Believe the following truths and you will find that Satan will just fade away and try elsewhere.

1) BE MATURE AND ACCEPT THAT YOU ARE PERFECTLY RIGHTEOUS

Rom.4:6-8  David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 
Heb 5:13  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 

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Understanding what true  Righteousness is – the key to Grace and Kingdom living.
Be mature. Immature infants cannot overcome but adults can fight.
Believe you are Right with God in every way.
Believe that you are free from all religious laws, are Righteous and this gives you a Right to peace and joy Rom.14:17 .
Believe your Righteousness is not based on your actions but on the faith of Jesus.
When attacked always declare the truth “I am Righteous in Christ”!

2) STOP LIVING UNDER LAW

1Co. 15:55-58  ”Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. 

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Understand that we are in a New Covenant of Grace and not the Old Covenant of Law.
Stop mixing the two, believe you are free from the Law.
Understand that Believers who live by rules, regulations and the Law give sin, death and Satan rights.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are living legalistically and trying to earn God’s favour or prove yourself.

3) ESTABLISH YOURSELF IN GRACE

Rom 5:17 ….to those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness …. 
Believe you are God’s favourite!
Know that Grace is the place of God’s favour and blessing.
Establish yourself in the free gifts of Christ’s Grace and Righteousness.
Study the scriptures and seek revelation about Grace and Righteousness.
Today grace and righteousness is the KEY REVELATION that the Holy Spirit is teaching the Church.
Choose to live in Grace and reject any teaching or thought that opposes Grace and the finished work of the cross.
Reject and teaching and belief that God is out to punish you, inflict sickness or bad circumstances on you to teach you a lesson. Loving Fathers simply don’t do this to their beloved children, it’s a lie and denies the Cross where Jesus took our punishment, curse, sin and sickness.

4) RENEW YOUR THINKING

 Rom.7:23 I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

mind

2Co. 10:3-5  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.4  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 
Believe don’t doubt.
Understand that most spiritual warfare is in the mind.
It’s all about repentance – which means a change of mind.
Allow the truths and promises found in the scriptures to change your thinking and renew your minds. (Rom.12:2).
Replace lies from Satan that have taken hold in your thinking with truths from the scriptures.
Reject any thinking or teaching that says Satan, death and sickness ect. have a right to afflict you, is not from God.

5) SEE THAT YOU ARE SINLESS

Rom 4:6  David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works  ”Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 

sinless
Believe that ALL your sins are forgiven, past, present and future – without condition – you don’t to do anything further.
Understand the difference between a Sinner and a Saint. A Sinner is and unsaved person. In God’s eyes a Sinner is an un-Righteous person who is enslaved by sin. Those who are Righteous in Christ are Saints and this identity no longer dependent on your actions, either good or bad. Talk about yourself as a Saint (Heb.10:10) not a Sinner (that’s what you used to be). You may be a Saint that sometimes sins but that is different from being a Sinner who cannot help but sin. You are not sinless because you never sin,  you are sinless because God has chosen to do away with the system of keeping records of peoples sins – that is Grace.
Believe that under the New Covenant sin DOES NOT give Satan access or a rights into a born again believers life – he has been completely disarmed and his rights through sin cancelled through the cross. Under the New Covenant God’s only issue with your sinful actions is that they hurt and rob His children and others of His blessings and well being.
See that under the New Covenant God does not relate to us anymore on the basis of our sin or lack thereof, God now relates to us as sinless children who are Right with Him through Jesus.
God remember your sins no more so why should you?

6) BE CLEAR ON YOUR NEW IDENTITY

2Co 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 
See yourself as God see you. You are now a new creation in Christ.

who am i
See yourself as the beloved, precious child of a loving, good, generous heavenly Father who wishes you no harm and is not angry with you any longer. You have a new identity and a new Father.
Accept your inheritance as a Righteous, born again, child of God and receive God given rights. You have rights to access every good promise of the Kingdom – it is your inheritance, right now!
Don’t let Satan undermine your identity by getting you to focus on your faults, sins and actions. Remember who you are in Christ, a child of a Holy and Awesome God.

7) REJECT ALL ANXIETY AND FEAR

1Pe 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 
Understand that there is a strong link between anxiety, the attacks of Satan and suffering. If you are anxious and fearful, you suffer! These emotions and thoughts are all based on unbelief in God’s goodness and His free gift of Righteousness (Mat.6:32-34)
See that fear and anxiety is rooted in the sin of “Unbelief” – repent and be set free.
Allow Grace in Christ to overcome your fear and worry – it’s the key to victory over Satan.
Understand that sickness, death and poverty is rooted in unbelief and are manifestation of anxiety, fear, stress and legalistic living.
Choose to believe that we are blessed, and blessed, and blessed, in Grace through Christ (Joh1:16).

8) GET HELP FROM GRACE

Heb4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 
Tit.2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

throne
When we need help we can come to God without fear because we are now in a system of Grace through Jesus.
Understand that it is only Grace that enable us to live in a right way (Righteously).
See that right living is the fruit of Grace not the product of keeping laws.
When Satan attacks come to the throne where Jesus reigns and He gives us the help we need.

9) FINALLY -PUT YOUR EYES ON JESUS

Heb 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

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Christian living is all about Jesus so take your eyes off Satan and his evil works and fix your gaze on Jesus. The work of the cross is a finished and complete work which gives us victory – if we believe. Jesus is seated at rest in the place of favour and authority at God’s right hand, He defends us. He is beautiful, pure, loving and kind, look on Him and find peace, joy and the help you need. Apply these good news truths and see the fruit just grow naturally and without effort.
Be victorious and blessed, Garry.      www.gracelovetruth.com

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TEST FOR GRACE

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HOW DO YOU KNOW IF SOMETHING IS GRACE OR LAW?

We need to live in Jesus’ grace by the leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s important that we, God’s people, free ourselves from the ministry of the Law (i) because the Bible teaches that the Law brings condemnation and death (ii) – these manifest in passivity, depression and sickness (iii). Sadly brothers and sisters many believes are experiencing this horrible fruit of the Law, often convinced that it’s God punishing them or training them.

Because most of us have grown up with a mixture of grace and religious law, many find it hard to distinguish whether what they are hearing or thinking is rooted in grace or Law. One can’t generalize but over the years I have found  that Believers can test by asking the following questions. This simple test that will normally expose if the root is Law or Grace.

1. If it points to Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross – it’s normally grace.
If it points to you and what you should be doing for God – its normally Law.

2. If the fruit in you is condemnation or guilt – it’s Law.
If the fruit in you is freedom – it’s grace

3. If it’s about God’s judgment and punishment – it’s Law.
If it’s about God’ love and forgiveness – it’s grace.

4. If it harps on about your sinfulness – it’s Law.
If it focuses on your Christ given righteousness – it’s grace.

5. If it’s about, techniques, methods and principles – it’s Law.
If it’s about hearing and being lead by the Holy Spirit – it’s grace.

6. If it restricts or discourages you form sharing and ministering – it’s Law.
If it encourages and releases you to share and minister – it’s grace.

7. If it causes you to judge others – it’s Law.
If it causes you to see the God given potential in others – it’s grace.

8. If it from the Old Testament without pointing to Jesus or the New Covenant – it’s Law
If it reveals Jesus and the good news of His New Covenant – it’s grace.

9. If it accuses you, like Satan the accuser,- it’s Law
If it affirms you – it’s grace

10. If it’s focus is on you being God’s servant or slave – it’s Law
If it  declares you to be a beloved child of The Father, who is about the Fathers work – it’s grace.

11. If it’s about your performance  – it’s Law.
If it’s about resting in Christ – it’s grace

12. If it’s focus is you obeying – it’s Law.
If it’s about Jesus’ obedience – it’s grace.

13. If it declares you cursed – it’s Law.
If it declares you blessed – it’s grace.

14. If the focus on what you sow – it’s Law.
If the focus is on what Jesus has sown on the cross – it’s grace.

15. If it causes to to fear and run away from God – it’s Law.
If it stirs up faith and intimacy with God – it’s grace.

There are many more that I’m sure you can think of, let me know. Be wise and be discerning, test all things, including this.

Blessing and love to you in Christ.

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THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

(i) Gal 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
(ii)Deu 28:15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees (The Law) that I, Moses, am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you……..
(iii) 2Co 3:7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was,  will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!

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GRACE 3: MIXING GRACE & LAW

NAIL TO THE CROSS

THERE IS REALLY GOOD NEWS

The Holy Spirit is bringing us back to the foundations of The New Covenant:

1) Grace = God’s Unmerited Favor, Love and Blessing.
2) Our Righteousness in Christ = Our Right Standing with a good and loving God.
3) That Righteousness by faith is the key to understanding grace.
4) The finished and all sufficient work of the cross of Jesus Christ.
5) Our focus on our Righteousness (in Christ) instead of on our Sin.

MIXING LAW & GRACE
Many of us, without realizing it have been living our Christian lives by a mixture of grace and Old Testament Law. We have been trapped to a lesser or greater degree, in a cycle of self effort, perfectionism, unworthiness, condemnation, sin, guilt and sickness. To break these cycle we have more often than not resorted to imposing more religious laws, rules, demands and conditions on ourselves. All requiring even more self effort. After decades of trying to live this way many of us have become worn out, sick and joyless – it’s simply all too much for us.

There are two reasons why it is crucial that this issue be confronted:
1) This mixture is killing Christians and driving them to sin!
2) This mixture denies the effectiveness of the work of the cross and dishonors Jesus.

LAW PRODUCES DEATH
Paul’s teachings, especially in Romans and Galatians, makes it clear that we are not called to live by the Law or by a mixture of Law and grace. This mixture is in fact the main theme of most of Paul’s writings. He was constantly trying to deal with those Christians and non-believers in the Church who denied the sufficiency of grace and wanted to live and maintain their right standing with God (Righteousness) by keeping the ten commandments and other religious laws.

Paul teaches that trying to keep the Law produces condemnation, sickness and death. The Law is not there for us to live by but it is there to expose the sin of the unsaved and to emphasis their need for a savior. (I am happy to go through this scripture by scripture if anyone would like).

BUT JESUS PREACHED THE LAW
The problem is that when we look at the scriptures in the traditional way it appears that there is a lot of performance demands and law keeping placed on us, the New Covenant believer.  Jesus clearly taught the keeping of the law, however it was in a specific context to those seeking to be justified (made righteous) by the keeping of the law, the self-righteous Jews. It is crucial that we read Jesus teaching in context and understand to whom the teachings were addresses otherwise we will bring ourselves under the Law.

READING SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT
As New Covenant believers, when interpreting any scripture we must be seek to answer the following questions:
1) What is the context of the scripture
2)  Who is speaking. ii) Who is he speaking to.  iii) What issue was being addressed.
3) Is this teaching the Old Covenant or the New Covenant.
4) What Covenant are the people under who the teaching is addressed to.
5) How does this point to, or reveal, Jesus and His Kingdom.
6) How does this point to, or reveal, the cross and grace.
7) Does it expose self-righteous religiosity or righteousness by faith.

LAW OR GRACE TINTED GLASSES
If we realize that we have incorrectly mixed law and grace and have also taken scripture out of context, we will understand that this has affected the way we have interpreted scripture. When we choose to believe in grace we can re-examine the scriptures in their true context and from a position of pure grace. You will find that this will be an amazing journey and reveal glorious good news in Christ. For many it is like reading the Bible for the first time!
Discovering the Grace and Righteousness that is ours in Christ, our freedom from law keeping and self effort restores your joy and zeal for the “gospel, the good news”.  Try it, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the difference between legalistic, mixed Christianity and Grace filled, Christ centered, Christianity.
A good example to start with is:

THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN  (REVISITED IN GRACE)
Luk 10:25  On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”26  “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”27  He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  28  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”29  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”……..

THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION
The story of the Good Samaritan is probably one of Jesus’ best known parables. We all learnt it as kids and were encouraged to be just like the good Samaritan. He was the epitome of the way a good Christian should live. We were constantly told a good Christians must  “Love their neighbor”. This, it is said is the purpose of the parable.  However, this generally accepted interpretation of this parable is a self- righteous law orientated view which has lead to huge condemnation and guilt among Christians, who in the majority of instances have found it difficult and actually impossible to fulfill in practice.

THE GRACE INTERPRETATION
You will be surprised to hear that the noble and worthy sentiment of “Loving our neighbor as yourself” was not actually the primary and core issue that Jesus was addressing in this parable. Sadly we have missed the crucial truth that Jesus was actually addressing.
Now if we choose to re-examine this parable in its context and from the position of grace we see a completely different message -almost the opposite to what we have traditionally been taught!

THE CONTEXT OF THE PARABLE
Jesus was speaking to an expert in the Law of Moses, a Pharisee, a Jews that believed he could be justified i.e. be made righteous, by keeping the Law of Moses.
This teacher was trying to catch Jesus out (Lk.10:25). The greater context was Jesus’ constant struggle against the self-righteous, legalistic religious practices of the Jews. These Teachers of the Law, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into speaking against Jewish Religion, the Law and the Temple so they could justify arresting him.
This Pharisee believed he was righteous and justified because he had supposedly kept all the Laws of Moses.
He wanted the JUSTIFY HIMSELF (v29), he definitely wasn’t looking for a savior.

TO THOSE UNDER LAW JESUS PREACHED LAW
This Pharisee, like all Jews, was under the Law of Moses. They believed that the Law of Moses had been given so that they could justify and save themselves through their good works and self effort.
This Pharisee was self-righteous and wanted people to know that he had kept the Laws that God required of him.
It appears from v25 that this Pharisee is wanting to know how to get eternal life, however as a Pharisee and Teacher of the Law, he already believed he had eternal life by keeping all the Laws of Moses….the truth is that “he wanted to justify himself” (v29) and wanted Jesus to confirm that his self-righteousness and law keeping was good enough.
Jesus in his amazing way now used the Law of Moses to expose this man’s self-righteous, the fact that no one can keep the law perfectly and that no one can obtain eternal life through keeping the law.
It is interesting how Jesus does this and it is a pattern He uses throughout the gospels when preaching to Jews e.g. The Rich Ruler (Mt.19:16) etc.

ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH THE 1st & 2nd LAW – REALLY?
(Lk.10:25-27) Put yourself in this parable and imagine you were the Pharisee and you ask Jesus:
Your question: ” Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?
Jesus answer: “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
Your answer: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Jesus answer:”You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Now you have just quoted the first and second commandments. You know what is required but do you have eternal life? Have you and do you really love God with every part of yourself all the time. Hum, maybe, but I know I’m already falling short. How about loving your neighbor, all the time just like you love yourself…now I don’t know about you but now I know I really do fall short. Do you get what’s going on here?  Are you sensing that if eternal life has to come through keeping the Law we are all in deep trouble and need a Savior, including the Pharisee – the problem is that unlike you and me, the Pharisee didn’t know it, he thinks he’s OK.

THE REAL MEANING OF THE PARABLE
This Pharisee thought he could keep the whole law perfectly, thus be justified and gain eternal life, without Jesus, without grace.
Now the real purpose of the parable comes out.
The Pharisee has agree with Jesus that to gain eternal life he must love his neighbor as himself.
The Pharisee even asks Jesus “Who is this neighbor – that I must love like myself”? (v29)
Jesus then tell him the parable about the neighbor.
Jesus asks the Pharisee the shocking and tricky question “Who do you think was the neighbor”? (v36).
Look at it carefully, who was the neighbor?
The neighbor that the Pharisee is called to” love like himself” so he may gain eternal life turns out to be the Samaritan! (v36).
So here is the whole point: To be justified through keeping the Law the Pharisee has to perfectly obey the second commandment (and in fact all ten) and to do this he has to love a Samaritan.
However there is a problem as John 4:9 says “Jews do not associate with Samaritans” and  shows the Jewish attitude to them 8:48  “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
The Law say he can’t go near as Samaritans as they are considered unclean
Hum, a big problem!! To keep the law he has to break it and if you break the law you lose his justification.
Meditate on this and you will see the whole purpose of the parable is completely different to the traditional view.

THE TRUE ISSUE OF THE STORY
Jesus was teaching to those who wanted to hear: No one can be justified by the keeping of the law and that everyone need to acknowledge that they fall short and needs to be saved by Jesus.
By the way it’s good and wonderful to love our neighbors but it won’t get us eternal life.

You will find that if you re-examine the scriptures in context and in grace many of them will reveal completely different truths to the traditional interpretations…try it for yourself, it’s wonderful and exciting and glorifies Christ and his work on the cross.

A FINAL PROVOCATIVE THOUGHT
Isn’t it strange that the Churches whose central focus and doctrine is “Regular and ongoing confession of sins” are often racked with the most terrible sins at the highest level. Could it be that law (legalistic Christianity) really does stir up sin just like Paul says? Yes, we all hate sin but it’s remedy is not focusing on and confessing sin – it is focusing on the cross and confessing our righteousness in Christ. More on this next time maybe.

Be blessed and joyful.
garry@gracelove truth.com +27845562786

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GRACE 1: SAVED BY GRACE ALONE

Link to Grace 1
Link to Grace 3
A NEW GRACE REFORMATION

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We are privileged to be living in an amazing time for the Church and the Kingdom – a time as the Church has never known before. 500 years ago the Holy Spirit gave Martin Luther  a revelation that we are saved by grace alone. This revelation started to free the Church from the false doctrine of salvation by good works. This revelation that salvation was by grace and not by good but dead works brought mankind out of the “Dark Ages”.
Sadly however, history shows that the revelation of grace was not complete as 500 years ago the majority of Church Reformers taught that Christians, who were saved by grace, were called to live  by a mixture of grace and Law. The good news is that God is rectifying this error and that this is a time of amazing revelation and new reformation that will revitalize the Church once again.
For the first time since the Apostle Paul, the the Holy Spirit is bringing the Church back to the understanding that not only are we saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but we are called to live everyday by the grace of Jesus. Correctly understanding grace is crucial to the effectiveness of the Church in this era as without a revelation of the grace and love of God it is actually impossible to know the truth(1John4:16) of God’s purpose for mankind and the Church. Grace, Truth and Jesus are inseparable (Jn:1:17).
Because of the lack of the revelation of the fullness of grace we see great confusion and multiple conflicting doctrines in the worldwide Church and this is causing division and preventing the sharing of the good news to a lost generation. Now this is the good news of the grace of Jesus……
wide open

JESUS’ GRACE IS ABOUT HOW GOD NOW RELATES TO US
Heb.10:15-17 ” This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17  Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 
The entire New Covenant screams overwhelming evidence of a loving, gracious God. God the Father longing for His beloved children to be restored to Him. God did not send Jesus to come and change what we do but to change who we are. Being in God’s Grace and filled with His Spirit will automatically change the way we do things. Jesus came to change the way God relates to us – by GRACE. God no longer relates to us on the basis of our sin and performance, but through His Son, Jesus. The Righteousness of Christ has been imparted to us and we are no longer Jesus’ servants but friends Joh.15:15. We are no longer God’s slaves but His children Gal.4:7. He is now our loving, kind Father.
It’s not the definition of grace that causes problem, it’s peoples wrong belief that we have to earn it. Driven, performance orientated and obedience focused Christianity is the norm today, to the extend that it often appears to deny God’s grace. It is only Grace leads to true obedience, not obedience that lead to grace!
This is the controversy – that God relates to us ALL the time in GRACE no matter what we do! Most of us are so performance orientated we cannot accept the truth of grace.

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THE OFFENCE OF GRACE
Gal 5:11  Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision (viz.The Law), why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
The cross heralded in a new system in which we are called to live – that of God’s Grace. Grace is scandalous. It’s hard to accept, hard to believe, and hard to receive. Grace shocks us in what it offers as it defies our judgement based on logic. It is truly not of this world – It frightens us with what it does for Sinners. Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would never do for them. We would save the “not-so-bad”. But God starts with prostitutes and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to the Giver,Jesus, and nothing to the Receiver, the Sinner. It is given to those who don’t deserve it, barely recognize it, and hardly appreciate it. That’s why God alone gets the glory for our salvation that is by Grace alone (Eph.2:8). Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross… “It is finished” He said!(Jn.19:30) Grace focuses on Jesus work and performance, not ours.

Favor

SO WHAT IS GRACE
The Greek dictionary definition for Grace show us what a beautiful thing Grace is.
GRACE: G5485  χάρις CHARIS: Thayer Definition: 1) grace 1a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech. 2) good will, loving-kindness, favour. 2a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. 3) what is due to grace. 3a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace. 3b) the token or proof of grace, benefit. 3b1) a gift of grace. 3b2) benefit, bounty. 4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward. It is closely related to the following foundational word: G5463 χαίρω chairō: 1) to rejoice, be glad. 2) to rejoice exceedingly. 3) to be well, thrive.
1.      Grace is God’s unmerited, unearned, undeserved favour towards us.
2.      It’s our unearnt, unconditional blessing from God.
3.      It is God’s goodness to us.
4.      It’s His unconditional, freely given, love for us.
5.      It is God’s empowerment of us by His Spirit.
6.      It is God’s riches at Christ expense.
7.      Ultimately Grace is not a doctrine but a person: Jesus Christ.
The controversy is not over the definition of Grace. It’s the application of Grace that leads to controversy as most people accept they are saved by Grace but they don’t know how to live in it.

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THE TEN COMMANDMENTS & THE LAW HIGHLIGHT OUR NEED FOR GRACE
Rom.5:20-21 Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
This refers to the laws given to Moses – primarily the ten commandments. The Law demands that we keep all it’s 613 laws, perfectly, all the time (Deut 28) ! Shockingly impossible:  Exactly….”HELP LORD!” These laws simply add to our transgressions, showing us even more clearly our need for Grace and to be saved by Jesus. We all blow it in some way, all the time! We all fall short. We all sin, despite not wanting to. In response God has provided us with super-abounding Grace (GK: huperperisseuo G5248)(Jn.4:16). i.e. More grace and forgiveness than we actually need. He gives us enough Grace for our sins plus even more for our blessing. Jesus’ Grace does not set aside the Law, but rather completely satisfies and fulfills it. (Matt.5:17) As deep as sin goes, God’s Grace goes deeper. As wide as sin is, God’s Grace is wider. When sin abounds, Grace super-abounds. God’s Grace is greater than all our sin. Sadly, performance orientated Christianity has made us double minded. We were all been taught to “perform” – since childhood in our own families. When we are good we are in Grace and can receive love and blessing. But when we are bad we fall from Grace. Satan loves this belief as all he has to do is tempt us into sin and then accuse us when we fail. When we fail and sin we then separate ourselves from God and reject His call on our lives! Instead God is calling us to focus on our righteousness in Christ. We are called to live a life that is holy and righteous and the ten commandments set a standard. However the Ten Commandments imposed on us from the outside just leads to condemnation due to failure on our part. Jesus came to reveal a new way, the way of the Spirit who guides us to do what is right (Heb.10:16). We now live by love, not by the Ten Commandments, as those who love keep them because of their new  nature (Rom.13:8-10) and the leading of God’s Spirit within.

perform

WE ARE RIGHT WITH GOD, BY GRACE, NOT BY OUR PERFORMANCE.
Right living only comes about through right believing. As we believe so we become. If we believe we live in grace, so grace will flow from us to others. If we believe we believe the core of our relationship is to obey then we will be driven & restless and doomed to failure and condemnation. Grace is good news, Law based living is bad news, as we always fail. Obedience based Christianity is no difference from Israel’s Law based religion.

“GRACE & PEACE” WAS THE CHURCH’S GREETING
Rom.1:7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Co.5:19  God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.
In the New Covenant grace and peace are linked. Through Jesus the Father sends us peace. What is this peace that is so linked to Grace?
PEACE: G1515 εἰρήνη eirēnē Thayer Definition: 1) a state of national tranquillity 1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war. 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord. 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous) 4) of the Messiah’s peace 4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation). 5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is. 6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death.
Our every day & relationships should be full of grace and the fruit which is peace. Through their greetings the early church constantly reminded each other of grace. Virtually every New Testament letter contains a greeting and farewell focusing on grace. If we want peace in our lives we have to live in God’s grace. Understanding grace leads to inner peace. We are no longer at war with God – we have peace with him through grace.

Jesus’ Grace is really good news.

Tel:  +27 (0)31 7642323        Cell: 0845562786 Email: garryhare@gracelovetruth.com

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positive

GOD’S POSITIVE ABOUT YOU

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves,

God has positive answers:

You say: “It’s impossible.”
God says: All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

You say: “I’m too tired.”
God says: I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: “Nobody really loves me.”
God says: I love you. (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say: “I can’t go on.”
God says: My grace is sufficient. (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: “I can’t figure things out.”
God says: I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: “I can’t do it.”
God says: You can do all things. (Philippians 4:13)

You say: “I’m not able.”
God says: I am able. (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: “It’s not worth it.”
God says: It will be worth it. (Roman 8:28)

You say: “I can’t forgive myself.”
God says: I FORGIVE YOU. (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: “I can’t manage.”
God says: I will supply all your needs. (Philippians 4:19)

You say: “I’m afraid.”
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear. (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: “I’m always worried and frustrated.”
God says: Cast all your cares on ME. (I Peter 5:7)

You say: “I don’t have enough faith.”
God says: I’ve given everyone a measure of faith. (Romans12:3)

You say: “I’m not smart enough.”
God says: I give you wisdom. (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: “I feel all alone.”
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews13:5)

God wants you to depend on Him and draw your strength from Him – you are His beloved

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zacchaeous

ZACCHAEUS & THE RICH RULER

DO WE PREACH GRACE OR LAW?

Two linked Bible stories reveal the differences between the effect of The Law and the effect of Grace.

(Lk 18:18)  A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…….          (Lk 19:2)  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was………

It is not by coincidence that these two stories almost directly follow each other in The Scriptures!

1)    WHY DID JESUS PREACH RELIGIOUS LAW TO SOME AND GRACE TO OTHERS?

God gives The Law to the Self-Righteous while to the humble and lost He shows Grace.

law1

Jesus understood that The Law was given to expose Self-Righteousness and for bringing people to an end of themselves. This is the only reason Jesus preached The Law, he never preached The Law to condemn people.  The Jewish Teachers of Jesus’ day had totally misunderstood the purpose of The Law of Moses (The ten commandments+). They used it for the exact opposite purpose for which it was intended.  They taught that people could be saved and holy by obeying The Law.

In contrast Jesus preached The Law to show that no one could ever be saved by keeping The Law and that all fall short, all have sinned and all need a Saviour and Grace. Jesus never preached the Ten Commandments as an external moral code for man to live by or a way of obtaining Righteousness. Jesus knew that these things could only come about through a heart transformed by Grace.

Let’s be honest, we all would like to keep the Ten Commandments, but the truth is that we all blow it, no matter how hard we try.

The good news is that under The New Covenant, our role is to recognize that we fall short of God’s holiness standard, we therefore rely on God’s Grace and find rest in Christ from The Law. The Law just brings us terrible condemnation and death (2Cor.3:7-9) so we need to get free from it.

It is only from position of Grace that we are able to live in the way God desires: a loving, generous, holy life full of the fruit of the Spirit. Right living flows from a heart that is full of Grace, it can never come about by trying to obey The Law.

Traditionally we have been taught that Jesus preached Laws for believers to aspire to and live by. However we have missed the truth that both Jesus and Paul used The Law in a different way, in the way for which it was originally intended i.e. to expose the sin of Self-Righteousness, pride and the sin of unbelief. Moral sin flows out of unbelief, moral sin is the fruit of man’s pride and independence from God.

This misunderstanding of the purpose of The Law has led to confusion in the Church and has resulted in an erroneous deadly mixture of Law and Grace that has produced terrible fruit in many Christian lives.

 Looking at the two parables of the Rich Ruler and Zacchaeus help us understand how Jesus correctly applied Law and Grace with amazingly different results.

2)    THE RICH RULER & THE LAW (Lk.18:18-24).

This parable typifies the Principle that to the Self-Righteous Jesus always preached The Law.

do it

Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

The key context

Luke 18:9 Jesus spoke this parable to  men who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.

Firstly, To enable us to fully understand what issue is actually being addressed it is very important to establish and interpret scripture in its context. A scripture taken out of context can be a con.

The context of these two stories is that Jesus was exposing the primary sin of pride and self-righteousness and was starting to reveal Grace to Israel.

Jesus knew that exposure of Self Righteousness is crucial, as the Self Righteousness deny the need for salvation…. after all who needs to be saved if they are righteous (in right standing with God) through their own efforts.  Self-Righteousness is the ultimate manifestation of man’s pride, man’s self sufficiency and the Fallen nature of Mankind.

The issue of Righteousness by self effort or Righteous by Grace is in fact the key theme of Scripture, it is crux of the Cross and is one of the keys to fully understanding the Kingdom and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).

Points from the story of the Rich Ruler.

Jesus’ intent in this encounter was not to give us another impossible Law to obey “You must sell everything and give all your money to the poor”. Jesus was actually exposing Self-Righteousness and the bondage to money from which self-sufficiency and self-righteousness often flows.

Jesus was responding to a very specific question (v18) from a self-sufficient and rich Ruler who asked: “What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?”.

The Rich Ruler’s question reveals the foundations of Self-Righteousness i.e. Self Effort. This trait happens to be particularly pertinent to the Rich because they are self- sufficient, able and  “Doers” based on:-

  • The erroneous and arrogant belief that we are able “ to do” things that make us worthy, holy and sufficiently qualified to spend eternity with God.
  • The assumption that we are good and don’t need a Saviour and God’s Grace.
  • The belief that we can obey laws and keep The Law to the perfect degree that God’s Holy Law demands.

Jesus’ usual response to people wanting to ‘do things’ to get saved was to preach The Law in an extreme form. In this case it was “Go and sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me“. Jesus knew that the Rich Ruler believed he was good, able and righteous. Jesus also knew that he was obsessed with money. Despite his claim of having kept The Law since childhood, through his money making he had actually repeatedly broken the Law “Thou shalt not covet”.  Sadly the Rich Ruler was blind to this fact.

If this Rich Ruler was ever to repent and be saved In response Jesus had to first reveal the Rich Rulers Self-Righteousness, spiritual blindness and bondage to money.

What is interesting is the actual affect the preaching of Law actually had on the Rich Ruler. Did he repent? No! Instead he hardened his heart and turned away from Jesus because he realised he could not DO what The Law required. In a way it seems like a strange story. No one was saved, no one repented and no one followed Jesus.  However it needs to be said that firstly, the Rich Ruler missed the point of Jesus’ teaching. Secondly, not everyone is saved and The Lord gives us freewill to turn away if we choose.  Thirdly, the sermon was not wasted as the listening crowd understood what was being taught and responded in the right way to Jesus’ teaching. The response Jesus was looking for was actually for people to understand their precarious position and cry out for Grace.

Lk 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Lessons from the Rich Ruler

  1. Self-Righteousness is a strong bondage which spiritually blinds people.
  2. The religious-rich are particularly prone to Self-Righteousness.
  3. No one can save themselves by keeping The Law.
  4. Law preaching results in condemnation and turning away from Jesus.
  5. Law preaching just reinforces how much we fall short and fail.
  6. Preaching The Law doesn’t get people saved.
  7. Preaching The Law does not lead to repentance.

Thankfully Jesus also didn’t leave us with just this story as He desired to teach us what happens when we preach The Law and what happens when we share Grace.  The teaching continues and He reveals the way of Grace in the very next chapter. And thank God the results are astoundingly different!

3)    THE RICH TAX COLLECTOR AND GRACE

Luke 19:2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.’” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

house

The  context.

The rich man in this story is called Zacchaeus which means “an Israelite”. He was a Jew just like the Rich Ruler and as such he was also under the Law of Moses. Zacchaeus was a very rich Jewish Tax collector who worked for the Romans. These tax collectors exploited and defrauded the Jewish people and they were intensely hated. The Jews considered him to be a traitor, a sinner and unclean (v7) -no one would associate with him.

Points from the story of Zacchaeus

What is crucial in this story is for us to see that Zacchaeus was desperate to encounter Jesus.  This desperation for Jesus is what determines Jesus’ actions and response to Zacchaeus. Unlike the Rich Ruler, Zacchaeus’ focus was not on ‘what he should do’ but on who Jesus was. This rich man humbled himself and climbed a tree just so he could see Jesus. This must have been quite a sight and quite an effort for this short man. Jesus’ response to the rotten and corrupt Zacchaeus was pure love and Grace.

(v5) “ Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

This was amazing as Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was despised and a “sinner”. Jesus also knew that his offer to go to Zacchaeus’ house would offend people as Zacchaeus was a Jew, under the Law and clearly a Law breaker. However in stark contrast to Jesus’ response to the Rich Ruler:-

  • Jesus never preached The Law to Zacchaeus.
  • Jesus never once pointed out his sin or that Zacchaeus lacked anything.
  • Jesus never indicated that He required Zacchaeus to do anything.
  • He never condemned Zacchaeus in any way.
  • Jesus simply showed him Grace and acceptance – by coming to his house to eat.

 

The affect of Jesus’ Grace and acceptance is nothing short of miraculous and is in stark contrast to the Rich Ruler who turned away from Jesus:-

  • Zacchaeus is overwhelmed by Jesus’ Grace
  • He welcomed Jesus and was full of joy (v6).
  • He received salvation through Jesus (v9&10).
  • The kindness of Jesus causes him to repent of his sinful way of life (v8).
  • He was contrite and humble of heart and confessed his sin.
  • Without being told what to do, his heart led him to do what was right (eous).
  • He was set free from his bondage to money.
  • He showed a heart for the poor and needy.
  • He set out to make right the affects of his past sins.

It must be clearly understood that it is not his actions of giving away his money that gained him salvation and righteousness. Giving his money away was the result of his meeting Jesus, experiencing Grace and receiving salvation.  True salvation and Grace always results in a transformed character and Godly good works that are from the heart.

Lessons from Zacchaeus.

  1. When people seek Jesus He responds in Grace.  Jesus is Grace!
  2. Jesus shows Grace to those who are humble and not Self-Righteous.
  3. When we share Grace, unconditional love and acceptance, people will be saved.
  4. It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance, not the Law.
  5. People don’t need the Law to know that they are sinners and fall short in some way.
  6. Repentance is a change of mind, a change of belief which results in a change of actions.
  7. True ‘good works’ come from a heart transformed by Grace.
  8. A  heart touched by Grace will show concern for the oppressed and needy.

4)    CONCLUSION

Preaching Religious Laws exposes peoples short coming but it doesn’t bring people to salvation.

There is a better way than preaching Law-  it’s the way of revealing God’s love and Grace through Jesus Christ!

Not only does the Grace of Christ bring people to salvation but it transforms people’s characters and enables them to live Righteously.

 

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health

HEALTH THROUGH JESUS’ REST

OUR REST AND HEALTH IN CHRIST

Heb 4:11  Let us, therefore,  labour (KJV) to enter God’s rest

THE PEACE & JOY KINGDOM

Understanding that we are Righteous – in right standing with, and accepted by God – by faith and not because of what we do, or fail to do, results in an inner joy and peace as we hope for and expect blessings from a good and kind God.

Rom 14:17  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit……

Rom 14:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

REST AND HEALTH THROUGH GRACE

The only thing that believers are called to strive and labour for in the New Covenant is inner rest that comes through the Grace of Christ.

Depression and sickness are major fruits of today’s work, success and perfection focussed society.

Depression is affecting many Christians who are not living in Grace and who are instead works, obedience and law orientated and therefore doomed to fall short all the time.

Living by the soul is living by the intellect and logic which leads to striving and worry.

There is a higher way of living by the Spirit which leads to inner rest.

Heb 4:11  Let us, therefore,  labour (KJV) to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. 12 For the word (Logos) of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

JESUS SETS US FREE FROM THE LAW’S OPPRESSION

Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of living by the flesh, trying to fulfil the law which leads to oppression.

Jesus came to proclaim the good news of Grace and God’s dispensation of unearned favour for all who would believe.

Luk 4:18  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.

BELIEVING IN GOD’S GOODNESS (NUM.13:23)

Israel’s unbelief and distrust of God (Num.13:23) prevented them from receiving their blessing and rest.

Likewise, the major battle within us is against unbelief.

Unbelief causes us to doubt God’s good intentions and love for us – it was the original sin.

Unbelief is the sin that the Holy Spirit convicts of (John 16:9).

Heb 3:12  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

LINK BETWEEN GRACE REST & HEALTH

There is a direct medical link between the lack of inner peace and rest and stress.

Perfectionism, works and obedience orientated Christian living is stressful as it’s always focussing on our sin and short comings.

Knowing and accepting that all our sins are forgiven and that we are righteous through Jesus will produce good mental and physical health.

Sin focussed Christianity leads to condemnation, guilt, shame, anxiety and sickness.

Rom 4:7  “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”   ……. comes from:  Psa 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2  Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 5  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Heb 4:11  Let us, therefore,  labor (KJV) to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. 12  For the word (Logos) of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

THE TREADMILL OF SELF WORKS AND THE SICKNESS CYCLE

When one cannot accept God’s grace, forgiveness and love, then we cannot believe we are truly God’s beloved children and blessed.

When our identity is based on what we do instead of the finished work of the cross, we are insecure in our identity.

UNCERTAINTY OF IDENTITY ->  LACK OF GRACE TO SELF -> UNBELIEF -> FEAR -> ANXIETY

->CONTROL-> PASSIVITY OR BUSYNESS -> LAWS & RULES -> JUDGMENTS

EMOTIONAL AFFECTS ->  Resentment. Bitterness. Anger / Frustration. Negativity. Panic.

PHYSICAL AFFECTS : Chemical imbalances leading to….  JOINT PROBLEMS. DEPRESSION (anger turned inward). HEART ISSUES. GASTRIC ILLNESS. CANCERS (Self hate & rebellion)

THE WAY OUT

Rom 4:5  However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Rely on Jesus, see yourself as he is. Fix your eyes on Him……

 

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