The power to change; Christ and Him crucified. (Part 2)

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”                                                       (1Cor.2:4,5)

In part 1 we saw that messages of human wisdom can sound wise and persuasive to the natural mind, but they do not have the power to change you. This is because the Holy Spirit cannot operate through messages that point to you, as your hope of change and if the Holy Spirit is not in the words, then they are words without power (John 6:63). Persuasive messages, that exhort you to try harder to do better for God, can result in the appearance of godliness; more meeting attended, more prayers said, more charitable works achieved. But the employees of any worldly organisation can also raise productivity and improve the reputation of the company in response to inspiring talks by management. The message, “try harder” can result in a temporary behaviour change, but it can never change the person because it cannot change the heart.

In biblical language, the heart is the inner beliefs of a person, especially their fundamental belief about who they are. These beliefs inform the motives of every action and ambition (Prov.4:23). In a very real sense, every person’s life springs out from what they are believing. Jesus knew this and for that reason was dismissive of the ministry of the religious whose message; “try harder to keep God’s commands” resulted in an outer appearance of godliness, but with no inner change of heart. He described such ‘ministries’ as “wiping the outside of the cup” (Matt.23:25) and pointed out that even those holding themselves up as poster boys for such religion were like white washed tombs (Matt.23:27). Their clean exterior hid the truth, that they were still fundamentally unchanged, still hopelessly self-centred and powerless to be as God is.

That is because the only message that has the power to change the heart of man, is a message that changes first his beliefs, not his behaviour. Think of your beliefs as the root of a tree and your behaviour as the branches. No amount of pruning back the branches is ever going to change the tree in the same way as a change to the root will (Luke 13:8). To believe what Jesus believes about you, is to have Him as the root of your life and your life as branches of that root, blossoming with His fruit (John 15:5). When what God believes, becomes what you believe, only then can you live as God lives (John 8:32).

What God believes about your life; the worth of your life, who you really are to Him, is only seen in Christ and Him crucified. Only in Christ can men see the truth about who they are. They are worth the life of God, loved unconditionally by Him and made for Him, to live with Him (2Cor.5:15, Rom.7:4). To believe in Christ, is to receive Him as God’s view and opinion of you, His mind made up about you (Rom.5:8). His amazing thoughts towards us are so much higher than our own, that we cannot take them in without the Holy Spirit (John 16:12,13, 1 Cor.2:9-16). We have never thought that God gives freely, for we live in a world that has pointed us to ourselves and our achievements as our source of life. This spirit of the world has so shaped man’s view of God, that even in the church it is hard to escape the mindset that God’s generosity is shackled to our performance (Gal.3:1-3). Only the Holy Spirit contradicts this message (1Cor.2:12).

To grow therefore as a believer, is to grow up into the mind of Christ, to think more and more as God’s Spirit thinks rather than as the world thinks (Eph.4:15). So how does God think? He thinks the finished work of Christ is sufficient for our every need and so maturity for a believer is to live in the rest, peace, love and generosity of a God who rejoices that all that needs to be done has been done and all that man needs, has already been given (Rom.8:32).

Without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, natural man cannot see his own worth to God or how much has been given to Him in Christ (1Cor.2:14). He can only ever see what he doesn’t appear to yet have, or yet be. Blind to what God has done for him, a man can spend a lifetime seeking to add value to himself through what he achieves or accumulates. Yet even if he gained the whole world, he would still have lost the true value of his own soul (Luke 12:15, Mark 8:36,37).

What the Holy Spirit speaks to us is nothing short of extraordinary, for the truth about what God has done for us is nothing short of extraordinary. Here is the difference between human wisdom and the Gospel. Human wisdom says that ordinary men can become extraordinary by doing extraordinary things. The gospel says that doing extraordinary things does not change a man, (some of the most extraordinary feats of human achievement were done by very selfish individuals!). Rather it is believing extraordinary things that most changes people and there is nothing in this world so extraordinary to believe as the gospel of Christ and Him crucified. Human wisdom is a message about what you must do, (and so appeals to man’s pride), but the Gospel is a message about what God has done, a message that in leaving no place for pride (Eph.2:8,9), lifts man out of self-consciousness and into God-consciousness and when men see God….they are changed! (2Cor.3:18).

An awareness of the spirit of the world influencing men, alerts us not to be taken in by ‘wise and persuasive’ messages, but to ask ourselves a simple question. Did what I just hear leave my faith on me and my performance, or on Christ and Him crucified? Did it leave my faith on a sinning less life, or on a sinless life?

That’s why faith cannot rest on human wisdom, because human wisdom will give you no rest. All those ‘eloquent’ messages are always all about what you need to do for God and once you start down that road, it’s a never-ending road because you never know if you have done enough? If you are not at rest as a believer, if you are striving and struggling to change, then it is almost certainly because at some point in the past, the preaching of mere human wisdom moved your hope, off what Christ has done for you and onto what you are going to do for Him. The gospel is not a matter of words but of power and that power comes by the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to God’s reality, to the way God sees, for when you see what God sees….. you will be changed by what you see.

Don’t let your hope for change be placed in what you or other people are going to do, this year or any year. That will leave you always waiting for change. But if your hope for change is in the Cross, then you will always be seeing change, for it is in seeing and continually seeing Christ and Him crucified, that people are changed. That is speaking of change coming through revelation, through having our eyes opened to see what we could not see, or see clearly, before (Luke 4:18). The greatest change in your life in 2019 will not come from the change you achieve in your strength (self-effort/religion), but from the change you receive (revelation).

This is what Jesus was declaring to Peter, when He told him that His Church would not be built by knowledge that flesh and blood could know, but only by what the Father in heaven reveals by His Spirit (Matt.16:17,18). The way God changes man is by revelation, but not a revelation of what man needs to do, but a revelation of what Christ has done. The revelation that comes from God, (the gospel the Spirit declares), is not man-centred, but Christ-centred. When you see what God has done, when you see Jesus Christ, you will see that God has already achieved all the change that is necessary for a man or a woman to be, as God is. We don’t have to achieve wisdom, sanctification, righteousness or redemption, for in Christ all those goals are already ours (1Cor.1:30).

That’s why Jesus has sat down (Hebrews 10:11-14). The Father is not going to nudge Jesus one day and say, “I am afraid you are going to have to get up again because it seems that your life, death, resurrection, ascension and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit were not quite enough.” There was no chair for the Old Covenant priests to sit on in the Temple because their work was never done. Whenever an Old Covenant mindset leavens a ministry, the preacher cannot bring himself to let you sit with Christ. He will preach the most beautiful gospel message, but right at the end, find he cannot resist giving you something to do. Many a preacher in the closing 5 minutes of their sermon, feels almost duty-bound to exhort his or her hearers to ‘respond’ to the message. We all know the importance of making a decision ‘for’ Christ, but the greatest lives will be led by those whose gaze is left fixed on the decision that was made ‘by’ Christ; to give all He had to us before we had made any decision for Him! (Rom.5:8)

Has Jesus already done enough to change you forever? Yes or No? What we answer to that question depends on one thing. How clearly can we see, Christ and Him crucified! Has Jesus already done enough to change us forever? What people answer to that, depends not on what Jesus is going to do, but on how clearly they see what He has already done. How well we see what Christ has done, depends on which spirit we are seeing by; either the spirit of the world (who directs our gaze continually onto ourselves) or the spirit that comes from God (who directs our gaze continually onto Christ and Him crucified) (1Cor.2:12). Which spirit are we receiving, are we making room for, in our life?

It is not God’s will that we be filled with any other spirit, any other mindset, than His and His mind on us is that the work of salvation He did in us is a compete and perfect work, for He did not plant is us a half-truth or a half-spirit, but of His fullness have we all received (John 1:16). It is as we let His mind, His Spirit, His peace over His finished work, rule our heart, our beliefs, that we will feel utterly fulfilled by the magnitude of the change He sees in us, for God sees what He has done through Christ as …enough! See yourself through man’s eyes and all you will see is what you have not yet achieved; perfection. But see yourself through God’s eyes and you will see what has been freely given; perfection, unless you think God, in giving you His Spirit, planted in you an imperfect seed, an incomplete life. But what does the scriptures say about what has been given to you? “You have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.” (1Peter 1:23)

Christian, can you accept that when God saved you, you were worth doing a complete work on; that in God’s eyes you are an entirely new creation? Can you see yet what the Holy Spirit is opening your eyes to see? Can you see yet what God sees? Can you see that if “any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5:17). Start to see the things God sees this year and your heart won’t be sick anymore, for you will see that all your dreams of change are yes and amen in Christ (2Cor.1:20). See that and you will be as God sees you to be; changed utterly.

So Christian, what will you see in 2019?

Will you still see yourself through human wisdom? Will you still see yourself according to what you do, rather than according to what Christ has done? By the end of this year, you may still see yourself as a sinner because the world around you, (even in the church), defines you by your doing, but that’s not going to stop God seeing you as a saint (1Cor.1:30, 2Cor.5:17), nor His Spirit addressing you as such (Phil.1:1). You may see yourself as a half-finished work, with much left to do, but the Father does not see the Son’s work as half-finished, for God sees clearly just how much has been done and 2000 years ago He used His last breath on the Cross to shout it out for all of creation to hear; It is finished! (John 19:30).

The greatest change that can come into a person’s life, is in seeing; seeing the change that Jesus Christ has already achieved for them. If you and I, at the start of this new year, are resolving to try harder to reconcile ourselves to God, to get closer to God, by doing more of this and doing less of that, then we have a problem, but it is not a sinning problem. We have a seeing problem. We are not seeing Christ and Him crucified clearly enough!

What’s the remedy for people who can’t see Christ and Him crucified clearly enough? Paul’s remedy for short-sightedness in every church, whether falling into legalism or immorality, was exactly the same; hold up before them continually, nothing more and nothing less, than Christ and Him crucified (1Cor.2:2), because to see Christ and Him crucified, is to see that you don’t need to reconcile yourself to God. Christ has already done that. When you can see that, you can start to see as God sees. When the Church starts to see as never before, she will start to live as never before and what the world will see is Christ living in His people.

Church, to see ourselves as God sees us in Christ, is to see that we are more than human wisdom and religion have ever told us. In Christ we are not mere men, we are sons of the living God and we are not ashamed of this unbelievable gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who will see and believe in what Christ has done.

 

 

 

The power to change; Christ and Him crucified. (Part 1).

“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”    1Cor.2:1,2

Do you know why there is no power in human wisdom? Because the best human wisdom can do, is see you and I as “mere men” (1Cor.3:3). If we as Christians, are continually spoken to as mere men, the great danger is that we will believe that and so only behave like mere men (Prov.23:7, 1Cor.3:16). There is no power in the preaching of human wisdom because there is no anointing of the Holy Spirit, no power of God, on human wisdom, for why should the Holy Spirit anoint a message that is understandable without Him? The only message worth hearing, is a message that you need the Holy Spirit to understand, for with the Holy Spirit comes power.

That’s why messages of human wisdom sound really good to the natural mind but they do not have the power to change you, because the Holy Spirit cannot operate through messages that point you…to you, as your hope of change!

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words” (1Cor.2:4). Messages of human wisdom can sound wise and persuasive, but we need to ask ourselves a question about every message we hear in the year ahead. No matter how wise, and persuasive, and eloquent what I heard was, no matter how much scripture was used to illustrate all the points, did what I just hear leave my faith on me and my performance, or on Christ and Him crucified? Is my faith now resting on a sinning less life, or on a sinless life?

The apostle Paul in this passage declared in effect to the Corinthians “I did not come to you with human wisdom because your faith cannot rest on human wisdom.”

No time of year is more charged with hope of change than the first weeks of January. It is human wisdom to believe that we must change ourselves. That’s why faith cannot rest on human wisdom, because human wisdom will give you no rest. All those wise and persuasive words, are always about what you need to do to change and once you start down that road, it’s a never-ending road because you never know if you have done enough?

A gospel that is about what you need to do is very complicated. Religion is very complicated. You can be in it for years and still be no wiser as to what on earth God wants from you. That’s because as long as your focus is on yourself and what you need to do for God (which is where most religion fixes your gaze), then you will remain effectively blind to what God wants you to see; how much He has already done for you! What God has provided can be summed up in four words; “Christ and Him crucified”.

The Holy Spirit is not pointing you to you and saying; “Look what needs to be done”. He is pointing you to Christ and Him crucified and saying; “Look what has been done!” (Hebrews 12:2). In truth, the more you think you have to do for God, the less you know Him. This is because to know Him, to be filled with His Spirit, is to totally be consumed by what He has done for you, not what you will do for Him (John 6:28,29).

That’s why when Paul said he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians except Christ and Him crucified, he was saying that he decided to only listen to the Holy Spirit, not human wisdom. Any preaching that points you to yourself, no matter how eloquent, no matter how many scriptures are quoted, is merely human wisdom because the Holy Spirit always points us to Christ and Him crucified! (1Cor.2:12).

If you are not at rest as a believer, if you are striving and struggling to change, then it is almost certainly because your faith is not resting on Christ and what He has done. The most likely reason for that, is that at some point in the past, the preaching of mere human wisdom moved your hope, off what Christ has done for you and onto what you are going to do for Him. There is no power to change in what you will do for Christ. There is no power in self-effort (religion). The gospel is not a matter of words but of power because the Gospel is a proclamation of what God sees. Through the proclamation of what God has done; Christ and Him crucified, the Holy Spirit can open eyes to God’s reality, to the way God sees and when you see what God sees….. you will be changed by what you see!

To proclaim the Gospel in all is fullness, is to speak therefore of things which cannot be seen without the Holy Spirit opening our understanding. What we then perceive, is that God is greater and more generous than any man has ever imagined (1Cor.2:9-16). These things are so naturally unbelievable, that you will either be changed or offended, for that is all the gospel preached by the early church did; either offended people or changed them (Acts 13:43-46).

Human wisdom points you to yourself and says in effect “You need to change your life to be a better person and here is what you need to do.” In other words, the emphasis is on you, changing your own life. Such a view of life is inherently self-centred, for without a revelation of God, man remains consumed with self.

Paul told the Galatians that until Christ came, we had been held in bondage (slavery) to such human wisdom, what he described as “the elementary principles of this world.” (Gal.4:3). The idea that it is down to you to change yourself and so to save yourself, is an elementary principle of this world. It is the principle of men who believe they do not have a Saviour to save them or change them. So, how are they supposed to change themselves or save themselves? That brings us to another elementary principle of a world that does not see Christ as their Saviour. You change or save yourself…by what you do!

The Gospel directly contradicts the idea that any man can fundamentally change himself for the better. It declares that we are “saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no man can boast.” (Eph.2:8,9). We are saved by grace, through the person of Jesus (Titus 2:11)

Imagine you are out of your depth and you can’t swim. Someone comes along to save you. What do you have to do? You have to let them save you. Continuing to struggle to save yourself, is now only going to hinder them.

When people asked Jesus what they should be doing, to do what was required by God, His response was never to give them something to do, but someone to believe in. He never pointed them to themselves, but to Himself; their Saviour. How do you let grace save you? You need to stop trying to save yourself, for all your efforts to save yourself are only pushing away your Saviour. Efforts to save yourself, push away the grace of God!

Paul wrote to some Christians in Galatia who were getting religious. They had started to believe that there was something else they needed to do to be saved, besides just let Jesus be their Saviour. Paul used an interesting phrase to describe what was happening to them in Gal.5:4. He said; “You are estranging yourself (distancing yourselves) from the grace of God”. “You have fallen from grace”. It is significant that Paul didn’t use this phrase with the immoral, “badly behaving” Corinthian church, but with the legalistic, “properly behaving” Galatian church. That’s because if Grace is your saviour, then you don’t fall from grace (your saviour) by sinning, but by insisting on saving yourself! (Gal.3:2) There is not a depth of sin you can fall into, that the grace of God cannot save you from, but we need to let the grace of God save us.

Have you ever seen lifesavers swimming out and trying to save someone, who is panicking? The biggest problem they have, is in trying to stop that person from saving themselves, long enough to let them save him. Keep sitting under messages that infer that your salvation depends on your behaviour and you won’t be able to help yourself. You will quietly start to panic and your flesh will not lie still, but will jump into action to save yourself through good works (1Cor.15:56).

Here is an elementary principle of the Kingdom of God; You don’t save yourself by what you do. You let yourself be saved. You let the Saviour do all the saving. Many of us as Christians, let Christ save us many years ago, but we have got caught up since by the spirit of this world (1Cor.2:12), (that elementary principle that you are saved by what you do). We have quietly slipped back into trying to save ourselves through what we do and that life, that self-centred, religious life, is effectively pushing away the grace of God, so that we are not enjoying being saved as Christ intended we would. Do you know that if Christians enjoyed being saved more, the Church would shine so much brighter in this world and be much stronger in every area, for “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. (Neh.8:10)

In every generation of the church, multitudes of believers have started out in joy because they could see that they couldn’t and didn’t save themselves. But after spending years around Christians, whose focus is on doing Christianity, they somehow can’t see as clearly anymore that they have been and always will be, saved entirely by the grace of God. Over the years as their spiritual eyesight has faded, so has their joy. The apostle Peter wrote that if we forget we were cleansed from our sins, then we become short-sighted to the point of blindness. (2Peter 1:9)

The less you see the change that Christ has achieved, the more you will try to achieve change yourself. God’s way of changing men is not through what they do, but through what they believe (Acts 16:31).

This basic principle of the world, that you can change yourself by what you do, is so pervasive, that it is has always been found affecting God’s people, in every generation (Gal.3:1-3). When the spirit of the world, which is man-centred, begins to influence people, you will always see an emphasis on doing, over believing.  Churches are full of this sort of teaching; “Here is what you need to do, in order to see change come into your life”. It sounds really helpful and so it’s easy to miss the fact that that type of message is directing your gaze down off Christ and what He has done and back onto yourself and what you are going to do, as your hope of change. Can you see yet, that any view of you changing your life, is a self-centred view of life?

Any gospel message that is man-centred, rather than Christ-centred, is powerless. The apostle Paul would have been tempted many times to read the riot act to some of His churches, to command them to do certain things in order to change, but he discovered from experience, that real change, real transformation, real power, only comes from directing people to Christ, not to themselves. Hence his comment to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing, while I was among you, only Christ and Him crucified.

If you took an honest look at your list of things to do this year, that you hope will make you a better Christian, can you say that the emphasis of that list is on your doing, or on Christ’s doing? Why is that important? Because when it comes to change this year or any year, the greatest change in a person’s life, comes as they receive the change that God has already brought about, rather than try to achieve change themselves. The spirit of the world says “Achieve”. The Spirit of God says “Receive”. In other words, our hope isn’t in what we are going to do, but in what Christ has done.

It’s such a powerful thing to have your hope in what has been done, rather than in what is yet to be done. Hope deferred into the future makes the heart sick. Prov 13:12 declares that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Who is the tree of life? Jesus! A longing fulfilled is…Jesus. Jesus is …a longing fulfilled. Are you longing for change? Jesus is that longing fulfilled! If you look to what Jesus has done, you will see all the change you will ever need! But if your hope for change is continually deferred into the future, because you have let it be placed continually on either what you or others are going to do for God, your heart is going to get sickened.

Multitudes of people leave churches every year because they are sick of waiting for change. You can only keep telling people for so long that great change will come to their lives one day, if they keep doing x, y and z. After they have done x, y and z for a few years and no great change has come upon them, they get heart sick. When the Bible talks about the heart, it is not talking about the organ in your chest, but your capacity to believe (Prov.4:23). If you sit under messages, month in month out, year in year out, that keep pointing you to yourself, that boil down to continually telling you what you should be doing more of and what you should be doing less of, in order to please God, those messages will effectively keep dropping your gaze off Christ. In not seeing clearly the great change He has already brought into your life, then your heart, (your capacity to believe, your faith), will be sickened, because more and more it has come to rest on what people are going to do, rather than on what Christ has done. Faith cannot rest on human wisdom, as human wisdom always wants to tell you what you need to do. Human wisdom dressed up in religious clothes will even tell you what your faith needs to do!. So instead of resting, your faith jogs along until it is exhausted and then collapses for lack of rest.

If your hope for change is in what people are going to do, then you will always be waiting for change. But if your hope for change is in the Cross, then you will always be seeing change, for it is in seeing and continually seeing Christ and Him crucified, that people are changed. In part 2 we will look at what this means.

 

The Complete Christmas; in Him…you!

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete,”                                                                                 Col.2:9,10

Those three little words sum up the whole purpose of Christ’s coming; so that …in Him you!

Ephesians 4 declares that the effects of the five ‘ascension’ ministries in the Church is to so root and ground Christians in the truth of their identity in Christ that they can no longer be “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” but instead “grow up into Christ” (Eph.4:14,15). In other words, that they will be mature enough not to be manipulated by anyone who tries to intimidate them or guilt trip them through fear. To see how real this danger was, we only have to read Paul’s letter to the Galatians; an eternal warning on how legalism can creep into a Christian community and leave them powerless and merely religious.

The gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are given to prevent this from happening, by ensuring that believers are equipped (Greek ‘katartismos’) and edified (Greek ‘oikodome’) (Eph.4:12). This is speaking primarily about the necessity of good teaching and for believers to be raised in a loving environment where they can witness and experience the power of the gospel to transform the thinking and so the lives of even the most hardened individuals. Such transformation can only follow a renewal of our thinking; a total change in how we see ourselves, the world and God. This allows us to live lives of confidence and generosity, not ignorance and selfishness (Rom 12:2). The foundation for such a life is the revelation of the believer’s union with Christ, the revelation that through Christ, we are not cut off from God and left to save ourselves, but are (entirely by His grace), as connected to God as the body is to the head (1Cor.3:11, Col.3:3).

From bitter experience, Paul had come to be convinced that without being rooted and established in this revelation, churches remained vulnerable to ideas based on worldly religious thinking. He knew that if a community of believers remain with their eyes fixed on Christ as their life, their life blossoms with the fruit of the Spirit (John 15:4,5). To be Christ conscious is to be union conscious, ever growing up “into the head” (Eph 4:15). It is to be persuaded by the Holy Spirit that we aren’t merely each living “separate” lives for God, but rather there is only one life that we are sharing in and that is the life of Christ (Eph.4:4-6).

But what happens when instead of being taught this continually and growing in the revelation of our union with Christ, churches are fed a diet of teaching that infers that separation from God (sin), is something that we have to work hard at preventing? What happens when more emphasis in teaching and practice is placed on sin (separation), than on Christ (union)? Think of a happily married couple who have eyes for no-one else but each other and are enjoying the peace, security and confidence of their lives together. Now imagine the husband comes home one day with an “idea”. He says that the last thing they would both want to happen is for one of them to start having eyes for someone else. Therefore, to prevent this from happening, each of them should now agree to start preparing a daily list to give to the other of any “straying” thoughts they might have had towards another person. In this way, by bringing their “sin” ever before them, this will keep their marriage stronger! Well, what do you think of that idea? In your opinion, would you think after six months of that focus, their marriage would know the same peace, security and confidence?

Separation consciousness cannot strengthen a marriage in the same way that love (union) consciousness can. It is a poor substitute. At some point the constant focus on finding fault will cause one or other of the partners to become defensive.

Separation (sin) consciousness inevitably leads to self-condemnation, which leads to an attempt to cover up. This attempt to “cover up” manifests in churches as self-righteousness. Keep pointing me to myself and soon all I can see is how well or how poorly I measure up to others. Keep going and the inevitable result is division. Now have a look at the body of Christ on the earth today!

The apostle Paul is very clear on the reason why believers do not grow up into union with Christ. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” (Eph.4:17). Here he is not just telling, he is “insisting”, that believers, (those who are one with God in Christ, as connected to God as their body is to their head), stop thinking the way unbelievers think. They must stop thinking and so living as if they are separated from God because to think like that is futile. The Greek word translated “futile” is ‘mataiotes’ which actually means “devoid of truth” or “perverse”!

There is nothing more futile in this world that to see New Covenant believers (at one with God), act and pray like Old Covenant believers (separated from God). It is such a problem across the body of Christ, it has so dimed the light of the Church, that at River City Church I am afraid we insist on it in the Lord too, that believers grow up to live in the reality of their union with Christ, that they live and talk like sons of God.

  • We insist on treating and speaking to Christians as if they are as connected to God as their body is to their head. (Col.3:3)
  • We insist on speaking to you as if you are the very temple of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor.6:19)
  • We insist on speaking to you as if you have already been blessed in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ. (Eph.1:3)
  • We insist on no longer regarding you after the flesh but after the Spirit. (2Cor.5:16)
  • We insist on preaching the justification and the sanctification of the believer by the finished work of Christ, not by our unfinished efforts at church. (1Cor.1:30. Heb.10:10)
  • So we insist that in Christ you have already been made righteous by grace, and in Christ you have already been forgiven by grace, and in Christ you have already been healed by grace. (Rom.5:17, Col.1:14, 2:13, 1Peter2:24)

And we insist on speaking these truths to each other continually for this one reason, that although God has already freely gifted these things to us in Christ, by grace, it is by faith that we receive and walk in the reality of the ‘in Christ’ life and that very faith, that ability to receive what God has freely given, comes by hearing. (Rom.10:17)

Hearing what? By hearing the gospel; the grace of God in truth (Col.1:6). Faith doesn’t come by hearing what you need to do, or do better for God. Faith comes by hearing what God has done for you. This is why we teach Christians that they don’t need to give more, pray more or do more to receive from God. They only need to listen more to the enormity of what has already been freely given to man in Christ and that listening heals our hearts; our ability to believe and receive.

This Christmas, millions will remember that the baby in the manger was “the fullness of the Deity dwelling in bodily form’. But what excites heaven is when millions start to see that “in Christ” all the fullness of the Deity still dwells and guess who is in Christ now? Have a look in the mirror Church! For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete,” (Col.2:9,10) Those three little words sum up the whole purpose of Christ’s coming; so that …in Him you!

Church, have a completely amazing Christmas, for ‘in Christ’ you are the amazing completion of Christmas!

Praying from heaven.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”                                            Mark 11:24

The prayers that most glorify God by their effectiveness, are not those which rise to heaven…but those which come from heaven! (Col.3:2,3). It is in discerning the voice of the Spirit, that we can begin to see how heaven sees and what we see is the magnitude of Christ’s victory and the scale of Satan’s defeat (Col.2:15). Such a heavenly perspective allows us to cease praying to victory and start praying from victory! (1John.4:4). The prayers that shake the Kingdom of darkness are those that proclaim its demise, not those that list its achievements! (1Cor.15:55,57).

Let us pray from the revelation that whatever the Spirit leads us to come to the Father for, has already been given in Christ, for in Him are not all the promises of God Yes and Amen? (2Cor.1:20). In Christ, have we not already been gifted every blessing in the heavenly realm? (Eph.1:3). This is why Jesus instructed His disciples in Mark 11:24, Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Hannah had cried out for years for a child. Through a word from Eli, the priest at the temple, revelation came and she saw her child as already given and her countenance changed and she went home and conceived (1Sam.1:12-19). In believing that she had already received…she received. Note Hannah’s faith was not in her prayer, but in the Word from God and even that faith was a gift that came by hearing! Let’s pray that many of us across the church, experience a fresh revelation of our union with Christ as already given, that we may conceive great fruit from that revelation. From the mind-set of union (the mind of Christ), we can begin to understand that the Lord is not asking us to do one thing for Him, but everything with Him. Let it be so too when it comes to prayer. Let us not come to Him saying “Listen Lord, we are speaking”, but rather “Speak Lord, we are listening!” (1Sam.3:10)

What is the mind of Christ on prayer? Listen again to what Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “When you pray, pray believing that you have already received what you asked for and it will be yours.” How could Jesus pray like that? Because He prayed knowing His Father. He didn’t pray in ignorance, He prayed in faith and faith can only operate when the will of God is known. How can someone be praying in faith, if they are in doubt as to whether what they are asking is in the will of God or not and so doubting whether He will give or not? (James 1:7). Because He knew His Father, when Jesus prayed, He would pray from a place of thanksgiving (John 11:42). This is the place we must pray from. It helps to live there!

Imagine if we believed that the only place we could pray from, the only place acceptable to God, was a certain building, on a certain street. Eventually, to save us the trouble of travelling to that building multiple times every day, we would consider moving there. How can we continually pray from a place of thanksgiving? Move to there! Start living from the place God prepared for us, this place called IN CHRIST, this place called UNION (2Peter 1:4), of ONE MIND with God. (1Cor.2:16, 1Cor.6:17)

How could Jesus always pray from a place of thanksgiving? Because He and the Father were of one mind entirely and so whatever Jesus asked for, was already as good as given. This meant that when Jesus prayed, He prayed believing that He had already received what He had asked for (Mark 11:24). When we pray from our spirit, joined to God’s Spirit, we are only ever asking what it is the Father’s will that we have! To bear fruit in prayer, we only need to remain, to abide, rooted and connected to the mind of Christ, through the Spirit (John 15:4.5). Apart from thinking the thoughts of God, we cannot speak the will of God and this is precisely why we have been given the Spirit who knows all things, even the mind of God. It is that we may think the thoughts of God and pray the prayers of God. Listen to how Paul described the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians; “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, [e]combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1Cor.2:12,13) So, the best way to learn to pray, is to learn to think the thoughts of God.

This way of thinking is taught by the Spirit of God through “ascension ministries”, the ministries of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The ministry gifts are of Him, to raise up a people who would live in Him. The Apostolic Church is known for believing in ascension ministries. But those gifts were not given that men and women may believe in ascension ministries. They were given that men and women would live in ascension life. What’s the point of believing in food, if you never eat.

What’s the point of believing in teachers, if you never grow in understanding. If believers are not rising into the mind of Christ, it is usually because the mind of Christ is not being communicated to them. How is a child to feel like a son, if he is continually spoken to as an orphan? How is a bride to think of herself as a wife, if she is continually spoken to as one separated from her husband? How is it possible for believers to grow up into the head, to start to live from our position of union with Christ, if we continue to think of ourselves as separated from God by our sins? (Eph4:14)

In that same passage that proclaims that our words are to be taught by the Holy Spirit, through the renewing of our thoughts, the apostle Paul warns that to speak or pray in this heavenly manner can only sound foolish to the earthly minded man. “But [f]a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually [g]appraised.” (1Cor.2:14).

I have often heard very impressive sounding prayers, where the believer praying is passionate, emotional, full of zeal ….but praying as if the life, death and resurrection of Christ achieved nothing. They pray as if the intent of their prayer is to get God to move, to bless us with some blessing that we have not yet received. Here is the gospel; God moved! As the song goes, He moved from heaven to earth, from the earth to the Cross, from the Cross to the grave and from the grave to the sky and then He moved again in the pouring out of His Holy Spirit into the spirits of every generation of the Church. Believer, God moved. He moved to you. Your move!

Only it is no longer your move alone, for now, because of the Cross (Col.3:3), every believer, everyone joined to the Lord, is one spirit with Him. This means that it is no longer you alone, but you “together with” God, you “hidden with” God in Christ (Eph.2:5-7,Col.3:3) who prays.

This is how the body of Christ is to pray; as Christ prays, “of one being, one mind, with the Father”. When challenged as to the key to His effectiveness in ministry, Jesus pointed to the fact that He was not speaking “on my own”. He was thinking and so speaking from a mind in union with the Father. In John 8:28 He declared, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me,'” Again in John 12:49,50 He repeated this truth; “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

What those two scriptures and others establish, is that Christ and the Father were of one mind, so if we are to pray as the body of Christ, then we must pray as Christ prayed, we must pray from a place of union with the Father.

In your life and mine as believers, the place of union with the Father, is our spirits.

“He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1Corinthinans 6:17) So, when our prayers are spirit led, they are always prayers of faith and thanksgiving, for we can say as Christ said; “Father we know that you always hear us” (John 11:42)

But if we have not learnt to think from, see from, speak from, the place that the Father has placed us in; Christ; the divine union, one mind, how can we expect to pray from that place?

  • If we don’t pray supernaturally, as people joined to God by His Son, then we will pray naturally, as people separated from God by our sin.
  • If we will not regard ourselves after the Spirit, then we will regard ourselves after the flesh.
  • If we don’t pray as New Covenant believers, then we can only pray as Old Covenant
  • If we will not see that it is because of Christ’s obedience, His holy life, His prayer, that all God’s promises are Yes and Amen for those of us in Christ, then we will pray as if the answer to our prayers depends on our obedience, our holy life, our prayers.

As spirt-filled New Covenant believers, we don’t pray that God would change. We pray that we would change, in that our vision of who God is and what He has done would grow and grow. We don’t pray that God would come down. We pray, that we rise up, to see from God’s perspective just how much was accomplished when He did come down. We pray that we may see, truly see as Christ sees; God as “our father.”

The prayers that most glorify God are not the prayers that rise to heaven, they are the prayers that come from heaven and the Holy Spirit desires to pray those prayers through us. This is why He is continually witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God (Rom.8:16), that we might pray as children of God, so that the voice of our Father and the knowledge of Him would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

We speak wisdom among the perfect.

Last Sunday’s message was a declaration that each believer is an entirely new creation, but will not live as such, as long as their thinking is a mixture of old and new! (www.graceriver.org/church-podcasts)  No amount of sacrifices you make for God is going to change His mind about you now, because He made up His mind about you before you were even born (Jer.1:5, 2Tim.1:9). The truth is out there for all the world to see. Jesus Christ dying for you, is God’s mind made up about you.

But how does a Christian live, who thinks that God is still in the process of making up His mind about them? They live as if Christianity is a religion, a religion they can use to get God to change His mind about them. The only problem however, about thinking that your good behaviour will change God’s mind about you, is that history and the Gospel both declare that God died for us, before we had a chance to do one good thing for Him. The Gospel calls that “just the right time” (Rom.5:6)
Your behaviour didn’t make God good and your behaviour doesn’t keep God good.
He just IS good and Jesus Christ IS how good He is.

Jesus died so that we should not have to live any more as people separated from God by our sin, but rather live as people united to God by His Son (1Cor.6:17, John 14:23). Romans 7:4 tells us that we died to the Law, that we may be married to another (Christ), that we may bear fruit unto God. Now how should a husband feel about his bride living as if she is not married to him? Is that a minor thing to be overlooked, or in fact is it not something that grieves him deeply? Having loved us so deeply and paid such a high price to be married to us, is the Spirit of God not entitled to be grieved by believers still living as if their sin separates them from Him. Is He not entitled to be grieved by us living as if Christ’s blood is no better than the blood of bulls and goats, living as if some days our sins are forgiven and some days they are not and so living as if some days we are married to God and sharing in His righteousness and some days we are separated from God and have to go back to our old husband of the Law, back to religious thinking and religious behaviour, back to the life of a natural man, with no spiritual discernment? (Heb.5:12,13)

God’s new way of union with Him, abolishes the old way of living separated from Him and God does not want us to continue in an old way of thinking, once the new way has come (Rom12:2). He no more approves of mixing those two lives, than Nicola could approve of me living one day as if married to her and the next as if single.

God’s Word declares that every believer “is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new”. (2Cor.5:17). Is the Holy Spirit not entitled to say to us, “What part of ‘all new’ don’t you understand?”

How would you feel if you paid for a brand-new car and later discovered that it wasn’t new at all, but was actually full of second hand parts? Would you be upset? Why would you be upset? Because you had paid for a new car! Christ has paid for a new life! Please don’t be surprised if He insists that the Christian life is not simply the old flesh trying harder to be good. Please don’t be upset if he insists that the gospel, the good news, is that ‘in Christ’, you died and you now have an entirely new life, a life now joined with Christ in God (Col.3:1-4, 1Cor.6:17)
This new life is not a mixture of our old life and Christ’s life. There was nothing good about our old separated from God life, that God thought He could recycle. The Christian life was not designed to be an add on to your self-life. It is the abolition of your self-life. I don’t mind saying this again and again as faith comes by hearing.

Hebrews 10: 9 compares religious offerings for sin and Jesus’ offering of Himself and clearly declares “He takes away the first, to establish the second.”

As a minister of the gospel, I cannot allow the first to remain. I must speak as a minister of the New Covenant (not the mixed covenant) and so must you. I cannot speak to believers as if the blood of Jesus has done nothing and they are still separated from God by their sin. I must speak to those born of God as if they now are of God; good and acceptable and perfect, dead to sin and alive to God. I must speak to you and deal with you as those married to God, hidden with God in Christ. How can I tell you to set your mind on things above, if I will not speak to you as ones living from above, even when your behaviour does not match that?
Even if your behaviour falls far short of someone living from God, I still must declare to you what the Holy Spirit has been declaring to the Church for 2000 years; “know you not, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1Cor.3:16). I must declare to you that your old “separated from God” life died in Christ and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. I must ask you, Christian, to set your mind on things above, on what all above can see about you; that Perfection has made His home at the core of your life, in your spirit (Rom.8:11, 1Peter.1:23). Church, we must all, as ministers of the NEW Covenant, speak to believers as who they now are in Christ (2Cor.3:6). We must see each other after the spirit, not after the flesh, as OF the spirit, not OF the flesh and for this purpose we have been given the Spirit who is from God (1Cor.2:12, 1Peter1:23)
If we are to walk in the Spirit and speak after the Spirit, then we must allow our minds to be renewed to Christ’s mind. Do you know that the Father, the Son and the Spirit, share the one mind on us (1John 16:13)? Many Christians don’t. They know that the Father says He “remembers our sins no more”, but they believe it is the Spirit who keeps bringing their sins before them (Heb.8:12,13). Then they wonder why their Christian experience is so mixed between hope and condemnation. It is because mixed experience comes from mixed thinking! The Father and the Holy Spirit do not have two different minds on our sins. God would have us to have one mind; the mind of Christ. So how does the Father see us? He sees us to be, according to Ephesians 1:4; “holy and blameless before Him”, in Christ.

When you start talking to believers like that, as if they are now holy and blameless in God’s eyes, not everyone can take that (2Peter3:16). Why not? Because so many of us who have been born from above, have not yet had our minds renewed to think from above (Col.3:1-3).
We still live as what Paul called mere men (1Cor.3:3), natural men and to the natural man, the thoughts of God toward us sounds foolish and anyone who dares to speak God’s wisdom sounds foolish (1Cor.2:14). Yet, Paul dared. He dared to speak the wisdom of God among the perfect and that’s the title of this message and the declaration of God’s Spirit to the Church today. We speak wisdom among them that are perfect. (1Cor.2:6). ‘Perfect’ can also be translated ‘mature’. Keep speaking to believers in a way that imparts no faith in Christ’s finished work and we leave them immature children, still under the schoolmaster of the Law, where no faith is required (Gal.3:23-25) and tossed to and fro by every new teaching that comes into the church, promising a way to change God’s mind about them (Eph.4:14).
Church, we have the mind of Christ, in order that even on your worst day, what you do does not define who you are. Christ’s perfect life given to you, defines and names you (1Peter1:23). His perfect mind given to you, will enable you to think of yourself as He does; good and acceptable and perfect in Christ, that you may be as you think; that you may be as your father in heaven is (Matt.5:48). By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (1John 4:17)

We as believers need to hear the Gospel that God not only does not save us according to our works, but He does not call us according to our works. He does not address us/speak to us according to our works, but according to His eternal purpose, His eternal will, already given to us in Christ, from all eternity (2Tim.1:9). So I can speak to you as who He has called you to be from all eternity, or I can speak to you by the name men have called you all your earthy life. Which would you like? He speaks to us, that we may believe who He declares us to be; children of God, children born of His will (John 1:13) and as His will is good and acceptable and perfect, then so are all born of His will, for the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:6, Rom.12:2.)

Even though some of you cannot yet accept that, we have no authority from God to speak to you as anything less than who He now declares you to be (2Cor.3:6). We know that not everyone can immediately accept this language; to be spoken to as a victor in all seasons (1John 5:4). Often when we feel overwhelmed by trials, we want people to focus with us on the magnitude of our problems and to take our side against someone else. But you cannot settle for playing the victim and walk in the victory of Christ. Either we will live, as if He who is in us is greater than whatever we face in this world, or we will live from an earthly, natural viewpoint of this world (1John 4:4-6). You can keep telling Jesus how awful your life has been for 38 years, or you can receive His view of your life; “Rise! Pick up your mat and walk!” (John 5:8).

So, what’s it going to be River City Church? Are we going to rise; to take some first steps into thinking, speaking and walking as who God now sees us to be; one with God in Christ? Or are we going to lie back on our mats and insist on judging everything and everyone by natural wisdom? (1Cor.2:12-16), so ensuring the Church continues to divide, over and over. Is “Church” to be merely an activity of programs and good evangelistic works to keep the saints busy until the Lord comes back? Or is the new life that God has paid for, something more than what “I” can do for God. Can this generation of the Church too, not rise to declare, “It is no longer I”? (Gal.2:20). So, forgive us, if we dare to speak the wisdom of God among the perfect. Peter said that some of what Paul wrote was hard to understand and that people had distorted what he was saying. We are all too fully aware of how speaking to believers as if their sins have been forever dealt with, leaves us open to slander and distortion (2Peter 3:16), yet we are sustained by the great fruit that has appeared in so many of your lives; perfect love casting our fear (1John 4:18) and it is by such fruit that the truth is known (John.13:35).

 

Insist on the Gospel.

 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”                                                                                                                                      Ephesians 4:17,18.

In Ephesians 4:11-18, the apostle Paul gives us a revelation of the union of Christ with His body, the Church. In this great declaration he is not just telling, he is insisting, that believers, those who are one with God in Christ, as connected to God as their body is to their head, stop thinking the way unbelievers think. He is insisting that they stop thinking and so living as if they are separated from God because to think like that is futile. There is nothing more futile in this world that to see New Covenant believers (in union with God through Christ), act and pray like Old Covenant believers (waiting for union with God through Christ).

It is such a problem across the body of Christ. It has so dimmed the light of the Church, that at River City Church I am afraid we insist on it in the Lord too. We insist that believers grow up to live in the reality of their union with Christ, that they live and talk like sons of God.

  • We insist on treating and speaking to Christians as if they are as connected to God, as their body is to their head (1Cor.12:27, Eph.4:15,16, Col.1:18)
  • We insist on speaking to them as if they are the very temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor.6:19).
  • We insist on speaking to them as if they have already been blessed in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ (Eph.1:3)
  • We insist on no longer regarding them after the flesh but after the Spirit (2Cor.5:16).
  • We insist on preaching the justification and the sanctification of the believer by the finished work of Christ, not by our unfinished efforts at church (1Cor.1:30, Col.2:10).
  • So we insist that in Christ, believers have already been made righteous by grace (Col.1:22), and in Christ they have already been forgiven by grace (Col.1:14), and in Christ they have already been healed by grace (Eph.1:3, 1Peter.2:24).

And we insist on speaking these truths to each other continually for this one reason, that although God has already freely gifted these things to us in Christ, by grace, it is by faith that we receive and walk in the reality of the ‘in Christ’ life and that very faith, that ability to receive what God has freely given, comes by hearing (Rom.10:17, Eph.2:8,9)

Hearing what? By hearing the gospel; the grace of God in truth (Col.1:6). Faith doesn’t come by hearing what you need to do or do better for God. Faith comes by hearing what God has done for you. So we teach Christians that they don’t need to give more, pray more or do more to receive from God. They only need to listen more to the enormity of what has already been freely given to man in Christ and that listening heals our hearts; our ability to believe/receive.

That listening releases faith; the ability to receive. If listening to the wrong message was what caused our hearts (the ability to receive) to be sick, then listening to the right message is what will heal our hearts (John 6:63).

In very basic terms, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Prov.13:12)

  • Messages that defer your hope to ……Christ in heaven one day, sicken the heart.
  • Messages that declare your hope to be …..Christ in you today, heal the heart.

Years of listening to loud heavy metal music will damage your hearing. The dangerous thing is that it happens so slowly you don’t notice it, especially when you like the music! Years of listening to heavy gospel messages about what God will do for us, if we first do something more for Him, slowly but surely damages a believer’s ability to live in the NOW of the gospel. I am shocked by how deaf Christians can be and how deaf I had become, to the good news of the gospel.

Messages about what God will do for us if we first do something for Him, slowly estrange or distance us from the reality of what we now already have in Christ and move our hope onto some new thing that God is going to do. Hear the Gospel. God doesn’t need to do some new thing. He doesn’t need to abandon the New Covenant and bring in something newer. We just need to grow in the revelation that a Christian is an entirely new creation, who freely draws life and provision from God Himself (2Cor.5:17).

Without the revelation, that in Christ, the very core of your being, your identity, your Spirit, has been made new (1Cor.6:17), Christians are left run around looking for something new in the natural realm. Being in local church leadership now for over 20 years, I have seen my fair share of Christians wandering about. Until believers come to see that there is nothing newer out there, than what Christ has done in them, they will always be wandering from place to place, hungry for something new. I have seen so many people wander in, stay for a while and wander out again. Like the Father of the prodigal, I know there is no use trying to tell them that the life they are trying to achieve has already been gifted to them. It seems we all need to make that journey ourselves, to come to the end of all our trying; trying to achieve and trying to earn the blessing of God and arrive at our various pig pens to receive a revelation of what was always ours (Luke.15:15-17).

We want to see people grow in the revelation of the fatherhood of God and everything we do is to that end. There is nothing harder on sin than the Cross of Calvary because there is nothing more effective in dealing with fear in a person’s life than the love of God. Perfect love casts out all fear (1John.4:18) and the Gospel message is the proclamation and impartation of such perfect love (Rom.1:16). Why would you have to keep on sinning, keep on grasping for more of life, when your eyes start to open to see just how much life you now have in Christ? Remember the siege of Samaria, when the four lepers went out to the camp of the enemy and found it empty and treasure just lying around to be picked up (2Kings.7:3-20). In knowing themselves to be poor, they started to grasp and hoard the riches, the spoils of the victory. Back and forth they went, grasping, feeling richer and richer, until a moment came when they didn’t feel like they needed to keep grasping for themselves any longer. They felt rich enough to start to do the right thing, to start to share the wealth with others.

If you keep on hearing of the richness of the presence of God in your lives, there will come a time when you do not feel poor and abandoned and disappointed any more and you will stop grasping and running to and fro to try and save yourself. Instead, you will feel rich enough to be the generous carriers of good news, the people God always saw you to be in Him; the generous children of a generous father. Is that who you want to live as? Then insist on the Gospel.

Can you get too much of grace?

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”                                                                                                                                                        John 1:16-18

 Notice how the law was ‘given’, but grace and truth ‘came’. If grace or truth were just doctrines, the scripture would have read that “grace and truth were given through Jesus Christ”. Moses could ‘give’ the Law, because he was separate from it, but grace and truth had to ‘come’ through Jesus because He could not separate Himself from either. There are many things I can give you of mine and still remain apart from you. I can give you instructions without having to come with them myself. But there is one thing of mine I cannot give you and remain apart from you; my presence.

The Bible says more than just ‘God loves us’. It declares “God is love”. (1 John 4:8). Jesus claimed more than just that He knew the truth. He declared “I am the Truth”. (John 14:6) When the scripture states that “truth came through Jesus Christ”, it is declaring that truth is more than a doctrine, truth is a person.

The greatest exposition of truth is the exposition of the person Jesus Christ, which is why error inevitably seeps into our understanding of truth from the moment a church stops preaching Christ and Him crucified and starts to move onto so-called ‘deeper’ truths. There is no more profound, no more liberating, no more powerful truth than Christ and Him crucified for us (1Cor.2:2). The Gospel is not just for our conversion, it is the deepest truth of life that carries us into maturity, for the mark of maturity in the believer is their understanding of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13). The Gospel revelation of Christ as our righteousness is the power (Romans 1:16,17) that lifts us out of mere religion and enables us to walk in the liberty of the Spirit, free from the condemnation of the Law and the constant striving to do better that it demands. The revelation of Christ as our righteousness, our life before God (Col.3:4), frees us to walk forward boldly and confidently in life with our eyes on Him, rather than stumble hesitantly, fearfully and increasingly wearily around in circles, as a man does who is trying to walk while constantly examining himself.

It is not possible to separate Jesus from truth, which is why for truth to come to man, Jesus had to come. But this same scripture in John 1:17 also clearly declares that for grace to come, Jesus had to come. The scripture places grace and truth together, united as one in the person of Christ. Just as Truth is a person not a doctrine, so too is Grace. We can no more separate grace from truth, than we can separate Jesus from the Father. To see one is to see the other (John 14:9). To preach grace is to preach truth. To preach grace is to preach Christ.

This is why Paul described the gospel he preached as “the gospel of God’s grace” and declared his whole ministry was based on simply proclaiming this message of grace (Acts 20:24) To the Galatians he declared the grace of Christ to be ‘the’ Gospel (Galatians 1:6) and warned them that in moving away from preaching grace they were beginning to preach a different gospel, one that would result in them cutting themselves off from the power of the Gospel, which is the revelation that Christ is our righteousness (2 Cor.5:21). Only this truth sets us free from trying to establish our own righteousness. This is why as soon as Paul heard that signs of self-righteousness had appeared in the Galatian church (i.e the teaching that there are some things you need to do and keep doing to be ‘really’ saved), he knew that they must have started to try and mix in a little law into the pure grace message, not knowing that even one little addition changes the whole nature of the gospel (Gal.5:9)

When the scriptures declare that we are “saved by grace, through faith and this not of ourselves, but is the gift of God, so that no man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8), this is a declaration that the entirety of our salvation (justification and sanctification) is by grace. In other words you don’t become a Christian by grace (Christ’s obedience), but stay a Christian by hard work (your obedience). You become and are then kept in Christ, totally by the grace of God, for He is not the author only but the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) It is His Spirit, His life in us, that is our sanctification (holiness), not our efforts to live right (Romans 15:16) Right living can be a fruit of holiness, but never the root. The root of our holiness is Christ (John 15:5).

This misunderstanding, that I am saved by grace, but kept saved by my performance, explains why many Christians see the gospel, the message of grace, as an elementary teaching, something we need to teach the world, whereas we Christians need something ‘deeper’. In attempting to go on to something deeper, Christians get caught up in all sorts of teachings that sound very important and impressive, but they may take years to notice that in leaving behind the simplicity of the gospel (grace), they have cut themselves off from the power to live the Christian life (2.Cor.11:3). They are left listening longingly to the testimonies of new believers and wondering what happened to the joy of their salvation!

For over 25 years I have been telling Nicola “I love you”. I have yet to hear her say “That’s all you ever say, Can’t I have a more varied diet? Isn’t it time you changed the message and moved on to something deeper?” The gift of Christ (grace), is the Father’s declaration of love to us (John 3:16). Is it possible to get too much of grace? You can only believe it is, if you believe it is possible to get too much of Christ or possible to get too much of the love of the Father. I believe that preaching and teaching every week that the Christ life is a gift of love (grace) and not a reward (religion), is restoring to folk the joy of their salvation, the joy of knowing that their Father is not withholding Himself from them, but has already in Christ, freely given them all that He has (Luke 15:31) That joy is our strength and so a diet of the gospel of grace is the richest soul food a believer can receive.

So eat up Church and be filled with the joy of the Spirit, over how completely Christ has saved you. Let the nations see our joy and ask us for the food that brings it and let us tell them that the fullness they see is “His fullness that we have all received and grace for grace.”

Seeing through this world

Mary did not rise to serve until she had spent time at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Word (Luke 10:39). This summer has been an opportunity not just for physical rest but to enter deeper into the rest in our souls that is the fruit of His Word; His sound mind planted in us. Fear and the impatience it leads to, can drive us into setting goals for ourselves that are simply not of God and as we strive to attain them, it is often relationships with others that become collateral damage. It helps to remember that our task is not to build the Church, but to make disciples (Matt.28:19). More and more it is becoming clearer to me that if, as Christians, we do not begin to see by the Spirit, the eternal truth of our identity and provision in Christ, then we will continually look to people for our worth and so live in constant disappointment. That disappointment affects our capacity to believe (Prov.13:12), much like carrying a sack of potatoes on your back would affect your capacity to run. As out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so, disappointed Christians wear their hearts on their sleeve. We sing choruses well, but our private conversations revolve around people and circumstances and how they have let us down! The way we behave is entirely a product of our thinking, which is directly rooted in the beliefs of our heart (Prov.4:23). We are each today exactly the product of what we have believed. This is not a popular message among believers.
Your family may be falling apart and circumstances appear to be constantly against you, but the way you feel remains the product of your thoughts and they are the product of what you are believing (Prov.23:7). The Gospel does not dismiss the reality of the circumstances and trials we are going through, it simply proclaims that there is a greater reality (1John4:4) and exhorts us to fix our gaze on that reality. In the words of the apostle Paul, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2Cor.4:18) Paul was so surrounded by trouble, that he simply could not have gone on if he had not fixed his gaze into the unseen realm.
Seeing through and beyond our present troubles allows us not just to endure, but to thrive in thanksgiving, irrespective of the circumstances. In all our striving to attain ‘godly’ goals, to find God’s will, it is good to remember that “giving thanks in all circumstances” is in fact, precisely God’s will for our lives (1Thess.5:18). This world may be measuring your “success’ by the achievements that are seen, but heaven rejoices more to see a joy in your heart that remains, even when no tangible result for all your efforts is seen in the ‘seen’ realm. Let me put that another way. When we treat others in a way we would not like to be treated ourselves, in order to reach a goal, it is a sign that our gaze is fixed on the seen rather than the unseen realm. Keep doing that and one day you may reach the top of the ladder of success in the seen realm…only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall in the unseen realm.
Without a revelation that in the midst of the worst season of our lives, that we as believers remain hidden with Christ in God and overflowing with His grace towards us, then we always remain vulnerable to hurt and disappointment. Such disappointment with God and life will leave the gospel sounding like foolishness to us (1Cor.2:14). To Christians unused to fixing their gaze in the unseen realm, it sounds foolishness to say that the answer to their needs is a revelation of the finished work of the Cross. The gospel of God’s grace is not just an offence to the world, but also to Christians whose gaze is fixed in the seen realm (1Cor.3:18-23). It is true that we all need physical help and support, not mere words (James 2:16), but if as believers we do not mature in our sonship in Christ, if we do not begin to live from the unseen eternal realm, then any comfort we receive from a situation appearing to turn out well will be short-lived, for more trouble is always just around the corner! If we don’t learn to fix our gaze into the unseen realm, to live from our “in Christ” identity as a son of God, then we will continue to be tossed to and fro by the winds of circumstance. We will go from joy to despair and back, almost on a monthly basis. This is not the life of rest, the inheritance, that Jesus paid such a high price for us to enjoy. The apostle Paul endured so many setbacks, eventually seeing friends desert him and his churches infiltrated by legalists and yet he wrote these words; “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil.4:12,13)
Many Christians lurch from one crisis to another in life, all the time promising themselves that they will get around to the deeper questions of God, once they get through this ‘rough patch’. But without a revelation of our new life and identity in Christ, we always appear like grasshoppers in our own eyes before life’s giants and life to us will become a never-ending rough patch. Again, this is in no way to diminish the reality of the giant problems we face, it is simply to state that He who is within us, (the same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead), is a greater reality that any giant in this world (1John 4:4).
Are you fed up waiting for your circumstances to improve? Well then stop fixing your gaze on the temporal realm because if you are waiting for your troubles to stop…you are in for a long wait (John 16:33). Instead fix your gaze on the eternal realm, where all waiting has come to an end, for Christ has done it! He has made a way for you to live as an eternal child of God, not one day when you die, but TODAY (2Cor.6:2). Stop waiting for God’s favour and start living in it. Do you know that God’s grace is such on your life, that you can lose all things and still live as if you have won all things? (1Cor.3:21,22). Maybe to be told that in this life things may not turn out the way you hoped, is not what you wanted to hear. Perhaps you were hoping that when your family saw your life going so miraculously well, they would finally believe that the Lord is good. Many people saw Jesus do miracles and yet were not convinced God was with them, but strangely enough everyone who saw Him resurrected from the dead was convinced. Maybe what our families need, is not so much to always see us miraculously avoiding trouble, but rather to always see us walking through it, as the resurrected Jesus walked through the wall of the upper room! To see us walking on in joy, even in the worst of trouble, as only someone can, who has seen through this temporal passing away world and into eternity. Is that not what it is to walk in resurrection life in 2018, to walk through this world, by ‘seeing through’ this world.

“Ever the bridesmaid, never the bride”

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Romans 7:4

How do you think a husband would feel if he discovered after marrying the love of his life, that she acted as if they weren’t married at all and went out with other men? How would he feel, if on questioning her, he found her to be so deeply insecure about his love for her and feeling so unworthy to be loved, that in her heart she believed he could not really have been serious in his marriage to her and that their marriage was in name only? You might think that a ridiculous scenario. No-one is going to get married and then live as if the marriage isn’t real. You think so? Let’s have another look at many of us in the church.
How many of us for years, have not struggled to rest in the love of God, to believe that His love for us is the last word on our identity and destiny? How many of us have not repeatedly fallen back to believing that there must be something we need to do, in order to be, or stay, worthy of His life, worthy of union with Him? How many of us would confess to living, feeling that we must be a disappointment to God, that He may love us, but He probably doesn’t like us? How much of our Christian lives have been spent asking God what He wants us to do and then worrying that we haven’t done what He wanted us to?
The Gospel declares that the union He offers us is based entirely on Christ’s obedience and life (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 10:14), that our identity is hidden in Him. Yet our striving to please God, the widespread lack of fulfilment that drives believers to be continually seeking for something ‘new’ and the ease with which we pass judgement on others, all reveal that for many of us, our hope is more on ourselves and our work for Him, rather than on Christ and Him crucified. So many of us take this gift of union with Him, the gift of His life, the Christ life, the sinless life, what Romans 7:4 calls the ‘married’ life and we mix it with our old ‘apart from Him’ life, our old ‘If I try harder I will get more and do better’ life. The result is we get something that has the outward appearance of holiness and godliness, but somehow lacks the power and the joy and the liberty and the abundant generosity of Christ’s life.
Romans 7:4 declares the reason why Christ gave His body for us. It was so “that we would be married to another….” We cannot be married to two different lives at the same time. We cannot live married and live as if single at the same time. We cannot live believing that we are one with Him (1Cor.6:17), blessed with every blessing He has to give (Ephesians1:3) and at the same time believe that He has not yet given us everything He has to give, but could be persuaded to pour out more if we pray hard enough! Yet that very double-mindedness is where many of us have lived for years and the result is that we struggle to receive the grace of God. James warned us of the result of living double minded about the truth of God’s generosity to give freely, to give without finding fault. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
Look at this scripture again. “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another”
Can you see it? God sees you as married to Christ. He took your old life, your old single, separated from God in your sin life, onto Himself on the Cross and He took it and killed it and buried it. He did that so that you and I and anyone who receives the gift of God, can live in a new state, a new reality before God, a new state of being, a state the Bible calls “in Christ”. The Holy Spirit’s work is to declare this new state into the souls of men and women, that they would be whom God knows them and sees them to be; married to Him (2Cor.5:17-20)
The final part of this verse names the evidence of this union. “…that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Apart from remaining in this reality, apart from believing in the power of His grace towards us and in us, apart from remaining in the truth that His Spirit and our spirits are one, we can bear no fruit! Jesus declared that branches cannot bear fruit if they attempt to live apart from their vine (John 15:5) The fruit of believing that God has so comprehensively dealt with our sin, that we are now dead to sin and joined in our spirits with His sinless life, is listed in Galatians 5:22.23 including, love, joy, peace and patience. In other words, the result of renewing our minds to our new married state, is that we start to appear like the one our heart and minds are married to; Christ.
This is the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit, who only ever addresses believers according to their new state; that is according to who they now are in the spirit. The Holy Spirit deals with us according to the reality He knows, not according to how we feel. He speaks to us as a new man in Christ. He does not speak to us according to who we think we are; a poor sinner trying their best for God. He only speaks to us as who Christ declares we are; a totally new creation, joined to the Lord and one spirit with Him (1Cor.6:17). The Holy Spirit does not minister to your idea of you (poor wee me, long way from God, struggling in sin) for in His reality that person does not exist. You may not reckon that ‘self’ dead, but the Holy Spirit does, or He would not have authored Romans 6:11 (“reckon yourselves to be dead to sin”). You may only see yourself in the natural and see the sin in your life, but the Holy Spirit sees by God’s reality. He sees your sin where God put it; on Christ’s body on that Cross and then dead and buried. He knows that through Christ’s body the old sinner was put to death. He knows He can be of no help to you by speaking to you as if that person still lives. The Holy Spirit only ministers to one person, you in Christ, you in the Spirit, not two people. Jesus confirmed that we are made perfect, not in two, but in one! (John 17:23)
This world system values people according to what they can do. God does not value us according to what we can do for Him. The Cross set us free from that system because it declared our true value to God; Christ. Religion that exhorts us to do more for God, is a product of the spirit of this world. The Gospel does not say “do”, it says “be” (“Cor.5:20). All the doing was done by Christ, in order that we would be who He has made us to be; one with Him. That is not to say that there is not much to be done in this world, but it is to be done of Him and not merely for Him. You can be sure the day Jesus visited Martha and Mary that Mary too worked hard, but her work began and emerged out of her rest with Christ. Martha’s focus was on impressing Jesus. Mary’s was on being impressed by Jesus. Yes there is much work to be done to share the message of the gospel in our community, but if we do not start from a place of revelation of our true state before God, we will only lead them into church-life rather than Christ-life. Christ did not shed His blood that you or I would live a life of feeling insufficient, incomplete, never good enough, never ready, a life living according to the natural senses. If I do not allow the Gospel of the Grace of God and the Holy Spirit to change my mind (metanoia, true repentance), so that I no longer live as if my sin separates me from God, then I will live as if my sin separates me from God! I will live a merely religious life, a life lived in doubt and fear, where my heart constantly cries to God “Is this enough yet?” I will live as ‘ever the bridesmaid but never the bride’, always waiting for a better day, but never living in the better day, never bearing the fruit of my union with Him, because my mind has never been renewed to the truth, that from the Cross, God has already declared “It is enough!” The apostle Peter confirmed that the reason believers fail to grow in Christ, is that they have not been rooted and grounded in the reality of their true state before God. “But those who fail to develop in this way are short-sighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” (2.Peter1:9)
Believer, you are married to Christ. Let us stop examining our lives from a merely natural point of view and behaving like mere men (1Cor.3:3). Let us allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us as those hidden in Christ, married to Him. Let His words wake us up, to Christ in us, for if we don’t see Christ in us, how can we expect the world to? (John 17:22,23) Receive His kiss, sleeping beauty! Receive the revelation of His Spirit and awake to God’s reality; righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).

True love comes in person

“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”                                                       1Cor.15:34

Many religions would agree with us that God must be love. Yet apart from knowing Christ, no man can truly know God because only Christ revealed the love of God, the nature of God (1John4:8). What the appearance of Christ revealed is that the love of God is so great (the nature of God is such), that He refuses to give us anything less than Himself (John 3:16). This is why scripture makes no distinction between grace and the person of Christ. Grace is not merely a quality that God has to some measure, rather grace finds its truest and purest expression in the person of Christ (as does truth and love). This is why the apostle John could write that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) and the apostle Paul that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men teaching us to deny ungodliness…” (Titus 2:11,12)

The God that Christ revealed did not stand back from us and send love or grace as some thing. True love comes in person. If your child or loved one was lying dying in hospital, no-one would have to tell you or explain to you that sending them a text, or even sending a friend with a message of support, is not what love does. Love comes in person. Every human being who has ever loved another knows this and that is why even a child can understand the truth of the Gospel; if God is love, then love had to come in person and He did, in the person of Jesus Christ.

So, the righteousness of God is not a thing that God sent, while He remained apart or aloof from us (John 1:17). The righteousness of God given to us, was His very presence; God incarnate in human flesh (1Cor.1:30). Jesus was, as the Nicene Creed declared: “God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.” Why? Because God who is love, does not know how to give less than Himself, for that is what true love does. And so He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?(Rom.8:32). If God gave us His son and there is nothing greater than His son, then how can He withhold any thing from us, for that would be to cherish a thing more than His own Son.

When this truth dawns, that in not withholding His Son from us that God has already given all that He has and is to us, then the effect on our soul is to be flooded with peace and thanksgiving (Phil.4:11-13). No longer when my life is facing a crisis do I have to attempt to awake God to action or persuade him through my prayer or suffering to “release” His favour on my life. Because of Christ, no longer does man have to strive to enter God’s favour, instead He now calls us into His rest (Hebrews 4;11). But there is no rest for the man who refuses the revelation that Christ was God, fully giving Himself to man, even to the point of standing in our place and living our lives. Refuse the revelation that your old ‘self’ life was put to death on the Cross (Rom.6:11, Gal.2:20, Col.3:3) and that you are now joined to God and one with His Spirit (1Cor.6:17) and you will never find rest, for you will be constantly chasing righteousness as some thing to be gained rather than some one to be submitted to and received (Rom.10:1-4)

The righteousness of God is not merely a legal standing before God. The righteousness of God is nothing less than God fromGod. This is why we can absolutely expect that Christians should grow in the likeness of Christ and bear the fruit of His Spirit, His life (Gal.5:22,23). If the righteousness of God that we receive, is merely a legality, (God letting us off the hook), then you should expect little change in the life of someone who has received the righteousness of God because there has been no change of heart (Matt.23:25,26). But if the gift of God’s righteousness is the gift of His presence, then there should be a great and powerful change in the life of everyone who receives the righteousness of God, for in the presence of light, darkness cannot stand! In the presence of union, separation cannot stand. In the presence of the truth of the love of God, the fear of separation (death) cannot stand. In the presence of the Spirit of faith, unbelief (the root of sins), cannot stand.

The Bible says; “As a man thinks so he is.” (Prov.23:7) Jesus put it like this; “Be it done unto you according to your faith.” (Matt.9:29) I believe the more we will receive/acknowledge/take hold of the righteousness of God as His very presence with us, the more His presence manifests and effects our lives, bringing transformation into the likeness of Christ (1John 3:2). Let His life be your root (your life) and His life will appear in you (John 15:5). The apostle Paul wrote this to the Colossians. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” This speaks of the work of the Spirit to renew our thinking, so that we no longer think of ourselves from an earthly (‘separated from God, us down here, Him up there’, mind-set), but to think of ourselves from heaven’s perspective (hidden with Christ, in God).

What happens if Christians do not awake to the enormity of what Christ has done; that they are entirely new creatures (2Cor.5:17) in whom God chooses to make His home? (John 14:23, 1Cor.6:17). Then they will continue to think and so speak from an Old Covenant ‘separated from God’ mind-set and so their message to the world will inevitably always emphasise what man still needs to do for God, rather than what God has done for man. To put it more bluntly, Christians who have yet to grasp that it was not their repentance that saved them but Christ, can’t resist adding a little self-effort as an essential ingredient in salvation and so inevitably always reduce the Gospel from the good news of what God has done for men, to good advice on what men need to do for God.

Why don’t people want to hear the gospel these days? Well we could blame a lot of things; TV, wealth, media, schools and Christians frequently do. We love to complain about the government or the media or the rise of other religions, (as if these things suddenly got more powerful than the Holy Spirit). The answer is much simpler. People are not against good news. People haven’t changed from the time of the book of Acts. People still want to hear good news, it’s just that when they hear the word “Gospel” today, they simply do not associate that with good news!

That’s because for years the gospel they have heard has not been preached as the news of what Christ has done about men’s sins. It has been preached as the news of what men need to do about their sins. That’s what happens when for 2000 years men keep adding to the Gospel. Eventually you end up with a message, not about Christ and what He has done, but about men and what they need to do. I am not saying that men do not need to repent from their sins. I am saying that men cannot repent from their sins if you don’t give them the Gospel, the good news that they can now be reconciled to God, by believing in what Christ has done about their sins (2Cor.5:18-20). Don’t ask men to believe in themselves. That’s not the gospel. Ask them to believe in Christ. Don’t ask them to do something about their sins. Don’t leave them with the impression that God has done nothing about their sins, but He will do something about their sins…if they first will do something for Him. Remember always, that the Gospel can be summed up in two words; He first

Don’t just expect men to love God, when the Bible says quite clearly that we can only love God because He first loved us (1John 4:19).

If the Gospel can be summed up in two words; HE FIRST, then religion can be summed up also in two words; YOU FIRST. If you first will do something for God, then He will save you. Religion thus leaves men’s hope on themselves, not Christ and that is why religion is powerless to save men. Repentance is not the root of salvation. Repentance, (men turning from their sins), is the fruit of salvation.

Men are “saved by grace, through faith and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9). If men are saved by grace, if men are saved by the gift of God…then for God’s sake offer them the grace of God, offer them the gift of God; Christ!

When you present Christ, never present Christ as the reward for their repentance.

Don’t ask men to believe in their repentance. Don’t ask men to believe in themselves. That’s not the gospel. Don’t present a God who is no different from themselves, a God who says, “Well if you do this for me, then I will do this for you.”

Don’t give them a religious God. Give them the true God, the one whom the religious hated, the one who demonstrated His love for them in this, while they were still sinners, He died for them (Rom.5:8). Give them the true God, who when men had given nothing to Him, He gave everything to them.

So Church, let us awake to righteousness and sin not (1Cor.15:34). Let us awake to the truth, that the righteousness we have been given, is nothing short of the very presence of God, for true love came in person and in His presence sin/separation can no more exist than darkness can exist in light. What makes the darkness to go? Only the light. What purges our life of sins? Only the knowledge of God, knowing what God knows and this is what God knows; you have no need to sin, to grasp for life, for life Himself has been given to you (John 3:16).