Friday, May 6, 2016
When we live under the Law, we are never at peace, because we are always doing to try to please / live up to the Law. This way of living is never ending and futile, because it can never be fulfilled. It is because the means to live up to the Law is only attained through the ability of the Flesh. The Law was given to the flesh for the flesh. But the flesh is corrupt and self-controlling. So we try and live out the Law in the ability of the flesh (self-control). But that self-control is corrupt because of sin. The flesh wants to sin. So now the flesh is pitted against itself. It desires to sin, yet be in control over sin. It can never win. Always at conflict. And never ever at rest.
This rest that is available & needed in our life is only available and readily so by the Holy Spirit: for the Kingdom of God is Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
The Law always bring conflict (bondage). The Spirit always bring peace (freedom). But the flesh wants the Law, because it does not want to relinquish control to the Spirit. The flesh says to us that it can live better, more holy, and without fault. But that is the deception of the flesh self-(flesh)-control. This is the guise of "morality" that many religions (including Christian religion) fall into—that if we just live morally, that is living as Christ.
But Christ never told us to be moral (hence why he openly dwelt with, communed, and had relationships with sinners). He never told us to change—He told us to Love. Morality is out of the flesh, Love is out of the Spirit in us. One is us doing the work, the other is Him doing the work for us. Why do I want the pressure and impossibility of doing that work when the Spirit in me wants to for me out of His Love. When I allow Him to Love through me, I live that life that encompasses morality.
Does this mean it makes it easier? Yes and no. Yes, that the ability to do it is easier; but what is hard is putting aside (to death) the flesh desire to want to take over control of what was never our control to begin with. Adam and Eve lived out of their Spirit with the Lord before the Fall—just like we have the ability to do now. Him in us, that is our strength:
to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.
Knowing we have His power in and through us, helps us live in peace. We can start to let go: let go of control, let go of worry (a form of control - worry is the fear that we lack control), and let go of our own expectations (with which can come guilt and remorse). How do we stop worrying and start letting go of control:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So what then is the Kingdom of God? Is it somewhere out there we need to look for and find for us to then take ahold of and bring in to our reality? No. It is something we already have; carrying within us as believers.
One of the misconceptions I had, was with the synonymous phrase Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven. I had always contributed and misunderstood this to mean the Heaven after a person leaves this earth. So everytime I read where a person "would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven" because of some act of sin, it made me sin-conscious. And it gave me an 'us-and-them' mentality.
I would think and define my belief system around a concept of "at least I wasn't committing those kinds of sins...I'm better than them". This is exactly what the Pharisees did. It showed my heart in me, and that was not God's heart in me. I had to be set free from that mindset--and this is what the Holy Spirit did in me when the truth of what that Kingdom really is became a revelation. And it set me free to Love more, and not judge more (which judging is of the Law / Flesh). There were three areas the Lord had to clarify in me to do with judgments on others and myself.
Firstly: All our fleshly sins have been forgiven at the Cross. Christ's forgiveness of the sins of the flesh is Gifted out to all people. So when we (as believers) judge others sins, we are comparing ourselves to them—which is what I was doing. And then, not wanting to admit my own sins (whether different or the same), I would rationalize myself out of my own sin by reasoning that it is because of one thing or another as the cause. Not even considering the same to others. So now, knowing all sins—my own and everyone else's has already been forgiven, how and why would I even compare myself to anyone else (either sinfully or morally). Everyone is on the same plain of existence in Christ. So strike one for me—I no longer had a sin argument to others nor myself.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
Even Paul striked out on this when he admitted he could no longer see anyone after the flesh (all the flesh is forgiven), but had to see everyone as forgiven of Christ--for God is no "respecter" of persons:
2 Corinthians 5:14-16
For the Love of Christ constrains us; because we thus deem, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we (Him or them) no more.
Secondly: I had to understand that the 'Law' that Christ commands us to live out, is not the Ten Commandments or all the other Mosaic Laws—His Commandment to us was to live the Law of Love (Agape Love) that He demonstrates to us—not the Law of the Old Covenant:
If ye Love me, keep My (Jesus's) Commandments.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
I had to re-see that the Law He wanted me to live was not the Old Covenant Laws, but His Law of Agape Love. To Love as He Loved and Loves me! I tried to live the Legal Law—strike two for me.
So now, I had to see exactly what the Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven really is. The biggest Truth: it is NOT a place we are going to, it's an existence now. And not something external, it is internal in a person. Jesus and Paul (both through the Holy Spirit), tell us what the Kingdom really is: that the Kingdom is not a physical place or physical things about us (this world, the animals, plants, and things). Nor is it ritualistic / religious. No, the Kingdom of God is His presence in us!
As Jesus says:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
As Paul confirms:
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink [things & objects or rituals]; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And thus for me, strike three! Now I could no longer justify my judgments on others, NOR my judgments of myself:
All sins of the flesh are forgiven. He no longer is judging us, so why do I judge others or myself.
The REAL Commandment is Agape Love. And in that Unconditional Agape Love, I am Loved by Him, all others are Loved by Him, and so I must Love myself and others as He always does. There is no judgment in and with His Love.
The Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven is NOW, not to come. And since it is now, no longer do I have a means to compare (judge) others when I used to read how when "certain types of sin" are committed, that they / I will not "go to Heaven".
Let's tackle that last one here. What do I mean by "certain types of sin" and that they / I would not go to "Heaven"?
Previously, when I did believe that the Kingdom was a yet-to-come place, there were scriptures like these that would make me judgmental towards others (and sin-conscience towards myself); as it would say that they "shall not inherit the Kingdom":
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
So I saw a 'list' of sins and said to myself (consciously and unconsciously) that if I do any of those, I'm not going to Heaven. And then when I actually then fell and committed one of them, then I was stuck...what was I to do? So first, I put on figurative sackcloth and ashes and went about humbling and punishing myself in an attempt to "please" the Lord and appeal His Wrath towards me. Second, I tried to rationalize my sin in any means I could to create some loophole that I really didn't commit it (just came close to it)...justifying my sin in my own eyes (not in the Lord's eyes—which is actually a mute point since the sin was already forgiven before I committed it). I was a mess. I never had peace.
I never had peace. This is the key to it all: Peace. For the Kingdom is Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit.
When I was sin-focused, I was not resting in His Righteousness. My identity was my sin, not Him as me, in me. My faith in Him was actually my faith in me not sinning, not faith that He already forgave my sin. So, since my faith was in me and my ability, it always failed. And when my identity wasn’t Him, I was not experiencing His Peace and Joy. Why? I (my flesh) was always fighting against the Holy Spirit.
This is what Paul was talking about to the Galatians and Corinthians: a person's identity. If you live in the flesh (your flesh as your identity) then you see yourself as a fornicator, idolater, adulterer, murderer, and such. But our identity is who we are in the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit knows what is best for us and how to live. No, not morally live, but to live knowing that we do sin, and that sin is not held against us (that is His righteousness). But that too, because He lives in us, He has given us that strength and ability to overcome those sins in us. When we hear Him and still chose not to obey His leading, we give up that Peace and Joy and begin to oppose Him. There is no rest in opposing the Holy Spirit—as we can never win. I never did, and can never do. The times I feel angry for 'no reason' or agitated, or frustrated, it is usually something my flesh has always done that the Holy Spirit is renewing my identity on.
My flesh does not like to give up control of anything, nor does it like to admit that what it has always known and has always done has been wrong. So it resists. And when it resists the Holy Spirit, it is in a losing match. And thus gets angry, agitated, and frustrated—sending my emotions on a chaotic roller-coaster ride. This is where I just put my hands up [thank you for speaking these words to us Wendy] and go "weeeeeeeee"! Because even though it feels scary, the roller-coaster will come to an end in that area of renewal in my life. And when it comes to that end, I know the Holy Spirit has changed my identity to be as He intends and has given me internally. And when that happens, I experience the Kingdom in me: Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in Him.
So now, when I look back at that list of fleshly sins Paul talks about, I can see how I or anyone else cannot inherit (experience) the Kingdom—because that person (me) is not aligned with the Holy Spirit, with the Gospel Message, and am in an internal fight of the flesh against the Spirit. This is no longer about going to Heaven, but experiencing that Kingdom of Heaven in me or others which is now.
When that conflict happens in an area of my life, I let go and let Him work that out of me; however long that needs to take—through scripture, through experience, through others (wife, pastor, counselor, etc), or directly through His revelation in me. Heaven rejoices when I face that internal persecution and allow His renewing in me. I will rejoice as well.
Praise the Lord.