Friday, November 4, 2016
If ye continue (remain as one) in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
We live in a world of deception. And, as that word means, we don’t know it. But we can know the Truth that sets us free. And it is only the Lord that can truly reveal to us the deception we are in.
Whether by our own natural ignorance (parable of the lost sheep), happenstance / circumstance (parable of the lost coin), or our own choosing (parable of the lost son), we exist in deception. We see life through the filters of our upbringing, surroundings, and choices. And these filters define how we see and experience the world around us, others, and even the Lord. We see the world through these filters and those filters become our judgments. Hence why the Lord asks us not to judge others. The same filter I use to judge others is the same filter I use to interpret others judgments of me.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
When we rid ourself of these filters, no longer are we seeing others and accepting ourselves as this fallen-world has trained us. We get set free from any kinds of judgments because there becomes no reason to judge myself or anyone else. God our Father isn’t judging us, Christ isn’t judging us, the Holy Spirit isn’t judging us.
For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn (judge) the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, hath one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
So why are we deceived in that we judge. For me, it’s often that we are focused on the one thing that the Lord is not focused on: sin.
When we fell through Adam, we became aware of sin…”good and evil”. And because of that, I know of my own imperfections, and as such inherently self-justify my own faults through the comparing to others. I used to rate different ‘sins’ on a scale. Misuse scripture out of context and meaning to justify my reasoning. “Because I don’t commit that kind of sin, I am ‘better’ than that person.” This was my sub-conscious attitude. And I was blinded in it: deceived. But it was the Lord that set me free through knowing (accepting) His Truth that sin is not an issue, because all sins has been, was, and always is dealt with through Christ’s sacrifice to and for all people (believers and non-believers, Born-Again or not).
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: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Hebrews 10:1-4, 11-22
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord : I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” This was the key to overcome the kind of judgment I was in. I had to allow the Lord to clear my evil conscience (my focus on sin due to the acknowledgment and following of the Law). When I freed myself from the Law, recognizing (knowing) that all sins of the flesh have been dealt with through Christ…not only my own sins, but that of everyone else…I became free from judging myself and judging others. I freed my conscience. When Paul freed himself from the Law, he freed his conscience. He testified to that:
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence [not having a conscience of sin] toward God, and toward men.
This man, Paul, who grew up and was the most well-versed "Pharisee of Pharisees", let go of all he knew--all he held onto having believed. All his knowledge of who He thought being righteous was, was not. He judged to death many Christians, consenting even to the stoning of Stephen. With what he came to understand about the Law, Paul was just in his own eyes to do what he did to those early Christians. Yet the Lord intervened in His life--the perfect candidate to come to understand Grace. With someone so skilled in the Law, it took someone who knew it all to come to realize, He knew nothing--that his self-righteousness was nothing but dung! Having known everything, there was nothing he missed that could've been an alternate to God's Grace and Christ's Faith.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
And our own ability to create our own righteousness (within our own definitions or under God's definition) can never, ever, match the righteousness of God and what He requires. We do not have the ability, skill, knowledge, motivation, perseverance, or perfection to live up to God's standard. This is what He considers our self-righteousness to be in comparison to His: filthy rags [that is, a woman's menstruation cloth].
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
But here is where God's Grace and Christ's Faith have made it all so simple for us. Since it was impossible for anything we could do to be righteous, He made us righteous for us. Besides Adam and Jesus, we are all born from fallen-world Adam. Before we do anything in this world, we were already unrighteous. Yet, because of what Jesus Christ accomplished, we now have all been made righteous. So no longer is righteousness to do with anything we do or don't do, Righteousness is now about what Jesus Christ did. And He completed the work for us. And the best way to put this into context is what I heard Arthur Meintjes say: Jesus did all the work. We get all the reward. God gets all the Glory--His work, our reward, His Glory. It is that uncomplicated! God our Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and Christianity as a whole is all really very simple.
2 Corinthians 11:3
The simplicity that is Christ.
It can't be as plain as that. Which begs the question: why do we complicate Him? Fear.
When humanity fell through Adam at the Garden of Eden, we inherited the role of taking control. But as the child the Father wants us to be, it is Him in control that He desires. Not to make robots out of us, but to nurture and guide us as a Good Loving Father. But we don't always understand what that means because we grow up in this world where honest trusts are broken, and we isolate ourselves from vulnerability, and harden our hearts to relying on others. We take control of our own little world--sometimes in extremes where we control others through manipulation, anger, violence, and the like; or in the little things of ourself that we don't always realize is control: eating, appearance, isolation, lifestyle habits, etc. Yet all this is rooted in fear.
Adam and Eve feared they didn't have it all (deceived by the serpent in thinking there was something more to be had). They were tricked into not trusting God, which is often where we find ourselves. But God is Love (Agape Love). Yet we have been deceived even in what that Love is and looks like.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love [Agape Love] casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love [Agape Love].
If Love casts our fear, then does not fear, in perception, "cast out" (or more specifically camouflage) Love? It was that fear that hid God's True Love (Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden from God). And since then, we have always been longing for that (whether we consciously perceive that in our lives or not). We long to get back the perfection that was, trying to become perfect in our own life, even if by our own definition of what "perfect" is.
And this is where we complicate all that Christ truly is, and all that He, the Father, and the Holy Ghost have accomplished for us and freely gifted us. This complicated God is what is religion is: a complicated ritual of do's and don’ts created by a false hope that something we ourselves can do or conjure up will somehow (maybe) bring us in right-standing with some complicated God we have created in our own imaginations. Even the Law given through Moses was meant to bring everyone to an end to themselves (an end to seeking a form of self-righteousness). It all pointed to Jesus who was to come.
The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
And Christ did come, completing what we couldn't do ourselves. And this completion of the Law by Jesus Christ is Agape Love.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Agape Love.
God's law (commandment) as demonstrated by Jesus Christ is Agape Love. And Jesus showed us what that kind of Love looks like: healing all the sick, never condemning anyone because of sin, not judging, bringing life not death, giving freely, and expressing the Kingdom of God.
Yet the type of 'love' we experience in this world is one of confusion. We are told "I love you", but with that can come parents that hit and abuse us, a dad that abandons us, a spouse that cheats on us, a co-worker that 'stabs you in the back' to promote themself, a friend that lies about us, and on and on. No wonder why we become trained by this world to not inherently trust. And hence why we don't inherently trust the Lord either.
So now we apply our definitions of 'love' towards the Lord, creating reasons, excuses, or explanations for things we don't understand though our own misunderstanding (unintentional ignorance). We create a religion to try and describe and define God in our own image through our own filters of life. We complicate the God of simplicity. He removed all the filters of our lives that hinder our view of His Truth. He removed that all through the Truth that is Jesus Christ.
I am the Way (direction), the Truth (nothing left unsaid nor undisclosed / nothing hidden), and the Life (a giving of eternal relationship and fellowship with the Father).
He revealed His All, His 'I AM' to us. He is no longer a mystery or a type and shadow. We have been given the full revelation of the Father and Holy Ghost through Jesus Christ. And He has made it so simple to access all of Him: to just believe on Jesus Christ.
He that believeth and is baptized [into the body of Christ] shall be saved.
And Philip said, If thou believe with all thine heart, thou may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
What must I do to be saved? And they (Paul and Silas) said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
To paraphrase something Tim Ross said: if someone you loved (like your child, spouse, or even pet) was lost and in danger and needed to get home to be safe, what would you do…send them 1000 different, complicated, ways to get home that had no guarantee? Or would you send them the one simplest, safest, sure way of getting home?
Yet this is what religion does; it makes the road to God impossible, or so frustrating, we give up and quit. No wonder why so many have dismissed God altogether, quit church, or desperately hold onto some kind of religion (ritual, man-made worship, or gods) because they have not heard the simplicity that is the Gospel of Love that is Christ Jesus.
It is this simplicity that often can confuse us though; because we can't think that it would be so easy to be in a personal relationship with God (the Father). But this is where we get deceived, blinded because we look for the complicated, missing what is plainly laid out in front of us. We like big complex words to try and explain or reason things we may not completely understand. This is why we believe with our heart and not our minds!
The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
This relationship of the heart goes beyond words and meaning, yet maintains simplicity. When we get rooted in what His Agape Love is, all other things become less complicated. We see without filters. We live without religion. We don't need to do for Him what He already has done for us. We stop trying to become something we already were made into by Jesus Christ. This is something I didn’t always realize.
I had built my relationship with the Father on a horrible foundation, and that built relationship looked like an M.C. Escher artwork where I did not know which way was up. And when it all came crashing down, the Lord could rebuild His foundation in me on understanding His Agape Love, not on some Laws or rituals, or wisdom of men.
1 Corinthians 1:21-24
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2,4-5
And I (Paul), brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human (worldly) wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
In my ignorance, I tried to make God in my own image (not intentionally, but through my own filters in life). I was always trying to please a God I never fully understood or experienced. Yet, He patiently waited while I came to the end of myself--came to the end of religion. And there He was, standing next to me, ready to pick me up and work in conjunction with me to reveal His True self which I had worked to define without him. I needed to see Him for who He truly is, my Loving Father.
And God our Father revealed all of Himself through Christ Jesus. This I did not fully understand. I treated them as separate and different. But they are Three-In-One: i.e., they are separate individuals, yet they think, act, behave, and exist in complete unity--none acting alone, but in whole with one-another. And when I came to see my Father as I saw Jesus, I let go of fearing God.
I (we) don’t need to try and "figure Him out". He is no longer a mystery, all of who He is was demonstrated in Christ Jesus for us to understand His character, His likeness, His fullness, and His Love. God will not do what Jesus Christ didn't do; and Jesus Christ never did what God the Father didn't do. Jesus never killed anyone or made anyone sick; so why do we think God does. We can identify God our Father because of Jesus; and too, identify with ourself as Him: He in us and us in Him.
Let us remove our filters (allow the Lord to take them off) and see clearly and simply the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's cut out the ways we try to complicate things through ways to please Him, discover Him, blame Him, or confuse who He is. And let us build and maintain His foundation of Agape Love. A good place to start this foundation is through these fundamental basics:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
This is where I saw Him work in my life, and now continues to hold true in me--maintaining that sturdy, strong, unwavering foundation which I am relying on. And these verses from Hebrews 6:1-2 I will write on in the next posts. Until then, God Bless (as He always does).