42:  To Reckon or Not Reckon, that is the Question

42: To Reckon or Not Reckon, that is the Question

The Higher Christian Life

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The Cross Not Only Paid For Your Sins…

We have been looking at the three key truths that will allow you to experience the surrender that leads to the Higher Christian Life.  Let’s take a moment for a quick review.

Truth One – You are incapable of pleasing God or producing anything good with your flesh (your sinful nature) no matter how hard you try.  It cannot be done, has never been done, will never be done, by anybody, ever.  And you can find the foundation of Truth One in Romans 7:15-25, especially verse 18.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find – Romans 7:18.

So Truth One states you can’t, no matter how hard you try.  But Truth Two reveals He can, beyond all you can imagine.  Truth Two reminds us that God has given you the Holy Spirit to live in you.  And one of His purposes for His Spirit dwelling in you is to work in you “both to will and to do (why) for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  In other words, the Holy Spirit now living in you is able to do in you “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).  And, by the way, the power that works “in us” is none other than the Holy Spirit.  (Note:  Did you notice how many times the phrase “in you” was used in this paragraph?  It is not something to gloss over lightly).

This brings us to Truth Three.   But first, a bit of warning.  Truth three is not something to be believed only, but to be experienced, just like the Higher Christian Life.  For without experiencing this truth, firsthand, you will not gain the wonderful benefit of it nor the changed life that comes with it.  Finally, all the benefits of Truth Three are contingent on faith.  And it is in your faith the enemy will attack.  Maybe even today.  So be forewarned.

Let’s look at Truth Three.


You Are Also to “Reckon” Yourself Dead to Sin

Truth Three states that when Christ was crucified, He took with Him to the cross not only your sins, but also your sinful nature (the “old man”).  Let that truth sink in for a moment.

Remember, your “old man” refers to your unregenerate human spirit consisting of the Adamic life prior to salvation.  And the “new man” refers to the regenerate human spirit, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Basically, the “old man” is all that you were before salvation, and the “new man” is all that you have become after salvation.  You can find these terms used in Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22 and 24, and Colossians 3:9-10, among other places.  It should be a familiar concept to you.  But one not usually carried to its logical conclusion.

Watch how this plays out so clearly in Romans 6.  First, the foundation:

For if (since, because) we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be (united together) in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that (what) our old man was crucified with Him, (why) that the body of sin might be done away with, (why) that we should no longer be slaves of sin – Romans 6:5-6.

Next, the logical progression based on the foundation:

For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if (since, because) we died (how) with Christ, we believe (our choice, see below) that we shall also live (how) with Him, (how) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. (why) Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died (past tense), He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives (present tense), He lives to God – Romans 6:7-10.

And finally, the conclusion about our old man and his death on the cross.  But remember, this truth only becomes real to you by experience.  Or, as Romans says, when you “reckon yourself” to this truth.

Likewise (in the same manner) you (personal) also (like others who have experienced what you now seek), reckon (to impute, consider, count, reason, think, to be of the conviction) yourselves (personal) to be (present tense, currently, at this very moment, right now) dead indeed (truly, on the one hand) to sin, but (on the other hand) alive to God (how) in Christ Jesus our Lord – Romans 6:11.

Note the obvious, if you “reckon yourself” to this truth, its power becomes real to you.  But if by doubt or disbelief you refuse to believe what the Scriptures say about you and your old nature, you will still struggle with failure because, per Truth One, “you are incapable of pleasing God or producing anything good with your flesh (your sinful nature) no matter how hard you try.”  The choice of either being an overcomer or one who lives in constant defeat is based on the content of your faith.  You will either “reckon yourself” to be what the Scriptures say you are, or you will choose to take your eyes off Jesus and focus on the waves and sink like Peter (Matt. 14:30).

The choice is always yours.  Always.

The following is the sermon that goes into much greater detail about Truth Three than I can present in a short blog post.  I know it is much longer than the usual podcasts, but I would encourage you to listen and let your mind embrace the possibilities of Truth Three.  And remember, Satan cannot attack the truth.  He cannot make Truth Three not be true.  But he can, and he will attack your faith and belief in Truth Three.  And if he succeeds, the power found in Truth Three will be lost to you, and you will languish in defeat with your life of holiness and most likely fail to experience all of the Higher Christian Life.  Or, if you simply trust Him and “reckon” (to impute, consider, count, reason, think, to be of the conviction) yourself to be what the Scriptures say, then watch out, for the best is yet to come.

So choose wisely.

Until He Comes,

Steve

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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41:  Holy Men Spoke as They Were Moved by the Spirit

41: Holy Men Spoke as They Were Moved by the Spirit

The Higher Christian Life

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We Need Holy Men of God to be Moved by the Spirit

When we begin to seek God’s wisdom through a deep study of His Word, it is good to remind ourselves of exactly what we are doing and how the Bible is unique from all other literature.  It is more than the words of man, it is the very words of God.  I know, for the skeptics, that statement seems presumptuous, maybe even arrogant.  But it is nonetheless, true.

Let’s look at just two truths about the Scriptures that will begin to reveal to you the depth and character of His Word and the blessings that come from studying and applying it authoritatively to our lives.  First, the nature of His Word.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

This statement about Scripture seems clear enough.  But as you dig a bit deeper into the meaning of these words, you will find a treasure of truth hidden just beneath the surface.  Let’s begin by defining a few Greek words.

All (pás – each, every, any, the whole, in totality without exception) Scripture is given by inspiration of God (theópneustos – to breathe or blow, to be divinely inspired), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Note, “all” (pás) means every bit of Scripture, from the list of names in Numbers to the judgments found in the Revelation.  But at the time this was written, all primarily referred to the Old Testament.

Note also, the word translated “inspiration of God” (theópneustos) only occurs in this passage and gives the idea of God breathing His Word into human men who were moved or inspired to record what God said.  It (theópneustos) is a compound word combining “God” and “to breathe.”  That is why some translators use “God-breathed” (NIV) or “breathed out” (ESV).  But in the end, the message is clear.  All Scripture (the Old Testament in this passage and the New Testament in 1 Cor. 2:9-16) is breathed by God and divinely inspired according to His will.  And, as such, it is flawless, perfect, infallible, unchangeable, true, and of immeasurable value, because it reflects the nature of its Author.  It is the Word of God.

All Scripture, “is given” to us, as a gift from God, “by” or through the “inspiration of God.”  Not the inspiration of man, but of God.  But some may ask how this process takes place?  What differentiates this inspiration from God from the inspiration Beethoven experienced, for example, when he composed his inspired symphonies?


What Does it Mean to be “Moved” by God?

Let’s see what Peter has to say about this important question.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is (gínomai – to begin to be, comes into being or existence, originates, happens) of any private interpretation (or, it doesn’t originate in the mind of man), for prophecy never came by the will of man (or, it doesn’t originate in the volition of man), but holy men of God spoke as they were moved (phérō – to bring or carry along, to be continually carried) by the Holy Spirit – 2 Peter 1:20-21.

Look at the word, moved.  In Acts, this word is used to describe how the wind blows a ship across the water from one place to another (Acts 27:15, 17).  The imagery should not be lost on us.  Peter is describing how the Holy Spirit fills the sails of men with the breath of His Word and gives them divine inspiration and revelation to record what He wanted them to write down.  Sometimes God “breathed” His words into human writers in much the same way dictation is taken down.  For example, to Jeremiah God said, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (Jer. 1:9).  But we will look more into this at a later time.

Remember, the only One who knows the mind of God is the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).  Therefore, only the Holy Spirit could have inspired the Scriptures.  As the verse says, “but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by (who) the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).  The Scriptures did not come from the inspiration or the mind of gifted, even spiritual, men.  No, the inspiration came from the Holy Spirit and was given to “holy men” who were moved or continually carried along as they wrote what was given to them to write.

This is the value of the Scriptures we hold in our hands.  But there is more.  There is a great benefit that comes to us by a study of God’s inspired Word.

And is profitable (ōphélimos – advantageous, helpful, useful, beneficial) for (1) doctrine, for (2) reproof, for (3) correction, for (4) instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work – 2 Timothy 3:17.

Note the four-fold blessings:  Doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.  This is the path of sanctification, of living the Higher Christian Life.  But there is one last blessing we want to uncover in this verse, and it is found in the word, complete.  One of the goals of Scripture is that the “man of God may be complete, (how) thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The word translated “complete” (ártios) means “qualified, proficient, fitted, capable, furnished or equipped with every necessary component for a task or purpose.”  Let that sink in for a moment.  God has supplied all we need to be all He wants us to be, right in His Word.  The key to experiencing intimacy with Him, to becoming His light among the darkness, to understanding the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:6), to be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29), to realizing we are “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10)— everything imaginable, is found in His Word.  And it is given to us as a great blessing.  One that only needs to be read to be received.

So let’s begin this journey together, shall we?  Let’s look into God’s Word and see what of His wisdom we can claim for ourselves, what we can learn from Him as dearly beloved children, and how our faith in Him might grow as we see the day of His return approaching (Heb. 10:25).

Until He comes,

Steve

The Higher Christian Life

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What Happens When We Confess Our Sins

What Happens When We Confess Our Sins

Mary’s Redemption

The Chosen is one of the most moving portrayals of Christ that has ever been put on film.  And I’ve watched them all.  Every time I watch an episode, I am compelled to surrender more of my life to Jesus.  And this segment is no exception.

In this clip, you will see a perfect picture of how the Lord responds to us when we try to live the Higher Christian Life in the flesh and fail.  And we will always fail.  It can be no other way.

Do you remember the first of our three truths?  Truth one simply states that you are incapable of pleasing God or producing anything good with your flesh, your sinful nature, no matter how hard you try.  It cannot be done, has never been done, will never be done, by anybody, ever.  Why?  Because it says in Romans 7:18, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”  Case closed.  End of story.  Done.

We must stop trying to do what only the Lord can do through us.  The Higher Christian Life is found in our surrender of ourselves to Him and Him living His life through us.  There is no place for self-effort.  Only self-surrender.


And If We Fail?

You will fail.  Count on it.  In fact, it’s in the Lord’s design for you to fail, to come to the end of yourself, and cling to Him in total surrender.  So when it happens, don’t run from God in shame like they did in the Garden.  Instead, confess your failure, admit your shame, acknowledge your inability to live a life of sanctification by your own efforts, and receive the forgiveness displayed in the short clip from the Chosen.

I think these next three minutes will show you what true forgiveness is all about.

Enjoy and be blessed.

Until He comes,

Steve



The Higher Christian Life

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40:  Bible Study is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

40: Bible Study is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The Higher Christian Life

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First, What Does it Say?

Before we actually begin to look at the Proverbs to glean the wisdom of God, we first need to remind ourselves what Bible study entails and how to mine the depths of God’s Word for the treasure often buried just below the surface.  Note, we are committing ourselves to Bible study to experience God and His wisdom.  Not Bible skimming or even Bible reading.  Those may have their place in our spiritual lives, but not if we strive to have a deeper intimacy with the Lord and experience the Higher Christian Life.

Bible study is not a sprint.  We don’t begin with the goal of trying to get as much done in the least amount of time so we can cross this item off our to-do list and move on to something more important.  That is a recipe for failure, frustration, and a stagnant Christian life.  And it is a great slight to God’s inspired Word (2 Tim. 3:16).

No, Bible study is a marathon.  It is a life-long endeavor that produces a mature believer “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).  And it takes time, as all things of value do.  Proper Bible study is like the difference between dining on a fine meal in an upscale restaurant with close friends or whoofing down a Happy Meal in the front seat of your car alone.  Both meet your hunger needs.  But only one is a deeply satisfying, pleasurable experience.

There are just a few things we must know about any passage of Scripture we will study, especially if our goal is to have the Lord speak to us about something in our lives through His Word.  First, we need to know exactly what it says, what each word means.  Not just in our language today, but what it meant to those to whom it was written so many millennia ago.  After all, language changes.  And what something meant in English 75 years ago may not mean the same thing today.

For example, before the ’60s, when someone said, “Cool, man,” it was always about temperature.  But that all changed over time.  So that now, when we hear that statement, we never think it has something to do with how cold it is outside.  Or, in the time before World War II, the phrase “gay” had nothing to do with sexual orientation.  Instead, it referred to an attitude of cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement.  In 1934, Fred Astair and Ginger Roger starred in the movie, The Gay Divorcee.   This musical had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of either party.  But if that movie was released today, we would probably assume we knew the reason behind their divorce.  Ah, one of them was gay.  And this is how words can mean something different over time.

Understanding this, we need to know what a passage said when it was written, the culture in which it was written, and the people for whom it was written.  That is why a Greek and Hebrew Word Study Dictionary is so important.  But we’ll speak on that in a moment.


Then, What Does it Mean?

Then, after we determine what a passage says, we have to determine what it means.  And this is where the marathon part of Bible study comes in.  The rule is simply this; we do not move to another passage until we fully understand what our current passage means.  There is no skipping over it or “I’ll get back around to that later.”  Our task is to stop, prayerfully meditate on the passage, use whatever resources we have available to help us in our understanding (see below), ask the Lord to reveal His meaning to us, and wait until we discover His hidden treasure of truth, before moving on.  No matter how long it takes.

After all, if we spend an hour in His Word reading three chapters but get nothing out of it, we have wasted our time.  But if we spent the same amount of time on one verse and God reveals His will to us in that verse, we are encouraged, enlightened, changed, and growing in our likeness to His Son (Rom. 8:29).  And our lives are forever transformed by His Word.  It’s the marathon that builds endurance, not the sprint.

Let me close by giving you a few pointers to help in your Bible study.

1.  Slowly read the passage several times out loud.  Emphasize each word and phrase as you do.

2.  Ask questions about the text.  Who, what, where, why, how long, for what purpose, etc.

3.  Ask the Lord to show you why He led you to this part of His Word today?  What is He trying to show you?  What does He want to reveal to you?

4.  Spend some time studying each word?  What do they mean in Greek and Hebrew?  Is their meaning different than what I assume they mean today?  Has the language changed over time?  Hint:  Spend extra attention on the small words, all, any, if, then, know, but, etc.

5.  What are the implications of what I just read?  Why did God lead me to this passage today? How can I apply this in my life in both my actions and my attitude?  Is this further explained in the next few verses?

6.  Spend some time looking for other passages that will further explain and support what the Lord is saying in the passage you are studying.  And if so, where?  What is God trying to show me?

7.  What principles or truths can I learn about God?  Hint:  Make this about Him, and not you.  Is He showing you something about His character and nature in what you are studying?

8.  Finally, ask God to show you how to live in the truth He has just revealed.  This is where your faith grows.  Ask Him to place you in situations, no matter how difficult, where your faith in the truths He just revealed to you will be tested.  After all, we are promised in James 1:3, the “testing of our faith produces patience (hupomonḗ – endurance, the ability to withstand hardship or stress).”  And endurance is what we are seeking in the times in which we live.

Remember, Bible study is not a sprint, but a marathon.

Last quick point, you will need some resources to help with your Bible study.   Let me suggest the following:

Study Bible:
MacArthur Study Bible – NKJV.  This is probably the most important resource.  All translations are not equal, no matter how easy or difficult they are to read.

Greek and Hebrew Word Study Dictionaries:
The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates
The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament by Spiros Zodhiates

Bible Commentary:  I would suggest using one from the latter part of the last century, such as the Pulpit Commentary, Spurgeon’s Notes and Sermons, etc.  However, if you are looking for something more contemporary, try the commentaries by John MacArthur and/or James Montgomery Boice or the writings of AW Pink.  Note:  Try not to do a random Google search for the meaning of a particular passage.  There is much truth and deception online about everything— source matters.

For solid Biblical answers online, try the following:

Blue Letter Bibleblueletterbible.org
Got Questionsgotquestions.org
CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) – carm.org
Grace to Yougty.org
The Ministry of Chuck Misslerkhouse.org

Enjoy your time with Him, and tomorrow we will begin to do exactly what I have described in the book of Proverbs.

Until He comes,

Steve

The Higher Christian Life

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39:  How to Discover the Wisdom of God

39: How to Discover the Wisdom of God

The Higher Christian Life

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Christ Jesus, Who Became For Us…

This past Sunday, we talked about how we as Christians and His church are to respond during the dark times we see encroaching all around.  What are we to do?  How are we to think and feel?  What is God’s will in all of this?

Just think about what we have experienced as a culture since the beginning of the year.

In DC, there was a rally turned riot (depending on how you view the events of January 6th) that many claim was the beginning of an insurrection against our government.  Not surprisingly, most of the media and the talking heads blamed this on Trump.  And now we have an active House investigation that will probably drag on into sometime next year designed to discredit Trump and his supporters.  Bring back any memories?

There has been a massive social media de-platforming of voices and opinions that dare to differ from the FPC (for public consumption) talking points of the left.  In fact, as of today, the head of the Taliban has a Twitter account to share their anti-American propaganda, yet our former President has been banned for life.  How does that happen in a free society?

The Covid-19 thing seems to never go away.  First lockdown, masks, social distancing, remote employment, shortages, restricted travel, canceled holidays, schools, sports, concerts, etc., and everything else that comes with an authoritarian nanny state.  Nonetheless, we all agreed to go along for the good of others and the fear of contracting Covid.  Then the miracle cure was rolled out at warp speed, the Vax, the Jab, which turned out to be neither a cure nor a miracle.  And the full-court press was on.  The pressure our society is piling on those who choose not to be vaccinated is unprecedented.  So much so, tens of thousands of nurses may lose their job in the next 45 days, among countless others, unless they submit themselves to a jab that has yet to be FDA approved and has a morbid history of ever-increasing harmful side-effects, including death.  This is discrimination at its worst.  But the voices of the media are silent.  How is that possible in America?

Corporate America, both large and small, is now requiring its employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of continued employment.  Companies like Amazon, Amtrak, Citigroup, Delta, DoorDash, Facebook, Ford, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Tyson Food, Uber, United Air Lines, Walgreens, Walt Disney, and Walmart are leading the way.  And the list gets bigger every day.  When in our nation’s history was it legal for an employer to require an experimental vaccine, with documented harmful, short-term, and unknown long-term side effects, as a condition of continued employment?  But that seems to be our new reality.

Welcome to our brave new world.

On August 9th, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo that the Pentagon will mandate full vaccinations (which now include all current and future boosters, with no end in sight) to members of the military and all Department of Defense employees by mid-September, if not sooner.  For those who refuse the mandate, the consequences are unclear at this moment.

Last year, many of our school children received a failed education due to Covid.  But they were passed anyway so as not to collapse the educational system.  Unfortunately, we learned zoom classrooms are a poor substitute for face-to-face learning for millions of young children.  And masked face-to-face learning cripples social development in our children.  But once again, here we go down that same failed trail of fully masked children in school, regardless of their vaccination status.  Why?

As a people, the trust in our sacred institutions, school, government, courts, media, the press, and the church, are at an all-time low.  The constant barrage, 24/7, of competing opinions and differing experts talking out of both sides of their mouths makes us wonder, who can we trust?  Who speaks the truth?  Who do we turn to for direction?  And for the believer, the church is just as divided on these issues as the rest of those who do not know our Lord.  So, who speaks for God today?  And who can help us sort all of this out for my family and me?

And the list can go on.  Inflation, the immigration crisis at the Southern border, corruption in our government, the supply line breakdown and corresponding shortages of goods and raw materials, BLM, our national Afghanistan facepalm, rioting in our cities, China and Taiwan, natural disasters such as drought, wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis, just to name a few.  “And the beat goes on.”

So what is the church to do?  How can we know what our Christian response should be, must be, to what may soon be forced upon each of us?  Is this all part of the end times?  Are we just watching the death rattle of the American experiment?  Or is it both?


…Wisdom From God

Not surprisingly, the answer is found in discovering more of God, and for a good reason.  What we need is wisdom from God to know what to do and how to respond, which is only found in Jesus Christ.  And God’s wisdom is imputed to us by the Holy Spirit who, as we talked about in detail last week, now lives in each of us.   In closing, consider this incredible verse.

But of Him (or because of Him or by His doing) you are (what) in Christ Jesus, who became (gínomai – to begin to be, to come into existence) for us (you and me, the church, the called-out ones)
(1) wisdom from God— and
(2) righteousness and
(3) sanctification and
(4) redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD” – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

The wisdom of God we so desperately need literally “began to be” or “came into existence” in us in Christ Jesus.  He “became for us” the wisdom from God, the righteousness of God, our sanctification in God, and our redemption to God.  All these attributes, so badly needed today, are found in Him.  And He now lives in us in the Holy Spirit.

So for the next few days, we are going to continue what we began on Sunday and look at God’s book of wisdom, the Proverbs, using the tools we discussed (and will review later) to discover the source of all the answers, to all the questions, that trouble us today.  And when you hear from God and His glorious wisdom becomes second-nature to you, then whatever darkness comes your way, whatever may happen tomorrow, you will confidently say, “Thy will be done” (Matt. 6:10), and “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Until He comes,

Steve

The Higher Christian Life

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38:  What Are You Lacking in Your Spiritual Life?

38: What Are You Lacking in Your Spiritual Life?

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What Do You Need From Him the Most?

Yesterday we showed how the Holy Spirit, who now lives in you, is fully capable of meeting any need you might have.  After all, He is fully God in every sense of the word.  So it would stand to reason that as God, the Holy Spirit is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and ever-present (omnipresent), among the other attributes of the Almighty.  So whatever your need, I think He can handle it.  Don’t you?

Remember, He is all you need.  So there is never any reason to look elsewhere for self-worth, confidence, purpose, protection, power, deliverance, love, acceptance, or any of the other myriad of needs that keep us up late at night.  Because only He can meet our deepest needs, and He meets them in Himself, by simply being who He is.

I know He can meet all my needs, but exactly how does the Spirit do that?  And what specific needs does He fulfill?  Let’s look at just a few.

Holiness – Do you need to find the key to living a life of holiness or sanctification before the Lord?  And do you find yourself falling flat on your face, again and again, every time you try?  No surprise.  The only One who can live a life of holiness through you is One whose primary attribute is holiness— and that is the Holy Spirit.  Not the Merciful Spirit, the Loving Spirit, or the Longsuffering Spirit, but the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Holiness.  As in One who is primarily defined as holy.

When you yield your life to Him in surrender and allow Him to live His life through you (which again is the way to experience the Higher Christian Life), you will find His presence rubbing off on every area of your life.  And the result?  Holiness.

Power over Sin – Do you feel somewhat powerless to stand against the attack of the evil one and the lust of your own flesh?  Again, no surprise there.  Welcome to living as a light in the darkness (Matt. 5:14-16).  The Christian life is always a battle.  But the battle is not fought in the flesh, nor can it ever be won that way (see Truth One).  It is a battle waged in the spirit, by the Spirit, equipped with spiritual armor (Eph. 6:11), for fighting spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12).  Consider the following.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh – 2  Corinthians 10:3.

Even though we are simply flesh and blood on the outside, on the inside, we are mighty in God because He lives in us.  In fact, we no longer belong to ourselves since His presence has made us a “temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor. 9:19).  So when we rely on His Spirit, we become powerful weapons in the hands of a mighty God that brings fear in the quaking heart of the evil one.  Again, consider the following:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the flesh) but mighty (able, strong, powerful) in God for pulling down (to cast down, demolish) strongholds (fortress), casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

Spiritual battles are fought in the spirit and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And with the Holy Spirit now living in you, there is no need ever to fear defeat.  So if you need the power to stand against temptation, know you already possess all the power you need.  Rest easy. The Holy Spirit lives in you.


You Got a Need, He’s Got the Solution

But there is more.

Christ to Become Real (the Higher Christian Life) – Finally, if you need to have Christ become real to you, to become more than a distant relative or a historical Biblical figure, the Person delegated to make that happen is the Holy Spirit.  He was the One given to replace Jesus in our lives (John 14:16).  But He doesn’t stand beside us or around us or near us like Jesus did His disciples.  Better yet, He lives in us.

Before departing, Jesus promised His disciples He would not “leave you orphans” but would “come to you” (John 14:18).  And this promise followed His promise of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus said would “dwell with you” and be “in you” (John 14:17).  In other words, since Jesus was departing from them and His disciples were obviously sad and worried, Jesus then promised to replace Himself in their lives with the Holy Spirit.  He then went on to say it was actually better for them for Him to depart because only then would He send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).  That’s quite a big promise.

Remember, the Holy Spirit was tasked with revealing to us all about Jesus and bringing to our memory everything He ever said and did (John 14:26).  So the more we know the Spirit, the more we get to know Jesus, whom the Spirit will reveal.  And the more we know Jesus, the more we know the Father (John 14:7), whom the Son will reveal.  And for us, this chain of blessing all begins with knowing the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  Or surrendering our lives to Him so He can live His life through us (Rom. 12:1-2).  Surrender to the Holy Spirit is the essence of the Higher Christian Life.

One last thought.  The apostle Paul said the One who reveals to us all God has promised to those who love Him, yes, to you and me, is the Spirit of God.  It is the One living in each of us who shows us how blessed we are in Him.

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Then how will we know what God has prepared for us?

But God has revealed them to us (how) through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except (who) the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (why) that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God – 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.

How can it get any better than this?  What do you need that you don’t already have?

In closing, whatever your need or prayer or request, Christ has already pre-positioned the answer to your problem or desire or longing in the Holy Spirit who lives in you.  All you will ever need you already have in Him.  So what is there to worry about?  What need do you have that is so great God is unable to handle?  What joy and happiness do you crave that He cannot provide?  What?  That’s right.  Nuthin’.

Again, rejoice for what you have in Him.   And rest easy as our world gets darker.

Until He comes,

Steve

The Higher Christian Life

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37:  He is All You Will Ever Need… Ever!

37: He is All You Will Ever Need… Ever!

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And You Are Complete in Him – Colossians 2:10

We have spent some time discovering the spiritual fullness of realizing that the Holy Spirit, who is fully God in every sense, lives in us.  Not around us or beside us or with us, but in us.  And since He is God, what more do we need?  Why do we desire less when we already have everything?  What does the landfill have to offer us that is more alluring than a week at the beach or a five-day trip to Disney World?  It doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Yet, we still try to find satisfaction and purpose outside of God when the source of all we could ever want or need or be now lives in us.  And to make matters worse, once we come to understand our purpose in life and that our desire is found only in Him, we still try to serve Him in the flesh, by our own strength and resources, with dismal results.  Again, it doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Remember where we are in this process.  We have been looking at the second of three truths that will rid you of the guilt and shame of failure in your search for the Higher Christian Life.  These truths, once internalized, will give you the courage and ability to live the “abundant” life in Christ (John 10:10) by the power of the Holy Spirit (which is the only way it can be experienced), and not in the weakness and pride of self-will and fleshly determination.  Let’s quickly review.

Truth One states you are incapable of pleasing God or producing anything good with your flesh, no matter how hard you try (Rom. 7:18).  This is the bad news.  But the good news states in Truth Two that God has given you the Holy Spirit to live and dwell in you for the purpose, among other things, “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  In other words, what is impossible to do by your own strength and resources, God has graciously supplied by the Spirit— who now lives in you.  It really doesn’t get any better than that.  But what exactly does it all mean?

Just think, in the same way God provided His Son to die for the forgiveness of your sins, He also now provides His Spirit to dwell in you so you may experience the power to live in the newness of life (Rom. 6:4) and have all your needs met by Him.  Not just your need for salvation, but also your need for a Savior (Titus 2:13-14), for Someone to act as your perfect, atoning, sacrifice (1 John 2:2), or for an intermediary between you and a holy God (1 Tim. 2:5).  Yes, literally “all” your needs.

Look at the needs the Spirit met in Paul’s life.  Note, these were not just spiritual needs, but all his needs.

Past Experience:  I know how to be based (to be brought low, humbled, especially in regards to basic needs), and I know how to abound (abundance, excess, to have more than enough).  Everywhere and in all things (each, every, the whole, in totality, without exception) I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Lesson Learned:  I can do all things (each, every, the whole, in totality, without exception) through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:12-13.

Paul learned faith by experiencing both need and abundance.  And it was the Holy Spirit living in him that imparted to him the strength to overcome all obstacles and to rejoice always in all situations (Phil. 4:4).  But this just doesn’t apply to Paul.  The promise is for each of us today.

Promise from God:  And my God shall supply (to make full, to supply abundantly, to impart richly) all your need (how) according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:19.

That’s all your needs— everything you need.  God will supply, with great abundance, all of what you will ever need in this life and in the life to come, according to the unfathomable riches in His glory, by and through Christ Jesus our Lord.  This is the promise from the Father to you.


There is Nothing You Need He has not Already Supplied

But there is more.

Again, just as the blood of Christ covered all your sins, so you never have to look anywhere, or to anyone else to cover them again (Col. 1:14), so the Holy Spirit has also provided for all your needs so you never have to look anywhere or to anyone else in order to have them met.  And this is especially true about meeting your own needs yourself.  See Truth One.  If Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient to pay the penalty for your sins, then the Holy Spirit indwelling in you is also sufficient to meet all your needs, both spiritually and otherwise.  To believe anything else make the Spirit less than God.

And again, just as in your salvation, it was God who did all the work, and all we had to do was receive, by faith, what God had provided for us.  Remember, “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30a).  It is because of Him.  Look to what great lengths the Lord went to bring you to Himself.

For whom He foreknew (God’s action), He also predestined (God’s action) to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called (God’s action); whom He called, these He also justified (God’s action); and whom He justified, these He also glorified (God’s action) – Romans 8:29-30.

And in the same way, we must receive by faith what the Spirit has already provided for us in regards to living and experiencing the Higher Christian Life.  When we received the Spirit, we received all of Him and with Him everything we need for a life of sanctification, holiness, service, and joy.  After all, He is God.  And we know we cannot produce anything of eternal value from within ourselves by our own strength or resources (see Truth One).  But the Spirit comes to us with a truckload of gifts and Godly attributes the world cannot understand, nor receive, nor ever experience.  They are only reserved for those who belong to Him.  They are called fruits of the Holy Spirit, and by them, we can experience the abundant life in Christ— the Higher Christian Life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law – Galatians 5:22-23.

And what do we do with these great blessings of Spiritual fruit?  We live in them by letting the Spirit live through us.  We embrace the life of surrender, the Higher Christian Life.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit – Galatians 5:25.

So rejoice in Him today.  For you have everything you need, right now, to live a life of godliness and holiness, a life pleasing to the Lord (2 Pet. 1:3).  And let’s begin to experience the Higher Christian Life today.

Until He comes,

Steve

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36:  Your “Desire” for the Higher Christian Life

36: Your “Desire” for the Higher Christian Life

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What Does “Desire” for God Have to do with Inflation?

Usually, I send out an encouraging post regarding the Higher Christian Life and the importance of drawing close to Him in these times of trouble.  But today, it’s going to be a bit different.

We have often discussed the importance of desire, especially when embracing the Higher Christian Life.  In essence, we can have all the knowledge and understanding necessary to experience the Higher Christian Life, but without a desire to pay the price and “count the costs” (Luke 14:28) required for deep intimacy with our Lord, nothing happens.  So I want to share something that will hopefully spur on your desire for more of Him, what we call the Higher Christian Life, no matter the costs, come what may.

Now, I know not everyone has an accounting/business background, and sometimes national economic trends and forecasts are hard to understand, let alone swallow.  But the following article by Britt Gillette, The Next Financial Crisis, puts our current national situation regarding debt and quantitative easing in terms anyone can understand.  And he is right on, perfect.  His article will help you understand where we are heading financially as a nation, regarding the inflation you are currently experiencing, and hyper-inflation that is just around the corner.

And remember, this is all just a shadow of Revelation six.  You might want to give that a quick read before going any further.

Carefully consider where we are as a culture and, if you seem troubled by it, then use that feeling of anxiety to fuel your desire for more of Him.  And remember, the Higher Christian Life is yours for the asking when you ask in faith.


 

The Next Financial Crisis

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant events in world history.  On August 15, 1971, Richard Nixon announced he was “closing the gold window,” thus ending the U.S. dollar’s convertibility to gold.  This ended the post-World War II Bretton Woods monetary system where the world operated on a gold-backed U.S. dollar with other world currencies pegged to the dollar.  It also began the new era of fiat currency and sowed the seeds of the next great financial crisis.  Fiat currency is not backed by commodities such as gold or silver.  Its only value comes from the public’s willingness to accept it as a means of payment.  Since Nixon’s announcement, all the major governments of the world have used nothing but fiat currencies.  Prior to 1971, this had never occurred in human history.


The Danger of Fiat Currency

Why was Nixon’s announcement such a significant event?  Fiat currencies are dangerous.  They eliminate government financial discipline and accountability.  When nothing backs a currency, the government can print unlimited currency units.  The more currency units that exist, the less valuable they all become.  If you earn and save in fiat currency, you lose purchasing power over time.  The government is essentially stealing from you via inflation.  This means government spending is no longer restrained by collected tax revenue or fiscal responsibility.

For example, during World War II, the United States launched a massive war bond campaign to raise the money necessary for funding the war.  They did so because U.S. currency was backed by gold and silver.  They couldn’t simply “print” the dollars needed to fund the war.  But that’s no longer true.  Since 1971, the U.S. has funded the world’s largest standing military, fought two wars in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan, and countless other conflicts.  In doing so, they never once launched a war bond campaign.  They simply printed the dollars they needed.

Since 1971, the U.S. government has been on a spending binge.  In 1971, the U.S. national debt was $398 billion.  Today, it’s $27.8 trillion.  That’s an almost 70-fold increase in debt in the past 50 years.  To fund this massive rise in debt, they’ve run the printing press.  This means the value of a dollar has decreased significantly in the past 50 years.  In 1971, an ounce of gold was $35. Today, an ounce of gold is $1,781.  That’s a 98% decline in the dollar’s purchasing power.

And before you attribute the rise in national debt to the declining purchasing power of the dollar, take a look at the debt relative to national income.  In 1971, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was 34%.  Today, it’s 127%.  That’s an almost four-fold increase in real terms, and it’s a debt level many economists believe is unsustainable.  As bad as this is, the United States isn’t alone.  In a world awash in fiat currency, debt to GDP ratios are terrible all over the globe.  Japan’s debt to GDP ratio is 256%.  Canada’s is 116%, and the United Kingdom’s is 107%.

The Eurozone alone is home to a number of troubled nations – Greece (181%), Portugal (132%), Italy (155%), France (115%), etc.  Compounding the problem for these nations is they owe their debt in a fiat currency they can’t print.  The European Central Bank controls the euro, and that puts all these nations at potential risk of default if they can’t make their debt payments.  A default by any of those nations will ripple throughout the European banking system which holds billions of euros worth of government bonds.  If European banks become insolvent, financial contagion will spread throughout the world and plunge the world into a financial crisis far worse than the Great Recession, one with the potential to be worse than the Great Depression itself.


The Central Bank Conundrum

The U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and central bankers throughout the world are well aware of this potential scenario.  It’s their worst nightmare.  More than anything else, they fear an out-of-control deflationary spiral akin to the Great Depression.  This is why central banks engaged in unprecedented measures in 2020 to prop up financial markets as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded.  But now, they face a conundrum.  If they keep these policies in place, we’ll have runaway inflation.  But if they reverse their “easy money” policies, they risk triggering the very financial crisis they’re so eager to prevent.

For example, in the United States, interest on the national debt is $378 billion.  This is the fourth largest expense in the annual budget.  A good portion of the national debt is financed using treasury notes with a maturity of less than ten years.  If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, the interest on the national debt will grow and eat up a larger and ever-growing portion of the annual budget.  The same is true for other countries.

In addition, hundreds of U.S. companies are now “zombie” companies.  These are heavily indebted, poorly managed companies that depend on low-interest rates to meet their loan interest payments.  If interest rates rise, those companies will go bankrupt.  The same is true for many individuals.  A large number of consumers carry variable interest debt.  If interest rates rise, they’ll no longer be able to meet their debt obligations.  In short, raising interest rates will plunge the U.S. economy into a depression.  And the same is true for all the other major world economies.

According to Bloomberg, world debt now stands at $281 trillion.  This is the total amount owed by governments, companies, and households.  It represents 355% of global output.  That’s nearly four times what the world produces in a year.  This level of debt can never be paid back.  Either it will end in default, or it will be paid back with devalued currency.

The first option will lead to immediate pain and suffering, with bankruptcies, defaults, massive unemployment, and widespread social unrest.  The second option offers an alluring promise of a way to avoid such pain.  Which option do you think politicians and central bankers will choose?


The Next Economic Downturn

When the next economic downturn arrives, it will be in the form of a severe global depression.  Unable to service their massive debts, many individuals and companies will default.  Those defaults will leave the banking system on the verge of bankruptcy and politicians scrambling to put together another series of bailout packages.  The government and central bank response to this crisis will be bigger than their response to the COVID-19 crisis.

What will they do?  They’ll run the printing press.  They’ll bail out companies on the verge of bankruptcy.  They’ll buy stocks and corporate bonds.  They’ll backstop people’s mortgage and student loan payments.  They’ll do anything and everything they can in an effort to avoid the inevitable economic pain.  And then they’ll institute something they’ve wanted for a long time – universal basic income.  Every man, woman, and child will receive a monthly stipend equivalent to an average worker’s salary.  A desperate population will welcome it.  But it won’t be enough.  When the prices for rent, food, and energy double as a result of all this printed currency, the government solution will be to double the amount of the monthly payments to combat the rising prices of the “greedy” corporations.  But the problem won’t be rising prices.  The problem will be a failing currency.  This process will play itself out over and over until all the world’s currencies are driven into hyperinflation, and the entire system comes crashing down.


A Dangerous Time

Hyperinflation has ravaged individual nations in the past – Weimar Germany, the post-war Austro-Hungarian Empire, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and others.  But hyperinflation has never hit all the world’s nations simultaneously.  Maybe it won’t this time either.  But keep this in mind, never before have all the world’s major economies simultaneously been run on fiat currencies.  This experiment is only 50 years old, and it’s quickly coming to an end.

What happens when it inevitably falls apart?  What happens when lives are ruined, life savings are lost, and the streets are filled with hungry people?  We don’t know.  But history provides us with clues.  In times of chaos and economic instability, dangerous political leaders and demagogues often rise to power.  They capture the public imagination with promises to end the chaos and restore stability.  Past economic crises led to events such as the rise of Napoleon, the launch of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the consolidation of German state power in the hands of Adolph Hitler.  All these events had grave consequences for the entire world, not just the individual nations involved.  Why should this time be any different?


What the Bible Says

The Bible describes just such a scenario in the end times.  Revelation 6 says an entire day’s wages will barely buy enough food to survive (Revelation 6:5-6).  This describes a world ravaged by hyperinflation, and it’s the backdrop against which the Antichrist makes his drive for global conquest (Revelation 6:3-4).

Ultimately, the Antichrist will implement a global economic system that requires the people of the world to worship him.  The Bible says he will require everyone on earth to receive a mark, and no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark (Revelation 13:17).  We see the beginnings of this system today as paper currencies give way to digital currencies.  Once this transition is complete, the government will be able to control all buy/sell transactions, just as the Bible foretold.

This is one of the many Tribulation events casting its shadow on our day and time.  Along with the restoration of Israel (Jeremiah 23:7-8) and the many signs Jesus and prophets said to look for, all these events are converging for the first time in history.  Jesus said when you see this happen, you can know His return is soon (Luke 21:28).  So rather than hang your head at the trials and sorrows set to come upon the world, lift your eyes to heaven. He’s coming soon!


To read this article and others by Britt Gillette, go to End Times Bible Prophecy.  And while there, you might want to sign up for his monthly newsletter.
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35:  What Church Could Look Like Today

35: What Church Could Look Like Today

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Second Verse, Uh… Should Be Same as the First

In Matthew 10, we see this amazing account of Jesus sending His disciples out without Him to do what He was doing while He was with them.  It was almost a picture of what life would be like after Jesus was physically removed from their presence and the Holy Spirit was given to them to “abide” with them forever (John 14:16).  This was their first mission trip, their first job as His apprentice, the first time they flew solo.  And He didn’t send them out unprepared.  He gave them the same power they would later receive when the Holy Spirit came upon them in the upper room, as recorded in Acts 2.  This was just a taste of church life to come.

He “gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases” – Matthew 10:1.

Jesus also gave them strict instructions to minister while away from Him in the power they had just received.  Not in their own power, but the power of the Spirit.  For there is no way they could do what Jesus asked in their own strength.  No one can.

He commanded them to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit, much like the early church did in the book of Acts after they received the Holy Spirit.

“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give” – Matthew 10:7-8.

In other words, they should expect their time away from Jesus to be filled with miracles and the moving of the Spirit, just like it was when they were with Jesus.  And this is exactly what we see in the early church after they received the Holy Spirit.  The early church obviously took seriously the promise of Jesus that, once He returned to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit in His place, His followers would do greater works than what they had seen Jesus do (John 14:12).  But is that really possible?  Could Jesus be over exaggerating?  I mean, when ordinary people encounter the Holy Spirit and surrender their lives totally to Him, what does it look like?

This is one reason why God included the book of Acts in our Bible.  Let’s see how the Spirit moved in the lives of these unassuming men.

Chapter Two – After the Holy Spirit falls on the church, Peter stands in their midst and preaches a short, unprepared sermon, only 297 words long, excluding Scripture, and 3,000 people get saved.  Then the infant church, made up of 120 friends and 3,000 strangers, single-mindedly devoted themselves to the “apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  Everyone was in a state of awe.  And “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43).

Amazingly, the young church “had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45).  All needs of the church were met by the willing, generous sacrifices of all they had for the good of people they just met.

Unlike us, there was no Sunday morning worship service or Wednesday night prayer meeting.  They did not go to church; they were the church.  The Spirit of God lived in them, and they were now temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  Everything in their life had changed.  And what did that look like in real life?

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people – Acts 2:46-47a.

Note the keywords, “continuing daily” and “one accord” and “house to house.”  This church was nothing like many of us have ever experienced.  They seemed committed to the Lord and each other in ways we don’t fully understand.  They were “all in” and held nothing back.  And for us, in our selfish, independent, “I can take care of myself” mindset, this seems intimidating and, quite honestly, frightening.

But note what happened?  Look at how the Lord responded to their reliance on the Holy Spirit.

And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved – Acts 2:47b.

That’s daily.  Every day.  How long has it been since we’ve seen people saved in our worship times together?  Exactly.


It’s OK to Dream

What would you give to live in a church like the one revealed in the book of Acts?  Do you realize what we have just read is possible, even expected, for those of us today who have the same Holy Spirit living in us as they did?  God does not play favorites.  He shows no partiality.  And remember, the authority Jesus gave His disciples (Matt. 10:1) to minister in the Spirit is the same authority we have in Him, right now, by virtue of the Holy Spirit living in us.  We have everything we need to experience the Higher Christian Life right now, in Him.  There is no power greater than God.  There is nothing that can thwart His will.  And there is nothing this world could offer you that is better than what you already have.  Look at what the Spirit says about us:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together – Romans 8:16-17.

So be encouraged today.  The early church has shown us what the Higher Christian Life looks like.  The Holy Spirit now indwells us to empower us to live the Higher Christian life.  And the Higher Christian Life that may seem so far away at times could be just as close as reading the book of Acts.

So let your faith tell you this life is possible, even expected, when you Let Go and Let God… be God.

Until He Comes,
Steve

Note:  We only looked at Acts 2 today.  There are still twenty-six chapters to go.

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34:  Whatever Your Struggle, He is More Than Able

34: Whatever Your Struggle, He is More Than Able

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What Does it Mean to Have the Holy Spirit Live in Us?

As Truth Two reveals, when the Holy Spirit, God Himself, takes up residence in you, He brings with Him all the power, love, wisdom, understanding, joy, peace, and gifts of the Godhead.  Let this truth sink in; God now lives in you.  Not with you or by you or around you.  But the Holy Spirit actually lives, right now, in you.  Which, as the Scriptures teach, makes you a temple of the Holy Spirit, a dwelling place of God.  Consider this:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

For Christians today, the idea of a temple seems archaic and outdated.  After all, temple worship is something we associate with false religions or is relegated to the pages of the Old Testament, a practice of ancient Judaism.  And we’ve moved far beyond that, or so we think.

In Judaism, the heart of their worship was tied up in a building, a temple.  Because it was only in a specific part of this building, and only on certain days, that man was able to meet with God.  And to make matters worse, not all men could meet with God, only the priest, and only after going through rituals that make no sense to us today.  God was understood to dwell in the temple made for Him to reflect His glory.  And it was only in the temple that sacrifices could be made for the atonement for sins.  Without the temple, there were no sacrifices.  And without the sacrifices, there was no forgiveness of sin.  So the importance of the temple to the Jewish understanding of the forgiveness of sins cannot be overstated.

The first temple was built by Solomon and later destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.  After 70 years without a temple, the second one was built around 516 BC under the leadership of Ezra and Zerubbabel and stood for almost 585 years.  Later, beginning around 20 BC and during the 18th year of his reign, Herod the Great made impressive improvements to this second temple so that it is commonly known to us as Herod’s Temple.  It was destroyed by Titus Vespasian and the Fifth, Tenth, and Fifteenth Roman Legion during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

So without a temple, what were the Jewish people to do?  How could they meet with their God?  They could not.  At least not in a temple made by human hands (Acts 7:48).

When Jesus died on the cross, He was the one, final, perfect sacrifice for the atonement of our sin (Heb. 10:1-18).  There was no need any longer for the sacrifices of animals as a picture of what Jesus was to accomplish on the cross.  Hence, there was no need for a physical temple whereby sinful men could come and offer the blood of goats and lambs to somehow atone for the penalty of sin for which Jesus had already suffered and died to forgive (Heb. 9:12).  After Jesus, everything had changed.

Since there was no need for a temple, nor continual blood sacrifices, nor a high priest to act as an intermediatory between each of us and a Holy God, what has replaced these religious mainstays for us?  The answer: Jesus.  He became our High Priest (Heb. 9:11, 10:21), and His blood, sacrificed for us, has provided atonement for our sins, once and for all (Heb. 10:11-14).  And the veil in the temple that separated sinful men from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom at the death of Christ (Matt. 27:51), indicating there was now no barrier between God and man.  We now have bold access to the throne of God by the blood sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 10:19-22).

And this is where it gets exciting, especially regarding the Higher Christian Life.


You Are Now the Temple of God!

Remember the verses we looked at earlier, 1 Corinthians 6:19-21.  Because the Holy Spirit, God Himself, now lives in us, we have become the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  We have within us what the Jews hoped to experience in the Holy of Holies— the fullness of God.  We have the presence of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit inside of us.  And this was the wonderous mystery hidden from the Jews, but now revealed to us.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:27.

Now, when we struggle with our failures in the higher Christian life, it is because of our sinful nature, pulling us, prompting us, sometimes forcing us to do the things we don’t want to do when our spirit wants to do the things pleasing to Him (Rom. 7:18-20), yet we fail.  You and I, and Paul, know what this is like.  Remember, “O wretched man that I am!   Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).  You are not alone when you struggle to be more like Him.

But the great encouragement for today is simply this; you have the Holy Spirit living in you.  Take some time and reflect on this familiar truth.  You don’t have to travel to the temple to meet with Him.  You don’t have to wait until a certain day to experience His healing power.  You don’t have to go through all sorts of rituals to make yourself appear worthy to come into His presence.  He is already here.  In you.  Closer than you can imagine.  He knows you better than you know you.  And He has seen the best and the worst of who you are, and yet He still loves you.

So relax and stop striving (and probably failing) to live out something in your life (holiness, sanctification, the Higher Christian Life), that the Holy Spirit was given to live through you.  Let Him do His job.  Get out of His way.  Just “let go and let God”— be God.

Will you do that today?

Until He Comes,
Steve

The Higher Christian Life

 

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