Posted by: forfreedomalone | 19/08/2017

Wallow

Almost daily someone sends me, or posts to my timeline, an encouraging quote. The intention of the quote is ….(you’ll never guess!)…..to encourage and the intent of sharing it is, likewise, to encourage, however, many, while sounding esoteric actually produce a feeling of ‘need to work’ in the recipient.

Today, my attention was drawn to a quote from a well known speaker, “One person walking with God is in the majority, so one person believing the Lord can change the atmosphere where you live and where you work.”. The majority of readers were full of ‘amens’ and ‘this is truth’ type comments, but what does it mean and how does it encourage you?

It is intended to show you that you + God is a powerful combination. That when we are with him no weapon formed against us can prosper etc. and, fair enough, if that encouraged you, don’t let me rain on your parade. But if your next thought was “Humm, but how do I walk in that?” or “Am I changing the atmosphere at work or home?”, or “How do I do that?”, you may want to read on.

One person walking with God is not in the majority. They are in the minority, but they have more power than the majority. Nothing the world has can equal God, nothing the demonic real can conjure up can equal God, so God + you is a very powerful combination. If you are in God and God is in you then you bring the presence of God with you wherever you go.

There is no doubt one person can change the atmosphere, but the key issue, in the statement, is ‘believing’. “One person BELIEVING God” can do more than millions who do not believe.But the question is, are we believing?

If the heart is not at rest in faith it is not believing.
No amount of effort will change that, no amount of reading inspiring quotes will change that, the ONLY thing which will change that is it to be immersed in the presence of the Almighty Himself.

David said, in Psalm 100, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His name”. It is by praise and thanksgiving that we find ourselves in the Holy of Holies. We enter into His presence when we praise Him, when we are thankful to Him and when we bless His name.
A simple Google search will dig up dozens of names of God for which to bless Him. He is our peace, our prosperity, our wholeness, He is our safe hiding place, our rock, our eternal anchor. HE is worthy of blessing, praise and gratitude for WHO HE IS, not for what He has done. Lay down all your burdens and requests and enter His presence. Praise and bless HIM and see your life change.

This is SUCH a simple thing to do, yet it seems too simply for most. They want something harder to do, something which sounds like it has virtue and righteousness inherently woven into it, but this is what God called us to do. In the next verse David says “For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endureth to all generations”. David knew he got in touch with God’s goodness and His everlasting truth when he praised and gave thanks.

There are so many cheerleading the church into more and deeper faith and it isn’t working. There are just more and more dead works lying around the place. People trying to believe, trying to put into practice a good idea, or ‘work of faith’, and failing miserably because their hearts are not at rest in faith.

Don’t even think about ‘walking in it’, whatever ‘it’ is.
Forget it.
Just focus on worshiping God for who He is and let the rest take care of itself.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 07/08/2017

What is ‘sin’?

The discussion of sin came up again the other day. It’s a fairly hot topic in my world 😏
 
The gentleman who started the conversation was outraged that another person had had the audacity to tell him that the sharp way in which he had just spoken to his father was sin. Quite why this conversation occurred I never found out, but the point it raised was that Mr A felt ‘judged’ by Mr B and Mr A felt Mr B had no right to tell him what was and what wasn’t sin.
 
For centuries, if not longer, people have been fighting about this subject. Is gluttony really a sin? Is theft a ‘bigger’ sin that pride? Without doubt homosexuality is the ‘worst’ sin of them all!!
What is ‘sin’ and who has the right to call it so? What are the penalties for sin? Do the ‘big’ sins have a worse penalty than the ‘small’ one?
 
On and on people have argued and fought over the subject of sin when, really, the Bible makes the whole thing quite plain.
In the beginning God told Adam and Eve what they may and may not do. We could say, he defined what was ‘good’ for them and what was ‘bad’ for them and he told them what would happen to them if they chose the ‘bad’ things; they would die.
This was the creation of morality. Morality is the quality of being moral and moral means “concerned with or relating to human behaviour, especially the distinction between good or bad, right and wrong behaviour” (Collins English Dictionary)
 
God defined, right at the very beginning of time, what was ‘right and wrong’, ‘good and bad’. Why he so defined things was not theirs to question, but they did. Tempted into rebellion, Eve looked at the fruit and saw that it was good to eat (according to her) and so she concluded that it must BE good to eat. The eating of the fruit gave her the Knowledge of Good and Evil (of right and wrong, of good and bad). Now she could decide for herself what was right and wrong, she didn’t need God to tell her, but she was lacking one vital component to making those decisions the way God would make them and that was his spirit of life, She only had KNOWLEDGE, which in and of itself is dead. Knowledge needs vitality, head needs heart, to bring it fully to life, to give it fullness and meaning, otherwise it is dry and dusty, like death itself.
 
From that day to this man had been redefining morality. Man has been saying what HE thinks is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ but ignoring what God says. God clearly set out the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, in minute detail at Sinai, he showed the people just how ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ worked, how far it stretched. He, in effect, said to them, “If you want to live by the Knowledge of Good and Evil, here it is in all its glory. This is what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ look like.” He knew that man cannot live with such knowledge. He knew that man could not always do ‘right’ and never do ‘wrong’ from the stand point of head knowledge, which is what they were trying to do. He knew that when they presented themselves to him, in all their ‘righteousness’, proud as punch and full of their ability, he would have to wipe them off the face of the earth because he cannot allow sin into his presence. Oh, they would think they had done a WONDERFUL job, they may even have done a wonderful job, if one looked only at how many boxes they had ticked, but the very act of redefining morality was sin and so even if they had achieved it all, under their own steam, he could not accept them.
 
God sees no one ‘sin’ as bigger or worse, or smaller or lesser than any other. If we have redefined what HE says is ‘wrong’ we are in ‘sin’. It is as simple as that. If we are in sin we will be ‘miserable as sin’ because man was never created to live in that state. Guilt, shame, condemnation, depression, they are all the results of living in a state at odds with God’s morality. No matter how often or how vociferously people claim that it is not so, no one who lives at odds with God’s morality has the love, joy and peace, which comes from the Holy Spirit…the helper, who lives with us, in us, causing us to live in alignment with God’s morality FROM OUR HEARTS, not from our HEADS.
 
The church has become a victim of the toxic thinking of the world, otherwise known as, political correctness. This is a toxin which began in the world, it belongs to the world and they have a higher immunity to it than we do. Political correctness is leading Christians away from God’s morality and into a mire of deadly quicksand. We must accept all (so that means all behaviours and lifestyles too), we must be tolerant (even though God is not), we must redefine ‘tolerant’ to mean loving, but then we define ‘love’ in a way God never did. We cannot correct a brother or sister (this is ‘judgement’) and cannot distance ourselves from sinful activities and attitudes (this is prejudice), we cannot call a spade a spade because we are narrow minded and unforgiving.
 
We need to get back to basics and be willing to speak truth in love. Yes, speaking to his parents in a sharp way was ‘sin’, he should be called to book over it, but it should be done in a loving way, with the intention of building him up, not tearing him down. His correction should lead to a deeper relationship with God and his parents, not a destruction of the man himself. Judging is not pointing out error it is condemning to punishment. We have no authority to punish anyone for their sin, but we have a duty in love to bring back a brother or sister who has strayed, even slightly, from the Way.
 
Love one another, bear with one another, watch over one another in love and do not sin. In these days having a pure heart, free of sin, before God is vital for US, so that we can hear his voice leading us through the quagmire of sin and suffering the world has become.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 06/08/2017

Even the angels long to hear.

At various points in history and certainly in the history of the church, God has revealed something previously unknown to people.In Exodus 6:3 he tells Moses that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob know him as ‘El Shaddi’ but now his people would know him as ‘Yahwah’. He did not say, “I will no longer be know as El Shaddi, I will now be Yahwah”. He did not cease to be The Almighty, in order to become,The Self Existent, in fact, being The Almighty was, actually, rooted in being The Self Existent. He added to the revelation the Israelites already had, he did not say “That name is no longer of any use or important to you, here is my new name, I’ll use it from now on”.
 
1Peter 1:12 tells us that there are things into which the angels have longed to look, these things were revealed to the prophets of old, that they could point to Christ and so that when the Gospel was preached it was already confirmed by what had been written aforetime.
 
Can you imagine what a shaking there must have been in the synagogues and market squares when what they thought they knew was added to? Can you begin to comprehend how new, additional, knowledge must have threatened them? They would have thought that knowing this new thing undermined the old thing. They would have been very insecure about what they thought they knew, until they were willing to add what they were now being taught to what they already knew and discover how much richer it made the overall picture.
 
Then, of course, there were the traditions of men. Those would have to go, because now they were fully exposed, by the additional revelation. So there would have been people who were agog to hear, people who were totally closed to hearing anything, people who were afraid of what this new revelation would do to their currently held beliefs and those who would not only fear their beliefs being undermined but who were not will to have the new revelation even preached.
 
Today the church is no different.
 
There is a great unwillingness to be taught something new. The ears of the fearful are shut up, yet the angels have longed to hear and know what is being taught. There is fear that if what one believes now is shown to be wrong then one is not really saved, or will look foolish, or that one may have been preaching a false Gospel. God does not reveal additional material to erase the previous revelation, he reveals it to ADD to previous revelation. If we want the FULL counsel of God we need to be willing to move with him when he adds to what he has revealed before.
 
It is unbelievable arrogance to assume that God, the Almighty, The Self Existent, the one who knows ALL things, should have revealed everything to us and have nothing he now wants to tell us, which we have never before heard. Do we deny him his right to say, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; did you not know it?” (Isa 43:19) just because WE conclude he has already done “a new thing”?
 
Being teachable does not mean that we take on board EVERY new doctrine, that we follow EVERY new thinking or emotional craze. It means we are open to hearing from God, through any means, no matter how much it threatens our doctrine. If what we are being told is rubbish, can not God tell us so? If what we currently believe is the truth are we in danger of swapping truth for lies if we listen to teaching we have never heard? Of course we are not, if we are listening to God.
 
So many tell us they are following God, but will not be taught, they fear new teaching because they do not trust God to teach them. New teaching is vilified, the teachers pilloried. There is no discernment in action, to separate new teaching from God and new teaching from man. There is fear where there should be love and there are closed ears where they should be open.
 
If what you are hearing is heresy, if it goes against the Word of God, then it will be obvious. Telling people that everyone is already saved, or that, in due course, all will go to heaven is totally against what the Apostles and Christ himself taught. This is not additional information, it is alternative information. But if you are told that, for example, the ‘new’ and ‘old’ mentioned in Hebrews 10:9 refer to sacrificial systems and not covenants, a simple reading of the previous verses of the chapter will confirm this…..but ONLY if you are willing to see it.
 
IF your beliefs are really traditions of men, wouldn’t you be better without them? Why keep what is only toxic to your faith?
 
Do not rush hither and thither with every new wind of doctrine, but do be open to hearing what you have never before heard and which challenges you. Trust God to teach you the new things he has for you, which even his angels have been anxious to know. The end result is deeper relationship with the Father and greater faith. Isn’t that what we all want?
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 31/07/2017

Exempt from moral liability.

“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
 
How wonderful to know that all our bonds will be broken, we will be set free, nothing will ever again enslave us, once we know the truth. We just need to know how much God loves us, who we are in Christ, how The Law has been done away with, that all that matters now is love, we live from our hearts, not rules and we will be free. Well, much of that’s true, but it’s not what this verse says.
 
Rarely can we pick a verse out of the ethers and make true sense out of it, we normally need to look at it in context.
Jesus started this train of though in the verse before, in verse 31, when he said “to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings…”
 
Remaining faithful to his teachings was a prerequisite to being his disciple and, as verse 32 follows on from that, being his disciples which requires remaining faithful to his teachings, will lead to knowing the truth. ‘Knowing’ in this context does not mean understanding in an intellectual way, it means “having intimate, relationship knowledge of something”.
 
So we remain faithful to what Jesus taught, this causes us to be his disciple, which lead to us having a deep and intimate relationship with truth, which…….well, if every other part of the verse doesn’t mean what it is traditionally said to mean, does ‘set you free’ not mean that either?
 
The word, translated as, ‘set you free’ means, “to exempt from moral liability”. “Moral liability” is an interesting term. What does that mean?
It means that, under the ceremonial law, that is the law of sacrifices and offerings, people were ‘liable’ for their morality. God set the standards of morality and if the people did not keep his standard, a sacrifice was required to atone for their liability. They broke his rules, they had to pay for it. This payment was in the form of animal sacrifice.
 
When God renewed the covenant, after Israel went off after other gods, he took it upon himself to pay the cost of our ‘loose morals’, the many, many times when man redefines morality according to his own standards. His own son was the price he paid, perfect blood, never tainted by sin, eternally living on the Altar in heaven. It is this sacrifice which sets us free from moral liability. We are no longer liable, because our debt has been paid. We are not free to live as we please, but we are free from having to pay for the times we sin.
 
It is a fact that our debt has been paid, but it is not a fact that we live in that freedom. Many deeply desire to know that freedom, but do not and so lie to themselves. They are not remaining faithful to Jesus teachings,they are choosing to redefine morality and set their own rules and so live with condemnation. They quote Romans 8:1 and declare that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” yet are condemned in their hearts all the while.
 
Jesus will not condemn them, but they condemn themselves due to their lack of relationship with the truth, brought about by their faithlessness to Jesus teachings and not being his disciples.
 
There has been, for far too long, an acceptance of the words of the Bible as some sort of magic formula. Jesus did everything and I am a new person, miraculously living a different life, with no effort, thought, or even intention of my own. The Holy Spirit has possessed me and I now just can’t help loving everyone and being a wonderful person in every way. We are lying to ourselves if we believe this and we are lying because we are afraid that if we are required to ‘do’ anything we will suddenly find ourselves in a legalistic situation where our salvation is dependant upon us.
 
Jesus blood paid the price required of us. His blood is eternally living, it is eternally on the Altar in heaven and it is enough to purchase our freedom from moral liability.
We ARE free, but unless we develop a relationship, which is deep and intimate, with the one who set us free, by being faithful to his teachings and becoming his disciples, we will not experience that freedom.
 
We ARE new creations, but unless we daily consider the old creation to be dead and live from the new life we have been given we will just be dead men walking. In every area of our lives we have been given new power, new vitality, new perspectives, new live itself, but unless and until we live it, it is all theory. It is an eternal certainty, but it is not a current reality.
 
If we want the truth to set us free, we have to develop a deep and intimate relationship with him, being faithful to his teachings and becoming his disciples. None of this is automatic…
 
As Phil 12 tells us “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, ………. work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
 
If we are to know, deeply and intimately, the power of freedom, we need to act on what has been given to us, powered by grace, faithful to his teachings and free from legalistic requirements. This is freedom indeed.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 28/07/2017

Why are you who you are?

Once, in a very ancient kingdom, the rulers of all the provinces got together to choose the next High King. They considered all the men who were suitable for the position and, having deliberated for weeks, chose the fellow they considered most likely to be the best leader of the people.
 
An envoy was sent to tell him that he was now High King of the land. He could not believe his ears! Me? Surely not?!
 
“Yes, Sire”, said the envoy, “You were chosen and so now you are High King. You have all the powers and rights of the High King and you are the person who is to lead and care for the people”.
 
The King went about for days muttering to himself “I am the King. I am the King”. It just didn’t seem to sink in very easily.
Gradually and tentatively he began to assume his duties, but still he muttered “I am the King, I am the King”. He would stand in front of his dressing mirror and practice “I AM the KING!”, but it took a lot longer before he was really confident of that fact.
After a few months his courtiers noticed that he was uttering his mutterings with greater confidence. “He’s beginning to believe it”, they said. “Now we will have a father for the nation”.
 
More months passed and still he told himself constantly “I am the King”, but now his tone was changing, arrogance was creeping in to his assertions. His awareness of his position was not one of benevolence, as had been hoped, but one of pride and conceit. As time passed he became more and more aware of just WHO he was!
 
“I am the King!!”, he would cry as he marched about the palace. “I am the King!!” he would declare whenever anyone questioned a decision, “I am the KING!!!” he would shout when asked at what hour he should be expected to begin the work of the day.
 
There was never any doubt, in the minds of his people, about just who he was.
 
In time he went to a neighbouring country to visit the King and Queen there. His counterpart could not have been more different to himself. The foreign King rose early and was in conference with his ministers for hours in the morning. “Where is the King?” demanded the visitor. “He is working, Sire”, replied the courtiers. “WORKING!!?”, yelled the affronted monarch, “Yes, Sire. That is how the King takes care of his people”.
 
The mornings were filled with discussions, the afternoons with hearing petitions, evenings stretched long into the night as the working King considered the country and its management, his people and their needs.
Finally, the visitor could take no more of being ignored. He marched into his host’s meeting chamber and demanded that they go riding together. “An excellent idea”, said the host, “We will go this afternoon to the village on the other edge of the forest and see the head man there. He wants to talk to me about water”.
 
So they rode together to the village and the visitor’s eyes were opened. The King spoke with the head man of the village, learned of the problem of the blocked well, consulted his accompanying ministers and arrange for a work team to come and help unblock it or dig a new one. He listened to his people, he got dirty examining the problem and he arranged a solution. When the visitor, shocked at how low his host had stooped, reminded him, “You are the KING!”, the man replied, “Yes, my friend, this is what Kings do”.
 
When he returned home he determined to change his ways. He WAS the King, there was no doubt about that, but his focus had been entirely upon himself and his position, now he resolved to turn his focus towards others and use his position for their benefit. In his early years, he was one of the most useless Kings they ever had, in his last years he was one of the best Kings they ever had.
 
Being a King is one thing; living and reigning like one is quite another.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 20/07/2017

To work, or not to work, that is the question.

We are justified apart from “works of the law”. We are told this over and over and indeed it is good news, but what does it mean?
Most Christians would understand the term to mean, any actions required by the Mosaic law. It is understood that Jesus nullified or did away with, the Mosaic law in its totality and that to keep any part of it was it “go back under law”, as the “Old Covenant” was based upon a works-based righteousness, or salvation.
The feeling is that as Paul preached against “works of the law” there can be no doubt that such works are not part of the miscalled “New Covenant”.
So where did he preach against the “works of the law” and what was he talking about?
There are only two book in the Bible where Paul talks about “works of the law”; twice in Romans and 4 times in Galatians, a total of 6 verses in the whole Bible mention this subject.(Rom 3:27; Rom 9:32; Gal 2:16′ Gal 3:2,5 & 10)
So can we conclude that Paul was against the law (properly Torah) from these verses? It is certainly what many think, but there is a problem in the shape of 7 more verses, mainly from Romans, where Paul clearly and emphatically states that he is NOT opposed to the Torah. (Rom 7:12, 14, 22; 1Tim 1:8; Gal 2:17) In all of these verses Paul is abundantly clear that he is FOR Torah, that it is good, holy, spiritual, just and a delight.
Towards the end of Paul’s life he stated clearly that he had NEVER offended against the Torah (that is broken or taught against) (Acts 28:17) and indeed the disciples in Jerusalem themselves were fully aware that he walked “orderly and kept the law” (Acts 20:24).
So doesn’t this leave us with a dilemma?
How can he be for it and against it at the same time? Sounds just a bit schizophrenic don’t you think?
In every one of Paul’s uses of the term ‘works of the law’ he is talking about how one is saved, made righteous, justified. So what does that mean?
Justification is the process by which we are made acceptable to the Holy God. It is by grace through faith. God expends the grace, we apply faith to receive it. We cannot earn it, no matter what we do or how well we do it. It is based on righteousness, God’s righteousness, as revealed in the faith of Jesus Christ. (Rom 3:21 & 22) We have faith in his faith and God says we are now in right standing with him.
So if Paul is for the Torah and understands that we are justified by faith only, what are these ‘works of the law’?
Well, we know from what Paul writes in Rom 3:22 that one can be justified by faith and still observe Torah, because they are not two sides of a coin, they are two different coins.
The Israelites in the desert had Torah which they followed scrupulously, but they had not faith, so they could not enter the Promised Land ( a symbol of God’s eternal rest).
Works without faith bears no fruit and faith without works is dead. We need both. Our justification is purely based upon faith, keeping the Torah alone will never earn us righteousness, but once we have righteousness, through the free gift of God, to ignore his moral imperatives and say that his Torah (his teachings in righteousness) is null and void is to go from legalism to lawlessness. It is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It is also important to note that in no instance in the Renewed Covenant (NT) does Paul actually say “works of THE law”, he says “works of law”. These are two very different statements.
If I say “works of the charity” and “works of charity’ you can see that in the first instance I am talking about a specific charity and in the second I am speaking about an indeterminate charity.
Paul is talking about ANY legal requirement one puts on one’s salvation, not Torah specifically. So one can throw away all Torah and then say “People can only be saved on a Sunday” and one is under a “work of law”.
He was never against Torah, he was against producing that ‘feel good factor’ within ourselves whereby we convince ourselves we are righteous by what we have done. We are not told we will ever FEEL righteous, we are to BELIEVE we are righteous, by the finished work of Christ. If what we need is a ‘righteous feeling’ then we will work to achieve it and ‘fall from grace’.
Torah was never in question, it’s holiness, purity or value, it was the man-made twisting of God’s teachings into a system of actions to earn our righteous feelings that he was against.
When we reduce God’s words of life to words of law we suck the life out of his teachings and reduce them to death.
If we are doing ANYTHING believing if we do it, do it well enough, do it long enough, or do with self denial and suffering we will earn a response from God, in any form, we are deceiving ourselves. God’s righteous standard is still the same today as it was at the beginning of time, but we now have a helper who has written that standard on our hearts. Although, note, that doesn’t mean WE get to define his standard because of what we feel, we are still limited to what HE says is the way of love.
David Stern, the translator of the Complete Jewish Bible, puts it rather well when he says, ” Paul’s usage of the term works of [the] law means not deeds done in virtue of following the Torah in the way God intended, but deeds done in consequence of perverting the Torah into a set of rules which, it is presumed, can be obey mechanically, automatically, legalistically, without faith, without having to trust God, without having love for God and man, and without being empowered by the Holy Spirit”.
With this in mind he translates Galatians 2:16 thus, “Even so, we have come to realise that a person is not declared righteous by God on the ground of his legalistic observance of Torah commands, but through the Messiah Yeshua’s trusting faithfulness. Therefore, we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of Messiah’s trusting faithfulness and not on the ground of our legalistic observance of Torah commands. For on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, no one will be declared righteous”.
Works of law are varied and can be very subtle, but they will earn us nothing but condemnation and misery.
Redefining God’s morality, as laid out for us in his Torah is sin.
The middle ground, the place of safety and growth is found in living in love, as defined by God, powered by grace, obtained by faith.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 12/07/2017

Then and now

The greatest error in teaching on ‘then’ and ‘now’, in my opinion, is the teaching that ‘then’ salvation/righteousness was based on works and ‘now’ is based on faith.
 
This error is based on focusing on the wrong place and drawing the wrong conclusions from the information.
 
It was not the keeping of the Commandments which made the ‘then’ people righteous, it was the offering of sacrifices. It was the blood which atoned for them, not their works. The blood of many, many, many animals. Not one drop of that blood was perfect and not one drop of it was good enough to atone for them for more than one year, and this was ALL God’s grace, not works.
 
In later times the Israelites broke the covenant they had with God by going after other gods. This, in turn, meant that they were no longer sacrificing to God, but to false gods, which meant that the means of God’s grace had been nullified towards them.
 
It is patently ridiculous to say that they could, in any way, achieve righteousness by working hard enough for it, but this conclusion has been reached by looking at the wrong part of the Commandments, Judgements and Ordinances. The Ordinances were where the atonement of sin lay and the Ordinances were fulfilled in the Cross.
 
Righteousness was always and still is, TOTALLY, dependent upon the blood you have to offer on the Mercy Seat. Then it was the blood of animals, now it is the blood of the Son of God. Then it was accepted by the goodness of God, now it is accepted by the goodness of God.
 
Righteous was and still is dependent on the death of another on our behalf, the big difference is that ‘now’ it is no longer an animal’s death, but the death of God’s own son, whose perfect blood has made all future atonement no longer required.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 17/06/2017

The joyous freedom of repentance.

I received a message, yesterday, about my last post and it contains some interesting questions.
 
“How can you say that the church needs to repent? We repented when we were saved, it’s done, it’s finished. Are you saying we are not saved? Are you saying we are to go about looking for sin in our lives all the time and promising never to do that again?
 
You are just heaping burdens on people and causing them to be sin conscious.”
 
Interesting questions.
 
Repents means “to change one’s mind”. That’s it.
It does not mean to make promises. Promises have nothing to do with it at all.
I didn’t used to like olives. Now I do. I’ve changed my mind about liking olives. Changing my mind means I didn’t like them, now I do. At no point in the process of changing my mind did I make any promises about no longer not liking them, I just liked them.
 
When we planted out garden I was not at all convinced by where my husband wanted to put the fountain. Now I believe he was absolutely right. I’ve changed my mind. No promised were involved on any level.
 
When one repents it is because the heart has changed towards what one believed, thought or did before. One held to path B, now one is on path C. It is as simple as that.
However, to change from path B to path C one needs to see that one is going the wrong way, or that a slight course correction is required.
 
But there is a step involved before that change of direction and that is getting onto path B in the first place.
 
A sinner cannot go from paths B to C because he is not on path B in the first place.
No matter how much he wants to “change his mind” about his sinful ways there is nothing he can do that is not achieved by pure strength of will. If he has a very strong will he may be able to effect change to some degree or other, but if he is not strong willed, he simply cannot change. He has a sin nature and there is nothing he can do to change that.
 
In order to go from path B to path C we need to first leave path A and we do that by coming to God in repentance. God gives us a new nature, his nature, so that we now have the power and ability to live differently.
We have been moved onto path B. We cannot do this, it is a work of the grace of God, but now that it is done we have the ability to navigate our way to the end of the journey.
 
Some will say that once we have this new nature everything is different. We are totally new creations and living differently is so natural that we can’t help it.
I have a problem with that and I believe the Bible does too.
I also believe that telling people this is what is heaping burdens on their backs (although I fully accept that is not quite what Jesus meant when he used that expression).
 
Paul told Christians to “reckon” the old man dead. “Reckon” means “to consider it so”. We use this expression when we say, when asked if we will take on a task for someone, “Consider it done”. It isn’t done, it hasn’t even been started, but they are being asked to consider it done, to no longer worry about it, to let go of it. So it is with our old man. He is not dead by any means until we kill him off by total neglect.
 
Ever time he raises his head over the edge of his grave we are to remind him he is dead and turn away from him. We are to repent.
 
Paul explains this whole process in Romans 7.
In verse 17 he says that when he does things he should not do it is not him, but the sin within him which has risen up again, His old man is trying to get out of the grave.
From verse 22 on he explains that in his inner man ( his new man) he delights in the law of God, (in all that righteous purity of who God is) but his “members”, as he put it, his body, thoughts and speech, he is still a slave to the law of sin. Oh wretched man that he is!!
 
But wretched man he is not, because he has within him the Sprit of life which overcomes everything.
He can make course corrections whenever they are needed.
 
In the first verse of Chapter 8 he tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Greek word translated as ‘condemnation’ is the word katakrima, which means “worthy of the dead sentence”. If a prisoner was ‘condemned’ they were going to die.
We who are in Christ Jesus will never receive this sentence. We have been redeemed from the clutches of death and transferred to the path of life and it is because of this that we are able to see, own and change what needs correcting as we go along.
 
In the book of 1 John, John tells us that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Some will tell us that those words were written to the lost, but that is not so. The truth was never in them, so there is no deception, there never was any truth in them in the first place.
John was writing to believers. He was reminding them that taking the attitude that we are saved and now perfect in every way was a deceptive attitude, it was a lie.
 
If we are just honest with ourselves we can see, daily, where we fall short of the glory of God. Frequently it is in very small things. Did you cut someone off and get that last parking space? Did you put your hot coffee mug on someone’s table without a coaster? Did you let the cashier charge you less for the item than you knew, or suspected, it should be? Did you pass on a prayer request to half a dozen people without being asked to do so?
 
We are not talking about losing your salvation, nor about saying you are not saved. We are talking about using a powerful tool which only the saved have. The powerwasher of the soul, which is repentance.
 
We are not making promises to anyone. We are not saying “I will NEVER do this again”, we are saying, “I see that what I did was wrong, I am admitting that fact (owning it) and I am committing to doing things differently in future by the grace of God”.
 
When the heart is changed, from pride and arrogance to one of softness towards God, the heart will tell us, “that was wrong, you need to repent, you need to change your mind about that, change your direction of travel and change it now, before you are too far off track.”. We want our hearts soft to God, so that we can hear his every word.
We are not navel gazing, looking for things about which to repent, but we are willing to repent when things need changing.
 
The church as a whole needs to repent over many things. There are millions who have been hurt by the church, who have been rejected and abused by the attitude the church has taken to them. We have not shown love, towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christ himself loved us.We have created divisions in the ‘family’ and we have done nothing to heal them.
 
We use fancy language to cover it up and we use fancy theology to say we don’t need to confess or repent over it, but the truth is we do need to confess and repent.
We need to confess and repent to God that we have fallen short of what he commanded us to do, because if we do not we will continue on the wrong path. We are most certainly saved, we are on path A, but it is time to change direction and head to path B then C then D, as we progress along His Way. We cannot walk in His Way if we are not saved, it simply isn’t possible. But now that we are, we need to check our compass and directions.
 
Repentance is a joyous thing. Not a burden.
We are ABLE to change direction by simply seeing, owning and wanting to. It is God’s grace which makes it possible, but we have to be willing to see that there is a need.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 14/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 5

LOVE DOES NOT KEEP NOTE OF PAST WRONGSLOVE DOES NOT REJOICE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT IN THE TRUTH.
Finally, after a long ‘chat’ about what love does and does not do, with the Corinthians, Paul gets to, what may be regarded as, the nub of the argument.

Love does not remember the long list of offenses it has already been caused. It does not expect to be offended again by So-and-So because they ALWAYS do. It does not roll out the scroll of past trespasses when yet another is added to the list.

It does not even understand the process of mental cross-referencing, it just lets all past offenses go. It forgives.

In constantly bring to recall all that someone has done to offend we are rejoicing in unrighteousness because we are never focusing on the truth.
The whole issue of focusing on truth is a very interesting one.There are many levels of ‘truth’. Truth can, in a sense be relative.It is true that there are people who believe that the earth is flat. To those people it is true that the earth IS flat.However, if we were to convert them all to the understanding that the earth is round then it would no longer be true that there are people who believe the earth is flat.That truth is relative; it is relative to there being people who believe it.
This is not so with ultimate truth. Ultimate truth, the highest truth, the truth which stands alone and is in no way, whatsoever, dependent on anything else to be truth, is God. He alone is ‘self-existent’ which is what Jehovah means.If everything else ceased to exist he would still exist and his word would still be the word of truth.What he says on any subject is truth, in its highest and purest form.
He is love and he is kind, he is long-suffering, he does not constantly remind us of who he is and what HE can do, he is pleased for us in our tiniest achievements, he forgives ALL our iniquities and he does not bring them back to mind.

He takes no pleasure in unrighteousness but ‘thinks’ constantly on what is true.

His ways are higher than our way and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

He is constantly drawing us back to himself and his righteousness, but we are constantly pulling away and redefining what is ‘good and evil’ from our vast and acquired knowledge having eaten from The Tree.

We know best.

Yes, Paul finishes by telling them, throughout it all, all of the offenses, hurts, rebellion, arrogance, pride, judgment and self-aggrandisement, love is constant. It continues through all things, it believes that the subject of its love will recognise it, it hopes and it endures for the sake of the one it loves.

We are made in his image, yet we have wandered far.We are not perfect in word, thought or deed, but we are perfect in spirit. We have all that we need within ourselves, in the form of the Holy Spirit to be loving, as God defines it.
All we lack is the will.

The church today is one of the most dangerous places for the hurting to be. Even among the brethren there is no evidence of love, many times. My rights, my opinion, my way are all that count and others better tow the line.

We are in a day when the Lord is calling his people to return to His way. He loved the world so much he died for her, but the thing which will draw them to his love is how we, the church, love one another.

Jesus ‘new’ commandment was not that we should love the world, but that we are to love ONE ANOTHER, AS HE LOVED US. He laid down his life for his friends. He told the disciples “This is how they will know you ARE my disciples, by the way you love ONE ANOTHER”. (John 13:35)

It is only when his people, who are called by his name, humble themselves and pray and seek his face (listen to him) and turn from their wicked ways (they definition of good and evil) that he will hear and heal their land.

Any way we have decided to take, which is different to the way he has told us to take, is a ‘wicked way’.
Romans 4:2 tells us that “it is the goodness of God” which causes a man to repent, to turn around and change his mind. The word, translated as ‘goodness’ means “moral purity, excellence of integrity”.
When men see the moral purity and excellence of integrity of God, displayed through his people, they will turn. They will know we are his and they will want what we have, because what we have will be SO different to what they have.

Are we loving one another as he has told us to love one another?
None of us do. We all fail. But will we turn?

Will we humble ourselves and confess that we have redefined God’s morality, we have decided, just as Adam and Eve did, that we know best and we have failed to show the world what and who love is.
If we will there is a great healing waiting to be poured out on our lands.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 08/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 4

As we have seen from the previous sections, what love is and what love is not, frequently, can be grouped together.

In the next section, still in the negative, we could do the same thing, with the following three.

LOVE DOES NOT BEHAVE BADLY.
LOVE IS NOT SELF-CENTRED.
LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED.

LOVE DOES NOT BEHAVE BADLY.
Immediately we see that love is an action, not a feeling. The behaviour exhibited by love is not bad behaviour.

Today, in the name of love, we see more and more parents refusing to discipline their children. They are allowed to be the centre of attention in every setting. They scream, yell, run about and demand constantly.
They are not taught about boundaries of behaviour or respect for others.
Parents indulge them in every way and then, when the child is throwing a fit, look on helplessly. Those who did not raise their children to be utterly undisciplined distance themselves from those families.

In marriages, we see that ‘love’ demands that one spouse puts up with outrageous behaviour from the other. Drinking to excess, neglect, spending beyond their means, and a host of other behaviours are tolerated because to challenge them is not ‘love’.

Conversely, many Christians, in an attempt to further the Kingdom, will preach AT people rather than quietly live out their faith.

Bad behaviour is not a fruit of love and it is not something we will ever see for God. This forces us to realise that God WILL challenge our behaviour if it is bad, he will not let us get away with tantrums or rudeness or self-centredness. He WILL take us to task over our behaviour, but he will do it in love; with kindness and gentleness.

Much of the permissive parenting we see today is actually very self-centred. It is not for the benefit of the child, but for the benefit of the parent. The parents want to be seen as giving their child everything they did not have, freer expression, more treats, more ‘fun’, whatever it is they feel they were deprived of in their childhood.
If they were smacked, they won’t smack their child, if they were made to do chores, they won’t make their child do them, if they were restricted in pocket money, their child won’t be. None of this is for the benefit of the child, it is all to make the parent feel like they are the best parent any child ever had.

In marriages, it is self-centredness which causes a person to spend hours per evening ignoring their spouse in one distraction or another, which they can justify as promoting their business or furthering their education. It is self-centredness which justifies working longer hours to have more money and it is self-centredness which refused to confront bad behaviour. ‘Keep the peace’ at all costs, is not a loving attitude.

Even the very godly sounding, ‘love thyself’, is a totally self-centered concept.
Nowhere are we told to love ourselves, we are told to love others in the manner in which we would love ourselves.
Self-love is an oxymoron when we consider that the Greek word, translated as ‘love’ is ‘agape’, which means, ‘self-sacrificing’.
How do we put ourselves first, when we are to put ourselves last?

Now, having said all that, we come to LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED.

Due to lack of discipline, we become a people who cannot prevent situations, we have to react to them, we cannot deal quietly and in a controlled manner with events, we have to ‘react’.

Interestingly, the word translated as ‘provoked’ doesn’t necessarily mean provoked in a bad way.
It means ‘stimulated to action’ and that could, in certain circumstances, be to good action. We may feel that feeding a beggar is a ‘good’ action and on seeing someone who is down and out we are ‘provoked’ to action. However, God says that the man who will not work should not eat, so our ‘provoked’ action is not love, but self-centred.

Often we will come across someone who his suffering in their lives and we will desire to pray for them. Being so ‘provoked’ we will pray for healing, or whatever we feel it is they need and in many cases, we will command it NOW. But while it is easy to see that this could be interpreted as love, it is not.
Love would pause, it would consult God on how he wants you to pray and it would pray according to direction no matter how disappointed the receiver may be.

Love wants the best for others and the best is not a destruction of their faith when your prayer is not answered as you had commanded.

When we see how love does not operate it is easier to see why God does not give us everything we pray for, he does not rescue us at every turn, he allows us to go through things to strengthen us, he does not respond to us, always, at the first call.
We start to see that love does not want to create people who are dependent on it to function, but who are desirous of being in such a close relationship with it that it naturally flows out of them. It does not want a family of children but wants adults who can understand the ways of love and harmonise with it.

All that Paul has to say on love is about love perfected. We grow into this love, we don’t start manifesting it, so don’t beat yourself up if you fall short. We all do.

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