Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Growing up in Grace: Rightly Dividing the Word

18 but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 AMP

In the recent weeks, we've been engaged in a brief study concerning growing up in the Grace of Almighty God. We've established that knowledge of who we are in Him and what we have by virtue of the Finished Work is where true growth begins. We saw how fruit abounds in our eternally secure position in Christ. 

 Today I sense the need to continue in this study. One area that generates lasting fruit is understanding how to rightly divide God's Word. If we misunderstand or misapply God's Word, we will flourish in religious tradition but not in the truth of God's Word.

 Much of the Church is saturated with the religious traditions of men. Biblical illiteracy coming from pulpits, Christian media, and devotionals permeate the Body of Christ. Teachers readily mix Law and Grace, blend Old Covenant principles and prayers with the New Covenant, and exalt experience over the promises of God. 

 Some resist the knowledge of who they are in Christ because they are so focused on being busy. Busy engaging in "spiritual warfare", not realizing the enemy is already defeated. Or busy "working" for God, in order to become more holy or righteous, not realizing they've been made holy and righteous by virtue of the Finished Work.

 When it comes to growing up spiritually mixing Law and Grace or blending the Covenants will never yield lasting fruit. Let's look at blending the Covenants and the detrimental effects it has on our growth.

Rightly Dividing the Covenants: Change my heart, oh God?

When believers are in the maturing process of becoming who they already are in Christ, they begin to notice the aspects of their lives that don't always reflect that Christ-like new nature. Not realizing that it is their flesh acting out, and not understanding the proper definition of the flesh they mistakenly mix the Covenants in an attempt to see change. 

 The flesh is a way of thinking that is contrary to the Word of God. It is the "policies of the former administration." It is the old man, the old sin nature's way of doing things. When we received the Lord we became a new creation in Christ. That old man passed away. Not fully aware of what actually happened at salvation, some believers foolishly begin praying Old Covenant prayers to see change. They pray what King David prayed, hoping to see some change in their lives manifest.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Psalm 51:10-12
 This is one of the most unbelieving and Biblically illiterate prayer a New Covenant Believer could ever pray. Allow me to reveal how this kind of prayer sounds to the Lord.
"Create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast or loyal spirit within me". How this sounds to the Lord's ears. "Lord, even though you declared that once we are in Christ old things pass away and we are made an entirely new creation in you (2 Cor 5:17). We are made the very righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). We are born again of incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23). We have passed from darkness to light and passed from death to life (1 Peter 2:9-10), ( 1 John 3:14). Lord, You've already, by virtue of the New Birth gave us a new heart, but I don't believe what you say and am asking you to remake my heart new and clean."
"Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me" How this sounds to the Lord's ears. "Lord, even though you declared in your Word that you would be with us always (Matt 28:20). That you would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). You declared that you would in no way cast anyone out who came to you (John 6:37). Lord, I know you have made it clear in the New Covenant you would never banish or cast us away, but I don't believe you. So please don't ever banish me, until I can perform better."
 "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you." How this sounds to the Lord's ears. "Lord, even though you declared in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the New Creation is already in me. That in Christ I am already made pure, holy and set apart (Heb 10:10,14). In my heart, there is already the Joy of the Lord and the fruit of self-control. Yet, I don't believe what you say, Father." 
It is plain to see why not rightly dividing the Covenants, and being Biblically illiterate is why so many fail to experience real and lasting fruit and growth in Grace. Certainly, God understands people's sincerity. But, it would be like a child asking for a glass of water from their father the exact moment after their father just gave them a full glass of water. 

 Can you envision that image? The child crying "Dad, can I please have a glass of water?" The dad, looking quite perplexed points out to the child, look, I have already given it to you. It is right there in your hands. The child then telling their father, "I hear you say that, but I don't believe you." Christians who blend the Covenants are much the same. They're pleading for God to give them a new heart, to make them holy, to make them righteous, not realizing they're asking for what they already possess. 

Rightly dividing the Word is about more than just removing mere performance based faith from our lives. It is about accepting and receiving the truth of who we already are in Christ. When we remove Law and Grace mixture and Covenant blending from our understanding and begin to rightly divide the Word we will begin to walk in the fullness of His blessings and to grow up into who we already are in Him. 

In summation, it is vital for our growth in God's Grace to begin to rightly divide the Word. Read and study God's Word with a New Covenant understanding. Any idea that conveys the concept that we must do this or that first and then God will respond is Old Covenant or Law mixture. Under Grace, we realize Jesus already moved on our behalf. We simply believe and receive by faith, what He already accomplished in the Finished Work.  

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