Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Understanding Grace: Confession of sin

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 Grow in grace. To grow in this wonderful free gift we need to understand grace. God's Word teaches us from old in all our getting, get understanding. With that admonition we have been studying on understanding grace over the last few posts. 

 I want to continue in furthering our understanding of grace by going deeper into the reality of our perfect forgiveness. In doing so we will also address another mistaken idea about sin and confession. 

 When grace and complete forgiveness is mentioned inevitably the concept of confession of sin in order to be forgiven is brought up. Before we address the confession of sin, lets again set the foundation that we are completely forgiven.
11Yet every day priests still serve, ritually offering the same sacrifices again and again— sacrifices that can never take away sins’ guilt. 12But when this Priest had offered the one supreme sacrifice for sins for all time he sat down on a throne at the right hand of God, 13waiting until all his whispering enemies are subdued and turn into his footstool. 14And by his one perfect sacrifice he made us perfectly holy and complete for all time! Hebrews 10:11-14 Passion Translation

 Jesus offered a once for all time sacrifice for all sin. We who receive this free gift are completely forgiven and made perfectly holy and complete for all time. Are we complete only until we mess up? Are we holy only until we slip up or sin? Here is some gospel good news, your actions or sins can't undo His holiness within you.

 Allow me to illustrate how forgiven we are. When I was a young man, my mother and I went to a parade. For a short time we were on the street level. We could only see a few floats to the left or right of us. Then we heard a building was open allowing people access to the roof. From the rooftop we had a complete view of the parade from start to finish. Friends, that's how God sees our life when we come to Him. He sees our life from our first breath to our last. He cleanses us with His blood and declares, forgiven!

 Now what about confessing our sins and faults and misdeeds to be forgiven? Does grace mean we never confess our sin? What about unconfessed sin? Allow me to dispel a mistaken idea and fully address the concept of confess in order to be forgiven.

The only sin that can't be forgiven is unconfessed sin?

 In traditional circles of the Body of Christ many believe we are only forgiven of our past sins. They actively promote this view in their messages or periodicals.  They cling to a concept, that all your sin, only up to the point of conversion is forgiven. For any future failures or sins you must confess each and every one of them in order to receive forgiveness for those specific misdeeds. 

 If you fail to confess these transgressions then you are living with "unconfessed" sin. When you have "unconfessed" sin within, you're opening your life for all forms of cursing and disruption and calamity to overtake you. Did you have a long bout of flu symptoms? You more than likely had some sin you hadn't confessed. 

 This is not the good news. This is not the Bible. This is religion and tradition attempting to pinpoint why something bad occurred. Tradition is teaching that because you didn't confess your sin, then it is not forgiven. If it is not forgiven then you open yourself to calamity, because sin carries a penalty. 

 So does confession forgive us? Does confessing our sin actually cause God to then forgive us? Many say yes. If this is so then God's forgiveness is an installment plan.

 What about 1 John? Glad you brought it up. 
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:8-9
Allow me to bring up another verse.
22 ... For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22b
 So which is it? Confession is what brings forgiveness or does the Blood of Jesus brings forgiveness? The Word of God never contradicts itself. I believe the blood is what purchased our forgiveness. It is not the blood that began the forgiveness and our confession that completes it or solidifies it. So what is the purpose of confession?

 This passage in 1 John is an evangelistic principle to the particular person who denies sin exists. It is not addressing believers. It teaches the lost one to acknowledge their sin actually exists and separates them from fellowship with God. It teaches them that when you receive the free gift you will be completely cleansed and made perfectly holy and righteous. Because all scripture is profitable we as a believer can see a principle here for us. 

 We don't confess our sins to be forgiven. Also, understand continually confessing our misdeeds and faults creates a failure mentality. Grace teaches us that when we acknowledge all we have in Christ we grow and experience victory. However, there is a principal of confession to find healing and recovery, (James 5). 
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13

 This is an Old Covenant statement however, there is a truth we can extrapolate from it. We shouldn't conceal our wrongs. The enemy loves darkness. When you are struggling with a habit or sin it is so freeing to find a trusted brother or sister in the Lord and confess this issue. To get it out in the light and see the darkness flee and lose its hold upon you. This is the confession of sin for the New Covenant believer. We allow the light to expose and heal our hearts. Let me say it another way.

 When the Spirit convicts us of our righteousness when we miss it, He is showing us who we already are, our true identity. This is when true repentance occurs. We change our minds about our actions. We confess or say the same thing as God does. We simply agree with God. We agree this action isn't profitable and not who we really are. That is all confession is for the believer. It is agreeing with God. We don't confess our sin to be forgiven. We are already forgiven. This is the good news. Rest knowing you are freely and completely forgiven. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Understanding Grace: Completely Forgiven

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 Isn't it exciting to grow in our understanding of the wonderful grace of Almighty God? Lets continue basking in the glorious truths of God's great goodness towards us. We've begun a new series of study on understanding grace (you can read the previous post here).

 What grace is

 First I believe we should define grace so we know for sure we are  establishing a proper foundation to grow on. Grace comes from the Greek word Charis. How do we define grace? 

 Grace is simply the unearned, undeserved, unmerited, favor and lovingkindness of God extended toward us. It is His divine influence upon our heart and corresponding reflection in our life. Here is a link to confirm what I am saying. 

Understanding Grace: Completely Forgiven

With this clear definition at the heart of our study, let us explore more deeply these wonderful truths of grace revealed to us in the Word of God. One truth the Word of God reveals is that we are completely forgiven. When you receive the free gift that Christ purchased, know at that moment you receive complete and total forgiveness of all your sins. All of your sins, past and present and future.
14For in the Son all our sins are cancelled and we have the release of redemption through the ransom price He paid— His very blood. Colossians 1:14 Passion Translation

 This is the good news of God's amazing grace. We are forgiven completely. The Word is clear that all of our sins are forgiven us. Don't take my word alone, allow the Word to confirm the truth to you.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:13

12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake 1 John 2:12

13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Colossians 3:13

 It is clear. There is no mistaking the Word of God. He has forgiven us. He forgave not some, but all. All means all. In the Greek the word all in Colossians 2:13 is translated 975 times as all in the entire New Testament. It is translated as every 168 times. All means all of our sins. That would include past sins (amen, no more shame for our past), present sins, and the ones we have yet to commit. 

 Years ago, before I saw this wonderful revelation of grace, I was always dejected when it came to the topic of God's forgiveness. I readily accepted the good news my past had been wiped away. The difficulty I was having was what about my tomorrow? What about this afternoon around noon when I gave into temptation? I may have even missed it a couple of hours ago. What now?

 Would my mess up and sin obstruct me from receiving my healing or some other answer to prayer? How about that same sin I kept struggling with? That one I kept repeating? Surely this would forfeit my faith and opportunity to receive my needs met. I had a sin consciousness issue. I knew I was righteous by faith but that was only attributed to my past. 

 Then I heard the good news. I realized from the Word that because of the finished work I was forgiven. Not just cleansed from my past. I was cleansed and free from the penalty and guilt and condemnation of my present sin and my future sin as well. I was righteous by the blood. I was forgiven! My relationship with God has become so much more intimate and fulfilling.

 I knew now God wasn't holding anything against me. I realized the cross was enough. Jesus paid it all. Not only was I forgiven but I was made new. I am alive in Him. Sin no longer controlled me or dominated me. I was free in Him. Knowing how much you are forgiven produces more genuine fruit than years of trying to perform or gain acceptance by self efforts. This is the good news of grace, you are forgiven!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Understanding Grace: An Open Heaven

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 We are beginning a new study on understanding grace. I am excited to share insights and truths the Lord has been revealing. Why study grace?

 The reality is the Body of Christ is experiencing a grace awakening. A grace reformation, if you will. Now, grace is not just some message. There is no "grace camp". There really is no grace message. Grace is simply the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 Over the past hundred plus years God has simply been restoring truth back to the Body of Christ. Yet we turned these truths into movements, denominations, and sects to identify and divide ourselves. Even in the midst of this God was working. He was restoring truth that built upon each other.

 He restored the truth that we can have the power of the Spirit in our life. That He has provided healing for us. That He has bestowed gifts upon His Church. That His Word can be trusted and we can take Him at His Word. Now He is restoring the gospel to the Church.

 God in restoring the gospel is saying this. If you realize I have given you the power of my Spirit. If you see I have healed your bodies, I have bestowed supernatural gifts to confirm my Word. If you can see that you can take me at my Word. Then you can rest in me. You can abide in me knowing I have completed the Work. I am your faith and faithfulness. 

 God is simply putting Jesus back into the center of the message. The truth is He has always been there, but we haven't seen it. With this foundation I believe we should grow in our understanding of grace. 

 In this study I will focus on the different aspects of the gospel. I am not going in any order. Or emphasizing which truth is "more important" over another. With that lets begin.

An open Heaven or closed Heaven?

The Word of God in various places reveals actual events where the Heavens opened up. Some were literal and others were by way of an open vision. These are supernatural occurrences that we have no control over. Acts 7 where Stephen before being murdered for his faith in a vision saw the Heavens open and Jesus standing, is an example. These events have occurred as the Lord willed.

 There is a concept of an open Heaven regarding our access to God in Scripture. 
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts." Isaiah 6:1-5
 Under the Old Covenant we didn't have free access to God's presence. Look what held Isaiah back. He saw his own sin. He saw his own imperfections. Clearly, under the Old, performance, and obedience had much to do with access to God.

 We are in a New Covenant today. What does the Word have to say for us in the New about our access to God?
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

In the New Covenant we have free access to come before God. We can come before God anytime. I understand that God dwells inside us in the person of the Holy Spirit. However, we still pray to our Daddy God in the name of Jesus. In this sense we come before the Lord to find help and the answers we need. 

 Two things we can see in this passage. We come before God boldly. The only way one could come boldly would have to be because they have been made new. They're clean and forgiven and they know it. Secondly we see God's throne is a throne of grace.

 God's throne is not a throne of performance. It isn't a throne of judgment. It also isn't a throne of reward. You see rewards are wages paid for something earned. You don't want a relationship with God based upon rewards. This becomes a works and performance and wages expected in return relating between us and God. It shifts our relationship from Daddy and child to employer and employee.

 Under grace therefore do we abide under an open Heaven or a closed Heaven? Is it possible to abide under a closed Heaven in the New Covenant? I know religion perpetuates the idea we can. I have heard tradition bound philosophies proclaim this. 

Abiding under an open Heaven because of the Son

 When Jesus died on that Cross He declared it is finished. That veil that had hidden the presence of God was torn asunder. This reveals we always have free access to God's presence now. 

 I have heard teaching after teaching about what we need to do or accomplish in order to abide under an open Heaven. We must give so much. We must pray so much more often. We must be obedient to God's voice. Others say it this way. You gotta pay the price for an open Heaven over your life and ministry. That is not true because Jesus paid it all at the cross.

 Whenever you hear anyone proclaim you must do this first and then God will respond, know you're hearing Old Covenant teaching. Jesus has already made a way for us to enter in. Jesus has free access before God. We abide in Him. Therefore we have free access to God. 

 We are forgiven, cleansed and made pure by the blood. We can always enter boldly before the throne of grace. Our Daddy God desires us to come to Him. We therefore abide under an open Heaven. Disregard any teaching that has believers begging God to open the Heavens over them. We don't have to fast and pray for weeks for the Heavens to open. We don't have to give up TV or movies. We don't have to do anything. Jesus did enough. We rest in what He has done. We simply receive by His faith within, what grace already provided. This is growing in grace.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Some more truth about perfecting holiness

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

 In the last post I shed light on a mistaken idea that holiness is something we do or something me must accomplish. This concept has brought many into a struggling and striving and efforts based relationship with God. With so much positive feedback I felt impressed to continue shedding more light on this subject.

Perfecting holiness what does this mean? How do we live this out in our everyday life? I would like to, by way of illustration, reveal how we mature into who we already are in Him. In order to grow in God and His grace we must know who we already in Him.

 Look at what the Word tells us about ourselves.
By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all, Hebrews 10:10

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14
 It is repeated for our benefit. We are made holy once for all time when we receive the free gift of grace He freely purchased for us. Does 2 Corinthians and Hebrews then contradict each other then? Of course not. 

 The religious minded won't rightly divide the Word of God, therefore they see a distinction in Corinthians and Hebrews. The insecure and religious minded see us set apart only in the sense that we are saved not lost. Now we must work and strive to attain a state of being called holiness. 

 Hebrews 10 makes it plain. You who have received the Lord are perfectly made holy once for all time. It is who you already are. To perfect holiness is to simply mature into who you've been made already. The truth is there is no progressive sanctification. Jesus did a complete work. He finished it. He didn't say to be continued throughout your life based upon your efforts. 

 There is however, a progressive maturity into who we already are. 
My prayer is that our fellowship with you as believers will bring about a deeper understanding of every blessing which we have in our life in union with Christ Philemon 6
 I would like to now illustrate how this looks in our life. How we overcome habits and addictions to be who we are in Him. We will look at the life of two believers. Jack and Jill. Going uphill is the way many see perfecting holiness.

Who do you run to?

 Jack and Jill are believers in Christ. Jack secretly struggles with pornography addiction. Jill secretly struggles with bitterness. The question is who do they run to when they give in to addictions and habit?

Running to the Law

 Jack just gave into his addiction. He feels terrible. Jack runs to the Law. He pours over the Bible for the "thou shalt nots". He confesses this sin in order to be forgiven at least five times. He begins a more hardened regimen of looking to the Law to perfect him. 
 Jill has just had another episode of being bitter because someone else got that promotion. She goes to the Law and sees her faults and feels condemnation. She feels guilt will motivate her to overcome this habit. Both Jack and Jill eventually burn out trying to measure up to the standard of Law.

Running to hyper holiness, rules over relationship 

Again Jack has fallen and given into his addiction. He runs to hyper holiness. He knows he must do something. He must work and strive harder to achieve holiness. So Jack gives away his computer. He turns off cable and gets rid of his smart phone. He has removed the means to fulfill his addiction, yet the desire is still present. When Jack is out of town on business he is overcome by temptation and views porn on the motel TV. He vows to work harder.
 Jill has another episode of being bitter. Her bitterness over situations makes her unpleasant to be around at times. She realizes this and runs to rules looking for a strategy. Jill, begins to smile more and through hard work makes herself say nice things. She refuses to have an opinion. All the while inwardly she struggles with bitterness. 

Running to Jesus and His grace

 Jack has fallen again. Jack is fed up with addiction ruling his life. He runs to the Lord. Jesus reveals to Him he is the righteousness of God regardless of his actions. The Spirit reminds him continually, especially when temptation arises, that Jesus has so much better for him. Jack sees Jesus as He is now. He is not struggling with porn. Jack begins to identify with Jesus. He begins to identify with who God already made him. That addiction falls away and Jack is living free. He is maturing into who he already is.
 Jill runs to God to remove this bitterness within. God reveals how much He loves her. He shows how special and righteous she is. He pours His love to overflow in her heart. She realizing how much she is loved and how much she has been forgiven exudes that love to others now. She sees grace as the supply and rules and Law as demanding but not equipping. 

 This is maturing in Christ. The Law only reveals our inability. Rules over relationship is what the religious minded desire. Just give me a set of rules and I can function better. That is not relationship. In grace we have a living, active relationship with our Daddy God. His love within reveals how we should conduct ourselves.  
 This is the truth about perfecting holiness. It is a maturing into who we are inwardly. It is not a strenuous effort either. It is a joyous and exciting life. Aren't you tired and worn out trying to earn and achieve a state of perceived perfection? Let grace take you up and let go of Law and performance. You are accepted and loved by Daddy God. By acknowledging all we have and who we are in Christ we grow up in grace.