Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Fear

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

 We've been in an extended study as of late on the various opponents of Grace. Paul instructs us to stand fast in our liberty in Christ. Again I say if there is nothing opposing us there is no need to stand fast. 

 Today, I want to eradicate another opponent of Grace that afflicts so many's minds. Fear is a debilitating force that brings torment or the idea of punishment coming from God. Fear disables our walk with God, making us shrink back from trusting Him alone. Fear brings dread to our thinking. Dreading what tomorrow may bring. Fear is one of the greatest opponents of Grace. 

 Fear is those subtle thoughts of worry and anxiety. Did you know that worry is simply meditating on the thoughts, plans, and schemes of the wicked one? Instead of thinking long and hard about what could happen or entertaining the worst case scenario in your mind, turn to Jesus and His sure-fire weapon against fear.

The Opposite of Fear

 Coming from a Faith background I was always taught that fear is the opposite of Faith. However, as I studied this New Covenant I have seen that this is an inaccurate concept. This concept is an incorrect conclusion drawn by some because of the similarities of Faith and fear. Both Faith and fear meditate on words. Both Faith and fear act on what it believes. Both Faith and fear grow by hearing. 

 Faith meditates on God's Word. Faith comes and is developed by hearing God's Word. Faith will act upon what it believes, which is God's Word. Fear meditates or ponders over and over the lies of the enemy. Fear grows stronger by continually hearing the negative that this World reports, the doom, and gloom some "ministers" keep proclaiming, and the lies the enemy continually speaks. In one sense fear is Faith in reverse.

 Though Faith and fear have these similarities they are not the opposite of each other. If you study Paul's Epistles, you will clearly see the opposite of Faith is performance and works. We have a righteousness by Faith, not by works. 

 The opposite of fear is love, God's love. The Love of God drives out fear, see here. If we are in fear or dreading our tomorrow it's because we haven't believed in, accepted, and received the Love of God, that is His great love for us. 

 Fear tries to contaminate our Faith. Fear's subtle work is to attempt to get you to offer prayers in fear, riddled with anxiety, not in Faith. Think of this, we don't pray because the enemy is pressuring us. That's religion. We pray and commune with our Father because of relationship. We fellowship because of His perfect love for us not because despair is trying to overtake us. 

 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 KJV
 Fear comes to us these three ways. In the spiritual arena, the enemy whispering his lies. Through words that are spoken, either spoken over you or to you. Through the letter, meaning something written, books proclaiming doom and gloom, negative news reports, an unexpected bill. 

 What do we do in these instances? We cast down those lying words of the enemy and believe God's love for us is greater. When negative words are spoken, we don't receive them. We stand fast in our righteousness. When the letter comes, we don't embrace fear we believe what God says not the enemy or man's traditions. 

 This is why the enemy seeks to discredit the message of Grace, our righteousness in Him and the depth of His great love for us. Fear seeks to diminish your understanding of just how much God loves you. Fear questions, it brings doubt. Fear is saying "hath God really said?" Fear puts a question mark where God placed a period. 

 The Cross and Finished Work of Christ said those who believe are righteous and accepted and redeemed and eternally secure. Fear comes along and tries to transpose that period with a question mark.

 Fear: "Are you really righteous?" "What if this is a temporal righteousness?"  "If you sin the same sin continually you may no longer be righteous." "What if God is mad at you now?"

 Don't allow these thoughts to take root in you. Recognize fear. Fear tries to bring you to a place of despair. It says there is no hope. What does God say?
‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ Isaiah 41:10 AMP
When fear rears its ugly head daring to question what God has declared about you and what His Finished Work accomplished in you, rest in His perfect love for you and resist those thoughts. Understand your righteousness and stand strong in it. Fear will flee, here.

“You will be firmly established in righteousness: You will be far from [even the thought of] oppression, for you will not fear, And from terror, for it will not come near you. Isaiah 54:14 AMP

This is the good news. Being established in your righteousness in Christ and resting in God's love removes all fear. When you know you're irrevocably righteous, and that God always loves you what can fear convince you of? If God loves you why wouldn't He provide and care for you? If He loves you with an everlasting love, how could He hold your sins against you after Jesus already paid for them?

 In summation, fear is a deceptive root cause of many people's problems. The way to uproot this evil, lying force is to recognize your eternal righteousness and embrace His unconditional, everlasting love. Perfect love casts out all fear. Fear is a deep root but the deepest root of all is another opponent of Grace, which is Condemnation. We'll address this opponent in our next study, you don't want to miss it. 
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Shame

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

 We've begun a study exploring the many opponents of God's over the top, too good to be true but true, amazing Grace. Paul admonished us to stand fast in this liberty we have in Christ. No need to stand fast if there existed no opposition.

 Today, I want to expose yet another opponent of Grace. The vile, painful, humiliating feeling called shame. That wretched notion that plagues your mind accusing you always of being a failure and declares to you that you are filthy, dirty, just plain trash. Whenever we blow it or miss the mark these feelings attack our thinking. This is shame opposing your right standing before God.

11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:11 NKJV

 God isn't in the shame giving business. He is the one bestowing righteousness and forgiveness not dispersing shame. Sadly many see shame as the way correction comes.

 God is a good Father. He isn't shaming you to better you or to instruct you. Jesus is the shame remover. Grace makes us shame-free in Christ. 

 Today, in our modern secular society, many have turned shame into a mere buzz word. If one disagrees publicly with someone else beware you're now accused of shaming them. If your doctor tells you to lose weight because of health concerns such as diabetes or high blood pressure or heart disease beware that physician just shamed you. Don't allow hypersensitivity in a secular culture to mold your mind and adopt their definition of shame. 

 The challenge is if we accept this definition of shame we dilute the real definition of shame. Shame is a spiritual enemy. It isn't based on mere emotion. It is a destructive force from the enemy designed to hinder your growth in Grace. 

 Shame has a three pronged attack. First shame seeks to attach itself to you and your life so as to disqualify you. It says you're too far gone. You can't be used of God. You can't receive your healing or God's blessings. You are too far in sin for God to save you. 

 Secondly, shame attempts to hinder your influence. When you try to pray for someone else you sense your own limitations and failures. Shame says who do you think you are trying to lead someone to Jesus? You're a hypocrite, look at your life. Shame hinders us from ministering in the Gifts of the Spirit to the Church or bring healing to the infirmed. It says God won't answer your prayers. It puts up road blocks to your ministry. Write a book? Preach a sermon? You're unworthy! Shame is a cruel opponent.

 Lastly, shame targets our thought life and thinking. It replays our failures in our mind over and over. Think of the victims of sexual assault or any assault for that matter. The victim feels like it was their fault. It is especially cruel to men who are raped in prison settings or physically assaulted by another person. The thoughts plague their mind, you should have resisted more. Why did you not fight back? Why are you so weak? The number of actual male sexual assault victims are astronomical but because of shame, many won't say a thing. They just bottle up their pain.

 Shame seeks to stifle growth. Shame tries to cripple your walk in Christ. It doesn't just say that sin you committed was wrong but you are wrong and bad and just a worthless sinner. Tragic how religion feels shame is the best way to instruct God's Church. Religion points out your flaws, faults, and failures and figuratively rubs your nose in them. Grace reminds you of Jesus once for all sacrifice and Finished Work. Tradition says look at your sin, Grace shouts look at my Savior!

 We defeat shame by resting in our right standing in Christ. 
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NKJV

 Jesus bore our shame. He exchanged our failures with His triumph. He made us totally acceptable to our Father God. God is not looking upon your failures and shouting shame on you! Jesus bore all our sin and shame, God is satisfied with the once for all sacrifice of Christ Jesus. He isn't ashamed of us, our Father rejoices over us with exceeding gladness and joy. 

 In summation, shame is a cruel, cunning spiritual enemy and opponent of Grace. We steadfastly resist shame by looking to the triumphant Cross of Christ. Rest in the Finished Work. Knowing and understanding how the Finished Work of Christ applies to you and receiving the truth of our perfect right standing, complete redemption, total forgiveness, and full acceptance by our Father disarms shame in our lives and renders it harmless and ineffective in our growth in Grace. 
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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Opponents of Grace:Tradition

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

7 min 

We've begun a series examining the insidious opponents of the Grace of Almighty God. Paul the Apostle of Grace instructs us to stand fast in the liberty we have in Christ. If there exists no opposition or opponent why the need to stand fast?

 Today I want to expose yet another opponent of Grace. The slithering enemy of tradition. Tradition rears its ugly head when we aren't walking fully in the light of the Gospel. It seeks to fill the void. It attempts to fill in the blanks of areas we are unsure of. Sure we are righteous by faith, but tradition will add but righteousness under the New Covenant still has some behavioral aspect to it. 

 Now to clarify, tradition in and of itself is not always an enemy. For instance, family traditions around holiday times aren't detrimental. Tradition that is birthed by experience and exalts itself over truth is our opponent. The Gospel reveals Jesus heals, tradition looking at experience says nope, healing has been done away with today. 

Sinner saved by Grace?

 As an example when it comes to Grace, religious tradition says Christians are merely sinners saved by Grace. This is a classic case of tradition exalting itself over truth. Yes, they will say but didn't Paul say he was a chief sinner? That is lifting a comment Paul made out of its context and setting. Read that passage in a different translation other than King James and see it more clearly explained, here

 Paul was revealing the greatness of God's Grace in saving the worst of us. If He can save me, Paul says, then He can surely deliver and save you. What a glorious Gospel truth. Yet tradition seeks to rob us of identity. 

 The truth is we were a sinner. We got saved by His great Grace and are now the righteousness of God in Christ. Tradition responds, well only sinners need a Savior. True, and what happens after the Savior saves us? Does He leave us in the same state? Righteousness and unrighteousness can't co-exist in the same spirit. So the lie that believers have still have a sin nature is ludicrous and turns God's redemptive work into some partial, shoddy, half complete work. 

Of No Effect

 The Person of Grace, the Lord Jesus Christ had something to say about tradition.
13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 Tradition makes the Word, the truth of no effect in our lives. Let's see what Paul the Apostle of Grace says about tradition.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8 KJV

 Tradition makes void, brings to no effect God's truth in our lives. Sadly too many believers filter the truth through their traditions.  Yet, because of His mercy and goodness, God still responds to His people as much as they will allow. So how does God interact with those bound by tradition?

 I heard a great testimony of healing. Now, this event transpired many many years ago. A fellow had some severe pain abdominally. Well, this man of God prayed for his healing. The fellow had belonged to a Pentecostal church. As he ministered the Lord revealed that the brother hadn't been paying his tithes. As soon as he started paying them He supernaturally recovered. As I heard this, I was deeply disturbed. 

 Only God could've revealed that the brother wasn't paying tithes. The man of God who prayed was a traveling minister and didn't know the man. Had no knowledge of who he was or anything about his finances. So this healing occurred only after he paid tithes. I pondered this event. 

 I said, "Lord, there is no curse for not tithing." I said, "under the New tithing is not a requirement." Yet, God seemed to respond to this particular believer as if tithing was a requirement and he wasn't healed because of his lack of tithing. Then the Lord spoke to my heart a truth I have suspected to be true based on the experiences I've heard others share.

 He shared with me that He is loving and good and will interact, relate and address His people the way they come to Him. If you see God as a harsh taskmaster and come to Him as a timid servant, who is unworthy to even be in the same room, God will relate to you that way. The key is to understand God actually isn't this way. But that is the only way some people will relate to their Father. In a nutshell, God meets people where they are. He will send truth their way until one day they will embrace Him as the true Abba Father He really is. 

 I saw this, it bore witness with my spirit but I needed some scripture to back this up. The Lord immediately responded and told me to look at Matthew 15. See the account in Matthew here.

 What we see is a woman who is a Gentile. Jesus appearing under Law and ministering under the Old Covenant, was only sent to the children of Israel. She was living in the days before the New Covenant would be established that would grant access to all of God's blessings for Jew and Gentile alike. Yet, she wasn't content with waiting for that day to come. She had the faith that takes. She used her faith to reach beyond the current Covenant and into the New and take her child's deliverance and healing. Jesus commended her saying great is her faith.

 The Canaanite woman, while currently abiding under the Old, chose to relate to God as if she was abiding under the New and Jesus honored that. Thus proving beyond doubt God will relate to you as you come to Him. This is why we must defeat this opponent of tradition. Tradition will rob us of the full benefits of a rich fulfilling relationship with God.

 So many mix Law and Grace, blend the Old and New Covenant together and drink this confusing cocktail. They then see God in His mercy relating to them by this standard and sadly try to promote that this is the way to relate to God. In reality, all God is trying to do is to bring them to an end of themselves. An end to their works, efforts and performance and to just receive His Grace and goodness in its fullness. 

 Examine your own heart and thinking. Are you holding fast to the truth or merely embracing tradition? Is God relating to you as a harsh taskmaster? Is God holding you to some standard you created? The children of Israel at Mt. Sinai told God we can keep whatever command you give. God met them where they were and the result was 613 commands that no one can keep perfectly. 

 The answer to tradition is to embrace the will of God clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Look past your experience and with an open heart and mind and just accept what He said. He said you're righteous and not a sinner, just accept it. He said none of His will ever perish but be eternally secure forever, don't fight it, don't protest just agree and accept it. He declared you're forgiven once for all-time. Don't debate it just receive it. Readily receiving God's Word and not debating and arguing against it is how tradition is defeated in your life.
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