The hidden man of the heart – Part 3

In this series of articles, we have been looking at what the Bible calls “the hidden man of the heart” , which refers to man’s spirit (1 Peter 3). We read that our spirits were dead due to sin but were made alive through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2). The old satanic nature that we received from Satan was put to death on the cross and we have received the nature of God, divine nature; our spirits were made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Part 2, we saw that true beauty is the beauty of the heart or spirit. Outward beauty does not impress God; beauty of spirit captivates Him and is precious to Him.

In this article we will look at what we possess (own) in our spirits. Remember that what proceeds out of you is what you have within you. What you possess, you can dispense, you can minister to others. When we lay hands upon people, we are ministering what is in our spirits – the glory of God, the righteousness of God, the life of God, the Spirit of God.

1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God”. He who has Jesus or has received Jesus as Lord has eternal life. You are a possessor of eternal life; you have it, it is yours eternally. This eternal life is in our spirits. Death in any form cannot touch us, we are full of the life of God; this life flows out of our spirits. Jesus said that out of our innermost being (spirit) would flow rivers of living water.

Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”. In Christ, we have, in Christ we possess redemption, we possess the forgiveness of our sins. We have redemption, it is ours, it is in our spirits. I possess it and no one can take it away. Look at the implication of this verse – redemption is a settled fact as far as I am concerned, I have entered into it, I have taken hold of it, it is mine. The Word of God tells me that both my spirit and body were purchased/redeemed with a price (1 Corinthians 6). My spirit and body enter into the effects of this redemption. I have been redeemed or bought out of the hand of Satan, I have been redeemed out of the hand of sickness, I have been redeemed out of the hand of sin. God owns me, I belong totally to him because He paid a price for me through the death of Jesus. Since He owns me, darkness in any form cannot invade my being. Satan stays far away for when He looks at me, He sees redemption stamped upon my body and spirit. I possess health, for healing is part of the redemption. I possess every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms for blessing is part of the redemption.

2 Peter 1:3,4 “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”.  I am a partaker of the divine nature; I possess the nature of God. Christ dwells in me, I possess Him and He possesses me. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 says “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”. If anyone does not possess the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to God. We possess the Spirit of Christ since we have received Him into our spirits. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him“. Upon salvation, we not only receive the remission of our sins and a new spirit but we are made completely righteous. This verse does not just speak of receiving righteousness as a deposit but says that we have been made righteousness. We have not just received righteousness, we have been made the righteousness of God, we have been made as righteous as God Himself.

One of the distinct marks of the Christian life is the consciousness of righteousness. As a saint of old said “Righteousness is the ability to stand confidently in God’s presence without any sense of sin or guilt or condemnation or inferiority”. We not only possess righteousness, we have been made the righteousness of God itself, which enables us to stand in God’s presence as equal in righteousness. Do note here that you can never be seated with Christ in the heavenly places if you were not made as perfectly righteous as Christ is righteous. Let this truth sink in.

Under the Old covenant, the sacrifices of bulls and goats were so deficient that they covered sin but could not take away sin-consciousness. It required a perfect sacrifice to take away sin-consciousness and bring in righteousness-consciousness. Hebrews 10:1-4 says “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins”. This is the wonder of the New covenant, of the sacrifice of Jesus. His sacrifice, made once and for all, obtained an eternal redemption. It made us perfect forever. It was perfect, hence could take away the consciousness of sin and bring in the consciousness of righteousness. Most of the church is ineffective today because of this consciousness of sin. It plagues the individual, keeps him ineffective and stunts his growth. All because we have not understood the sacrifice of Jesus, His blood and the fact that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ simply by faith.

Romans 5:21 says “so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Receive this truth – once you have turned to Christ, grace can only rule or reign when you have this continual sense of righteousness. It is grace that makes us the righteousness of God, the same grace reigns in us when we walk in the consciousness of this righteousness. The greater your sense of righteousness, the greater the grace of God. Whoever receives this righteousness instantly becomes a ruler, he reigns in this life through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

The Christian is called “a new creation”. You and I are new creations, we are a new class. Jesus and the believer form a new class of being (one new man) – the Christian, a son of God. He is no longer the old sinner but has been made new. He is no longer conscious of his past, of his sinfulness, but is conscious of the righteousness of God. The old has passed away, the past has been remitted, it is under the blood, he is thoroughly washed and sanctified by the blood, all things have become new. He is a possessor of a new nature, a possessor of eternal life, a possessor of redemption and is as righteous as God is righteous.

Let us reign in this life through Jesus Christ. All creation is groaning as in the pains of childbirth waiting for the sons of God to be revealed.

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The hidden man of the heart – Part 2

The Bible calls the spirit of man “the hidden man of the heart”. In this article, we will look at the beauty of the spirit.

1 Peter 3:1-4 KJV – “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror”. 

Now, look at the same passage in the AMPC –

“In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, 

When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your [a]reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].

Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;

But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.

For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependent upon them].

It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority). And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you]”.

 

Reading the instruction to wives in the AMPC will open many eyes. I am not going to comment on the passage providing instruction to wives, but would like to focus on the hidden man/person of the heart.

The industry that caters to human vanity is a multi-billion dollar industry. This industry somehow seems to do well whether there is an economic downturn or not. The businessman sees a goldmine in people’s obsession with themselves and their looks. So much effort is put into the beautification of the body that is only natural for some businessman to take advantage of it and make some money in the process. You would have noticed when you read Part 1 of this article that sin turned man’s focus away from God to his body, he was instantly aware of his nakedness. Small wonder then, when we find that the body seems to take centre-stage for the unregenerate person or the carnal Christian. When one sees the focus being placed on one’s appearance today, it makes one wonder whether God did a good job when He created us. Some will not be caught dead without make-up. In fact, we would find it hard to recognize some of of our acquaintances if they showed up without make-up. The dark skinned individual wants a fairer skin, the flat nosed person wants a sharp nose, the short person wants to be tall, the black haired person wants blonde hair, the small eyed person wants larger eyes and on and on it goes and covers most parts of the body. “If only I were” or “if only I had” is the “impossible-to-meet” longing of the soul. The natural outcome of this obsession is money spent on our looks and make-up and on “lifting” parts of our bodies that we deem to have “fallen”, including our faces, which undergo face-lifts. When there is not enough money to bring emancipation through “lifting”, we settle down into low self-esteem, an inferiority complex, self-hatred and depression. Wisdom does seem to come in with age however, and we realize the futility of this pursuit, so we tend to resign to our “fate” over time.

If only we took as much care of our spirits as we do of our bodies!

The passage above highlights “inner beauty”, the beauty of the inner man, of the spirit of man and shows us that this is the beauty that is precious to God, the beauty that draws and keeps His attention. This is the beauty that is incorruptible, it does not wear with age. It is unfading, you don’t need to wash it off at night and put it on again in the morning. Do meditate on the Song of Solomon – it is an allegory of God’s love for His church and how He sees the church. Song 2:10-14 goes this way –

My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
11 For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!

14 “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

It is God’s opinion of you that matters, not what people say! And God’s opinion is based on what He sees in your spirit!

 

The beauty of your spirit is precious to God, He is captivated by it, it enthralls Him. He does not look at outward appearance, He looks at the heart. He is not worried about whether you are fat or thin, short or tall, white-skinned or dark-skinned. He looked at the hearts of the brothers of David and found no beauty there. He looked at David and was captivated by what He saw there. He saw a worshipper, a seeker of God, one quick to repent, one who recognized his total dependence upon God, one who would do the will of God.

Jesus looked at Nathaniel and said “Behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile”. He saw the spirit of Nathaniel and saw that there was no deceit, no guile, He saw complete integrity.

He saw the spirit of the Pharisees and the deceit there when they tried to trap Him with seemingly innocent questions. He saw the hypocrisy in their spirits and pronounced woe upon them.

John the Baptist saw the hearts of the Pharisees and called them a brood of vipers. Peter looked at Simon the sorcerer and saw that he was bound with bitterness and iniquity.

“The eyes of the Lord run to and from throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9″. He looks for the loyal heart/spirit and then displays His might in their lives.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13”. He sees your spirit.

This beauty of 1 Peter 3 comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, a meek and quiet spirit. We see here that the qualities of gentleness, meekness and peace (rest) are what beautify our spirits. God knows we can all do with more of it!

A proud, contentious and rebellious spirit is not only repulsive to people but is repulsive to God too.

We can adorn ourselves, whether men or women, with this inner beauty in our spirits and gain favor with God. Since the qualities that beautify our spirits are from the Holy Spirit, we must seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22,23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. It is only the Holy Spirit who can truly produce beauty in our spirits. It is by yielding to the Spirit of God, not insisting on our rights and putting the flesh to death by the Spirit that we can obtain this beauty. 

Psalm 90:17 – “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands”.

The hidden man of the heart – Part 1

The Word of God speaks of our spirits as being the “hidden man of the heart”, the “inner man”, the “inward man”, the “heart”. Man was created a spirit being like God, given a body through which he could contact the material world by means of his senses and a soul, which is the capacity to reason and interpret what his senses tell him. The soul simply began to function when the spirit entered Adam’s body. When the spirit departs, the soul ceases to function.

When Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, he partook of Satan’s nature in his spirit. You will remember Jesus saying (John 8:44) that the Pharisees were of their father the devil (they had the devil’s nature) because of which they had the urge to do what the devil desired. If you examine the temptation of Adam, you would notice that the temptation sought to shift Adam’s focus from God to himself; he was made the object of his own attention, identical to what happened to Satan before his fall (Read Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28). Once he sinned, his first realization was that he was naked; his attention or focus had shifted totally inward, to his body, to himself, self became king. Selfishness was the new norm; “I, me and myself” were in charge; nothing mattered more than self-gratification, self-preservation and self-fulfillment. One would only need to look at mankind today to realise that selfishness and self-centredness rule men. Look at how much of man’s attention today is towards the body and towards fulfilling its desires (the industry that caters to vanity is a multi-billion dollar industry). This satanic nature in man’s spirit could never be eradicated except when sin is paid for. It is this satanic nature that rules man today. In Ephesians 2, Paul calls it “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience”. We see the effects of this nature in wars, cruelty, murders, oppression, pride, lust, anger, human trafficking and every other wicked deed. Man has tried to get rid of this satanic nature through religion, through fasting, through prayer, through self denial and various other ascetic practices but to no avail. All of man’s attempts to bring world peace or love will never succeed until the satanic nature that is in man has been dealt with. The United Nations can’t, Communism can’t, one monetary currency can’t, a one world religion can’t. Man’s attempts at producing behavioural change in human beings without dealing with the nature of man are simply exercises in futility. Changing the culture or changing one’s religion does not change the game, changing human nature does. That however, is beyond man; it will have to be God who initiates it, God who effects it and God who sustains it.

The logic behind the solution is simple – sin was what caused man to partake of Satan’s nature. Sin must be dealt with, the satanic nature removed and a new nature imparted to man. The only acceptable way for a just God to deal with sin is when sin is paid for. If man were to pay for sin, justice would demand eternal separation from God. So, because of His great love for man, God took on flesh in Jesus Christ, became human, lived on the earth a sinless life,  went to the cross, bore our sins and sicknesses and died as the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice for sin. He was buried, descended into hell, confronted Satan in hell, defeated Satan and death, rose from the dead and is seated in Heaven. His sacrifice is the payment for sin. Everyone who believes in Him receives remission of sin (the removal of past sin) and a new nature, God’s own nature. The Bible shows us that our old satanic nature was crucified or put to death when Jesus was crucified on the cross. It also shows us that whoever believes in Him receives the gift of eternal life which is God’s life; we partake of God’s nature, we become children of God since we have His nature in us. Our spirits are made new; the old satanic nature has passed away. We are a new creation because of Jesus Christ. We are made as righteous as Jesus is righteous, as holy as Jesus is holy. God comes to live within us and as we learn to communicate with Him and submit to Him, we demonstrate the nature of Christ.

A word of caution, however. Although we have partaken of God’s nature and eternal life and our spirits have been made new, it is not necessarily a case of living happily ever after. Our minds, our thinking, our wills, our reasonings, our attitudes, motives and bodily desires that have been conditioned by years of satanic influence, the influence of the world and our own experiences have to be made subservient to this new nature. This is a process and requires us to feed on God’s word, the Bible and be filled with God in order for change to be effected here. For instance, when we were apart from Christ, we had been conditioned over the years to react or respond to situations in a certain way. Lets say we used to respond to a certain situation in anger. Now, as a recipient of a new nature, unless I train my soul to be subservient to this new nature, I tend to respond in the same way. I find that this kind of angry response, which used to be normal, now causes a jolt or a jarring in my spirit. There is a check in my spirit as a result, my relationship with God is affected unless I deal with it through repentance. As life goes on, I learn to deny the old habits and submit to this new nature in order to maintain my fellowship with God. The Bible calls this process “Christ being formed in you”.

We are children of God because of Jesus Christ – we possess the nature of God, God is our Father, His life is in us, He has come to live within us, He speaks through us, He moves in us, He is at work in us, He works through us. We can never be separated from God because God is not just with us, He is within us. We can never be defeated in life because we have His life. We can never see spiritual death because we possess eternal life. Circumstances can never overpower us for we are more than conquerors through Jesus.

Thanks be to God, for He is our salvation through Jesus Christ.

 

 

Consciousness of God’s presence

As I look back on my life since the time I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ over 30 years ago, I find that my Christian experience has been undergirded and sustained by 3 basic disciplines –

  1. Meditation in the Word of God
  2. Praying in the Spirit and worship
  3. Consciousness of God’s presence

Meditation in the Word and prayer in the Spirit need no further elaboration as they have been dealt with extensively both in my messages and in every good Pentecostal church in general. I do find, however that clarity is needed on what is meant by “the consciousness of God’s presence” because it seems to be such an intensively subjective experience and not something that is clearly explained in the Scriptures. I also hope that this explanation would serve to make the topic clear and help fellow sojourners in their pursuit of God.

As human beings, we are primarily governed by our senses, our experience of life is determined by our senses, we are sense led. These senses are those of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. The information we receive through the senses is processed by our minds, emotions and wills, which in turn determine our reactions, attitudes and behaviour. The 5 senses are functions or perceptions of the body while the mind, will and emotions are the functions of the human soul. The Bible speaks of another aspect to man, which is his spirit. The spirit of man is who he really is. It helps to see man as a spirit who dwells in a body and has a soul. When the spirit of man is present in the body, the soul is able to function. When the spirit departs, the body is dead. The Word of God tells us that God created man of the dust of the ground, breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul. Here, you see that the soul began to function when the spirit entered the body. The spirit has a sense too. The spirit is able to sense or be conscious of supernatural beings or places. The spirit of a person without Christ is spoken of as being “dead” in that it is unable to either sense or commune with or know God. Upon receiving Jesus as Lord, man’s spirit is made alive and is able to be conscious of the presence of God, good and evil, angels and demons, light and darkness.

As Christians, we are primarily able to be conscious of God through our spirits. We are able to be conscious of God’s presence in our bodies – we experience the effects of God’s presence in our bodies; look at John falling down in the presence of Jesus as though dead. We are also able to be conscious of God’s presence in our souls; a sudden sense of deep peace or joy (In His presence is fullness of joy). Remember the priests could not enter the temple Solomon built because the glory of God had come upon the temple. The glory of God was something tangible, a spiritual substance that prevented them from physically entering the temple.

Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in our spirits; He is the one who makes our spirits alive. We are immersed in the Holy Spirit when we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit; He endues our spirits with supernatural power. Now, in addition to our physical senses, we have a spiritual sense that is activated; this spiritual sense can be conscious of the supernatural world. The Bible says that we can only know God in our spirits. The things of God are understood in our spirits; the natural man does not understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned. Our spirits are fed with spiritual food, the Word of God and spiritual water, the Spirit of God.

Since God dwells in our spirits, we should be conscious of His presence at all times, right? Well, no! We are conscious of His presence at certain times such as prayer, worship or a church service, but not all the time. The reason is because sense knowledge so governs our lives that it takes a conscious effort to prevent sense knowledge from interfering with the functioning of our spirits. One of the biggest battles we will face is the battle where the soul fights to keep the spirit subservient to it. The Word of God is able to sever between soul and spirit; sometimes, it takes a crisis to break the grip of the soul over the spirit. Emancipation here, however enables the spirit to dominate the soul and body. That is how God intended us to function.

Now, getting to “the consciousness of God’s presence”. You must have gleaned by now that this is a discipline. We learn to allow the spirit to dominate the soul. We learn to look beyond what the senses tell us – tune ourselves to what our spirit is trying to say; tune ourselves to listen to our spirit and to the Holy Spirit who dwells in our spirit. God’s presence is within us, discipline enables us to be conscious of His presence not just during times of prayer or worship but during the routine affairs of life. Decisions we make are now not only determined by what our physical senses tell us but by what our spirits tell us. I never make any major decision unless I have checked with the Holy Spirit who dwells in my spirit and with the Word of God. God’s presence is not just within us, it is also manifest when the church is gathered together and when the Spirit chooses to manifest Himself. There will be occasions when God’s presence is imparted to us in a greater measure either to equip us or to reveal Himself to us or to meet a specific need or simply to satisfy the longing in our hearts.

The more we practice this discipline, the greater will be our experience of God and the greater our stability in this Christian life. The other disciplines of meditation in the Word, worship and prayer boost our consciousness of God’s presence. It does go without saying that there ought to be a conscious refusal to allow our minds to be occupied with the things of this world, every thought must be taken captive and brought under submission to the Lordship of Christ. The devil easily keeps people from this experience by keeping them occupied in their minds, and by throwing his fiery darts at the mind. Not for nothing does the Bible show us that the mind is a battlefield. Most of your battles are waged in the theatre of the mind. Anything less than victory here will keep you in a perpetual state of mediocrity in your pursuit of God. Praying in tongues and meditation in the Word are great assets in establishing and sustaining this victory.

I am just sharing what I believe will help other Christians in their walk with God. I may have left some terms unexplained due to space constraints, but I hope to have explained the topic sufficiently to stimulate thought and spur you to lay hold of this experience.

I certainly do not speak as one who has attained or as one who is perfected but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. I have a long way to go in this discipline of being conscious of God’s presence, but am glad to have begun and to have made some progress here.

Until you know

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon describes a time in his life (Daniel 4) when he was “flourishing in his palace” and saw a dream that made him afraid. That dream was accompanied by many thoughts and imaginations that troubled him, hence he sought to find out the meaning of the dream by calling in all of his wise men and explaining it to them. They could not. Then he called for Daniel and asked him to explain the dream.

10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed:

I was looking, and behold,
A tree in the midst of the earth,
And its height was great.
11 The tree grew and became strong;
Its height reached to the heavens,
And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.
12 Its leaves were lovely,
Its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches,
And all flesh was fed from it.

13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus:

‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Let the beasts get out from under it,
And the birds from its branches.
15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze,
In the tender grass of the field.
Let it be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.
16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of a beast,
And let seven times pass over him.

17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’

 

Daniel explains that Nebuchadnezzar would be the tree that would be chopped down. He says that the decision to cut down the tree was taken by the “watchers” – apparently significant inhabitants of heaven. While the dream portrays the message to be the outcome of a decree of the watchers (vs17), Daniel shows it to be a decree of the Most High (vs24). The watchers who sat together in the court of heaven had pronounced a sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar. This sentence was actually God’s sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar that was pronounced by the watchers.

This sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar came to pass at the end of 12 months as he looked out around him and ascribed his success and prosperity to his own abilities.

“While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.””

Nebuchadnezzar was driven from his palace. “he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.”  Something happened to him that caused his understanding and reason to be taken away (vs 34 and 36). He had lost his sanity. He lived out in the open among the beasts of the field, ate grass like oxen and was ungroomed. The Word tells us that this state continued for 7 years until he understood that he was just a man and that God was in control of the kingdom of men. At the end of 7 years, his sanity was restored and so was his kingdom. He had learnt his lesson.

The key phrase here is in verse 32 – “until you know”. Until you know your own frailty, your own mortality, your own helplessness, your own inability, your total dependence on God. Until you know that God is God.

It took Nebuchadnezzar 7 years. It takes many of us much longer.

In fact, many of us wander in the wilderness of independence for years, refusing to face our own inadequacies or ugliness of self-effort, refusing to be brought to the place of surrender, battling with many giants some of whom simply receive stature and power from our own self-centredness.

Let me repeat that. We empower some of the giants we battle by our own refusal to die to self.

The greatest battle of all is not with the devil nor with the world nor with the flesh, but with the Holy Spirit. He seeks to bring us to the place of deliberate surrender and dependence upon God while we fight Him tooth and nail every step of the way, refusing to give up the ghost.

There are struggles that we face, storms that we pass through, problems that we grapple with, issues beyond our control that wreck the peace, repeated failures that occur “until we know”. No amount of praying will calm the storm. Fasting will do little to help. Throwing out the cargo won’t help. God will seem far away. He is waiting.

He is waiting for us to know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men. He is waiting for us to come to an end of ourselves, to an end of our strength, to an end of our wisdom, to an end of our dependence upon our capabilities. He is waiting for us to count our qualifications and accomplishments  as rubbish.  He is waiting for us to come to the place where we seek to gain Christ and to know Him above all else. He is waiting for our vision to die, our striving to cease, our power to fail, for the grain of wheat to fall to the ground and die, for our frailty to be exposed, for us to see ourselves for who we are and to see God for who He is. He is waiting for the soul to completely cease from self-effort and to be fully surrendered to the Saviour.

I like the word “brokenness”. It is the place that the Spirit leads every Christian to, a Peniel designed just for us. It is the place where the wretchedness and inadequacy of self is displayed for personal viewing, seen and put to death, the place where the alabaster box is broken, the place where the Spirit has prevailed. It is the place where the Lordship of Christ has been consciously applied to every part of our beings. Then the countenance lights up with radiance, a radiance that proceeds only from the one who is truly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, a radiance that the unbroken can never possess. From the broken there emanates the fragrance of Christ, not the nauseating stench of a mixture between self and the Spirit. Here, dead flies do not putrefy the perfumer’s ointment causing it to give off a foul odour. The aroma of Christ freely dissipates from such a one, the unadulterated perfume of Christ.

He is waiting for us to see Him as He is; to see the Jesus as revealed at Patmos instead of the Jesus at Bethlehem or the Jesus at Calvary. We have always been fixated with the Jesus at Bethlehem and the Jesus at Calvary but have’nt been so with the resurrected and ascended Jesus, who dies no more for death has no dominion over him. He is waiting for us to move camp from Bethlehem to Calvary, to the Mount of Olives, to the upper room and to Patmos. He is waiting for us to be as the Greeks who simply said to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus”.

Until we have come to an end of ourselves and have seen Jesus for who He is.

To see Jesus as the visible image of the invisible God, the eternal Word by whom all things were created and who sustains all things by the Word of His power. To see Him as the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth, at whose name every knee bows in heaven, earth and under the earth. The excellence of the knowledge of Christ, the spirit to spirit communion, the apprehension of His salvation, the union with Him is sufficient to count all things as loss and to suffer the loss of all things.

A fresh vision of Jesus is sufficient to change your Christianity and give it fresh impetus and meaning. Time spent looking for Jesus in the gospel of John, Colossians, Hebrews, Ephesians and Revelation with the NLT will do more for your soul than the reading of many books, the listening of many sermons or the scramble from one meeting to another. Climb that sycamore tree, press in through the crowds, open that roof and get in, leave all, come at night, speak to Him from your cross, cry out like Bartimaeus, throw away your cloak, reach for the hem of his garment, walk on the water, beat your body and make it your slave, take up your cross and go after him, be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! It is worth it.

God wants to bring us to the place of brokenness, that place of yieldedness, surrender and “knowing” of both ourselves and Himself. This is the place where the Spirit of God has prevailed over self, where the spirit has been forever severed from the restraints of the soul, where we have entered into true rest, a ceasing of self-effort and the place of simple reception of the salvation offered by Jesus. This place can be reached either by being taught by the Lord or by simply following Nebuchadnezzar’s footsteps.

There is a Nebuchadnezzar in each of us that has to come to the place of knowing. May it be sooner rather than later. That will benefit us, the church, the world and God. That alone will enable us to bear lasting fruit.

 

 

Musings on divine health

1 Corinthians 6: 15-20 :

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,”He says, “shall become one flesh.”17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I would like to list some key points from this passage for your edification –

  1. vs 15 – Our physical bodies are members of Christ. Our physical bodies are plugged in to the spiritual body of Jesus. Therefore his life must flow into our physical bodies. What is the implication of this fact? Should we expect to be in divine health because of the fact that the life of Jesus saturates our physical bodies?
  2. vs 17 – He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Upon salvation, we are joined to the Lord and become one spirit with Him. My spirit is “dissolved” in Christ’s spirit and we are indistinguishably, inseparably united. John Sandford says that our spirit fills the body as water does a sponge not as water fills a glass container. Therefore, should I expect to live in divine health because the sprit of Jesus fills my body as water does a sponge?
  3. vs 19 – Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the light of the explanation in point number 2 above, our bodies are saturated with the Holy Spirit, every fibre, organ, muscle, ligament, tissue and cell is saturated with the Holy Spirit. Should I expect to be healed of every sickness and live in divine health as a result?
  4. vs 20 – For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Our bodies were bought with a price, the blood of Jesus. It is not just our spirits that were bought with the blood of Jesus, our bodies were too. Jesus’ life was given up so that our bodies could be purchased by God, that God might own our bodies and make them His dwelling place. Should’nt every cell come alive as a result? The Word asks me to glorify God with my body. Was’nt it the healing of the blind man in John 9 and not his blindness that glorified God? Would a sick body glorify God? Certainly not. It is only an undefiled body and a  sickness free body that will glorify God. Hence, should’nt I expect to live in divine health?

Look at God’s purpose for our bodies – he bought them at the price of the blood of Jesus, made them His dwelling place, saturated them with His Holy Spirit, made them part of Christs’ body and desires that our bodies glorify Him through holy living and sickness free living.

Think about it.

Use the name of Jesus to repeatedly command healing to the members of your body that “did’nt get the message” of Christ’s salvation.

 

Some thoughts about the name of Jesus

Jesus is able to grant salvation to those who believe, have repented of sin and have received him as Lord just because He won a decisive victory through his death and resurrection. This salvation includes the forgiveness of sin, breaking of sin’s power over the believer, deliverance from Satan’s dominion, freedom from the bondage of death, healing from sickness, freedom from the curse, blessing, eternal life, empowerment to be witnesses, power and authority over the kingdom of darkness, over sickness, over the curse, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and an impartation of the nature of Jesus.

The overwhelming victory of Jesus over sin, Satan, sickness, the curse and death and his authority in Heaven and earth is both contained in His person and contained in his name. His name contains his salvation. That is why at his name every knee in heaven and on earth bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord. Satan bows at the mention of the name of Jesus. So does every sickness, every disease, every pain, every curse, nature itself and even death. The use of his name must produce the same results as when He himself were present.

When the disciples returned from an assignment Jesus had given them in Luke 10, they were so glad that “even the demons submit to us in your name”. The use of the name of Jesus brought demons under submission to the disciples. The demons recognised both Jesus and the fact that his name contained authority.

Similarly now, the use of the name of Jesus bring demons, sickness, disease, pain, curses and nature under submission to the believer. The centurion who sought the healing of his servant saw sickness as being under the authority of Jesus. He had no doubt that sickness had no choice but to obey Jesus.

There is power in the name of Jesus when it is used by those who believe and are submitted to his Lordship. Every kind of sickness must submit to me when I use the name of Jesus for his name releases his victory over sickness. Peter and John, when explaining the healing of the lame man at the gate “Beautiful” (Acts 3:16) said that it was the name of Jesus that enabled the lame man to be healed – “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know.” The name had released healing virtue. Similarly the name releases deliverance, blessing and freedom from sin. Jesus said in Mark 16:17,18 – “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” The name would release such supernatural power. A lump of incense, when heated, releases such a powerful fragrance. That which is contained within the incense is released. Similarly, salvation, which is contained within the name of Jesus is released when his name is spoken in faith.

The disciples of Jesus have been authorised to use his name in prayer, in dealing with sickness, demons, curses, nature and death. The next time you are confronted by an obstacle of any kind (not caused by your own sin, of course!) or a need or in the preaching of the gospel, use the name of Jesus with boldness; it is guaranteed to produce results.

 

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

My daughter leaves today to get back to University thousands of miles away. I vividly remember this time last year when I was struggling with the decision of whether to send her to University that far away. I needed to hear God. I was not going to send her anywhere away from me without hearing from Him, without an assurance from Him. I did not believe then, and I do not believe now in doing things “by faith” concerning major decisions. Faith only comes into play when you have heard from God. Once you have heard, you believe, speak it and act on it. That is faith. Hence my predicament – I had not heard God. I was keenly aware of many Christians who “drowned” as they attempted to walk on water without hearing the instruction to do so. All because they were taught to do it “by faith”. They had not heard God, therefore He was not bound to take care of them, period.

I agonized over the decision for a long time and delayed it for as long as I could – I did’nt want her to go away from home and yet I wanted her to get a good education. This until God spoke to me from Mark 12:26 – “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” As I meditated on this verse of Scripture, I suddenly realised that the same God who was God to me over the length of my life had just promised me that He would be God to my daughters and to their children after them. While Abraham lived and even after his passing, the God of Abraham was God to Isaac. While Isaac lived and even after his passing, the God of Isaac was God to Jacob. In similar manner, the God who watched over me, protected me, taught me, helped me, healed me, saved me, delivered me, strengthened me, built me, empowered me and worked through me, would do the same for my children. The God who was my provider, healer, shepherd, ever present help, refuge, strength, Saviour, Lord, Master, deliverer, Father, Comforter and Teacher would manifest Himself in similar manner to my children.

That was all I needed to hear. We paid her fees and sent her away to University. This was last year. God took good care of her the whole of last year; He looked after her as the apple of His eye.

That is all you need to hear too. The same God, who has been your God, will be God to your children and their children after them. Seek to hear God in your situation; one Word from Him can change the way you handle your present and your future.

Well, she leaves tonight after spending 2 months with us on her summer break. I awoke from a good night’s sleep this morning with the phrase of this song playing in my mind – “Let go, my soul and trust in Him; the waves and wind still know his name”.  It is from the song “It is well”. I knew immediately that God was preparing me to release her once again. The wind and waves STILL know His name. Every wind and wave that may come my daughter’s way will STILL be calmed at the name of Jesus. John says ” the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Before darkness could comprehend what was happening, it was swallowed up by light. As I spent time in His presence, He was speaking to me and showing me specific verses of Scripture that speak of how He would take care of my children. I would like to share them with you today for I know in my spirit that this will enable you to enter into a place of rest in God concerning your children. Many are worried about their children and specifically about how they will fare in this wicked world; some are worried about their future, their studies, their marriages and the choices they will make. Some have children who are handicapped intellectually or are handicapped physically and are worried about who will take care of their children in the future.

Well, this message is specifically for you.

God, who has been God to you, is perfectly able to be God to your children and to their children after them. He never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let these verses of Scripture get deep into your spirit as you meditate on them so that you will forever be at rest concerning your children.

  1. Genesis 17:7 – “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
  2. Deuteronomy 1:39 – “‘Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.
  3. Isaiah 54:13 – “All your children shall be taught by the LordAnd great shall be the peace of your children.
  4. Isaiah 59:21 – ““As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.””
  5. Isaiah 44:3-5 – “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendantsAnd My blessing on your offspringThey will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.’ One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ And name himself by the name of Israel.
  6. Mark 12:26 – “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
  7. Hebrews 8:10,11 – “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

You will be able to find more verses of Scripture that speak of the blessing that your children will receive. Look them up and meditate on them until they enter your spirit.

So we will go to the airport to send her off this evening. While the world seems hell-bent on creating more and more conflict and hurtling towards self-destruction and I see my daughter pass out of sight beyond the Immigration counter and walk out into that wicked world, I have the peace that surpasses understanding, the peace of Jesus who said “My peace I give unto you”, knowing that my daughter will face this world and overcome it for greater is He that is in her, than He that is in the world. She will be a champion, for my God is her God and the Spirit of God is upon her. 

All this, simply because I heard God.

Your children too, will make it, they will enter their promised land, His Spirit will be upon them, they will be taught by the Lord, His word will be in their mouths, they will be blessed, they will know God and will overcome the world, for your God is their God too.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our God.

 

The paths of the destroyer

“Concerning the works of men, By the word of your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.” Psalm 17:4

The devil has set paths upon which he trods, fixed routes he traverses and dark habitations where he is most at ease. He exercises dominion in darkness, places devoid of the light of God. He loves darkness for darkness allows him to remain hidden and does not reveal his nature. Similarly, people whose deeds are evil love darkness, hate the light and do not want to come to the light lest their deeds be exposed (John 3:19,20).

The Word speaks of acts of darkness (1 John 1:6), the love of darkness (John 3:19), walking in darkness (John 8:12), darkening of understanding (Ephesians 4:18), the works of darkness (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8-14), the things of darkness (1 Corinthians 4:5), sitting in darkness (Matthew 4:16), being in darkness (1 Thess 5:4,5), darkness in the body and spirit (Matthew 6:22,23), the power of darkness (Col 1:13), the rulers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12) and the acts of darkness (1 John 1:6). Darkness is essentially the atmosphere or environment created by sin. Thats what the devil and his demons love – the atmosphere of sin.

The devil can only access what is in darkness, wherever that darkness may be found, even if it is within the child of God. (Francis Frangipane) We will do well to understand this statement. The devil can only access that which has not been brought out into the light, that which is kept hidden, that which has not yet been yielded to Christ Jesus. In fact the Word tells us that he who is in darkness and walks in darkness does not know where he is going, for the darkness has blinded his eyes (1John 2:11). Every work of the flesh that has not been confessed, repented of and put to death by the Spirit is an area of darkness, a seed of failure, a seed of self-destruction that will be accessed by the devil at some point in time. Take for example, the disciple of Jesus who is indulging in pornography or has bitterness or has an issue with anger or pride or envy or any other work of the flesh. After some effort to stop sinning in these areas and repeated failure, the disciple accepts this living as the norm and is content to live a defeated life assuming that every Christian has problems in some area of morality. This thinking is compounded by the unwillingness or failure of the man behind the pulpit to address defeated living and periodic stories of larger than life pastors succumbing to moral failures. All of these issues are potential failures, just setting up the believer for a fall, sooner or later.

Conflicts between husband and wife that are not brought out into the light, discussed and repented of are seeds of marital destruction. Be sure that the devil will seek these areas of darkness and will access it in “the evil day”. Thats his job, his life’s purpose and what comes naturally to him.

Take the issue of drinking alcohol. Having spent my youth exposed to strict Indian Pentecostalism, I was appalled to see the lax attitude of some churches in Malaysia when it came to the issues of drinking wine and alcohol, which are simply intoxicants. I cannot fathom why the teaching of King Lemuel’s mother in Proverbs 31 is taken so lightly. We crow about the virtuous wife depicted in the same passage but never seem to consider the first part of the passage – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink.” “Give strong drink to him who is perishing and wine to those who are bitter of heart.” Proverbs 31:4-6 I tell you, this is an area of darkness; bring it out into the light of Christ, lest it become your downfall. The body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

I am at times, surprised to see how some believers squirm when someone needs to use their mobile phones or computers. Strange, is’nt it? Why should I need to hide anything, apart from some things personal that are only relevant to the family? Hide something from my wife? Does your spouse have access to your phone? To your computer?

Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, not hidden that will not be made known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3.  From here, we see that the hypocrite has things to cover, things to hide, things that he speaks in the dark and things that are spoken in the ear in inner rooms. May the Lord protect us from hypocrisy!

The Psalmist says that it is only by living according to God’s word that we can keep ourselves from the paths of the destroyer. The destroyer cannot access the light. If we walk in the light, we are superior to darkness, the destroyer cannot afflict us in any manner. We will always have authority over darkness, for “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not (cannot) overcome it.” (John 1:5). Our God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. We are the light of the world, our presence will cause darkness to flee.

Jesus said “The prince of this world cometh and he has nothing in me.” (John 14:30) Jesus lived in the light. There was nothing dark in his life, the devil had nothing in him.

Permit the Word of God to determine the boundaries within which you live. Its instruction will be the “hedge” that protects us from the devil, the “wall” that protects us from being bitten by a snake. Let the Word determine the boundaries within which we remain while dealing with the opposite sex, when relating with fellow believers, when dealing with people of the world, when dealing with our families, when dealing with our money, when it comes to our attitudes and every other aspect of life. God wants the very best for us; He is not keeping something good from us. The devil convinced Eve that God was keeping something good from her and we all know what she did next.

We have a God who is willing to receive us and forgive our sins and bring us into the light, His light. The light is the only place that is safe. It is the only place where the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us, even of unconscious or sub-conscious sins. The light is the only place where fellowship is possible; if one is walking in darkness, then we end up only have a meeting or a social gathering at best. Both must walk in the light for true fellowship to take place.

So, saint of God, bring your whole life into the light. Set boundaries within which you live. This simple act will keep you from straying into the paths of the destroyer.