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.

 

 

The life of God

God’s purpose for our lives can be found in one verse of Scripture – Romans 8:29 “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Thats God’s purpose for your life – to be conformed to the image of Jesus. It is not just to use you in ministry, or to bless you, or to heal you, or to restore your dominion, or to deliver you from your difficulties or from sin or Satan. His ultimate purpose is to make us like Jesus – full of His nature and life.

Seen another way, it is to fill us with His life and express himself through us in character and power, so that we can be like Jesus.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 b”. The Greek word for life used in this verse is “zoe” which means “the life of God”. Why don’t we read that verse again using the actual meaning of “zoe”.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have the life of God, and that they may have the life of God more abundantly.” So, we see that Jesus came to make available to us the life of God. This verse also suggests that we can have this life of God in increasing abundance. Marvellous! What amazing possibilities to the one who believes! The life of God – the eternal, omnipotent, indestructible, sin destroying, disease destroying, unconquerable, holy life of God in the disciple of Jesus. That would make the man who carries this life a master, with dominion over the world, over Satan, over sin and over sickness and disease.

Lets look at some verses of Scripture along these lines and as we do, I would urge you to recognise the infinite possibilities laid before the disciple of Jesus, who chooses to believe  –

  1. John 1:4 – “In him was life and that life was the light of men.” The life of Jesus, when received, becomes light within us. Thats why Jesus said that we are the light of the world – because his life is the light within us. Jesus also said that the eye is the lamp of the body. If the eye is sound, the whole body is full of light. The eye here speaks of the human spirit. If the spirit is sound, the whole body is full of light (the darkness of sin or disease cannot enter the body). The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord (Proverbs 20:27) and, as in the verse above, the lamp of the body. When the life of Jesus comes in, the spirit is made alive or sound or is full of light. When the spirit of man is sound (full of the life of God), then the body is full of light. That means that as long as our spirits are filled with the life of God, disease cannot come near us. It also makes clear that as long as we are filled with the life of God, the darkness of sin cannot come in. Do you see these wonderful possibilities….if only we can believe?
  2. 1 John 5:11, 12 – “God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the son does not have life.” There is only one way to receive the life of God – by receiving Jesus. For, this life of God is only found in Jesus. As we have received Jesus, we have received the life of God – the eternal, all conquering, omnipotent life of God. Can you believe that? Can you regularly remind yourself of this amazing truth?
  3. 1 John 5:13 – 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,…..” This is vital – that you may know that you have eternal life, that you may know that you have the life of God within you, that you may know beyond a shadow of doubt. Do you? There is the life of God pulsating in each cell of your body, in your soul and in your spirit and it is God’s will that you enjoy this life in an increasing measure. It is God’s will for the Holy Spirit to provide life to your mortal body to sustain you through life’s journey until it is time to make the transition to your eternal home. (Romans 8:11).
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:15 – “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” Hey….hold on; I thought that I am part of the body of Christ because I am connected to Christ in my spirit. What does this verse say? This verse shows us that our BODIES are members of Christ. That means our bodies are part of Christ’s body. That means our bodies are recipients of the life of Jesus. That means our bodies – every cell and every organ and every blood vessel are continually vitalized and rejuvenated and made alive by the life of God. Sickness, disease and pain cannot come in. The “head and the body” and the “vine and branch” are two pictures of Christ’s relationship to us. In both these pictures, the same life passes through the body and the branch. For the body and the branch to be alive, life must flow. That life is what Jesus came to give.
  5. John 7:38 – “he who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” God’s plan is not just to make us a recipient of the life of God, but to make us “dispensers” or “ministers” of the life of God. This life of God can flow out of our spirits and souls and our bodies to impact others, dispelling death from their lives in the process. Wherever we go, the spiritual atmosphere is bound to change because of this life that we carry.

I would like to encourage you, saint of God, to seek to be filled with this life of God, which is found in Jesus, in an ever increasing measure until His life is freely expressed through you in character and power.

Thus God will cause us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

God’s masterpiece

The Bible tells us that we are God’s masterpiece, his handiwork (Eph 2:10, NLT). We are God’s showpiece, the demonstration of what God’s salvation does in an individual, the picture of God’s plan for the one who believes in Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, we find that our experience does not match up with that and I would like to invite you to see why.

We have not experienced salvation as God meant it to be mainly because we have not understood it correctly. An incorrect understanding has limited our ability to receive from the Lord. We have taken God’s salvation, shrunk it to suit the size of our intellects and keep shrinking it further to fit within our ever diminishing experience. If our lives are the true picture of what Christ’s salvation can accomplish, then salvation has surely accomplished very, very little. No wonder then, that the unbeliever does not want what we have or claim to possess. We have pompously declared that Christ’s death can only provide for the forgiveness of sin and the assurance of heaven. In doing so, we have yelled, without saying so, that his death is not deemed sufficient to heal sickness or to free men from the devil’s power or to transform men to be like Christ in character and power. In our conceit, we have repackaged Christianity and portrayed it to be a faith that can only save the soul but is powerless to save the body. Then we live, rejoicing in the limited salvation we enjoy, not even wondering whether God would have taken the trouble to come to earth and return, offering a partial salvation. And so our lives are pathetic, a reflection of what we believe to be true.

God’s masterpiece? No way, not by a long shot!

Can you imagine God saying, “this is my masterpiece indeed……I can save his soul, but I really can’t heal his body or deliver him or provide for him. He will have to trudge through life trusting me. And if he makes it, I will take him to heaven.” That would be a cruel joke. And, praise God, it is not true.

The salvation that Christ provides is much more than the forgiveness of sin and the assurance of heaven after we die. God’s ultimate purpose for us in this life is to make us like Jesus, to dwell in us and manifest himself through us in supernatural power.

Mankind, throughout history, has been plagued by several ills, which are sin, sickness, curses, the devil and death. Since man cannot save himself from these ills, God showed up in human form, lived a sinless life, went to the cross, gave up his life as a sacrifice for sin, died, was buried, destroyed Satan, rose from the dead as death could not hold him down and ascended to heaven. God had only one plan for salvation, only one solution for all of the ills of man – Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in Colossians 2:2 that God’s plan is Christ himself (NLT). The sacrifice of Jesus life on the cross and the shedding of his blood is the solution for sin, it is the solution for sickness, it is the solution for the curse, it is the solution for satanic oppression and it is the solution for death. The salvation that God provides through Jesus Christ includes all of the following –

  1. Forgiveness of sin
  2. Freedom from sin’s power
  3. Certainty of going to heaven after physical death
  4. Certainty of a future resurrection of the body
  5. Healing of sicknesses, diseases and pains
  6. Divine health
  7. Freedom from the curse
  8. Freedom from the dominion of Satan
  9. Every spiritual blessing
  10. The righteousness of Christ imparted to us permanently
  11. The life of Christ/eternal life in us; we become the dwelling place of God
  12. Supernatural, resurrection power in us, flowing out from us

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God takes the individual, forgives his sin, reconciles the individual to Himself, makes him free from sin’s power, heals his sicknesses, frees him from Satan’s dominion, frees him from the curses over his life, imparts Christ’s righteousness to him, blesses him and comes to live inside him with supernatural power. The Christian is one who is full of the life of God. He cannot be defeated, sickness cannot invade his body, the devil cannot overcome him. He is a master – over the devil, over the world and over every circumstance. He walks in triumph and is the aroma of Christ in this world. He carries the character and power of Christ and is full of resurrection power and life. Every part of his spirit, soul and body is filled with the life of God. He is united with Christ and as a result, God dwells in him. Now the Christian is God’s masterpiece; God shows him off as the wonder of His creation and the crown of His salvation.

How do we know we are saved?

  1. The Bible, the Word of God, says so. Do read the letters of Paul in the New Testament.
  2. God has given us the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13,14 NLT).The presence of the Holy Spirit is the assurance. By the way, before anyone cries foul and say that we should not trust solely in an experience, I’d like to state that Christianity is an experience – repentance is an experience, receiving Christ is an experience, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience, worshipping God is an experience. Peace is an experience, joy is an experience, love is an experience; why, even death is an experience. I, for one, like to experience God’s presence and power; to be conscious of His presence within me all through the day.
  3. A changed life. We experience all that Christ died to provide. Peace, joy, love, a sense of righteousness, a growing desire for God, a desire to live righteously and love for the brethren are evidence of salvation. You simply begin to bear fruit.

We are God’s masterpiece, his handiwork.The ultimate purpose of Christ’s sacrifice is not just to take us to heaven when we die, but to make us clean and pure like himself, dwell within us and then cause His Spirit to flow through us to impact the world.

Oh, what God has done!

“But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9, ASV”

Beloved, we are saved to show forth the multi-faceted excellencies of God in this world. Our lives are meant to be an advertisement for the excellencies of God; the manifestation of divine life in a human being, the demonstration of the life of God in man. We are meant to be the showcase for Christ’s salvation, the evidence of what God can do in one who is yielded to him.

The Christian life is meant to be supernatural from beginning to end. It is Jesus Christ living in us and manifesting his life through us. The fruit of the Spirit is simply that – the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can bring. It is supernatural love, supernatural joy, supernatural peace, supernatural patience, supernatural kindness, supernatural goodness, supernatural gentleness, supernatural faithfulness, supernatural self control and supernatural humility. We cannot produce the fruit, God does it when we are yielded to Christ. Paul encourages us in Galatians 5 to “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” These states of being “in the Spirit or in the flesh” are mutually exclusive – you can’t be in both states at the same time. Its like trying to be in the air and on the ground at the same time – its just impossible. Hence, our focus ought not to be trying to overcome the works of the flesh but to be “in the Spirit” for when we are in this state, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Is’nt it “by the Spirit” that we can put to death the deeds of the flesh?

Let me say that again – your life is meant to demonstrate the excellencies of God – to demonstrate his nature, his transforming power, his favour, his life, his salvation, his mercy, his grace, his love, his blessing, his healing, his care. Think about it.

Lets look at some other verses of Scripture on this topic.

  1. Paul – “However for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him for everlasting life. 1 Tim 1:16”. Paul’s life was a pattern, an example, a demonstration of the patience and mercy of God to those who would be saved. His life showed forth the mercy and patience of God. His life showed how God reached out to one who hated Christians, saved him and transformed his very nature.
  2. Lazarus – “Now a great many of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. John 12:9-11”. Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus, demonstrated the fact that Jesus had power over death. His life showed that Jesus was indeed the resurrection and the life.
  3. The Christian – “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place. 2 Cor 2:14”. Our lives are meant to diffuse the fragrance of Christ – his nature and power. We are meant to show forth the fragrance of Christ to the people of this world.
  4. The church – “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10”. The church is meant to demonstrate God’s wonderful salvation to all the spiritual authorities in the heavenly realms.
  5. We see various examples of people who were healed or delivered or forgiven in the New testament. Their lives were an example of the power of God which could transform bound, sick, demonized and broken lives. The disciples of Jesus were perfect examples of what God could do with mostly uneducated people. The nature and power of God were evident in their lives.

He who has Christ, has life. The wonder of salvation that man can experience on earth is that God would take sinners and failures such as us, forgive us, cleanse us, reconcile us to himself, make us holy, righteous and blameless and live within us. The life of God expresses itself through us continually; whether we have just turned to Christ or whether we have been in Christ for years – what differs is the extent or measure of life that is manifested.

Lesson 101 in Christian living is simply this – you cannot live the Christian life in your strength. You need Jesus to live within you by His Spirit. It is about receiving God’s life, yielding to him and allowing his life to be expressed through you.

I like Balaam’s prophecy about Israel in Numbers 23, especially in verse 23 “There is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!'”. The KJV says it this way – “What hath God wrought!”

May it be said of us too – “Oh, what God has done.”

Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The kingdom of God

In the forty days between Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and ascension to Heaven, He appeared to his disciples and spoke to them of things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Since He spent so much time speaking about the kingdom of God, it will be worth our while to study and meditate on this and apply it to our lives.

I will portray my understanding on this topic and while I realise that you may not agree with it, I urge you to think about these things and come to a conclusion in this regard. We must realise that what is of paramount importance is not just talking about or debating the kingdom of God, but entering it and experiencing it.

The kingdom of God can be understood as the rule of God or the dominion of God. 

1. It was spoken of by John the Baptist, that it was at hand – Matthew 3:2

2. From the days of John, the kingdom has been forcefully advancing – Matthew 11:12

3. The kingdom came when Jesus, the king came to earth – Mark 1:14,15; Matthew 12:28; Colossians 1:13 (the kingdom of Jesus)

4. The kingdom arrived in power when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost – Mark 9:1; Matthew 12:28; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:33

How do we enter this kingdom?

1. John 3:3 – Unless you are born again, you will not see the kingdom of God. To see the kingdom is to understand the kingdom. We cannot even begin to understand the things of the kingdom of God unless we are born again. To be born again is to repent of one’s sinfulness and to believe in (receive) Jesus Christ the Lord. This is a work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in the heart of man.

2. John 3:5 – Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. To enter the kingdom is to experience the kingdom. Unless we are born of water (baptism in water) and born of the Spirit (baptism in the Holy Spirit), we cannot experience the kingdom of God.

What are the characteristics of the kingdom of God? Let us look at ten important characteristics. If we claim to be in the kingdom of God, we must exhibit these characteristics in our lives.

1. Romans 14:17 – Righteousness, peace and joy.

2. 1Cor.4:20; Acts 1:8 – Divine supernatural power to be witnesses to the King.

3. Daniel 2:44 – It destroys all other kingdoms, cannot be destroyed, stands forever.

4. Luke 9:1,2; Luke 10:19 – Authority over demons and sickness and over all the power of the enemy (Satan).

5. Galatians 5:22,23 – The fruit of the Spirit.

6. Acts 10:38 – Power to heal sicknesses (oppressed by the devil).

7. John 14:12 – Power to do the works of Jesus and greater works than those.

8. Gal. 5:16; 1 John 3:9 – Victory over sin and the flesh.

9. 1 John 5:4 – Victory over the world.

10. Matthew 13:31-33 – It grows and spreads.

Hebrews 1:6  shows us that faith is the “currency” of the kingdom. All transactions in the kingdom are effected by faith.

The kingdom of God has come! Jesus is the king! Hallelujah!

Let us submit to the King, enter into the kingdom of God and be worthy citizens of the kingdom.

To the promised land

I was invited to a church in the Philippines on the 1st of February 2015 to speak on a theme that they had set for this year – “Going with God”.

While seeking and waiting on the Lord for the content of the message, he showed me the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land.

The journey from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan has three parts to it – the beginning, sustenance during the journey and the destination. The Christian life is similar to the journey of the Israelites as we too are on a journey with God – from the land of sin and bondage to our promised land.

1. The beginning – Prior to even starting their journey out of Egypt, one event had to take place – each of the Israelites had to encounter the Passover lamb. They had to kill the lamb at twilight and apply the blood to their doorposts and lintels and stay inside the house until morning. They had to encounter the lamb and take refuge under its blood. That month was to be the first of their months – their calendar started that month. Similarly, your calendar, dear Christian, starts with your encounter with Jesus Christ, the Passover lamb and your taking refuge under Hs blood. Until you have this encounter, you are no Christian. You may speak the lingo, smell like one and even look like one, but you are’nt one. It is not about a mental assent of the truth about Christ, but an encounter with Him. Jesus is the way to the Father, through his death we are reconciled with God, He is the door. The main reason why Christianity is dying in the western world is because people have not had this encounter with Jesus. Without this, Christianity is just a set of rules which no one can keep. Today too, sadly in our churches, we have a lot of talk and preaching and teaching, but no encounter with Christ. The church is to be the fullness of Christ, people who come to church must encounter Christ. This encounter must be a daily encounter for us as Christians.

2. Sustenance during the journey – The Israelites had need of food and water during the journey, just as the Christian needs spiritual food and water during his or her spiritual journey. So God gave them manna from heaven to eat and water from the rock to drink. They ate manna every day of those 40 years that they were in the wilderness. The manna stopped once they entered the promised land. In John 6, Jesus says that he is the true manna that cam from heaven. He is the bread of life. If anyone eats of this bread, he will never die. Jesus also said in John 4 that He was the one who gives living water. In chapter 7, he says that everyone who thirsts could come to him and drink. The living water that Jesus spoke of was the Holy Spirit. 1Corinthians 10 speaks of the Israelites drinking water from the spiritual rock that followed them, who was Christ. So, dear Christian, you need to see that Jesus is the sustenance for your journey. You have to feed on Him for Jesus said in John 6 that he who feeds on him would live. We can only be sustained during this journey with God when we feed on Jesus each day; he is our food and he is our drink.

3. The destination – The destination for the Israelites was clear – it was the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of prosperity, safety and blessing. The Christian too has a destination, a promised land. What is this destination? There are two parts to this destination – one is fulfilled right here on earth, while the other is fulfilled when we get to heaven. The Bible says in Romans 8:29 that God has pre-destined us to be conformed to the image of His son, Jesus. Our destination then, while on earth is to be conformed to the image of Jesus. It is certainly not anything else, just being transformed into the image of Christ. While on earth, we must also realise that we ought to experience all of Christ’s salvation; we must experience all that Jesus died to provide us with – freedom from and victory over sin, sickness, the curse, the world and Satan, Christ living in us, being filled with all the fulness of God, knowing Christ. So, our earthly promised land is to experience Christ’s salvation and to become like Him.

The second leg of our destination is fulfilled when we get to Heaven. Paul says it so well in Philippians chapter 1. He says that although staying alive would be beneficial to the believers, to depart and be with Christ was far better. He sees Heaven as a place where he would be with Christ. So, dear Christian, our heavenly destination is to be with Christ.

I hope you can see this journey you are in with greater clarity now – you start this journey with an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and His blood; you are sustained during the journey by feeding on Christ and drinking of Him; your earthly destination or promised land is nothing but experiencing all of Christ’s salvation and being transformed into His likeness, while your heavenly destination is to be with Christ.

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Enjoy the journey, fellow Christian! The Lord is with you.

The New Covenant

God directed my focus to the term ” new covenant” the other day so I spent time meditating upon it and did receive revelation from the Lord, which I would like to share. I know that once your eyes are opened to receive this into your spirit, your relationship with God will drastically improve. Every Christian experience is preceded by revelation knowledge that we receive from the Holy Spirit individually through the Word of God. In our age we have spent many years receiving head knowledge but not revelation (heart) knowledge and thats why our experience has been shallow and does not match up with what we profess to believe.

The term “covenant” in the Scriptures is generally understood as a contract or agreement between God and man. I see, however, covenant as much more than just a contract or agreement, much more than just agreeing to a set of stipulations.

Covenant primarily involves a union, an inseparable union between God and man.

All of God’s being and all of man’s being is involved in covenant.

The covenant also involves agreement and stipulations but the primary focus of covenant is this union.

Malachi 2:14, 15 tells us that marriage is a covenant too – between a man a woman with God as witness. In the process of this covenant, God establishes a spiritual union between the man’s spirit and woman’s spirit and the two are then one in spirit. Thats why adultery or divorce does such damage – it tears at the very spiritual union between husband and wife that God established.

Lets look at the facts. While there will be some who will dissect this and list all that they disagree with or think is unbiblical and receive nothing in the process, my focus is on reaching the rest.

1. The New Covenant is one that has been established between God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Psalm 89 : 19-29 shows us that God makes a covenant with Jesus. Jesus’ part was coming to earth, taking on human flesh, living s sinless life, preaching, teaching and healing, destroying the works of Satan, going to the cross, bearing man’s sins, sicknesses and curse, shedding his blood and dying on the cross. The Father’s part was to be with Jesus all through his journey, to empower him with the Holy Spirit, to give grace to pass through suffering and death, not to leave him in Hell, not to allow his body to decay, to raise him from the dead and raise him to Heaven to the right hand of God, to give him all authority in heaven and earth and through him to provide for the salvation of man.

2. Since we are in Christ, we are part of this new covenant. This means that God has made a covenant with us too because we are in Christ.

Hebrews 8:8 shows us that God makes the new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah in the last days. The Bible tells us the following as to who comprises Israel –

Romans 9:6 – …”for they are not all Israel who are of Israel.

Romans 9:8 – “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”

Galatians 3:7 – “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham,”

Galatians 3:29 – “And if you are Christ’s, you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Philippians 3:3 – “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Roman 2:28,29 – “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

We can see that we who are in Christ are the Israel that God is speaking of here and this new covenant involves us too for we are in Christ.

What is the implication of us being a party to the new covenant in Christ?

In return for our belief in and surrender to the Lordship of Christ, we get to enjoy every provision of the new covenant. We have a union between our spirits and God. All of God’s being is involved in this covenant and all of ours too.

All that has been provided for us through Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension are available through this covenant – the forgiveness of sin, cleansing, deliverance from sin, sickness, curse and the devil, eternal life, assurance of Heaven, God’s indwelling, God working in us to satisfy his own demands of us, God working through us in signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Spirit, divine health, divine blessing, divine authority and power over all the power of the enemy, power to be witnesses of Jesus and many others.

Can you see the force of this covenant? Nothing can stand in its path, nothing can destroy it, nothing can break it, it is as if we are in the grip of a mighty force field, anything that comes in will be destroyed by the power thereof – it is an eternal covenant between God and Jesus and by extension, with us who are in Jesus Christ.

May we receive revelation as we meditate upon this. Believe and receive all the provision of this wonderful new covenant in the blood of Jesus. God be with you.

 

Salvation – man’s responsibility

The Bible teaches us that God himself is our salvation. Although I have no understanding of either Hebrew or Greek, I read that the name “Jesus” comes from the compound word, Jehovah-Sus, meaning “God is my salvation”. Indeed, glory to God, God Himself is our salvation; He came down to earth and took on flesh, lived a sinless life, died, was buried, was raised to life and ascended to Heaven. Through his life, death and resurrection, He has provided salvation for man. Man, by his own effort, can never earn salvation, it is a free gift from God.

Having said that, does man have a role to play in experiencing this salvation? Is there anything that man has to do? Or does he just sit back and let God do everything for him?

Lets look at what the Scriptures have to say about this. We will look at ten words and phrases that speak of man’s responsibility concerning salvation. While here, against each of the responsibilities, we will look at God’s role. Do note that I have not listed references here as I normally do; why don’t you look them up yourself?

1. Repent – “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

2. Believe – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”.

3. Work out your salvation – “….For it is God who works in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure”.

4. Overcome – “They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto death”. “You have overcome them, for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”.

5. Have faith in God – “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”. The gift of faith is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

6. Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, do not sow to the flesh – “If by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”.

7. Go into all the world and preach the gospel – .”….you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me……”

8. Works of ministry – “…….those things which Christ has accomplished through me, in word and deed……..in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God……”

9. Produce fruit – “He who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing”.

10. I laboured more abundantly than they all, always abounding in the work of the Lord – “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily”.

While we see these words or phrases that speak of man’s responsibility concerning salvation, we also see that in each of those, it is actually God who enables man to do what is required of him. Therefore, salvation is definitely of God, from beginning to end, so that no man can boast.

Do you remember God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac? When God prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, but provided the ram for the sacrifice, Abraham saw God as Jehovah-Jireh or “the God who provides”. What does this show us? It shows us that God provides what He demands of us. He either provides what is required OR lives within us, empowering us to do what He requires of us.

Having said this, I must emphasize that we will never enter into and experience Christ’s salvation in its fulness unless we fulfill our responsibilities. Although God provided the ram for the sacrifice, Abraham had to get hold of the ram and sacrifice it just as you and I have the responsibility to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. The New testament has several references to this possibility of not experiencing all of Christ’s salvation unless we fulfill our responsibilities.

Why this seeming dichotomy? On the one hand, we see that it is God who enables man to do what is required of him. On the other hand, we see that we will not experience Christ’s salvation in its fulness unless we fulfill our responsibilities.

The reason for this seeming dichotomy is because of the fact that we have a free will – we can resist His promptings, quench His Spirit, rebel against His leading and feed the flesh, among others.

What should we do then?

We ought to simply be completely yielded to Christ so that He can live within us to do what He requires of us.