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.

 

 

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United with Christ

While I was meditating on 1 Peter 2:24, I was intrigued to notice three apparently unconnected statements –

“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

The 3 statements are – Jesus bore our sins, we died to sin, we were healed.

I began thinking about how Jesus bearing our sins and us dying to sin are connected. I could see the connection between Jesus bearing my sin and healing, since upon the cross He bore both my sin and my sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4). My eyes were suddenly opened as I was listening to EW Kenyon, revelation came, all fell into place and made perfect sense. I had read Romans 6 several times over the years since my conversion, had a mental understanding of it, agreed with it, had memorized parts of it but had no revelation; the Word had not become a reality, it had not entered into my experience. It is worth noting that I knew 1 Peter 2:24 by memory, had used it in prayer, had declared it out loud, had sung it and even taught it when I was teaching on healing, but it had not become reality to me, it had not entered into my experience, it had not traversed one foot lower – from my head to my heart.

Revelation precedes experience.

In order for me to have died to sin, I had to have been brought into union with Jesus. When did this happen? What are the implications of having died to sin?

I intend to take each verse that will help us understand this topic and provide commentary to help understand it. Once done, I will put them together and formulate an understanding of what it means to have died with Christ.

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:14 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;”. Consider yourself living in a rented home. If I show up and pay for your rent, would the house owner take it to mean that you have paid the rent? Indeed! I was due to pay the price for sin and sickness. Jesus showed up and paid it on my behalf. It is the same as me paying the price for sin and sickness. Hence, I have paid the price for sin and for sickness. They have no power over me anymore.
  2. Hebrews 2:9 – “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Jesus tasted death in my place, instead of me. Since He tasted or experienced death, I do not need to die, He is my substitute. In the same manner, the sin of the world was placed on Him, the sickness of the whole world was placed on Him. He bore them in my place, instead of me. I do not need to bear them.
  3. Romans 6:1-5 – ”

    “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

     Look at the same passage in the NLT –

    “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.

    Baptism unites us with Christ (vs 5). In other words, when we are baptized in water, we are brought into union with Jesus. So, it is no longer Jesus hanging alone on the cross; we were in union with Him. Jesus accomplished two things when He died on the cross – He died (paid) for sin and also died to sin (Romans 6:10 – the death He died, He died to sin).  As a result of my union with Christ, when He died, I died too. I paid the price for sin. This is a tremendous truth, let it sink deep within. I have paid the price for sin. In addition, I died to sin (vs 2), it has no power over me anymore. I was buried with Him. Likewise, Christ bore my sicknesses and carried my diseases (Isaiah 53:4); He paid the price for sickness; hence, I paid the price for sickness.

  4. Ephesians 4:9,10 – “(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)” Due to my union with Christ, I descended into Hell with Christ. 
  5. 1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit;” Due to my union with Christ, I was made alive with Him. I was made as righteous as He is righteous. I am a new creation in Christ. Sin, sickness and oppression have fallen away. Sin has no ability to affect me due to the fact that I have been made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  6. Ephesians 2:5 – “even when were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”. I was made alive together with Christ.
  7. Hebrews 2:14 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Jesus destroyed Satan through his death. Due to my union with Christ, I destroyed Satan. I have a decisive victory over Satan and his forces of darkness since I was in Christ when He won.
  8. Ephesians 2:6 – “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”. I have been raised with Christ and have been seated with Him in the heavens. I was in Him when He rose and ascended. Do note here that the fact of my sitting with Christ is only possible if I am as righteous as Christ is. Let this truth sink in – I am as righteous as Jesus. I am in a state where I cannot be affected by sin or Satan.
  9. Romans 6:5 – “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”  I have been made alive with the life of God, it is impossible for me to die spiritually.
  10. 1 John 4:17 – “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” As He is, so am I in this world. Since He has been made alive, death cannot affect Him, sin cannot affect Him, sickness cannot affect Him, Satan cannot affect Him. As Christ is – with dominion over Satan, sin, sickness, death so am I while living in this world.
  11. Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” I have been crucified with Christ once and forever. I died with Him once and forever. Christ lives in me. The verse in 1 Corinthians 15:31 where Paul speaks of dying daily should be understood in terms of the constant danger of being put to physical death. A contemporary phrase close enough to 1 Corinthians 15:31 would be – “I died a thousand deaths”.

Now, getting back to 1 Peter 2:24, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” Jesus died to sin; due to my union with Him through baptism, I died to sin.

Stating what is now obvious – Baptism brings me into union with Jesus. When He died on the cross, I died with Him. I died to sin, I died to sickness, I died to the world. I was buried with Him, descended into Hell with Him. I paid the price for sin (one died for all, therefore all died). I paid the price for sickness. I was made alive in spirit, justified, made totally righteous. I defeated Satan and the hosts of darkness. I rose from the dead, I ascended to Heaven. I am seated with Jesus in heaven, as righteous as He is righteous.

May these truths enter into our spirits by revelation, for revelation precedes experience.

 

Another look at grace

Grace is an attribute of God, part of his nature. It consists of His favor and power that is released to humanity because of the sacrifice of Jesus. To the world, it grants the opportunity to be saved through faith in Jesus, while to the Christian, upon salvation, it is the source of life. It is simply undeserved and is given solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Grace, like glory and other attributes of God, has both substance and power. Substance, in the sense of a spiritual or heavenly materiality that can be experienced and felt. When Solomon’s temple was filled with the glory of God, the priests could not enter because the substance of the glory would not permit them to enter. It is as if they tried but walked into a spiritual substance that prevented them from entering. Glory, we see, had the capability to fill a physical place – in this instance, the temple of God.

We find two people in Scripture who were filled with grace – Jesus and Stephen. John declares that Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Luke declares that Stephen was a man full of grace and power (Acts 8:6). Grace then, can fill a person, fill his being and be recognized by others.

Grace can also be transmitted to others just as the power of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted to others, the Word tells us that we are ministers of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). The power of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted by means of words, the laying on of hands or through cloths, as we see in the book of Acts. With regards to grace, Paul encourages the Ephesians to ensure that their words would impart grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29).

Paul says that God has given grace to each one (Ephesians 4:7), meaning that grace has been imparted into our spirits, deposited into our beings. It is not just about God showing favor to us but about God giving us grace as a deposit. We need to understand this well – grace has been given to us as a deposit, it is in our spirits.

The grace of God that is given to us empowers us as we will see in the verses below –

  1. Titus 2:11,12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” The grace that is in our spirits empowers us to turn away from ungodly living and to live a godly life. The Christian who lives in sin is simply resisting or rejecting the grace of God.
  2. Ephesians 3:7,8 – “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Galatians 2:9 – “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” 1 Corinthians 3:10 – “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.” Romans 15:15,16 – “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The grace of God given to Paul made him a minister of Jesus Christ, an apostle to the Gentiles, a builder of the foundation and a preacher of the gospel.
  3. Romans 12:6-8  – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The grace given enables the operation of spiritual gifts and we are encouraged to use them in proportion to our faith.
  4. 2 Corinthians 8:1,2,7 – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.” The grace given to the Macedonian Christians enabled them to be generous despite their abject poverty.
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Paul speaks of grace as being the reason for making him who he was. Grace enabled him to work hard in the ministry. This is the reason why there can never be boasting in the Christian life – Christian living and ministry is nothing but the result or outworking of the grace of God.
  6. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Grace would sustain Paul in his trial.

We also see in the Scriptures that one can refuse to permit the grace of God to work in his or her life. Paul pleads with the Corinthian Christians not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Reverting back to works or trying to earn salvation would have been tantamount to receiving the grace of God in vain. So would living in sin, laziness in ministry, not exercising spiritual gifts and stinginess. They would simply be a rejection of the grace of God.

Receiving the grace of God and allowing it to have effect in our lives will cause us to reign in this life as kings. Romans 5:17 says “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” The recipient of grace can never be defeated, can never be a failure, can always triumph in this life. We find that grace is connected to Jesus Christ. Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1). The greater the knowledge of Jesus, the greater the grace that is released into our lives. Thats why Paul’s chief, sole desire was to know Christ. A continual supply of grace is guaranteed to us through Jesus Christ as John says in John 1:16 – “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”

Grace is associated with humility for the Word says in James 4:6 that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Acknowledging our need for salvation or inability to save ourselves and looking to God enables us to receive grace.

So then brethren, let us be partakers together of the grace of God (Phil 1:7) and let not that grace given be in vain but on the contrary, bear rich fruit.

 

 

 

How to abide in Christ

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him or known Him.” 1 John 3:6

He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.” 1 John2:6

As mentioned in my previous article on “Abiding in Christ”, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of abiding in Him but did not really explain to them how they were to abide. We see that John the apostle explains to us how we ought to abide in Christ in his first epistle. Let us attempt to understand “abiding in Christ” in the context of these verses.

The above verses are simple statements of fact and not  promises. Whoever abides in Christ will live like Jesus lived. If we are not living like Christ, we are simply not abiding in Christ. Whoever abides in Christ does not sin. Sinning, here, is consciously committed. It does not refer to sub-conscious or unconscious sin. If we sin, we are simply not abiding in Christ. “Not sinning” is one natural outcome of abiding in Christ, with another outcome being “bearing fruit”. Did I just hear someone protest, “We are not Jesus, we are human beings” and “We are all sinners” and “Is the Christian expected not to sin at all” and “It is impossible not to sin”? Well, just because our experience does not match with God’s word, it does not mean that we can change the meaning of God’s word or skirt these verses. Would that not be eerily similar to what the Pharisees were doing when they twisted God’s word to excuse their own sins?

Obviously then, abiding in Christ refers to an ongoing, daily experience that will enable us to live as Jesus lived and keep us from sinning. Anything less than “living like Jesus lived” and “not sinning” is unworthy of the claim to abide in Christ. If we find ourselves sinning in thought or deed, we have simply not learned to abide in Christ. This verse forces us to rethink our understanding of what it means to abide in Christ. While contemplating this truth, we will find then, that we have settled for an abysmally low level of Christianity and have portrayed Christ in a manner totally unworthy of Him. We will find that we have strained out the gnat, but swallowed a camel by claiming to abide in Christ while still sinning.

What does it mean to abide in Christ?

I believe it refers to the consciousness of Christ’s presence filling and enveloping us – not at a time in the past, but in the present, in the here and now. This consciousness is brought about by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:30 “Of Him are you in Christ Jesus…”. In 1 John 2:27, we see that the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us to abide in Christ. It is the experience of the fulness of the Holy Spirit that brings about the consciousness of Christ’s presence. It is this consciousness of Christ’s presence that will result in us living as Jesus lived and will keep us from sinning. Jesus himself lived by the fulness of the Holy Spirit, for God gave Him the Spirit without measure. Our aim then is not “not sinning” or “living as Jesus lived”, but to simply be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We also read in other verses, of actions that assist us in entering into and remaining in this consciousness of Christ’s presence.

1. 1 John 2:24 Filling our minds with the Word of God.

2. 1 John 3:24  Obedience to Christ’s commandments.

3. 1 John 4:16 Consciousness of Christ’s love. Also, John 15:9 which speaks of abiding in Christ’s love.

4. John 6:56 Partaking of communion.

May God open our eyes to this truth and experience. May we all abide in Christ, for without Jesus Christ, we can do nothing.