Exchanged Life Podcast Available

Listen to Eddie’s weekly messages on iTunes. You can also join us in worship in Marietta, GA. Find out more at http://www.hollydalebaptist.com

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Podcast – Mothers Day 2015.

Put off frustration and bitterness through the power of the Spirit. From the Mother’s day message at Hollydale Baptist in Marietta GA on 5/10/15.

Subscribe to weekly podcast on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hollydale-baptist-church/id893226987

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Podcast – The Resurrected Life

The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies. How the resurrection is the power of our walk of faith.

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The Crucified Life

Delivered on Palm Sunday. This study examines the crucified life and how the cross delivers us from sin and the law.

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Soul Nourishment by George Müller

Great advice written in the mid 1800s!

It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost, for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord.

I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and then my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, either very soon after or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.

The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this: Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the Word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for a revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour, on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc., and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart, first being nourished by the truth, being brought into experiential fellowship with God, I then speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet, now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now, what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts. When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate, with God’s blessing, though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. Thus there is far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had time previously for meditation. I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God, I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials, in various ways, than I had ever had before; and after having now above fourteen years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. In addition to this I generally read, after family prayer, larger portions of the Word of God, when I still pursue my practice of reading regularly onward in the Holy Scriptures, sometimes in the New Testament, and sometimes in the Old, and for more than twenty-six years I have proved the blessedness of it. I take, also, either then or at other parts of the day, time more especially for prayer.

How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one.

George Müller
May 9 1841.

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What about the Model Prayer

When Jesus taught the model prayer, was this for the church? How can we know how Jesus’ teaching applies to the church today?

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The Blessing of the New Covenant – Isaiah 55 (Part 3 of 3)

Isaiah 53 presents the work of Christ and how He bore our transgressions and took away our guilt. The New Testament affirms the reality of this truth and shows how it applies to our lives. One thing that stands out in these Messianic prophecies is that they are directed to the Jewish nation of Israel. Of course, as you read through these, the Bible makes it clear these are not merely for the Jews, but rather it is through them that God would deliver the New Covenant that all nations shall enter.

If you read the book of Acts you will see that the early church had a difficult time understanding that the New Covenant was not only a Jewish promise. The apostles of Jesus helped the church understand this by pointing to the promises which said, “In Him shall the Gentiles trust,” and as we read earlier, Christ’s atonement was for the sprinkling of the nations. The Bible goes on to say that in Christ, no one is viewed as male or female, imprisoned or free, or Jew or Gentile. We are all one in Christ. There are no races, denominations, class distinctions, or hierarchies. We are of the same body with gifts and callings that work in agreement with the whole body.

Keep these things in mind as you study through these prophecies. They are often directed toward the people of the Old Covenant, but through them, the New Covenant is delivered which includes all people, nations, races, classes, and any other distinction man uses to create divisions.

Most of the Old Testament examples are testimonies of what God was doing to prepare the way for us, the people of the New Covenant of Christ. In the passage we are about to read, this is also true. The Old Testament people fell under the wrath of judgment because of their sin against the law, but only for the purpose of revealing the end of wrath in the New Covenant. The same is true for you and I. Let’s begin with Ephesians 2:3-6

3 [W]e all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

You were once children of wrath when you were in sin. Not sins, but in sin. Under the law, you were under the wrath of God, for sin is imputed against all those who are under the law. As we read in the previous message, where there is no law, sin is not imputed. But once we are in Christ, we are justified – or counted as just – for the law has been satisfied. The wages of sin, which is death, was satisfied through Christ’s death, and once we are in Christ, we have passed from the death of the flesh to the life in the Spirit. This is why we escape wrath. This is reiterated in Romans 5:9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

We were under wrath because we were in sin. Now we are MUCH MORE justified by His blood. It isn’t the equal force of righteousness butting against an equal force of sin. It is the abundance of righteousness plowing over sin. We have much more righteousness than we ever had sin. For a moment, we were overwhelmed by sin, but when God’s grace enters, the moment has passed and the eternal has begun. This is the promise foretold in Isaiah 54:7-10

7 “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you.
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
10 For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

This promise emerges after the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. Jesus bore our transgressions and was punished for our sin. The chastisement for our peace was laid on Him. Once Jesus made an end to sin, the promise above is born. For a moment we were under wrath because of sin, but once we are in Christ, everlasting favor has begun.

In the early church after the New Covenant was given, there was a big push to reintroduce the law to Christians. Jewish Christians raised under the Old Covenant were law-minded and had a difficult time believing the work of Christ fulfilled all the law. The Gentile Christians were pressured by Jewish Christians to submit back under the law. This created a lot of conflict between the apostles and the legalists of the first century church.

Legalism has always been a point of confusion in the church, but in our era, there has been a return to the law and Christians are being pressured to return to Hebrew roots and several growing movements are teaching grace gives us power to keep the law.

When a Christian submits themselves under the law, they are denying the work of Christ. If Jesus fulfilled the law and you are called the justified by God because you put your trust in Christ’s finished work, then to depart from that trust is to fall from grace. This is exactly what the letter to the Galatian church was addressing. “You have fallen from grace, you who try to keep the law.” Many Christians are being persuaded to trust in the law and are also falling from grace. Christians simply don’t understand that the law was completely satisfied in Christ, and the law has come to an end for those who are in Christ. Let’s let the Bible explain. Look at Romans 8:2

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Recently I had a Jewish Christian write me a rebuttal of more than twenty pages that made the argument that we have to keep the Torah – the first five books of the Old Testament where the law was given – in order to stay in a right standing with God. He argued that the law of sin and death came to an end, but not the portions of the law that makes us righteous.

Every scripture he shared was out of the Old Testament. What those who focus on the law and how they are attempting to keep it is that all the law points us to Christ. The Bible calls the law our tutor which brings us to Christ. What this critic of grace doesn’t understand is that the law makes no one righteous. The Bible tells us that the law never justifies a person. Look at Romans 3:20

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

It is as we examined earlier. The law was given that sin might appear to be sin. We think we are righteous until the full measure of the law comes in. Then it reveals that we cannot be righteous. The law does not make sinners into saints. It reveals to those who think they are saints that they are in fact sinner. It’s like the rich young ruler that came to Jesus claiming he had kept the whole law. When Jesus asked if he had loved his neighbor as himself, the man said, “I have done this from my youth up.”

In his self-justification mindset, he believed that because he gave more to the poor than other people, he was fulfilling the law. But the law doesn’t say to do more than others. It said to love your neighbor as yourself. How could he be rich and his neighbor poor if he is fulfilling the law? That’s when Jesus issued the challenge to sell all and give to the poor. That is when the law made the man who thought he was righteous into a failure, and he walked away defeated. The law is intended to show us that if man wants to be like God, this is what he must do. Perfection, absolute perfection is the standard. It isn’t doing better than those you are comparing yourself to. It isn’t doing your best. The law asks one question, “Are you in perfect standing without spot or blemish?” If not, you can’t attain to salvation by human effort.

That is when the work of Christ is unveiled. Here are your two choices – be perfect, or trust in Christ’s perfection. Pay for your sins, or trust in Christ’s payment for your sins. Once we are in Christ, we are no longer under the law of sin and death – which is our condemnation. Not only that, but we are no longer under the law’s demand for our righteousness. Look at Romans 10:4

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

So you can see that not only has the law of sin and death come to an end in Christ, but so has the law’s demand for our righteousness. Legalists are missing half the gospel. Jesus did not only take away our sins. Jesus also gave us His righteousness. Take this passage to heart, 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.

The law of your sin has come to an end in Christ, for as we read previously, “He who has died has been set free from sin.” You died in Christ and are freed from sin. But that’s only half the message. The other half is you were raised with Christ into new life. That new life is born in the righteousness of God. The Bible doesn’t say to become righteous for God. It says you are the righteousness of God in Christ. It’s God’s righteousness. Even Jesus said, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” You are not seeking your righteousness, but by faith you are seeking the gift of righteousness that makes you in perfect standing with God. This is also explained in 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 Jesus is, so are you in this world. It doesn’t say you will be as He is in heaven. You are already in the reality of eternity now, but without faith it cannot profit you. You are already complete in Him. The Bible promises that just as sin once reigned in your mortal body, no righteousness reigns much more in you through Christ. You are MUCH MORE justified in Him.

Not only has the judgment passed, but it can NEVER return. It has passed and is sustained by the promise of God. Grace is under the surety of God’s promise. The rainbow was given after the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. Never again will the earth be flooded to wipe out all life. That promise is certain and will never be broken. The rainbow stands as a testimony to God’s sure promise. Now the cross stands as the testimony of God’s sure promise.

Just as the world CANNOT be extinguished again by a flood, you and I CANNOT be under the condemnation of sin again – EVER. It is as sure as the promise given to Noah. God has promised you that He will NEVER be angry at you again. God has sworn that He will NEVER rebuke you again with is wrath. The rebuke here is the image of a judge punishing an offender.

That is indeed good news, but wait, there’s more! When God is pouring out His favor, it is never merely a sufficient dose; it is always abundantly above what we could think or ask. You ask for forgiveness, thinking that escaping judgment was sufficient. But God not only forgave, but poured out the abundance of His favor upon you. And then God says, “I am swearing an oath to you that as sure as the world cannot be flooded again, I cannot withdraw my favor again.” Grace is irrevocable. It’s irrevocable because it is based on the certainty of God and not the weakness of man.

Even if the mountains of the earth could be shaken away and removed, His kindness and favor (grace) cannot be removed. God’s promise of kindness is more certain than the mountains. The New Covenant, paid for and sealed with God’s own blood, can never end. It is sealed and guaranteed by God – not by your performance. When you fail, and you will, it does not affect God’s covenant, for you are not the guarantee of His covenant of peace. Let’s look at a passage that identifies and overcomes the reason most Christians fail to experience the life of peace. Look at 1 John 4:16-19

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
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.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Do you know and believe in the love God has for you? If you are like most Christians, God’s love is a vague concept that religious teaching has made into a conditional reward instead of an unmerited promise.

There is only one requirement for all of God’s promises – faith. The Old Testament saints failed to enter into God’s rest because of unbelief – even though the works were already completed by God. We also fail to enter into the promise of rest in Christ for ONLY one reason – unbelief. We don’t really believe God’s promise. Once we believe, everything changes. Let me give you an example.

Why do people rebel? Stop and think about why rebellion occurs. Whether it is a group rebelling against a government, a person rebelling against authority, a child rebelling against her parents, or us rebelling against God, there is one common denominator in all these things. Trust has been lost. And that is how Satan tempts you to sin. His method has never changed. Look at Genesis 3:4-5

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan prepped the temptation by devaluing the consequences of sin. “God said you would die, but you won’t die.” “God said sexual immorality is sinning against your body, but it isn’t really. He said it will destroy your body, but that’s not true.” “God said unforgiveness is a snare to your soul, but that’s not true.” Name the sin and Satan will devalue what God warned, but that isn’t the temptation. That is to undermine you from reasoning out the consequences of sin. People say that grace-believers think it’s okay to sin, but it’s quite the opposite. Understanding grace unveils our eyes to see the truth of sin.

The heart of temptation is the belief that God is not out for your good. God is depriving you. “God knows that in the day you partake of sin, your eyes will be opened,” Satan whispers in your ear. “You can turn to sin to get the good God is depriving from you,” his promises are empty words of promise laced with mistrust. If he can persuade you that God’s best for you is less than what you can produce outside of him, rebellion seems like a logical decision.

When does a teen rebel? They rebel when they believe their parents are not seeking their good. When Mom is denying me something that is good, I am angered. When Dad is enforcing rules that I don’t understand, I become frustrated. Every teen believes they know better than their parents, otherwise, they would have no need to become rebellious. In their eyes, what they desire appears good, and they don’t believe their parents know the consequences. They trust more in their own understanding than in their parents knowledge and experience.

When a governing authority has oppressed people to the point where they lose hope in finding good, revolt begins. The Soviet Union was one of the most feared governments in the history of the world. For more than forty years, they kept people in check through fear and punishment. The entire world was on edge out of a fear of this mighty nation. Yet when the people lost hope, consequences and fear could no longer constrain them. They stormed the walls that caged them and tore free from the people who once oppressed them.

Religion is no different. Proverbs 29:18 says that where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint. The fear of judgment has been the church’s tool for many generations. Yet in this generation people are saying, “Let’s cast off all restraint.” Preaching hell, judgment, and God’s wrath cannot keep this culture from abandoning the church.

The real question is, “Why has the church employed this method of religion?” Part of the reason is because when the natural mind sees people going astray, it seeks to enforce standards by human methods. If you quit coming to church, this church will dry up. The culture will become unChristianize. Therefore, I must do something to prevent them from making choices I believe are wrong. If this is my way of viewing the church, I’ll employ tactics to use fear and intimidation to keep people in check.

This method works until people stop believing God and the church has their good in mind. A child who lives under the fear of punishment will stay in check for a while. But the time will come when the child loses hope and says, “I can never please mom or dad, so why try?” Or, they don’t know what they are talking about and consequences are less fearful than what I can gain.

A child who is nurtured into seeing the value of the old rules will no longer need restraint. A three-year-old can only understand the rules. But as that child grows, they begin to shift into ‘why?’ If that question is not answered, the question will grow into mistrust. Mistrust always leads to rebellion. Outwardly, some personalities may give a show of obedience, but inwardly they resent it. Even the keepers of the law had this problem, which is why God said, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

Religion can only take you so far. At some point it is just going through the motions. A person going to church just to appease God is a heart ready to fall away. Giving an offering, doing works, and reading the Bible just to ease your guilt or appease God is also a heart prepared to fall away.

This is why the Bible says, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” A guilty heart does not lead to true repentance. Guilt may stir you for a moment, but when temptation is greater than your guilt, you’ll fall again. And there will come a time when you are tired of guilt, knowing you are not able to conform to a holy standard, and that’s when falling away begins.

But when someone sees the value of what God says and does, then obedience is not forced. When I value what God is giving me, the worldly things that rob me of eternal treasure will lose value. Then I don’t feel the same temptation. Then when Satan says, “God is depriving you,” that voice will be rejected. We must allow grace to draw hearts. If releasing people from fear and condemnation, and proclaiming their freedom causes some to go their own way, we have to let them make that choice. Having a congregation of people bound by fear is worse than having fewer numbers of people gripped by faith. It is better to have 10 people who understand grace than 500 pretending to serve God in order to escape wrath.

Let’s reverse this and look at the problem for what it is. If we dwindled down to 10, that means we have 10 people walking by faith instead of 500 who stay only out of fear and guilt. It is better to have 10 of faith than 500 faithless attenders. But the reality is that many more will respond to the gospel of peace than we expect. We are losing a generation because fear tactics no longer work. Or perhaps we have lost generations because fear tactics blinded the people to true faith based on the love and grace of God.

Do you believe God is good? That is the heart of the question. And this is why the gospel is given. The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’. But it’s usually presented as bad news. Instead of showing how much greater the love of God is than what we are leaving behind, we are presenting the gospel as though God is not as bad as the hell you will have to endure. How is this the gospel? “Suffer through religion and obedience because it’s better than going to hell,” is not the gospel!

This is why the Apostle Paul said that the message they preach isn’t yes and no – or sometimes we see God’s goodness and sometimes we see God’s wrath and rejection. Instead, Paul said, “For all the promise of God in Him [Christ] are ‘Yes’ and in Him are ‘Amen’, to the glory of God through us.” ‘Yes’ means we are receiving goodness. ‘Amen’ is our rejoicing heart saying, “May it be done in me!” The gospel isn’t goodness, and bad news. The gospel is good news. I’ll reiterate, the word ‘gospel’ means ‘good tidings’ or ‘good news’. The law is the bad news. The gospel replaces the law with the good news.

The church has been in the business of empowering sin instead of empowering people with the good news. The good news is, you who are burdened under the law and condemned, come to Christ and be set free. He carries the burden, not you. The bad news was you were born under sin, and you were heavy laden with individual sins stacked against you. The good news is that all those were judged in Christ, and all you must do is step out from under sin, and into Christ. The really good news is now you are imputed, or credited with the good works and righteousness of Christ. All He accomplished is credited to you, and every failure you have made or will make has already been credited against Jesus and punished through the cross.

You and I are blind to the eternal. When we use human eyes, we see sin, condemnation, and our efforts. Our efforts never defeat sin or our weakness, so the best we can do is deceive ourselves into only seeing what boosts our ego. Those who become willfully blind to their sin do well in religion and are blind to their sin and God’s gift of righteousness. Those who can only see their sin and failures are also blind to the goodness of God. The truth is, every person is blind, and only those to whom are given sight through Christ can see truth. Everyone else sees deception in one form or another, for they are trusting in the things of this life, which are the mirage and not the reality of God. Take to heart the words of 2 Corinthians 4:18

While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This means that everything you see is a veil preventing you from witnessing the things that cannot pass away. The things that are not seen are in the spiritual side of life, and it is the spiritual that created the physical world we see. After all things are completed, the physical world will pass, and we will then understand that all things in this life were a mere passing vapor. This is why investing in this life is utter foolishness.

This is also why viewing the law creates blindness to the life of the Spirit. The law ONLY applies to the physical, but once the physical has passed, the law will have no effect. It’s also why the Bible says the law has no effect on those who are in Christ. Romans 3:20 tells us that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified before God. Law is only intended to give those who are still in the flesh the knowledge of sin. Two more times God emphasizes that flesh will not be allowed to glory in God’s sight.

The Bible says that the law is spiritual, but because those who attempt to keep it are carnal (or of the flesh), it cannot justify. It only condemns. The law stands guard over the spiritual world and says, “If you are of the flesh, you cannot enter here. If you are spiritual, you cannot bring anything of the flesh with you.”

When the physical tries to enter the eternal, it dies. We see this as far back as the Garden of Eden. Once man sinned and died spiritually, he was no longer permitted to partake of the tree of life. An angel stood guard to slay any who would come near until the flood buried the garden.

The law introduced the spiritual to man, and only allowed him as far as entering the temple. Even then, if flesh interfered in any way, death was imminent. The high priest had to cover himself with garb filled with symbolic references to what would one day be revealed in Christ. He had to be ritually cleansed and was limited into only using the instruments God had consecrated for Himself. When a priest failed in any point, or contacted God through the flesh, he died. This is why Aaron’s two sons, who were priests, offered an improper sacrifice and were instantly killed. It’s also why the other priests tied a rope around the leg of the high priest. If he died in the holiest place, no one could come in to retrieve him.

Yet something miraculous happened at the cross. Under the law, the holiest place was veiled with a heavy cloth to shield it from the outside world. This was to protect the people, not the holiest place. But when Jesus cried on the cross, “It is finished!” the veil was torn from top to bottom. From heaven to earth the hidden life of the Spirit was unveiled, and now we are commanded to come confidently to the throne of God. Outside of Christ, flesh ruled and the holiest place was veiled. In Christ, the holiest place was moved from the temple to the heart of man, and the flesh was cut out of our hearts so we could become spiritual in nature and now united with God.

Yet when people turn back to the law, they are placing the veil over their eyes and it can only be removed when someone turns to Christ. You are blind outside of Christ. In the flesh, you are blind. In the Spirit, God opens your eyes.

Let’s bring in another passage to shed light on this important truth. The Bible gives us the account of a man born blind who encounters Jesus. Because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, the religious community was in an uproar. They called the man before a council and eventually excommunicated him when he testified of Jesus. The man left and Jesus came to find him. Some of the Pharisees followed, and an interesting interaction took place. Jesus first revealed to the man He was Christ, and then the following discourse occurs in John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, `We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

Notice that the blind were made to see, and those who trusted in their sight remained blind. Jesus used a physical healing of sight to reveal a spiritual truth. Until Jesus opens our spiritual eyes, we are in blindness – whether we know it or not. Those who understand they are blind, look to Jesus and He gives them sight. Those who say, “We see,” will remain in blindness.

God will not allow flesh to be glorified. Those who look at religion and build their own doctrines with human understanding will not discover the life of the Spirit, which cannot be seen with human eyes. Man has created 33,000 denominations and sub-denominations with spiritual eyes based on man’s own understanding. Each one says, “I see,” and therefore they remain blind. It is only when you and I understand we are incapable of seeing the spiritual life we are called into that we learn to trust in Christ. Then the Spirit reveals understanding to us, and we get a glimpse into the life of the Spirit.

We will see more and more as we learn to quit looking to our own understanding and begin trusting in God. This is even affirmed in the Old Testament when God said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We must learn to lean on Him and not ourselves. As we do, we get a new glimpse and we grow into spiritual maturity.

There is a reason why God has designed faith this way. God does not want you to gain mere knowledge. Let’s let the Bible explain. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

Now this is an interesting instruction. In this passage, the Bible isn’t addressing those who are stuck in idol worship, but those who know an idol is nothing. This person knows idolatry is a sin, but that knowledge, instead of producing godliness, it produces pride. Then pride has blinded this person to the love of God, thus making the one who abstains just as blind as the person he is condemning. His knowledge has puffed him up with pride and he needs to be reminded that he knows nothing other than what God has revealed to him. Knowledge puffs up, but agape love edifies. Everything must come through the agape love of God.

God does not want you to discover knowledge outside of the agape fellowship of God. Many wonder why God blinds people or makes spiritual life such a challenge. The reason is simple. God does not want you to be lifted up with knowledge by personal effort. God wants you to discover the knowledge of His love. The agape fellowship you have entered is the focus. As you discover Him through the relationship you have been given, you discover deeper truths that help you grow deeper into that fellowship.

Knowledge without agape is worthless. It makes men puffed up. It causes religious leaders to look down on those with less knowledge. It causes religious people to look down on sinners. It causes denominations to look down upon other denominations. As we declare, “We have the answers,” God is declaring, “Because you say ‘we see’, you will remain blind.”

It’s interesting that when the Pharisees that scoffed at Jesus statement, “Those who see are made blind,” Jesus shifted the focus to sin. “Because you say, ‘We see,’ you will remain in your sins.”

In the flesh we are in sin. In the Spirit, sin becomes irrelevant. Never do you see God saying to those who discover grace, “Look at your sins.” It’s only those who believe they are doing good who are declared as sinners. In the Spirit, the flesh is not the focus; therefore, sin is irrelevant. When the flesh is the focus, sin is always magnified for the purpose of showing each of us the words of the ex-Pharisee, the Apostle Paul, “In me, that is in my flesh, nothing good dwells. Even when I desire to do good, I cannot find the way to do anything but evil.”

Every person pursuing life through the flesh is in sin. This is true for the prostitute and the drug addict, and it is also true for the minister of the gospel and the one trying to accomplish good works. In the flesh everything is sin. Lust is rebellion against God believing the pleasures of the world are greater in value than the goodness of God. Self-righteousness is rebellion against God, for it casts aside the work of Christ in an attempt to make ourselves good without the righteousness of God given to us. My works by human effort is an attempt to make myself into Christ’s equal, making myself His rival. And that is a more blatant rebellion than riotous living.

When the people of the Old Testament blundered through sin, the Bible says, “He called to mind that man was only flesh,” and He had compassion on them. God confined man to flesh so man would learn to look to the relationship of God knowing the answer couldn’t be found in the flesh. It’s a gift of God that prevents us from following our own tenants and believing we are great enough to discount grace. It’s a gift that keeps us from settling for the flesh and missing the eternal.

But there’s more. The nation of Israel is a picture of God’s mercy as a testimony to the nations. The Bible tells us that they were blinded so God could show mercy on all. Look at Romans 11:7, 32-33

7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

We can dig out some wonderful truths here. They were blinded by God so that righteousness could only be discovered through Christ. They were all committed to disobedience that God might have mercy on all.

This is the same as we see in the law as it applies to our sin. Through the law, every person was committed to disobedience without any hope of becoming righteous. We were blinded to the reality of the life in the Spirit and all made guilty through our common heritage – Adam. All were committed to sin so that every person is on equal ground. And then each person is called into Christ where mercy is given to every person.

God did not prepare Christianity for the elite. The clergyman and the layman and the vile sinner all have the same condition and all are invited into the same glory. We are invited into God’s agape fellowship where all has been given, we are complete in Him, and all have the anointing of the Spirit upon them.

If it’s about knowledge, then the theologians are favored. If it’s about works, the strongest are favored. Instead, God made it about His agape love. Every person, regardless of status, education, race, or any other thing, enters the same way. It’s all about the love of God. All of us have different gifts and callings, but we have the same focus. Everything emerges from the love of God. God reveals Himself to you through the fellowship of agape love. God empowers your calling through His fellowship love. Your gifts of the Spirit are given through His love, and must be empowered through His love. Your spiritual gift outside of agape means nothing. Your works outside of agape mean nothing. Agape covers sin, justifies the sinner, gives us life in the Spirit, and places us in a united church where all have the same value and access to God.

God doesn’t want you to discover anything but the depth of His agape love. You were committed to sin so you could see that hope is not in the flesh. You were blinded to truth so all that does not come through agape could be proven as false.

If there is one thing I want you to take away from this it’s that sin doesn’t matter. Failure doesn’t matter. Your works don’t matter. Your efforts don’t matter. Everything is a gift designed around a life established in the agape fellowship of God. Once you understand God’s love, everything else loses value. Once you understand how much God loves you, your failures become irrelevant. Once you realize there is no difference between the saint and the sinner, but all is transformed through grace – God’s gift of love, the barriers preventing you will crumble.

The more you trust in God’s goodness, the less power sin will have. When you know and believe in the love God has for you, then you will understand that God’s commandments are intended to lead us away from what is of the dying flesh and toward that which is truly good, rebellion will lose its hold.

The more you understand grace, the more sin’s power is destroyed. Grace does not lead to sin; it destroys the false promises of sin.

Eddie Snipes 2014

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The Promise of the New Covenant – Isaiah 54 (Part 2 of 3)

Isaiah 53 presents the work of Christ and how He bore our transgressions and took away our guilt. The New Testament affirms the reality of this truth and shows how it applies to our lives. One thing that stands out in these Messianic prophecies is that they are directed to the Jewish nation of Israel. Of course, as you read through these, the Bible makes it clear these are not merely for the Jews, but rather it is through them that God would deliver the New Covenant that all nations shall enter.

If you read the book of Acts you will see that the early church had a difficult time understanding that the New Covenant was not only a Jewish promise. The apostles of Jesus helped the church understand this by pointing to the promises which said, “In Him shall the Gentiles trust,” and as we read earlier, Christ’s atonement was for the sprinkling of the nations. The Bible goes on to say that in Christ, no one is viewed as male or female, imprisoned or free, or Jew or Gentile. We are all one in Christ. There are no races, denominations, class distinctions, or hierarchies. We are of the same body with gifts and callings that work in agreement with the whole body.

Keep these things in mind as you study through these prophecies. They are often directed toward the people of the Old Covenant, but through them, the New Covenant is delivered which includes all people, nations, races, classes, and any other distinction man uses to create divisions.

Most of the Old Testament examples are testimonies of what God was doing to prepare the way for us, the people of the New Covenant of Christ. In the passage we are about to read, this is also true. The Old Testament people fell under the wrath of judgment because of their sin against the law, but only for the purpose of revealing the end of wrath in the New Covenant. The same is true for you and I. Let’s begin with Ephesians 2:3-6

3 [W]e all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

You were once children of wrath when you were in sin. Not sins, but in sin. Under the law, you were under the wrath of God, for sin is imputed against all those who are under the law. As we read in the previous message, where there is no law, sin is not imputed. But once we are in Christ, we are justified – or counted as just – for the law has been satisfied. The wages of sin, which is death, was satisfied through Christ’s death, and once we are in Christ, we have passed from the death of the flesh to the life in the Spirit. This is why we escape wrath. This is reiterated in Romans 5:9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

We were under wrath because we were in sin. Now we are MUCH MORE justified by His blood. It isn’t the equal force of righteousness butting against an equal force of sin. It is the abundance of righteousness plowing over sin. We have much more righteousness than we ever had sin. For a moment, we were overwhelmed by sin, but when God’s grace enters, the moment has passed and the eternal has begun. This is the promise foretold in Isaiah 54:7-10

7 “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you.
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
10 For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

This promise emerges after the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. Jesus bore our transgressions and was punished for our sin. The chastisement for our peace was laid on Him. Once Jesus made an end to sin, the promise above is born. For a moment we were under wrath because of sin, but once we are in Christ, everlasting favor has begun.

In the early church after the New Covenant was given, there was a big push to reintroduce the law to Christians. Jewish Christians raised under the Old Covenant were law-minded and had a difficult time believing the work of Christ fulfilled all the law. The Gentile Christians were pressured by Jewish Christians to submit back under the law. This created a lot of conflict between the apostles and the legalists of the first century church.

Legalism has always been a point of confusion in the church, but in our era, there has been a return to the law and Christians are being pressured to return to Hebrew roots and several growing movements are teaching grace gives us power to keep the law.

When a Christian submits themselves under the law, they are denying the work of Christ. If Jesus fulfilled the law and you are called the justified by God because you put your trust in Christ’s finished work, then to depart from that trust is to fall from grace. This is exactly what the letter to the Galatian church was addressing. “You have fallen from grace, you who try to keep the law.” Many Christians are being persuaded to trust in the law and are also falling from grace. Christians simply don’t understand that the law was completely satisfied in Christ, and the law has come to an end for those who are in Christ. Let’s let the Bible explain. Look at Romans 8:2

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Recently I had a Jewish Christian write me a rebuttal of more than twenty pages that made the argument that we have to keep the Torah – the first five books of the Old Testament where the law was given – in order to stay in a right standing with God. He argued that the law of sin and death came to an end, but not the portions of the law that makes us righteous.

Every scripture he shared was out of the Old Testament. What those who focus on the law and how they are attempting to keep it is that all the law points us to Christ. The Bible calls the law our tutor which brings us to Christ. What this critic of grace doesn’t understand is that the law makes no one righteous. The Bible tells us that the law never justifies a person. Look at Romans 3:20

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

It is as we examined earlier. The law was given that sin might appear to be sin. We think we are righteous until the full measure of the law comes in. Then it reveals that we cannot be righteous. The law does not make sinners into saints. It reveals to those who think they are saints that they are in fact sinner. It’s like the rich young ruler that came to Jesus claiming he had kept the whole law. When Jesus asked if he had loved his neighbor as himself, the man said, “I have done this from my youth up.”

In his self-justification mindset, he believed that because he gave more to the poor than other people, he was fulfilling the law. But the law doesn’t say to do more than others. It said to love your neighbor as yourself. How could he be rich and his neighbor poor if he is fulfilling the law? That’s when Jesus issued the challenge to sell all and give to the poor. That is when the law made the man who thought he was righteous into a failure, and he walked away defeated. The law is intended to show us that if man wants to be like God, this is what he must do. Perfection, absolute perfection is the standard. It isn’t doing better than those you are comparing yourself to. It isn’t doing your best. The law asks one question, “Are you in perfect standing without spot or blemish?” If not, you can’t attain to salvation by human effort.

That is when the work of Christ is unveiled. Here are your two choices – be perfect, or trust in Christ’s perfection. Pay for your sins, or trust in Christ’s payment for your sins. Once we are in Christ, we are no longer under the law of sin and death – which is our condemnation. Not only that, but we are no longer under the law’s demand for our righteousness. Look at Romans 10:4

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

So you can see that not only has the law of sin and death come to an end in Christ, but so has the law’s demand for our righteousness. Legalists are missing half the gospel. Jesus did not only take away our sins. Jesus also gave us His righteousness. Take this passage to heart, 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.

The law of your sin has come to an end in Christ, for as we read previously, “He who has died has been set free from sin.” You died in Christ and are freed from sin. But that’s only half the message. The other half is you were raised with Christ into new life. That new life is born in the righteousness of God. The Bible doesn’t say to become righteous for God. It says you are the righteousness of God in Christ. It’s God’s righteousness. Even Jesus said, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” You are not seeking your righteousness, but by faith you are seeking the gift of righteousness that makes you in perfect standing with God. This is also explained in 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 Jesus is, so are you in this world. It doesn’t say you will be as He is in heaven. You are already in the reality of eternity now, but without faith it cannot profit you. You are already complete in Him. The Bible promises that just as sin once reigned in your mortal body, no righteousness reigns much more in you through Christ. You are MUCH MORE justified in Him.

Not only has the judgment passed, but it can NEVER return. It has passed and is sustained by the promise of God. Grace is under the surety of God’s promise. The rainbow was given after the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. Never again will the earth be flooded to wipe out all life. That promise is certain and will never be broken. The rainbow stands as a testimony to God’s sure promise. Now the cross stands as the testimony of God’s sure promise.

Just as the world CANNOT be extinguished again by a flood, you and I CANNOT be under the condemnation of sin again – EVER. It is as sure as the promise given to Noah. God has promised you that He will NEVER be angry at you again. God has sworn that He will NEVER rebuke you again with is wrath. The rebuke here is the image of a judge punishing an offender.

That is indeed good news, but wait, there’s more! When God is pouring out His favor, it is never merely a sufficient dose; it is always abundantly above what we could think or ask. You ask for forgiveness, thinking that escaping judgment was sufficient. But God not only forgave, but poured out the abundance of His favor upon you. And then God says, “I am swearing an oath to you that as sure as the world cannot be flooded again, I cannot withdraw my favor again.” Grace is irrevocable. It’s irrevocable because it is based on the certainty of God and not the weakness of man.

Even if the mountains of the earth could be shaken away and removed, His kindness and favor (grace) cannot be removed. God’s promise of kindness is more certain than the mountains. The New Covenant, paid for and sealed with God’s own blood, can never end. It is sealed and guaranteed by God – not by your performance. When you fail, and you will, it does not affect God’s covenant, for you are not the guarantee of His covenant of peace. Let’s look at a passage that identifies and overcomes the reason most Christians fail to experience the life of peace. Look at 1 John 4:16-19

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
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.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Do you know and believe in the love God has for you? If you are like most Christians, God’s love is a vague concept that religious teaching has made into a conditional reward instead of an unmerited promise.

There is only one requirement for all of God’s promises – faith. The Old Testament saints failed to enter into God’s rest because of unbelief – even though the works were already completed by God. We also fail to enter into the promise of rest in Christ for ONLY one reason – unbelief. We don’t really believe God’s promise. Once we believe, everything changes. Let me give you an example.

Why do people rebel? Stop and think about why rebellion occurs. Whether it is a group rebelling against a government, a person rebelling against authority, a child rebelling against her parents, or us rebelling against God, there is one common denominator in all these things. Trust has been lost. And that is how Satan tempts you to sin. His method has never changed. Look at Genesis 3:4-5

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan prepped the temptation by devaluing the consequences of sin. “God said you would die, but you won’t die.” “God said sexual immorality is sinning against your body, but it isn’t really. He said it will destroy your body, but that’s not true.” “God said unforgiveness is a snare to your soul, but that’s not true.” Name the sin and Satan will devalue what God warned, but that isn’t the temptation. That is to undermine you from reasoning out the consequences of sin. People say that grace-believers think it’s okay to sin, but it’s quite the opposite. Understanding grace unveils our eyes to see the truth of sin.

The heart of temptation is the belief that God is not out for your good. God is depriving you. “God knows that in the day you partake of sin, your eyes will be opened,” Satan whispers in your ear. “You can turn to sin to get the good God is depriving from you,” his promises are empty words of promise laced with mistrust. If he can persuade you that God’s best for you is less than what you can produce outside of him, rebellion seems like a logical decision.

When does a teen rebel? They rebel when they believe their parents are not seeking their good. When Mom is denying me something that is good, I am angered. When Dad is enforcing rules that I don’t understand, I become frustrated. Every teen believes they know better than their parents, otherwise, they would have no need to become rebellious. In their eyes, what they desire appears good, and they don’t believe their parents know the consequences. They trust more in their own understanding than in their parents knowledge and experience.

When a governing authority has oppressed people to the point where they lose hope in finding good, revolt begins. The Soviet Union was one of the most feared governments in the history of the world. For more than forty years, they kept people in check through fear and punishment. The entire world was on edge out of a fear of this mighty nation. Yet when the people lost hope, consequences and fear could no longer constrain them. They stormed the walls that caged them and tore free from the people who once oppressed them.

Religion is no different. Proverbs 29:18 says that where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint. The fear of judgment has been the church’s tool for many generations. Yet in this generation people are saying, “Let’s cast off all restraint.” Preaching hell, judgment, and God’s wrath cannot keep this culture from abandoning the church.

The real question is, “Why has the church employed this method of religion?” Part of the reason is because when the natural mind sees people going astray, it seeks to enforce standards by human methods. If you quit coming to church, this church will dry up. The culture will become unChristianize. Therefore, I must do something to prevent them from making choices I believe are wrong. If this is my way of viewing the church, I’ll employ tactics to use fear and intimidation to keep people in check.

This method works until people stop believing God and the church has their good in mind. A child who lives under the fear of punishment will stay in check for a while. But the time will come when the child loses hope and says, “I can never please mom or dad, so why try?” Or, they don’t know what they are talking about and consequences are less fearful than what I can gain.

A child who is nurtured into seeing the value of the old rules will no longer need restraint. A three-year-old can only understand the rules. But as that child grows, they begin to shift into ‘why?’ If that question is not answered, the question will grow into mistrust. Mistrust always leads to rebellion. Outwardly, some personalities may give a show of obedience, but inwardly they resent it. Even the keepers of the law had this problem, which is why God said, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

Religion can only take you so far. At some point it is just going through the motions. A person going to church just to appease God is a heart ready to fall away. Giving an offering, doing works, and reading the Bible just to ease your guilt or appease God is also a heart prepared to fall away.

This is why the Bible says, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” A guilty heart does not lead to true repentance. Guilt may stir you for a moment, but when temptation is greater than your guilt, you’ll fall again. And there will come a time when you are tired of guilt, knowing you are not able to conform to a holy standard, and that’s when falling away begins.

But when someone sees the value of what God says and does, then obedience is not forced. When I value what God is giving me, the worldly things that rob me of eternal treasure will lose value. Then I don’t feel the same temptation. Then when Satan says, “God is depriving you,” that voice will be rejected. We must allow grace to draw hearts. If releasing people from fear and condemnation, and proclaiming their freedom causes some to go their own way, we have to let them make that choice. Having a congregation of people bound by fear is worse than having fewer numbers of people gripped by faith. It is better to have 10 people who understand grace than 500 pretending to serve God in order to escape wrath.

Let’s reverse this and look at the problem for what it is. If we dwindled down to 10, that means we have 10 people walking by faith instead of 500 who stay only out of fear and guilt. It is better to have 10 of faith than 500 faithless attenders. But the reality is that many more will respond to the gospel of peace than we expect. We are losing a generation because fear tactics no longer work. Or perhaps we have lost generations because fear tactics blinded the people to true faith based on the love and grace of God.

Do you believe God is good? That is the heart of the question. And this is why the gospel is given. The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’. But it’s usually presented as bad news. Instead of showing how much greater the love of God is than what we are leaving behind, we are presenting the gospel as though God is not as bad as the hell you will have to endure. How is this the gospel? “Suffer through religion and obedience because it’s better than going to hell,” is not the gospel!

This is why the Apostle Paul said that the message they preach isn’t yes and no – or sometimes we see God’s goodness and sometimes we see God’s wrath and rejection. Instead, Paul said, “For all the promise of God in Him [Christ] are ‘Yes’ and in Him are ‘Amen’, to the glory of God through us.” ‘Yes’ means we are receiving goodness. ‘Amen’ is our rejoicing heart saying, “May it be done in me!” The gospel isn’t goodness, and bad news. The gospel is good news. I’ll reiterate, the word ‘gospel’ means ‘good tidings’ or ‘good news’. The law is the bad news. The gospel replaces the law with the good news.

The church has been in the business of empowering sin instead of empowering people with the good news. The good news is, you who are burdened under the law and condemned, come to Christ and be set free. He carries the burden, not you. The bad news was you were born under sin, and you were heavy laden with individual sins stacked against you. The good news is that all those were judged in Christ, and all you must do is step out from under sin, and into Christ. The really good news is now you are imputed, or credited with the good works and righteousness of Christ. All He accomplished is credited to you, and every failure you have made or will make has already been credited against Jesus and punished through the cross.

You and I are blind to the eternal. When we use human eyes, we see sin, condemnation, and our efforts. Our efforts never defeat sin or our weakness, so the best we can do is deceive ourselves into only seeing what boosts our ego. Those who become willfully blind to their sin do well in religion and are blind to their sin and God’s gift of righteousness. Those who can only see their sin and failures are also blind to the goodness of God. The truth is, every person is blind, and only those to whom are given sight through Christ can see truth. Everyone else sees deception in one form or another, for they are trusting in the things of this life, which are the mirage and not the reality of God. Take to heart the words of 2 Corinthians 4:18

While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This means that everything you see is a veil preventing you from witnessing the things that cannot pass away. The things that are not seen are in the spiritual side of life, and it is the spiritual that created the physical world we see. After all things are completed, the physical world will pass, and we will then understand that all things in this life were a mere passing vapor. This is why investing in this life is utter foolishness.

This is also why viewing the law creates blindness to the life of the Spirit. The law ONLY applies to the physical, but once the physical has passed, the law will have no effect. It’s also why the Bible says the law has no effect on those who are in Christ. Romans 3:20 tells us that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified before God. Law is only intended to give those who are still in the flesh the knowledge of sin. Two more times God emphasizes that flesh will not be allowed to glory in God’s sight.

The Bible says that the law is spiritual, but because those who attempt to keep it are carnal (or of the flesh), it cannot justify. It only condemns. The law stands guard over the spiritual world and says, “If you are of the flesh, you cannot enter here. If you are spiritual, you cannot bring anything of the flesh with you.”

When the physical tries to enter the eternal, it dies. We see this as far back as the Garden of Eden. Once man sinned and died spiritually, he was no longer permitted to partake of the tree of life. An angel stood guard to slay any who would come near until the flood buried the garden.

The law introduced the spiritual to man, and only allowed him as far as entering the temple. Even then, if flesh interfered in any way, death was imminent. The high priest had to cover himself with garb filled with symbolic references to what would one day be revealed in Christ. He had to be ritually cleansed and was limited into only using the instruments God had consecrated for Himself. When a priest failed in any point, or contacted God through the flesh, he died. This is why Aaron’s two sons, who were priests, offered an improper sacrifice and were instantly killed. It’s also why the other priests tied a rope around the leg of the high priest. If he died in the holiest place, no one could come in to retrieve him.

Yet something miraculous happened at the cross. Under the law, the holiest place was veiled with a heavy cloth to shield it from the outside world. This was to protect the people, not the holiest place. But when Jesus cried on the cross, “It is finished!” the veil was torn from top to bottom. From heaven to earth the hidden life of the Spirit was unveiled, and now we are commanded to come confidently to the throne of God. Outside of Christ, flesh ruled and the holiest place was veiled. In Christ, the holiest place was moved from the temple to the heart of man, and the flesh was cut out of our hearts so we could become spiritual in nature and now united with God.

Yet when people turn back to the law, they are placing the veil over their eyes and it can only be removed when someone turns to Christ. You are blind outside of Christ. In the flesh, you are blind. In the Spirit, God opens your eyes.

Let’s bring in another passage to shed light on this important truth. The Bible gives us the account of a man born blind who encounters Jesus. Because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, the religious community was in an uproar. They called the man before a council and eventually excommunicated him when he testified of Jesus. The man left and Jesus came to find him. Some of the Pharisees followed, and an interesting interaction took place. Jesus first revealed to the man He was Christ, and then the following discourse occurs in John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, `We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

Notice that the blind were made to see, and those who trusted in their sight remained blind. Jesus used a physical healing of sight to reveal a spiritual truth. Until Jesus opens our spiritual eyes, we are in blindness – whether we know it or not. Those who understand they are blind, look to Jesus and He gives them sight. Those who say, “We see,” will remain in blindness.

God will not allow flesh to be glorified. Those who look at religion and build their own doctrines with human understanding will not discover the life of the Spirit, which cannot be seen with human eyes. Man has created 33,000 denominations and sub-denominations with spiritual eyes based on man’s own understanding. Each one says, “I see,” and therefore they remain blind. It is only when you and I understand we are incapable of seeing the spiritual life we are called into that we learn to trust in Christ. Then the Spirit reveals understanding to us, and we get a glimpse into the life of the Spirit.

We will see more and more as we learn to quit looking to our own understanding and begin trusting in God. This is even affirmed in the Old Testament when God said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We must learn to lean on Him and not ourselves. As we do, we get a new glimpse and we grow into spiritual maturity.

There is a reason why God has designed faith this way. God does not want you to gain mere knowledge. Let’s let the Bible explain. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

Now this is an interesting instruction. In this passage, the Bible isn’t addressing those who are stuck in idol worship, but those who know an idol is nothing. This person knows idolatry is a sin, but that knowledge, instead of producing godliness, it produces pride. Then pride has blinded this person to the love of God, thus making the one who abstains just as blind as the person he is condemning. His knowledge has puffed him up with pride and he needs to be reminded that he knows nothing other than what God has revealed to him. Knowledge puffs up, but agape love edifies. Everything must come through the agape love of God.

God does not want you to discover knowledge outside of the agape fellowship of God. Many wonder why God blinds people or makes spiritual life such a challenge. The reason is simple. God does not want you to be lifted up with knowledge by personal effort. God wants you to discover the knowledge of His love. The agape fellowship you have entered is the focus. As you discover Him through the relationship you have been given, you discover deeper truths that help you grow deeper into that fellowship.

Knowledge without agape is worthless. It makes men puffed up. It causes religious leaders to look down on those with less knowledge. It causes religious people to look down on sinners. It causes denominations to look down upon other denominations. As we declare, “We have the answers,” God is declaring, “Because you say ‘we see’, you will remain blind.”

It’s interesting that when the Pharisees that scoffed at Jesus statement, “Those who see are made blind,” Jesus shifted the focus to sin. “Because you say, ‘We see,’ you will remain in your sins.”

In the flesh we are in sin. In the Spirit, sin becomes irrelevant. Never do you see God saying to those who discover grace, “Look at your sins.” It’s only those who believe they are doing good who are declared as sinners. In the Spirit, the flesh is not the focus; therefore, sin is irrelevant. When the flesh is the focus, sin is always magnified for the purpose of showing each of us the words of the ex-Pharisee, the Apostle Paul, “In me, that is in my flesh, nothing good dwells. Even when I desire to do good, I cannot find the way to do anything but evil.”

Every person pursuing life through the flesh is in sin. This is true for the prostitute and the drug addict, and it is also true for the minister of the gospel and the one trying to accomplish good works. In the flesh everything is sin. Lust is rebellion against God believing the pleasures of the world are greater in value than the goodness of God. Self-righteousness is rebellion against God, for it casts aside the work of Christ in an attempt to make ourselves good without the righteousness of God given to us. My works by human effort is an attempt to make myself into Christ’s equal, making myself His rival. And that is a more blatant rebellion than riotous living.

When the people of the Old Testament blundered through sin, the Bible says, “He called to mind that man was only flesh,” and He had compassion on them. God confined man to flesh so man would learn to look to the relationship of God knowing the answer couldn’t be found in the flesh. It’s a gift of God that prevents us from following our own tenants and believing we are great enough to discount grace. It’s a gift that keeps us from settling for the flesh and missing the eternal.

But there’s more. The nation of Israel is a picture of God’s mercy as a testimony to the nations. The Bible tells us that they were blinded so God could show mercy on all. Look at Romans 11:7, 32-33

7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

We can dig out some wonderful truths here. They were blinded by God so that righteousness could only be discovered through Christ. They were all committed to disobedience that God might have mercy on all.

This is the same as we see in the law as it applies to our sin. Through the law, every person was committed to disobedience without any hope of becoming righteous. We were blinded to the reality of the life in the Spirit and all made guilty through our common heritage – Adam. All were committed to sin so that every person is on equal ground. And then each person is called into Christ where mercy is given to every person.

God did not prepare Christianity for the elite. The clergyman and the layman and the vile sinner all have the same condition and all are invited into the same glory. We are invited into God’s agape fellowship where all has been given, we are complete in Him, and all have the anointing of the Spirit upon them.

If it’s about knowledge, then the theologians are favored. If it’s about works, the strongest are favored. Instead, God made it about His agape love. Every person, regardless of status, education, race, or any other thing, enters the same way. It’s all about the love of God. All of us have different gifts and callings, but we have the same focus. Everything emerges from the love of God. God reveals Himself to you through the fellowship of agape love. God empowers your calling through His fellowship love. Your gifts of the Spirit are given through His love, and must be empowered through His love. Your spiritual gift outside of agape means nothing. Your works outside of agape mean nothing. Agape covers sin, justifies the sinner, gives us life in the Spirit, and places us in a united church where all have the same value and access to God.

God doesn’t want you to discover anything but the depth of His agape love. You were committed to sin so you could see that hope is not in the flesh. You were blinded to truth so all that does not come through agape could be proven as false.

If there is one thing I want you to take away from this it’s that sin doesn’t matter. Failure doesn’t matter. Your works don’t matter. Your efforts don’t matter. Everything is a gift designed around a life established in the agape fellowship of God. Once you understand God’s love, everything else loses value. Once you understand how much God loves you, your failures become irrelevant. Once you realize there is no difference between the saint and the sinner, but all is transformed through grace – God’s gift of love, the barriers preventing you will crumble.

The more you trust in God’s goodness, the less power sin will have. When you know and believe in the love God has for you, then you will understand that God’s commandments are intended to lead us away from what is of the dying flesh and toward that which is truly good, rebellion will lose its hold.

The more you understand grace, the more sin’s power is destroyed. Grace does not lead to sin; it destroys the false promises of sin.

Eddie Snipes 2014

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