Word of faith, or faith in His word?

This topic recently came up when someone was talking about a Word of Faith ministry. They explained faith as a force. It’s the source of power that God uses to accomplish His word. They defined it as ‘faith filled words’. It was then explained that our word of faith has the power to accomplish anything. Words are containers and if we fill our words with faith, then we will have power. There are varying degrees of how this belief system plays out, but in a nutshell, it is taught that faith is a substance and we harness that substance for our use.

 

This is not a belief system based on the truth of scripture. I know there are those who will disagree, but rather than picking apart the beliefs of others, let’s look at how God has explain this in the Bible and let everything either stand in agreement or stand against the word of the Lord. Then let us decide which word is truly of faith.

 

Let’s begin with Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

The Greek word translated into ‘substance’ is ‘hupostasis’, which means: strong confidence, substructure, firmness, assurance, or substance. Even if someone knows nothing about Greek, looking at the possible definitions gives a clear meaning. The words that are possible translations are not multiple meanings, but multiple word usages. Substance can be used as long as the usage conveys the idea of something that underpins or is a firm assurance. It’s substance in the sense that faith is substantive in its ability to uphold our confidence. This word is used several times in the Bible, and each time it is used to explain confidence. Here are some examples:

 

2 Corinthians 9:4 You should not be ashamed of this confident…

2 Cornithians 11:17 I speak foolishly…in this confident boasting…

Hebrews 3:14 …hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.

Here is a place where the word ‘substance’ is used in reference to actual substance. Luke 8:3

…and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

 

This is not the same Greek word as what is used in Hebrews 11. This is the word ‘huparchonta’, which means possessions, goods, or property. The misconception of faith being a substance is based on the misunderstanding of the English translation of a single word in a single verse. Out of context, this can be twisted into a wrong meaning, but it can’t be misunderstood if read in the context of the rest of the chapter. Read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11. Based on the ‘substance / assurance’ of faith, Abel pleased God and was murdered for his testimony by Cain. By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelled in tents because they refused to settle into a city, but waited for the eternal promised city, whose maker is God.

 

We look at possessions, but these who walked by faith counted these as nothing. Look at a few more details in this chapter: Hebrews 11:13

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
36-40  36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

 

The Bible gives examples of those who saw the miraculous deliverance of God, and those who miraculously endured suffering. Both endured because of faith.

 

Now if faith is a force that gives us the power to speak our purposes into our world, why is it also used as the example of endurance of those who were mocked, beaten (scourged), sawn in two, slain by the sword, wandered in exile with nothing but animal skins for their possessions, and those who were afflicted and tormented?

 

The message of faith is not that we have the power to use a force for our will, but that we are so confident in God’s promises that we endure – whether we see part of that promise here, or we become the testimony of one of those who endured. I say part of the promise because even those who saw God’s blessings here didn’t count it as the fulfillment of the promise. In fact, they were willing to give up everything of this life because they had absolute assurance in the eternal promise to come.

 

How can a person sawn in two be an example of great faith, if faith is the power to proclaim your will and make your word fulfill what you desire to accomplish? If that’s the case, the people who were sawn in two were fools. The homeless saints of the past who had to make their own clothes as they wandered in the wilderness were also very foolish. Why would you use the substance of power to make yourself worse off? No, this passage can only make sense in light of its intended meaning. These were so sure of God’s promise that they were willing to wait with patience – even if every force of evil stood against them. They had the assurance of Job, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.”[1]

 

Job spoke these words during the darkest time of his life. Though circumstances looked hopeless, he stood on the hope of God’s promise.

Now that we’ve looked at what the substance of faith actually means, let’s look at a great example of faith in action. Abraham is called the father of faith. He was before the Law, and is the Old Testament example of New Testament faith. How does the Bible define faith in Abraham’s life? Abraham believed God, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. Faith = belief in God’s word. Belief is not merely a passive belief that has no meaning. In James chapter 2, twice the Bible reiterates that faith without works is dead.[2] This passage goes on to call out those who say, “I believe in God.” Big deal. Even demons believe in God, but what effect does that have on their lives? We can also look around. Nearly 80 percent of people say they believe in God, yet He is far from the thoughts of most people, and farther from their actions.

 

James goes back to Abraham as the example of what true faith looks like. Many places in scripture we see that Abraham was accounted as righteous because he believed God, but James says to look at Abraham’s life to see the evidence of faith.

 

Abraham was in his late 90s when God promised him a son. God didn’t fulfill that promise until Abraham was 100. God gave Abraham the promise, “In Isaac shall your seed be called.”[3] Abraham took this promise to heart. This promise meant that Isaac had to grow into adulthood and have children who would then carry this promise to the next generation. At the heart of the promise was Christ. Through Abraham and his descendants, God would provide the promise of salvation in Christ.

 

Shortly after giving Abraham the promise, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. He called Abraham to slay his son as an offering for sin. We have the perspective of history and know that the only human sacrifice God ever received was when He became a man and offered Himself up for the sin of the whole world. And He did it on the same mountain that God called Abraham to use to offer Isaac. It was a foreshadow of what God would one day do. Abraham did not have the perspective we have. He only had the promise and the command to offer Isaac.

 

Since the promise of God was, “In Isaac shall your seed be called,” Abraham knew that there could never be a different son of promise. God would either intervene to provide a substitute for Isaac, or God would have to raise Isaac from the dead. Humanly speaking, it’s impossible for a dead son to be the fulfillment of God’s promise; therefore, Abraham believed the Lord fully capable of doing the impossible. Keep in mind that Isaac’s birth was the miracle of the impossible. The heart of Abraham’s faith is found in this statement from Genesis 22:5

And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

 

We will come back to you. Abraham’s faith in God’s promise gave him the firm assurance that regardless of what happened on the mountain, both he and Isaac would return. Now let’s go full circle and return to Hebrews 11. Look at Hebrews 11:17-19

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”
19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

 

Faith was the substance that gave Abraham absolute confidence. Abraham had no power to change his circumstance. He didn’t rebuke the devil. He didn’t question God. He didn’t speak his way out of the trial he had to endure. What faith did do was give him absolute confidence that what God promised, he was able to perform. Abraham walked by faith, and though life demanded what Abraham was unwilling to lose, he trusted that God’s promise could not fail. He walked into the storm of emotions he had to be feeling. He laid his hopes and dreams on the altar. He laid down his own will. Then Abraham rested his confidence in God, who was able to give life to the dead and call things that are not as though they were. Let’s look at the passage I just recited from as well. It’s a long passage, but I encourage you to read all of Romans 4:16-25

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations “) in the presence of Him whom he believed– God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

Faith gives glory to God as this passage states. The belief that we can harness power to speak our will into existence as God has done takes that glory and attempts to make it about ourselves. It is the call to seek independence from God, just as Adam and Eve attempted to do at the original sin.

 

Who gives life? Who speaks into existence that which does not yet exist? Not Abraham. Not the power of faith. It is the power of God. Abraham believed on God, who is able to do these things. Not only that, when there was no hope, Abraham held to hope because he was fully persuaded that God was able to perform His word.

 

And this is the meaning of faith. Faith is believing God. Those who believe God are compelled to obedience, for that is where God’s word is put to the test and His promises are birthed into our lives. Faith without works is dead because any who say they believe God, but are unwilling to trust Him, have nothing but a man-made faith. And anything of the flesh is already dead. Mustered up faith is dead. You can’t produce faith by human effort. Faith comes by hearing the word of God[4] because when we see the promise, that’s when the Spirit reveals these truths to our spirit. Then we have the opportunity to rest fully in confidence in God’s word and promises, or to put our confidence in the flesh and seek safety in either disobedience or apathy.

 

Faith itself is not a substance. Faith is not power. Faith is the revelation of God’s word and purposes to us, and then we are called to trust in what God has revealed. He reveals the promise, but not how that promise will be fulfilled.

 

Back in Hebrews 11, we see examples of those who saw God’s power in this life, and those who saw the reality of it beyond this life. Some saw God work in amazing ways. Some were confident without having to see God’s works in this life. But both examples are people who believed God regardless of what the flesh could see.

 

When you read about faith, keep these things in mind. Faith is not what you do, say, or have the power to accomplish. Faith is trusting in God’s word, His power, and walking where He leads. Faith is believing in God – true belief. The kind of belief that causes us to trust in Him whether going through the valley of the shadow of death, or on the mountain top of restoration. Faith is to trust fully in God and His power to keep His word.



[1] Job 19:25-26

[2] James 2:20, 2:26

[3] Genesis 21:12

[4] Romans 10:17

Happy wife, happy life, and other lies that rob relationships

Christians have a tendency to borrow philosophy from the world and treat it as though it were truth. The world has a poor track record when it comes to advice, so why do we adopt failing philosophies and ignore God’s advice. His track record is perfect. The failures among Christians are the result of distrusting God, not the result of trusting His word. G. K. Chesterton said it best, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” No truer words could have been spoken. Also consider the words of Colossians 2:8

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Following the wisdom of the world will cheat you out of the blessings of the Lord. It isn’t God who withdraws blessings, it is we who choose to walk in the place where God’s blessings are not found. In no area is this more true than in relationships.

Consider how the world presents the male role in marriage. There are two false examples and rarely do we see a good example. Worldly example 1 is the macho man. He’s the guy who looks at women as objects of his pleasure. He takes what he wants, and the woman likes it. In mainstream Hollywood this man wins the woman’s heart by his own hard heart and selfish attitude. A classic movie showed a woman stomping off in anger. The macho man snatched her by the arm, spun her around and kissed her. She fought at first, but then melted in his arms and said, “I like a man who takes what he wants.” This would be laughable if not for the fact people actually believe the selfish lie.

Example 2 is the Bundy syndrome. The popular 80’s sitcom, Married with Children, depicted the father figure of Al Bundy. He was a moron, wimp, and lacked any type of positive leadership skills. This has become the trend in Western culture for depicting the male role in the family. Listen to the commercials on the radio. Smart woman, dumb man. The man is clueless until he submits to the leadership of his wife. In some ways this is a backlash against the bimbo blonde image of women from the 50s and 60s, but to degrade one sex does not make up for the degrading of the past. It only creates new problems. Emasculating men does not empower women. It merely abandons God’s design and tries to fix worldly problems with worldly solutions. The worldly degrading of women was a failure in the family. Do we think worldly degrading of men will have a better effect?

The world’s methods of portraying family roles has always failed. Yet the Christian continues to look to the world to adopt the image of males and females in the family. And what is the result? The divorce rate in the church is almost identical to that of the culture. This means the church is adopting a philosophy of those who fail, but promise success. It reminds me of a comedy where someone directed a young man to the town expert on marriage. “Eugene knows all about women. He’s been married eight times.”

The role of women hasn’t done much better in the world. In the ancient culture, women were property. They were subject to men as inferior. Many fleshly minded people throughout history have twisted scriptures for selfish purposes and attempted to manipulate God’s word to bring about self-centered motives. To mix scripture with worldly philosophy only creates a customized worldly philosophy. The same passages that teach women to be subject to the family structure also teach men to love and honor women. Leadership does not equate to degrading. In the same passage that teaches women to submit also teaches men to submit to Christ and imitate His love toward their wives. In every instruction for the wife, there is also an instruction for the husband. But because pride is the standard of the culture, the church adopts this and declares, “I will not be subject to anyone.” And then we wonder why God doesn’t intervene to fulfill His promises.

The truth is that obedience leads us toward God’s best for our life. Obedience cannot earn grace, but it does put us into the path were promises flow. A life focused on the flesh cannot see the abundance already laid up for our lives. We want God to bless our worldly behavior, but God is inviting us to enter His promise. Because the people of the church are unwilling to humble themselves, they allow pride to drive them to pursue their own wisdom instead of being led by the wisdom of God.

The teaching of happy wife, happy life, is a lie. I know, just stating this will ruffle some feathers, but I believe you’ll understand why this won’t work if you follow this to the end. The truth is that no husband can make his wife happy. No wife can make her husband happy. Not one person is immune to the flesh and we all become self-seeking to varying degrees. If my will is not in full agreement with my wife, she won’t be happy. If I can’t fulfill every desire, she won’t be happy. If I can’t provide all the things of life she wants, she won’t be happy. These same things also apply to the husband. We can provide moments of happiness, but true satisfaction comes when we learn to seek others and not our own happiness. True satisfaction is a gift from God and not the work of our efforts.

Just think about the reality of this statement from scripture, “The eyes of man are never satisfied.” If you don’t think this is true, look at all you have and compare it to all you want. I’m happy when I get a new car. In six months, am I still happy? In a short time I will want something else. Maybe something for the car, or something else my desires ‘need’. A new house makes us happy for a moment, but then we need new furnishings. Or need more home improvements. In time, we may even need more room. I was happy with a yard, but now I want more land. I was happy with my relationship, but now things I don’t like are beginning to annoy me. And what happens to satisfaction when annoyances draw our attention? Even when we get what we want, happiness crumbles when other things come in that displeases us.

Happy husband, happy life would also be a lie. Consider a few plainly observed examples of those who have learned to expect happiness. The end result is always disappointment. What happens to children when the parents give them everything they want. Are they happy? Only at the moment of receiving, but they end up with rotten attitudes and unrealistic expectations. What happens when an adult becomes self-absorbed? Executives who are accustomed to being catered to are greatly displeased at petty things that deprive them. Athletes are also great examples. Colleges often cater to star athletes because they want to keep them at the school. But when they make it to the pros, many self-destruct because they expected to be catered to and are offended when they are expected to perform to their multi-million dollar contracts. Athletes complain and go on strike because they aren’t getting enough. Why don’t they recognize how much they have compared to the rest of society?

Two celebrities have made the news in recent years for assaulting hotel maids because they were displeased with something about their room. Hotels treat celebrities like royalty, yet instead of being appreciative, they begin to become discontented about what they don’t like. Never mind that they have luxury all around them. They can only focus on the petty annoyance they dislike.

And that’s the result of human nature. Certainly we want to please others, but if we teach others to expect perfect happiness, it only sets them up for a self-centered world view, and discontentment is the fruit of selfishness. The same is true for ourselves. If I expect to be served, I will be discontent when I feel the service isn’t good enough. When I expect to be happy, I will be discontent when anything fails to make me happy. Then the smallest annoyances can become large problems in my eyes. This is your life when selfishness is the focus. This is my life when I view the world through selfish eyes. We all have selfish eyes, but as we grow in grace, our eyes learn to look to the Lord instead of ourselves. And the result is always contentment. Selfishness always produces discontentment. Faith always satisfies. It’s a fact, but this truth can only be seen when we step out of selfishness and into faith.

Our flesh loves to focus on what we don’t have, and what irritates us. Have you ever met a grumbler or complainer? The vast majority of their complaints are about petty annoyances. The more they complain, the less they recognize the good all around them. Consider the words of Jeremiah 17:5-6

5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.
6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.

 

The Christian lives in the promise, but the flesh draws us to invest back into what is under the curse of a fallen world. This is why seeking happiness cannot satisfy anyone. The word ‘man’ is referring to mankind in the general sense. Anyone who looks to the flesh as the way of satisfaction is pursuing the curse of the world. Not only will they not be happy, but they will not even have eyes to see good when it comes into their lives. And the more they pursue the flesh the more barren their soul becomes.

This is why pursuing happiness doesn’t work. This is also why encouraging people to set their expectation on being made happy is a recipe for disappointment. Pursuing my own happiness can’t satisfy my soul, so how can the concept of happy wife create satisfaction in the family? The more the focus is on happiness the more deprived both sides will feel. Obviously this does not mean that men should not try to please their wives. This should be the case, but when wives believe the lie of the culture that family happiness is dependent upon their own pleasure, they will feel deprived when the husband falls short. And he will fall short often. The same is true for men. If happiness is dependent upon their wives meeting their expectations, they will always feel slighted, for no one is able to fulfill all our expectations and wants.

Do you see the problem with this philosophy? If either side is being fed the expectation that the other should be catering to them, it is a set up for disappointment. The wife will never be happy, for no human will measure up to their full expectation. And anyone being taught to look to anything of this life as the source of satisfaction is pursuing a path to the desert – not the path of happiness. That person will always end up in a barren desert, for no one can every meet your every want or expectation. But look at the rest of God’s word to Jeremiah:

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

 

Who waters the soul? It is the Lord. The one who looks expectantly to the Lord and trusts that all things are of Him will be satisfied. It’s a guarantee. When your spouse fails you, because God is your expectation, you will flourish even when circumstances would indicate otherwise. It is God who waters the soul of those who walk by faith. God will water through your spouse, through your friends, through His word, and through your fellowship with Him. And the primary source of satisfaction comes through your walk with the Lord.

If you are dependent on a person – including yourself – you have cut off all the ways God waters you and you are limited to only what the flesh can provide. And the flesh is fallen and highly limited. It should be evident that if you can’t satisfy your own soul, how can your spouse do so? You know what you want and you can’t fulfill your own needs; therefore, how can someone who cannot see your perspective fulfill your needs. God did not put your spouse into your life to feed your selfishness. The purpose of marriage is to fulfill our longing to express love, not to be a source for selfish gratification. A good marriage is two people seeking the Lord together, and upholding one another. If either party becomes selfish, it robs intimacy out of the marriage and puts self on the throne instead of the Lord.

When one person feels obligated to make the other happy, they will naturally feel a sense of resentment – though they may work to bury it deep inside. Any service out of obligation is not an act of love. Forcing ourselves to submit to being used may work for a time, but in the end love is harmed, not grown.

But there’s more! Look at the promise of Proverbs 11:24-25

24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.
25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

 

There is a reason why the Bible says that the way of Christ is foolishness to the world. The world views everything through the eyes of the flesh. The flesh says, “I must be served in order to be happy.” God says that the soul who seeks itself will only come to want. The true road to happiness is not the pursuit of happiness. It’s to trust in God to be the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.[1] Because we know that God is our source of good, we stop looking at what others are doing for us and start trusting in what God has empowered us to do for others. We give knowing that it is God who will prosper us.

Prosperity does not merely refer to physical possessions. Our soul needs prosperity much more than our wallets. There are those who scatter good into the life of others. The world says that we should make ourselves number one, but how many people do you see that have found lasting satisfaction through self-focused living? God says to scatter into others and you will increase all the more. In other words, you will abound greater than what you have given. But those who take and demand others to give to them only come to poverty. Their soul wants for more and takes from others, but finds no lasting satisfaction.

Do you see why teaching that happy families depend on feeding one person’s desire is a destructive lie? Whether we are teaching wives that in order to have a happy life they must be gratified, or if it’s teaching men that wives are for their pleasure, or to teach kids that happiness is found in things, it is a lie that robs each person of true satisfaction.

If you are barren, stop seeking someone to water you. Stop sulking until your spouse meets your needs. If you want to be watered, start watering others – your spouse, your children, your neighbor. God has promised that if you give to others, He will give to you. God has promised that the one who waters others will be abundantly watered by God’s hand. Do you believe this? Your life testifies to your faith. When I withdraw love because I am not satisfied with the other person, I have made flesh my strength and declared I don’t believe God. Or that I would rather deprive myself than to give to those I don’t feel deserve it. Then I will remain in the barren desert, refusing to drink from the Lord’s blessing because I wish to submit to the flesh.

In Christ, these promises are already yours. Don’t be drawn into worldly philosophies. Don’t listen to the voice of pride which says, “I’d rather be miserable than be a blessing to someone I don’t feel deserves it.” We have received grace. Don’t submit back to the flesh and miss out on living in God’s abundance. A giving life is a happy life. Walk by faith and not by sight through eyes of the flesh. Enjoy God’s gift of true abundance and prosperity. The only other option is to put our trust in the pride of the flesh. As with all promises, the watered soul receives from God by faith – trusting in Him and His word.

Giving to others is to take what God has given us and invest it into the lives of others. Those who sow bountifully will reap bountifully. This is true because it is God who gives the increase.

Keep in mind, the target of this post is not your spouse, but you. And me. It is to examine our ways of thinking and adopt a giving, rather than taking, attitude in our relationships.

Eddie Snipes 2013



[1] Hebrews 11:6

Law verses Grace

When Jesus walked with the disciples, He asked, “Who do men say that I am?” It was a leading question intended to draw a comparison between the revelation of God and how people viewed Jesus through human eyes. They explained many theories they had heard. Some said he was a prophet, teacher, good worker. Some even theorized that Jesus was one of the Old Testament prophets that came back from the dead. “But who do you say that I am?”

It’s a question every person answers. They either answer it with human understanding, or by the revelation of God. Those who know about Christ have various answers. Some even call Him Savior, but then shape that into their own world view. The truth of Christ only comes through God revealing Himself to the person. Look at Peter’s answer in Matthew 16:16-17

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Unless God is revealing Christ to our hearts, we can only view Him through Human eyes. Even then, people can refuse the revelation of God and choose a god who fits their own desires.

If you look at the religious leaders of His day, they viewed Jesus as a deceiver, lawbreaker, and friend of drunkards and prostitutes. The fact He showed love to those under the condemnation of the law caused them to condemn Him.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? They dragged her to Jesus, cast her at His feet, and said, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The Law says she should be stoned to death. What do you say?”

This question was meant to entrap Jesus. The woman was already condemned by the law, but now the law sought to condemn the mercy of God. Jesus held no office or position, so they didn’t need to come to Him in order to stone her. Their goal was to put Christ in a position where they could use the law against Him. Jesus stood there while they demanded an answer. Since they wanted the law, Jesus brought them under the law’s condemnation with the woman. He stooped down and wrote in the sand. The Bible doesn’t say what Jesus wrote, but I believe it was something like this:

Murder – hatred in the heart.

Idolatry –loving things more than God.

Stealing – the reality of greed in the heart.

Witchcraft – rebelling against God in the heart.

Adultery – lust in the heart.

 

On and on Jesus wrote. “Why is he writing these things,” they murmured. “Good teacher,” they said with sarcasm, “The law says she should be killed. What do YOU say?” they demanded again.

 

They thought Jesus was stalling, but He was preparing to make a point that would condemn every one of those who stood on the righteousness of the law. The fact is, they weren’t in good standing either. They were self-deceived in thinking they were righteous because they hadn’t done outward acts forbidden by the law, but that didn’t mean they were righteous under the law. Each of the above statements are teachings in the scripture. What those who trust in the law don’t realize is that sin is first born in the heart, thus condemning us – even if none of these things make it into our outward display to the world. In time, all of these things would become outward expressions as the religious leaders descended into a mad quest to destroy Christ, the one who exposed their condemnation under the law.

Jesus stood up and said, “Which one of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” He stooped down and began writing again. Their goal was to condemn Jesus by showing that He was not trusting in the law, but Jesus showed them the mirror of the law, and they saw their own condemnation. The younger men waited with anticipation for the elders to cast a stone. But they just looked at Jesus’ writing and then to one another. No one had the guts to claim their own righteousness, for the law stood before them, pointing at their own condemnation.

After a few minutes it became clear that not one of them had a clean conscience. The young men watched in astonishment as the older man began dropping their stones and walking away. These men were at the pinnacle of legalism, yet not one of them had a clean conscience. Each one saw their own condemnation when forced to look into the fullness of the law.

After a few moments, Jesus stopped writing and looked up. “Woman, where are your accusers?”

“There are none.”

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

In one incident, the Law was used to challenge grace, but the law became condemnation to everyone who looked to it. Jesus was the only person present who was worthy to cast the stone, and He revealed that every person – religious or sinner, was under the Law’s condemnation – for all have sinned. And He also revealed that grace not only overcomes the law, but sets the sinner free from both condemnation and sinful passions. The message is not that you are uncondemned so enjoy sin, but that you are set free from condemnation so you can now walk in life. This will be explained in more detail in a future article.

This is the message of the gospel. According to John 3:17-18, Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, for the world is already under condemnation. The one who trusts in Christ escapes that condemnation. The one who refuses deliverance remains in the condemnation they are already under.

Compare this truth to what is often preached in most evangelical churches. The church has a tendency to focus on sin. Each week, the Christian is asked to refocus on their sins. But the message of the gospel is that sin has been taken out of the way, and now our focuses onto Christ and the gift of righteousness. The law focuses on sin, for its demand is that everyone be perfect. Since the law is spiritual, but we are carnal (or of the flesh), we cannot attain to that standard of perfection. Therefore, the law focuses on where we fail. The gospel does the opposite. It takes the focus off our failures under the law and turns our eyes to Christ.

The law says, “You failed and are under condemnation.” The gospel says, “Your failure is irrelevant because once you enter into the gift of righteousness by faith, your old life is buried and a new life is given. Now you are righteous because you are given the righteousness of Christ.”

Those under the law always seek to condemn grace because they are not fully looking into the mirror of the law. The law is not singing your praises. Even the pinnacle of self-made righteousness falls short, for as the Bible says, “Even if you keep the whole law, but offend in one area, you are guilty of the whole law.” (James 2:10)

Religion teaches men that they can keep the law by rules, regulations, and good deeds. But the law disagrees. Religion teaches men to put blinders on so they only see the portions of the law that religion can keep, but this does not justify the person. The only time condemnation comes into the vision of grace is when grace takes off the blinders and says, “Look at the whole law, not just what you are able to do.” Once we look at the whole law, we are not condemned. We are made aware that we are already under condemnation. The very law we are trusting in is actually our condemner, for not one person can keep the law from birth to death – therefore all are under condemnation. And one offense makes us guilty – though anyone who is honest knows they offend on a continual basis.

Once our eyes are opened to the law, we see that we can’t use the law to condemn sinners. The law is a mirror for our own sins. That’s when Christ stands before us and says, “Where are your accusers?” Religion condemns. People condemn. But scripture takes both us and our condemners and reveals that we are too weak to keep the law. And then we recognize the gift of righteousness in Him. That is our escape. Take to heart Romans 3:19

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

This is the bad news. All are under the condemnation of the law. The religious person is condemned. The Baptist is condemned. So is the Catholic, Holiness, Church of God, atheist, New Ager, and every person – whether they are religious or not. The law drives us to the understanding that we can never measure up to God’s perfect nature, and then the good news is given. In Christ we are no longer under the Law. Look at Romans 8:1-2

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

In Christ we are set free from the law. No more condemnation for sin. No more penalty of death. In Christ, you are free. Judgment has been taken away in Christ. This is the good news – the gospel of Christ. The call of God is not to do the law, but to trust in Christ, who has fulfilled the law on our behalf!

Eddie Snipes 2013
exchangedlife.com

Goodwill toward men

In the coming weeks, I’ll be starting a series of articles about understanding grace and what that means in the accepted-in the belovedChristian’s life. Or if you are not a Christian, this will be a good opportunity to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of grace.

There is a reason why the gospel is called, ‘The good news.’ In fact, that is what the word ‘gospel’ means. The Greek word ‘euaggelion’, which we translate as ‘gospel’, means: good tidings, or the glad tidings of God. This is not what most people think of when they hear about the gospel. Most people think of the gospel as condemnation that makes us feel guilty. This is partly because some traditional beliefs are that people must be shamed into coming to the altar, then they try to unload their guilt by penance or repentance.

The Bible says that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world was already under condemnation and He came to proclaim God’s acceptance. At Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:14, the angels announced his coming to the shepherds in the field with these words, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The word translated into goodwill literally means, to have pleasure, take delight, or have kind benevolence toward someone. When the law stood as man’s condemnation, guilt separated mankind from God, but Jesus came to fulfill the law and give good gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8). The angels announced the beginning of this new work of God at His birth.

When someone is stuck in the old covenant (the law of the Old Testament), they are prevented from seeing the gift of Christ. The Bible also states this by explaining that those who focus on the scriptures of the law have a veil over their hearts. That veil remains in the reading of the Old Testament, but that veil is removed in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:13-16)

Contrary to what many still teach today, Jesus did not come to proclaim our guilt under the law. The law itself proclaims our guilt. Jesus came to set us free from the law and proclaim the acceptance of God. Look at Luke 4:17-21

17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus made it clear that His life is the fulfillment of this promise found in the Old Testament. Though the Old Testament was founded upon the law, all the promises pointed to Christ. In a future article we’ll look at what the Bible says was the purpose of Old Testament law. For now, let’s focus on the passing of the law. I understand many will argue against this idea saying the Law will never pass away, but these two passages clearly teach the Old Covenant passes away in Christ:

2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Hebrews 8:13

A new covenant of grace is born in Christ. As we move forward, we’ll look at scriptures that explain how the Old Covenant can be eternal, yet still pass away for those who are in Christ. For you, the good news is that in the past, you were under condemnation. In fact, any who are outside of Christ are still under the Old Covenant and are under its penalties. But the good news is that in Christ, the veil of our blindness is removed, and the new life of the Spirit is revealed. That is when you see the truth of the above passage, “The acceptable year of the Lord.”

The promise revealed in the Old Testament, read by Jesus in the New Testament, and proclaimed by the angels at His birth is the same – now God takes pleasure in showing His good will toward man. The condemnation has been taken out of the way, and you are accepted by God through Christ. No more condemnation – just peace with God and an eternal hope that you can rest your assurance upon.

Eddie Snipes 2013