In the Bible, ‘the law’ often refers to the covenant that God made with Israel, which Christians know as the Old Covenant. It required of them, amongst other things, to keep God’s moral law. It is especially in this regard that Paul called it a ministry of condemnation (see Gal. 3:10). For, though it was good, in that it highlighted God’s perfect moral law (see Rom. 7:12), it pointed out the error of those who were ‘under’ it, thereby condemning them.
The law was unable to save those who were ‘under’ it from the penalty of their past, present and future sins. Nor could it save them from their sinful nature or enable them to keep its requirements (see Rom. 8:3). It essentially pointed out human sin and sinfulness, and to their desperate need for another way. The Bible puts it like this: ‘Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith’ (Gal. 3:24).
The same principle is also true for those not ‘under the law’ (i.e. those not part of the Old Covenant). This is because, ‘They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them’ (Rom. 2:15 NIV).
In contrast, Christians (Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ) are in a new covenant with God. And, though we also seek to fulfil God’s moral law (see 1 John 5:3), we don’t do this by being ‘under the law’ (i.e. under the Old Covenant), but by being in Christ. We no longer try in our own strength to satisfy the law’s requirements in order to please God or avoid His punishment. Instead, the good news is that Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice satisfies all that the moral law of God requires of us, justifying us (see 2 Cor. 5:21). Furthermore, His life in us enables us to keep His commandments (see Php. 2:13 & Rom. 6:4). This is especially true when we as a matter of lifestyle ask God to empower us by His Spirit and when we walk in step with His Spirit (see Eph. 5:18 & Gal. 5:25).
‘Therefore, my brothers, you also died to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God’ (Rom. 7:4).
Though not about him, this movie reflects the heart of Israel Folau, a professional rugby player who lost his contract with Australian Rugby for daring to warn the homosexuals that God so dearly loves.
The assurance that I have a journey to make at the end of this life is that having accepted the gift, my spirit is already experiencing the destination. Part of me is writing from the other side. I am there in spirit, with the promise that my mind and my body will be sent later and in perfect condition.
Do you have your paid for ticket to an assured destination? The True Way To Eternal Life
Jesus said, ‘“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”’ (John 14:6).
Jesus also said, ‘“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them”’ (John 14:23).
And, the Bible, my travel guide, says, ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:6).
So, Christ has been my transport and God my destination, but I have also been their destination.
Finally, unlike the casualties of war flown back in a casket, at the end of this age, I will receive a new and glorious body. This one that is shackled by weakness and sickness in a fallen world will be transformed into a new and glorious one. And, my mind will then be further blown away when it better sees the destination that my spirit already knows…God!
Extracts from the Travel Guide
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ … will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Heb 9:27-28).
Listen, I tell you a mystery…we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (1 Cor 15:51-52).
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess 4:16-17).
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Cor 13:12).
What About You?
We are all on stand-by, never knowing when we will be going, but needing to be ready. Nevertheless, despite the uncertainty of when we will travel, we can have a say in where we will be going.
Have you met Jesus? Are you in Christ? Is God with you where you are and are you with Him where He is?
Do you know where you are going to? Will you get what you are hoping for?
My uncle gets to travel overseas on vacation quite frequently. To avoid disappointment, he first does extensive research and then books everything beforehand, leaving nothing to chance. Smart thinking!
I wonder how many of us are as thorough in preparing for life’s final journey, especially seeing that it could begin tomorrow, or even tonight. And, despite the uncertainty of its timing, how many know that they can have a say in their destination?
I’m sure that most of us have wondered if such a journey exists and, if it does, where it may lead. Some may even have a final destination that they hope to see. But, how many do research, leaving nothing to chance? And, do people know that some guides are scams?
Knowing that time will most certainly tell, surely people wouldn’t want to leave the potential of such an event to chance by finding comfort in figments of their imagination, versions of religion, hearsay, others’ research or even their own. Or, do they?
Travel Guide or Wing It?
Perhaps some have researched various travel guides only to find conflicting information leaving them perplexed. Maybe this has left them doubting all the guides or, on the other hand, believing them all to have some help for their trip. Possibly some have excluded the likelihood that any one guide is altogether right. Perhaps some don’t want one in particular to be right because of what they know is in it.
Some have wondered whether our existence means nothing more than this life, with no future, no rewards, and no repercussions…no whatever, settling for us being nothing more than highly evolved and beautifully interactive organisms with a limited life-span. But, given the unavoidability of death and the uncertainty of its timing, it wouldn’t be smart to leave the possibility of a definite trip with a certain destination to chance.
With what is at stake, surely anyone would reconsider even a guide that they have learned to care little for. Whatever your thoughts, will you leave it to chance or will you research the possibilities?
What if you find a travel guide that you know you can trust and that tells of a destination on offer that you like? Will you find out what you must do to ensure that you get there?
What if, in reading it, you discover that you are currently booked on a mandatory trip to a destination you would rather not go on? Can you quickly make changes to your travel plans before it is too late?
And, just as travelling abroad requires the appropriate travel documents, do you know the requirements for entering where you hope to go?
Also, what about getting there? Just as we can be knowledgeable about various airlines and their destinations, do you know who will take you to the destination that you hope to see?
What if you discover a travel guide where the author has kindly included a purchased ticket for each of its readers? But, what if you have unresolved issues with that author?
What if the author is more than willing to discuss, give understanding and forgive all the issues that stand between the two of you so that you can go? Will you take the ticket that he paid for to the assured destination?
John 7:37-39, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, IF ANY MAN THIRST, let him come unto me, and drink. HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME, as the scripture hath said, OUT OF HIS BELLY SHALL FLOW RIVERS OF LIVING WATER. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
Jesus’ offer of salvation was all about receiving the promise of the Spirit to those who would believe on Him. Salvation was offered as an experience that would satisfy spiritual thirst and flow as living waters out from a believer’s belly. The Spirit would indwell and flow out from a believer’s life.
Together We Drink Into One Spirit
In writing to believers, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; AND HAVE BEEN ALL MADE TO DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT.”
Two Gifts in One
Essentially two gifts are given when we come to Christ. Our forgiveness (our justification) and the promise of the Spirit. Yet, sadly, just as many believers don’t fully grasp God’s forgiveness and experience little freedom from their guilt, many don’t fully realize and enjoy the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within to enable them to live a godly life, empower them for service and manifest in their lives with gifts, signs and wonders.
Rom 8:9, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Compare this to John 7:37-39 above.
Manifestation of The Spirit
When we first experience something extraordinary like tongues or a word of knowledge, it is not the baptism in the Spirit that we are experiencing, but a manifestation of the Spirit through a gift to someone already baptized in the Spirit. It is simply our first awareness of a supernatural flow or manifestation of the promised Spirit which we already received at salvation.
Receiving The Spirit
No long drawn out prayerful tarrying (waiting) is necessary to receive the Spirit. You will have received Him when you believed on Jesus. Rather, simply ask be filled by Him. To tarry or to wait was simply a command to the first believers who were to receive the promise of the Spirit at the feast of Pentecost, God’s appointed time to first give the Spirit to all who believe (see Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). In so doing God fulfilled the feast to which Pentecost had pointed throughout the Old Testament.
Also, no turning over a new leaf is required either. Justification is sufficient. Just look at the Corinthians! They were not exactly an example of holiness and yet were experiencing the dynamic of the Spirit moving in and through the Body. That said, ungodliness can hinder, frustrate and quench the Spirit.
Luke 11:13, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
This is what salvation is all about: from a life in the flesh to Life in the Spirit. The context of this passage implores us to simply ask. And, asking is sufficient because faith is all that is required.
The Outpouring Begins
The outpouring of the Spirit on 120 disciples at Pentecost manifested in them praising God in languages unknown to themselves, yet recognizable as the mother tongues of Jews who had come from all over the world to the feast. This manifestation drew 3000 people to pay attention. (Note that according to 1 Cor 15:6 there were at least another 380 believers elsewhere who would receive the Spirit too.)
Peter told the crowd, drawn by this inexplicable event, that what they were witnessing was promised by the prophet Joel concerning the Spirit. Peter said that the outpouring of the promised Spirit was related to Jesus being exalted to God’s right hand (being glorified, see John 7:37-39) and Him having received the promised Holy Spirit to give.
Repentance and Forgiveness
It was the man, Jesus, whom they had rejected and had killed. As a result, they were cut to the heart and were led to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, which, Peter said, would mean that they would receive the Spirit. The Spirit, who was used as the bait for their salvation, was the goal of their salvation.
Salvation By Receiving The Spirit
We have preached salvation from sin and stopped there as though it was the main goal. But, Jesus’ message in John 7:37-39, and elsewhere, and Peter’s message at Pentecost was about the promise. God’s promise was the Spirit. God’s gift was the Spirit. Repentance and even justification, as costly as it was to purchase for us and as meaningful as it will forever be to us, remains the means and not the end. These are the pathway to the promise.
Similarly, when Peter spoke to Cornelius (a gentile) and his household about Jesus and got to saying, “’To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins’ …the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”
What Are We To Do?
So, what should we who have received the Spirit now do? Having received the Spirit at salvation, a continual life lived from Him is available to us. The fruit of His presence in our lives (Gal 5:22) along with His wisdom, power and gifts for service.
If we lack in love we should ask to be filled with the Spirit, and if we lack in power we should ask to be filled, and if we lack in wisdom we should ask for it, and if we desire a gift we should ask for it too.
Eph 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be (continually) filled with the Spirit”
Gal 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Have Faith in God’s Goodness
A continual revelation of God’s goodness, of His deep desire for relationship with us and His unmerited favor toward us will impart faith to continually ask to be filled.
Gal 3:5, “…he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you … by hearing with faith”.
Despite our great unity that we have in our faith, it seems that Christians are always divided over particular issues. And, certainly, one of those is whether participating in Halloween is right or not.
In fact, I’m sure that posts holding to various views on Christian involvement in Halloween are written annually around this time of the year, and probably even as we speak, to try and influence people one way or another. But, is there a right Christian response? Is there a clear Biblical answer to this issue? Does asking, “What would Jesus do?” resolve this issue once and for all?
Once in a while, you know that you are writing something that is probably going to open up a hornets’ nest. And, because of the topic, I don’t think that I have to be a prophet to expect that this post will garner more page views than many others that I have written. Nevertheless, my intention is certainly not to make waves for the sake of it, nor simply to gain page views. Rather, I hope that more openness to one another is kindled through this post and in a way that it effects not only Halloween, but also other areas of our lives where we find ourselves divided over issues of conscience. (I hear the hornets buzzing!)
Doesn’t Your Conscience Tell You?
Some don’t participate in Halloween because their healthy consciences won’t let them, while others participate out of a healthy conscience without entertaining evil. (I would say that my wife and I are split into these two categories). And, like a pendulum with its extremes, some even participate out of a brazen spirit with seared consciences, while others participate in an attempt to reach their neighbors with the love of God and the message of the gospel.
Some choose to pray for their neighborhoods at a time when evil can increase, while others watch horror movies, claiming a strong faith and a clear conscience. Some simply see the opportunity to have fun with their kids, while others choose to let the day be of no consequence in their lives.
We are in the World, but not of the World
Some give themselves license to be involved by claiming that they are in the world, but not of it. Some of them do this by the Spirit’s leading while others do it regardless of the Spirit’s leading. Conversely, others use the same verse as a reason not to participate. Again, some don’t participate regardless of the Spirits leading, while others don’t participate by the Spirit’s leading.
Some recognize an opportunity to witness through healthy participation, while others recognize an opportunity to witness through non-participation. Each can argue forever over the merits of the way that they have taken, but let the Spirit guide you individually in the works that God has for you, for God will judge His servants.
Maybe some of our consciences are seared toward the evil around Halloween and we fail to see how much we are dancing with the devil. Maybe some consciences are unable to see room for participation that can contribute to healthy engagement in the fun and festivities.
Let God be Your Guide
This Halloween, let neither legalism nor license be your guide, but let the Spirit of God apply the word of God in your particular life situation. Also, let’s give each other the freedom to discover for ourselves what is best in our particular life situation and let’s not presume to know what is best for one another.
While different opinions over various issues of conscience may always be amongst us, it is in the way that we handle one another rather than our particular position that is a testimony to Christ.
I’m sorry__________ (fill in anyone you like), but I can only love you under certain conditions. And, if these aren’t just right then I’m afraid you may bear the brunt of my dark side! Not to worry though, as I usually do my best to hide my dark side because it’s quite embarrassing for me when people see it. In fact, I have learnt many ways to cover up and put on a pretty good show. For the most part, I come across as a decent chap and you won’t even know when it’s my dark side.
The Bible (and even society) requires things of me that I really cannot do if conditions aren’t optimal. Things like, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” And, because I know what I ought to be socially, I will at times practice this outwardly when inwardly it’s not true of me at all. so quickly a hypocrite, A whitewashed tomb AND no different FROM the Pharisees.
It is easy for me to acknowledge and even teach that this kind of unconditional love is the key to a blessed life and being the blessing that we are meant to be. However, I cannot do it unless God steps in and takes over.
Are you like me too? I hope so as this will help you to understand me.
Perhaps a simple self-test will let you know whether you ever have this same problem or not.
Here’s a test that I think works best:
1. Simply list in your mind the people you knowor see in your church, family, at the gym, college, your workplace, even in the gutter, etc.
Let me help with some prompts.
The sweet receptionist at…
The guy who irritates you because…
How about the colleague who…
What about those ill-disciplined kids at…?
2.Now, close your eyes and imagine their faces one at a time. And as you do this, ask yourself whether you regard him/her/them more significant than yourself.
How did you do? Did you fail too?
Let’s face it, whenever we are not regarding each and everyone with their unique background, personality and gifting, whether in the body of Christ or not, MORE highly than ourselves, then we are in the FLESH and SIN.
You might be thinking, “Shucks, that’s a high standard! Only God can be like that!” Exactly, the unconditional love for one another in the body of Christ and for people in the world can only come from God. It’s the fruit of the Spirit.
So, the optimal conditions for showing you love are when I’m continually being filled with Him and am walking in Him. Pray for me and remind me of Who to go to so that I can love you properly, especially, if you don’t see this in me then.
Rob Morley (Similarities to other posts were unintentional and I hope that they confirm truth for you rather than irritate.)
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Concerning remedying your sinful behavior, don’t focus on being right-and-wrong-conscious, but rather be sold out to God with all of your heart and mind. Being right-and-wrong-conscious can put the emphasis on behavior where you might try to rectify things yourself and not fix the real issue of living from the wrong source. You see, when living from the Spirit, you won’t be occupied with wrong things anyway, because He automatically does what is right.Now, while it has been said that sin and addictions are best resolved by replacing the negative activity with better ones, unless I am living from Jesus as my source, it’s inevitable that I’ll succumb to further sin or addiction. Ultimately, there’s only one satisfying and meaningful way of life and that is living in a Spirit-filled relationship with God.
In believing in Jesus, the issue of righteousness (standing acquitted before God) is settled at the cross once and for all and no amount of error on my part can untangle that. Not only am I acquitted for life, but I am placed into Christ’s death and resurrection, immediately dying to sin and to God’s law, and rising again to a new life. I am born again and made into a new person. And, what’s more, I am joined irreversibly to Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to live in me, giving me the ability to do what I used to fail to do. He also comes teach me and enable me to live the life that Jesus has planned for me.
Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension have made forgiveness of our sins, re-birth to a new life and His empowering of us possible so that we can have productive lives for God’s kingdom. Only, I need to remember that I cannot live apart from Him as my source. In actual fact, living from Jesus as my source is my sole purpose in life. It’s in Him that I get His vision for my life and His strength to carry it out.
So, focus on building your relationship with God as your new source of life. Then, if you should sin, and you probably will, simply recognize that you have lost touch with God as your new source of life and start relying on Him again. Remember, as far as our sin is concerned, both God’s wrath and the law have been satisfied through Christ’s death so that we can be free to enjoy life by the Spirit. No matter how often you fail don’t let your errors stop you. Rather relish in the abounding mercy and grace that there is to pick you up and empower you to succeed again.
So, living in the Spirit is the Bible Code for Life. “…we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6 ).
(If you haven’t yet, THE GOOD NEWS is that you can receive Jesus as your savior. He is God’s free gift to acquit you from sin and give you a new life in the Spirit. This, despite the life that you have led, because He loves you! You see, the Bible says in 1Timothy 1:15, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” Go to God and ask to be forgiven and for a new life in Him).