People of Promise 92 Build Up

We are told that as brothers and sisters in Christ we are to exhort, edify, and comfort each other: And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in [spreading] the good news (the Gospel) of Christ, to strengthen and establish and to exhort and comfort and encourage you in your faith (1Thes. 3:2). Exhort means to encourage and cheer onward, edify means to build up–and comfort, well that means to comfort. Exhortation and edification are closely related, for they are both basically forth-telling prophecy. That is, they are based on discovering the true meaning of scripture by digging in and studying the original written Word, and then, inspired by the Holy Spirit, comparing the meaning of any particular passage to the overall character of God and His desires for us in such a way as to spark our faith in, and dependence upon, Him.

Exhortation is the encouragement part of such work; that is, helping others to increase their confidence in who they are in Christ Jesus, both emotionally and spiritually. Edification is a building up. A building up of our intellectual understanding of our relationship to God through Christ Jesus. In this sense, exhortation and edification are hand in glove, so to speak. Simply understanding something intellectually does not mean we have the ability to use such knowledge. Exhortation get the knowledge out of the head and into the reality of active use.

Comfort is an interesting concept. We often think of comfort as a satisfaction of life—“a comfortable life”; easy, relaxing and not in any way demanding or stressful. But comfort can also mean to give compassionate help to others, to “ease” their burdens. And in the Biblical sense, that is what is meant. Jesus, of course, sent us The Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Just look at Jesus’ life to see what God wants for us—Jesus was an exhorting, edifying and comfort-giving machine. He told us about and showed us the character of God. His basic call was that the Kingdom came to earth with Him (Matt. 12:28 Luke 11:20), and He would make it available to everyone who called upon His name (Acts 4:12, Rom. 10:13). He showed us the fullness of God’s comfort by healings (Matt, 4:24; untold numbers—see John 21:25), and feeding the crowds (Matt. 15:28, Mark 6:44), extending God’s forgiveness of sins (Matt. 9:2, Luke 7:48, 1John 2:12), and helping us to understand how close God wants to be to us (John 14:17, 20, 15:4, 17:21).

God wants each of His children to provide exhortation, edification, and comfort to the Church—that is, we are to look out for each other and provide whatever we have in the service of others. And this is as it should be. At the same time, we are told to build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). Obviously, we can’t extend proper edification to others if we ourselves are unedified. We gain understanding of who we are in Christ, obviously, by praying. But even more important is working on the old RSMMA (resume) with added prayer. By reading, studying, meditating, memorizing, and acting on God’s Word–including the Holy Spirit in all this by prayer–we gain the greatest amount in the shortest time, allowing us to help each other become all that God intends for each of us to become.

All well and good, but where is there a promise in this? Well, the promise is hidden, unless one looks at the statement in a slightly different way. If we are faithful to work on our RSMMA with the involvement of the Spirit, God’s promise is that we will indeed be edified—built up—in our understanding of Him and who He has made us to be in Christ Jesus. Not just by our effort alone, but by His assistance and guidance and teaching. It’s sort of like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite. We’re the match that kindles the process, but the dynamite is what does the work. Even so, without the match, the dynamite lies there ready to do its work, but can’t. That little spark of our desire to know God more fully kindles a blast of knowledge that will forever change one’s life, exploding old worldly ideas and allowing the building of a new and better future in God’s plans for us.

But again notice—we are yoked to Christ Jesus (Matt. 11:29-30), and if either Christ or we falter, then the strong one will have to stop and help the other up, and then wait until the other is recovered before going on. Jesus never stumbles and falls, and does not get tired. Not only that, but He carries the largest share of the load. Even so, we still have to carry our share, and not stop dead in our tracks, or else, Jesus will have to stop, too. And that is not a good thing for us. Stay active, get out the Bible, blow off the ½ inch of accumulated dust, open it, and get your RSMMA started in earnest. God promises that you will never regret it.


People of Promise 91 No Harm or Evil

Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? (Rom. 2:4). This statement of Paul’s to the Romans doesn’t sound like much of a promise, but actually there is one in there. Note the way that God has devised to bring people to repentance. Unlike a human dictator who would force people to accept his rule, God extends His grace and mercy to us so that we can understand how much He truly loves us, and how much He wants us to become His children. The promise in all this is that God has no intention to harm us or do evil to us, but rather to give us all that He has.

In actuality, God can’t do evil to us. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one (James 1:13). God does not have any evil by which to tempt us or to harm us. In fact, “evil” really signifies everything that is opposite of God’s character; that’s why Satan is called the “Evil One.”

It almost seems impossible to convince humans to repent of their ways without a good smack “up side the head,” but God doesn’t hand out smacks. He hands out blessings and care. Just look at the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self control (Gal 5:22-23). No evil in there. Just the things that give us a life of purity in Him. God wants us to repent and accept Him as Father so that He can pour out all the very best into our lives.

Of course, as humans, our idea of “best” is not necessarily in line with God’s idea of best. For us, “best” is lots of cash, a huge house with servants, several pools, as many cars as we want, and vacations every week. Our idea of best is completely self-serving. Our idea of best is the cry of the “Gimmie Bird,” “I need, I need, I need, I want, I want, I want.” But God’s idea of best is not anything like that. Certainly He wants us to have enough to eat and a comfortable place to live, and sufficient money to live a life style commensurate with the society in which we live. But beyond that, He also wants us to operate our lives in such a way as to show others His goodness.

Such a lifestyle involves more that just passing out a few bucks on Sunday morning. The church is always discussing the idea of tithes, gifts, giving, etc. And while this can get a bit irritating at times –like phone calls at dinner time soliciting funds for some charity—there is a basis for it. That basis may be exaggerated by human attempts to get money for the church, but its core is Agape. We have been given God’s Agape love (Rom. 5:5), and it prompts us to love others with a desire for the best for them. This is the basis of giving to God-instituted organizations. Never give because some human tells you that you have to. Give because God prompts you to do so. We give so that others can come to know God through a display of His love for them through us.

In that regard, we are working hand-in-hand with God for the benefit of all humans. As His children (Rom. 8:14, 17, 9:26, Gal. 3:26), we are to display His characteristics to those who don’t know Him. Not that this is easy to do, because out old human understandings often cause us to do things the way the world does them—“Repent or else.” This, of course, is the theme of the “Hell, fire, and brimstone” type of evangelism. Literally, to “scare the Hell out of them.” But that’s not God’s way. It’s the human way. God’s way is to exercise Agape toward us—giving the best He has without regard to Himself. One has only to look at Jesus’ life to see the great truth of this. Not once did Jesus preach Hell, fire, and brimstone. All He ever did was give, give, give, until that day when He had to give all He had—His life for us.

Certainly, Hell is the alternative to Heaven, but to use the threat of Hell is to create the image of God as the Sovereign Punisher, not the Sovereign Lover of all humanity. God never created Hell for humans. He created it for Satan and his fallen angels, but if any human belongs to Satan, then guess what? That person will receive the same final end as Satan. And that’s not what God wants. He wants everyone to understand how very much He loves us, and all the truly wonderful blessing that He has for us (Deut. 30:19, John 3:16). God weeps over every person who rejects Him and follows the Evil One–to their ultimate destruction.

Our message to the unsaved should be repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3;19). God is the reviver of our spirit, our soul, and our body. Satan is the destroyer of our spirit, our soul, our body. And we get to choose to whom we will devote ourselves.


People of Promise 89 For Good

There are times when a quick read of a Bible verse or passage, without taking time to logically and analytically reflect on its meaning, can give us a very wrong impression of our loving, caring, gentle, compassionate, and very much concerned-for-our-well-being Father. One of those verses is Romans 8:28: We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Many times I sense by a person’s comments, or am directly told by them, that God brought sickness, death, accidents, disease, and other calamities into their life because it was part of His plan for eventual good for them. Oh my goodness, what a distorted, crippled view of reality and of God. I’m not certain why people believe this, except that they misunderstand God’s sovereignty and think that everything that happens in their life is brought about by God. Absolutely and positively not true. There’s Satan, the world, and non-believers all out there to bring bad, in addition to our own free-will, errant ways.

None-the-less Rom. 8:28 holds a very powerful promise that God wants us to be aware of. It is His intent, and one that he has bound Himself to by a promise and an oath. This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us] (Heb. 6:18).

The promise that He makes to us in Rom. 8:28 is that (1) we must be a partner with God in whatever it is that we are doing. So, when we do things outside His will, He makes no promise to turn that to our good. (2) All that we do with God will be for our good, and never for our bad. (3) It is for God’s children—those who love Him and doing what He wants them to do– and not for others.

Thus when something bad comes into our life: (1) it is not from God. God didn’t cause a car accident so that He could teach a person to have more faith, or to endure suffering, or to bring others closer to the accident victim, etc. God doesn’t bring sickness and disease on us, period. And yet, I’ve heard others say that a particular sickness was given to them as part of God’s discipline in their lives. How, I might ask is sickness a discipline? Seems to me that sickness should be viewed as suffering and punishment, not discipline. People say such things because they equate discipline with punishment—that’s human thinking. And yet, we are not to apply our human ways of thinking and doing to God’s way of thinking and doing. For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance (2Cor. 5:7).

In other words don’t put words in God’s mouth, don’t assign Him human emotions, human methodologies, human desires, human revenge, etc. God is God and not man. We are to learn His ways, not assign our ways to Him, and then make up whatever we want concerning His character and relationship with us.

When we evaluate Scripture, we need to apply logic to that analysis. This means really digging in and actually studying with a clear look at what is being said, and how it applies to God’s nature and His relationship to us. Remember, God has only good for us (James 1:22), so things that are bad are obviously and logically not from God. Still, even if Satan brings bad and intends it to harm our relationship to God, God can bring good out of it. There are countless stories of God bringing good out of bad. He’s done it in the past, He’s doing it now, and He will do so in the future.

The key to what this passage is really saying is that if we are working hand-in-hand with God, we cannot fail. In the short term, things may look grim, but we need to hold fast and not lose heart, and not lose faith. God is not going to allow His project to fail, and we need to hold onto that like life itself. We need to give Him praise and thanks for allowing us to work with Him and praise and thanks for being ever ready to help us in the projects He asks us to work on with him.

The only time that God’s projects “fail” is when we fail, not when God fails. We can derail His intents by refusing to cooperate, refusing to hold fast, giving up when the going gets tough, and not believing that God will bring good out of the project. Our disbelief can cancel God’s plans. Sticking with God will create the most good for the most number of people. Joseph’s life is the perfect example of God bringing the very best out of a bad situation so that His plan for the Hebrews could be brought to fruition. And then along came Moses and all his anxieties and life issues, but because He was faithful to God, He became God’s friend and a great leader remembered for all the miracles that God worked through Him.

So, when you are working on something that God has called you to do, hang tough. Don’t allow fear and doubt to assail you and knock you off line. Stay in His will and thank Him for staying with you and working for your good. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places (Ps. 18:33)


People of Promise 88 Hold Fast

One of the hardest things to do is to notfling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised (Heb. 10:35-36). I say it’s one of the hardest things to do because humans are the least patient of all the beasts. In fact, many become quite beastly when they are delayed for any reason—just look at the way people drive.

As a society, we race from event to event. Parents teach their children about never resting by ushering them to every activity possible: volleyball, basketball, football, baseball, track, gymnastics, dance class, music lessons, tutors, mentors, summer school, camp, and on and on and on. No wonder teens are always exhausted. And because we want to “keep up with the Jones’” we race from job to job, trying to accomplish more than is humanly possible in the shortest time possible, so that we can get on with getting on. No wonder everyone wants God to give a positive and immediate answer to every prayer. It just doesn’t work that way in our relationship with God.

Oh sure, there are times when God wants us to get something done ASAP, and that’s understandable. There are events that do require immediate attention. And God understands that there are sometimes things in our lives that require His immediate attention. But by-and-large, we are just too impatient, too much of the time. We don’t want to work at a relationship with God, we just want a genie-in-the-bottle-God who will whip out whatever we need the very instant that we feel we must have it. Sorry, that’s not God’s role, nor His intent for us.

Building a relationship takes time. Even people that have been married for years don’t necessarily know every event in the childhood of their partner. Sometimes there are well-guarded secrets, sometimes things are buried in the dim recesses of the past and only come to light when something similar in adulthood triggers the memory, sometimes the remembered events are embarrassing, and so on. But in the process each member of the couple builds on his or her understanding of the other, and their relationship become richer and fuller.

That’s the way we build relationship with God. True, one can get into hyper mode and build a relationship very quickly, forming a bond that will never fade. But even so, God can’t tell you everything about Himself in our short lifetimes here on earth. He wants to build an eternal relationship with us. The moment that we experience rebirth into His Kingdom, that relationship is established. We are the ones that determine how fast and how completely it is built. We build it by learning everything that we can about our Father, our big Brother Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And we do this by reading the Word and allowing it to live in us (Heb. 4:12).

We also do it by allowing the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]. Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts. (Col. 3:15-16).

As our relationship with God begins to take form, and we begin to understand all that He has done, is doing, and will do for us, we grow more and more reliant upon His Wisdom, His commandments, and His Promises. For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God (2Cor.1:20). We need to hold onto this understanding, tenaciously.

And of course, we will get pressure from Satan, the world around us, those that don’t know Christ, and even our own doubts and fears that maybe this time God might not come through. But so What if some did not believe and were without faith? Does their lack of faith and their faithlessness nullify and make ineffective and void the faithfulness of God and His fidelity [to His Word]? By no means! Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar, as it is written, That You may be justified and shown to be upright in what You say, and prevail when You are judged [by sinful men] (Rom. 3:3-4).

Our struggles are not with God’s faithfulness, it is with our own understanding of God; our relationship to Him. The more we build that relationship, the more we come to understand Him, and how He works and what He expects from us. God’s timing and His efforts on our behalf are crafted to give us the best that He has. Now be careful. Don’t assign everything that happens in your life as coming from God. That’s just silly (read stupid) fatalism that completely cuts God out of the picture. When bad things occur, we need to run to God, not run away. And we need to put Philippians 4:6-7 into play. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Talk to God about your concerns. Don’t just mumble a couple of pitiful, insipid prayers. Get serious, and really talk. Talk like you meant it. Talk like you were standing right there in front of Him, and He was listening very carefully, nodding in agreement, voicing His Hmmm’s, injecting “I see, and I understand.” And stay with it. A few weak words will not get you where you want to be. How about something radical like talking to God for a full hour, explaining every detail of the situation, discussing your thoughts about it, telling Him what you really need and why. My goodness, that would be a lot of work—perhaps, but it certainly builds relationship, and it helps you stand and hold fast to your confidence in God. And while you’re talking away, don’t forget to give Him praise and thanks for helping you in the situation. Talk until His true peace settles on you. Then you know that you’ve done what needs to be done from your end. And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always] (Col 3:15). God’s peace is the umpire that says, yes, you’ve done what needs done, so stay with it until that peace comes.

When things go well, we need to run to Him, too—giving praise and thanks for all He’s doing to help us to do everything that we can to become all that He intends. Growing up means saying thanks no matter what the situation (1Thes. 5:18). He’s there to help in the bad times and should be thanked, and He brings the good things (James 1:17), and we need to express our thanks for them. The more we do, the closer we become with Him, and the easier it becomes to hold fast to our confidence in His caring and love for us.


People of Promise 87 If

God’s promises are many and ever true, but they all come with that little two letter word upon which so much depends: “if.” You see, we have to do something in order to receive and function in the promises of God. In Deuteronomy 28 Moses outlined all that God was prepared to do for the Hebrews. Note how the chapter starts: IF YOU will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth (Deut. 28:1).

God is nobody’s fool, and He’s not about to freely pass out His blessings to those who won’t believe in Him, believe what He says, or act in concert with His design for humanity. So, there must be that conditional “if.” This is not a “do it or else” condition. God does not threaten us the way humans might—“if you don’t pick up this room immediately, there will be no supper for you.” It’s not a matter of forced labor, intimidation, fear, badgering, etc., etc. It’s merely a statement of fact, no different that saying, if you want to drive a car you have to have a license.

God’s promises could equally be called “terms of the contract.” For, God has made a blood covenant with humans. There was the old covenant (Old Testament) and then with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, there’s the new covenant (New Testament). John 17 lists the terms of the New Covenant—it is Jesus’ Last Will and Testament. In order to receive all that God has provided for us in this new covenant, we have to sign our names on the bottom of the last page next to where God has signed His. When we do, we say that we agree to the terms of the covenant that God makes individually with each of us. These terms say what we will do and what God will do. So, in that sense, they are promises by God, but they are likewise promises by each of us, individually.

Too often, Christians haven’t read the covenant they made with God. They have only a vague idea of what it really says. Perhaps they have a vague understanding that if they are “good” then God will allow them into heaven. There are plenty of jokes about this: “A man appears at the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter asks him….” In this mode of understanding, God becomes the equivalent of Santa Claus—“Making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice, Santa God is coming to town.”

Nothing could ever be further from the real Truth, Who is Christ Jesus. God does not keep a list, and then weigh us and find us either “naughty” or “nice.” He doesn’t dispense gifts to the “good” guys and a lump of coal to the “bad guys.” I almost gag writing this tripe. But, unfortunately this is the misconceived notion that many have.

Here’s how it actually works: we have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end (Heb. 3:14). When we give our life to Christ (sign the covenant) then that guarantees us “all He has for us,” and that’s a lot! When we sign the covenant we say that we believe God is real, and that He rewards us with all the blessings outlined in the covenant—which He has also signed in the Blood of Christ Jesus. We have to trust Him fully (have absolute faith in Him) that He will indeed fulfill His end of the bargain, for without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out] (Heb. 11:6).

Now, what God does for us goes well beyond what humans would do for us in a contract. God not only signs the contract with His own blood, but He then makes all His power and authority available to us to help us keep our end of the contract. Not only that, but when we mess up and violate the terms of the contract, He’s ready to forgive us, and set us up back in the full terms of the contract. All I can say is what an amazing thing God has done for us. It just shows how much He really loves us and how much He desires the very best for us.

Now, look carefully at the “if” statement in Heb. 3:14, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end. The question that should immediately come to mind, is “how do I do that?” The answer is rather simple, but the process not so much. Actually the process is simply, just hard to do with any consistency. What God is saying, is “stay in love with me.” “Keep your full confidence in me, never let it drop.”

So how does one stay in love with God and keep up absolute trust of the King of kings? First, and foremost is to constantly work on your RSMMA—read, study, meditate, memorize, and act. Don’t let a day go by that you don’t activate, enhance, and mobilize your trust in God by reading His Word. It doesn’t have to be great swaths of the Word—just reading John 3:16 and spending a few moments contemplating all that’s said there will certainly stimulate your faith. But you have to do it. You have to because faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself) (Rom. 10:17). We know this is absolutely true because we are to look away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2). Jesus is the One Who initiates faith in us and sustains it in us as we live in His Word.

The second part of the equation is to pray daily. Not some dry, preprinted prayer, but prayer from the heart. Certainly you can pray for specific people and specific things, but pray the way you would say it and for the needs that you see. It’s OK to look at the ways others pray, but use it as a model for you own words. What you should think of is that prayer is talking to God on a one-to-one basis with Someone Who loves you so much He was willing to die cruelly on the cross so you could live, and not just live, but live in His total blessing in His eternity. Pray with love and joy in your heart, and gratitude moistening you lips.

Stay young at heart, seek God’s presence and walk hand in hand with Him on a daily basis. BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (Ps. 103:1-5).

People of Promise 85 Rock Solid

One of the most important, if not the most important, understanding that we must claim and stand on is the fact that God will never, never, never abandon us, regardless of the situations we face. We can turn away from Him, we can wallow in our own thoughts, have the most glorious pity parties anyone has ever experienced, roll our cares onto others and the world, and completely cut God out of our decisions, but He won’t leave. We need to keep our lives facing into the Glorious Light of His presence, no matter what. We need to grasp, with a grip that will never loosen, very precisely what God has said regarding His ever-presence with us: Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (Heb. 13:5-6).

When God says something once, we need to listen and pay the utmost attention (Prov. 4:20-23). When He says it twice, we need to leap to our feet, snap to attention, and get our butts in gear immediately. When He says something three times, well, you get the idea. And in this passage in Hebrews, He say, three times, that He will not in any way leave us helpless, nor forsake, nor let us down. That means that He will not, He will not, He will not!!! Grab this, imbue your life with it, swim in it daily, never, never, never, let it slip away from the very core of your being (Heb. 6:12). If you grasp it as you should, it will become the foundation bedrock of your life. God is always there and will not ever leave you. Hold onto that as if your life depends on it—because it does (Heb. 3:14)

It does in the sense that with absolute confidence in God’s ever-presence and care, you will live the fullness of the life He has for you. Now, in this regard, look carefully at the verses above. There is a great misunderstanding that has been generated by a casual reading of what God is telling us… and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]. Without carefully reading this into the context of the passage, it seems that we are not to try to better ourselves, not try to get a good education, not try to “get ahead,” not try to be more than we are at this particular moment. That’s not what’s being said. Can you imagine God saying “don’t try”? That’s just plain ignorant. Ignorant of what God wants for all of us. In fact, what He wants is for us to never be satisfied with all that we’ve become in Christ Jesus. We are to surge ahead as strongly as possible to become more like Christ Jesus each and every day. We are to work at having ever more faith in the Rock of Our Salvation (PS. 62:2, 95:1, John 6:29).

So what is God telling us about this “be satisfied”? What He is saying is not “don’t try to be more than you currently are,” but rather, “be relaxed in Me, and allow Me to guide you and point you where I need you to go.” “Don’t strive to second guess me.” “Don’t be dissatisfied with your current circumstances because I am with you always, and always working to move you forward.” God wants us to be satisfied in Him. Content to rely on Him. Satisfied with our son/daughtership in Him (Rom. 8:17), and not striving to outfox Him, not all anxious about who He has made us to be, not grumbling because God has not moved us along as fast as we thought He should, not upset because God has called us to move into an area of our lives where we feel a bit uncomfortable. Rather, He wants us to simply rest in Him and respond positively to His directions.

Dissatisfaction can cause some to strive for a better life, but at the same time it causes others to crash, cave in, implode, give up, lose heart, become anxious, experience fear and dread, etc. God says, Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).

And, although He very specifically says, do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble (Matt. 6:34), He does not ever say that we are not to plan ahead. If that were the case, He would not have given us prophets to show us what is to come. Rather, He has specifically told us that when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future] (John 16:13).

God is not against planning, He is not against our wanting to become more than we currently are. He is against anxiety, worry, fear, dread, and all other emotions that drive us away from our reliance on Him. They cause us to be dissatisfied with our current circumstances, and then, rather than planning with God, we grumble, get angry at God, snip at our loved ones, and generally fall into a bad mood. When these emotions come, they are our signals to turn our faces into the bright light of the face of Christ Jesus (Rev. 1:14), and rely fully on Him to help us get through whatever situation we find ourselves in, and onto a higher plain with Him.

We are told to Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will] (1Thes. 5:18). Note this very carefully, we are not to give thanks for the circumstance, but in the circumstance. When things are going great, it’s natural to want to give thanks. But when things are not going great, giving thanks seems a bit much, as if we were hypocritical. No, when things are going bad, we don’t give thanks for the “badness,” we give thanks that God is there, that He will never, never, never abandon us. That He is ever ready to help us get through the bad times. We need to give thanks that we can call out to Him, and He will hear, and help us (1John 5:14-15).

God has sworn to be the anchor for our souls, the “anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.” God, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath. This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us]. [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it—a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil (Heb. 6:17-19).

God wants us to affix our anchor to the three-part cord of the Godhead (Eccl. 4:12), and then allow that anchor to catch onto, and dig deep into, the Great Rock of our Salvation. He wants us to enter His great rest and rely fully on Him (Matt. 11:29-30). And with a promise like the one He has given us in Hebrews 13, we can ever and absolutely be confident of our reliance on His care and love.

People of Promise 84 Rebuilt 4

OK, so we’re on our way to a full rebuild: (1) a new spirit linked eternally to Christ’s Spirit (1Cor. 6:17, Gal 2:20), (2) the mind of Christ to think God’s own thoughts (1Cor. 2:16), (3) God’s Agape love so that we can see the world through His Agape eyes, (4) if we choose, the baptism in the Holy Spirit to empower us to live out the fullness of God’s will, and (5) a new carcass—yet to come. When all is said and done, we will be completely rebuilt from the “ground up,” so to speak: a new spirit, and new soul (mind, will, emotions), and a new body. A resurrected body.

The moment you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you become God’s child (Rom. 8:16-17), and a member of the Kingdom of Love and Light. Your eternal life in God, through Christ Jesus, begins the very moment that you become God’s child. You don’t have to wait until you die to enter God’s eternal rest (Matt. 11:29-30). It’s yours from the very start. And that’s the way we have to live our lives. We don’t live our lives in the “hope” that we will get into heaven. We don’t live our lives looking forward to being with God—He lives in us, now (John 4:20, 17:21). We don’t live our lives somehow wishing that God would help us get things done—He does that all the time, whether we know it or not. We need to live as if we were living with God at our elbow, ever ready to help, advise, counsel, comfort, intercede, teach, strengthen, and standby us—that’s what He’s already doing.

Now about this new body thing. Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead; the Firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29), and as such is the first to have received a new body, a resurrected body that is as different from the old body of flesh and blood as is our new spirit from our old one. He is, and always has been, our paradigm. He models what we are, and what we will eventually become (1Cor. 15:42, 1John 3:2). He is the perfect example of God’s rebuilding program for His children. Do you see what He’s up to? He links our spirit to that of Christ Jesus, Who, unlike Adam, was able to defeat Satan, once for all. He rebuilds our souls, and after this physical body wears out, we’ll get a new one, totally different and totally righteous before God. A new body that won’t be yearning for things that oppose God’s will.

Stop just a second and think carefully. Why would God, in His rebuild process want to leave any part of the old us when He can completely rebuild us? Now have a look at Jesus. His spirit is perfect, His soul is perfect, and His new, resurrected body is perfect. When we finally get to live totally in His presence, we shall be like Him (1John 3:2). We shall not have any desire to live outside a relationship with God. That’s God plan for the new us. Totally new to be totally united with Him. Not so we will be puppets, but so that we can enjoy every last blessing He has for us to the nth degree. That’s what He wants for us. Agape could not want less. Jesus defeated death so that we could have incorruptible bodies that will never be subject to death—and that means never subject to sin.

But there’s more to it than that. God has always wanted us to live lives of health. True, some will live longer than others. True, some will be more subject to sickness and disease than others. But that doesn’t change what God wanted for us when He created us. It reflects, rather, the fact that we live in a fallen world in imperfect physical bodies. It also reflects the fact that Satan attacks the human race with every weapon that he can muster. God, in His mighty wisdom and love for all humans, gave us the capacity to understand sickness and disease and devise ways to help us overcome them—it’s called the science of medicine. Remember, Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse] (James 1:17).

Don’t avoid medicine because you think it “worldly” or in any way of the Evil One. Satan would never give us medicine, only sickness, disease, poison, etc. Only God would give us medicine.

But even beyond that, God is willing to strengthen our mortal bodies and help them to stay healthy. That’s not to say that Christians never get sick or have medical problems, it is saying that God can and does help strengthen our weak, mortal bodies and helps us to fight off sickness and disease. In Proverbs, He tells us, My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh. Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life (Prov. 4:20-23).

Roughly translated this means that the more we dig into, feed on, and digest God’s Word, the more it will strengthen our bodies and help them fight off sickness and disease. For this reason, we need to daily give thanks, and with the Psalmist, say, BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring] (Ps. 103:1-5).

People of Promise 83 Rebuilt 3

Bending our old will to God’s will is actually impossible. [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot (Rom. 8:7). Not only that, but the necessary energy (power) to bend our will to God’s will and keep it there is more than our old natural “soul” can muster (soul = mind, will, and emotions). Even for those that has given their lives to Christ and received the infilling presence of the Holy Spirit, it can sometimes be a difficult task.

Now, look carefully. We have the mind of Christ, which thinks with the things of God to help us operate in all He has for us (1Cor. 2:16). We have God’s own personal Agape love poured out into our hearts so that we can view everything through His Agape eyes, superseding our worldly emotions and allowing us see others as God sees them (Rom. 5:5). These we get automatically as part of God’s grace toward us. But the Holy Spirit (Who helps us bend our will to God’s will) cannot be poured into us unless we choose to invite Him in. His presence can only be given to those that are truly God’s children. The people of the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit under any circumstances. Jesus clearly told us, The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you (John 14:17). At the same time, any person of the world can receive Christ’s redemptive act and become God’s child (Rom. 10:13)—at which time they then qualify for infilling of the Spirit, if they so choose.

When we become God’s children, our new spirit is Christ’s Spirit, and if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you] (Rom. 8:10).  But this not the infilling of the Holy Spirit. That is a separate act, done by a request from us. Think carefully. Were the 120 in the upper room, awaiting Pentecost, Christians or not? Did they believe that Jesus was the Messiah or not? Did they believe this after He rose from the dead? If they did believe that He was Who He claimed to be when they were in that upper room praying, then they were, indeed Christians. And, their new spirits were, indeed, the Spirit of Christ Jesus; the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him (1Cor. 6:17). Clearly, then, the 120 were not just hangers-on, they were full-fledged believers in Christ Jesus. And just as clearly, Jesus had more for them than just the renewing of their spirits.

Jesus, Himself, had commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which [He said] you have heard Me speak. For John baptized with water, but not many days from now you shall be baptized with (placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Jesus planned baptism in the Holy Spirit, not just for the 11 remaining apostles, but for all; 120 people in the room, including His mother. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is for all, not just a special few (Rom 2:11).

What He had to give them was not just power, either. What He had was another person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, Who could infill every believer and be with them in all the glorious fullness of the Spirit of Christ Himself. Jesus told us, And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you (John 14:16-17). Note the 7 functions of the Holy Spirit toward those who are God’s children.—Helper can also mean “Teacher.”

Read what Jesus said, very carefully, notice exactly how He says it: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter. Slow down there just a bit. Do you see it? He will give you another Comforter. That must mean that He had already give us one Comforter—that was Jesus. Then Jesus told His disciples: I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you] (John 16:7).

Now how is it possible to do better than having God living in a human body (Jesus), and walking around among us, helping us? He was telling us that although the physical Jesus would not be with us, His Spirit could come and live in us, enabling us to do the work that God has for us (John 6: 28-29, 14:12). We can be “little Christs” doing the work He did when He was here physically—that is the meaning of Christian—“one like Christ.” That should be the goal of every Christian.

I once heard the Christian life compared with a water faucet. We are not supposed to turn ourselves on and off at whim, we are not to be leaky, and drip all over the place. We are, however, to be every ready to pour out the waters of life in whatever measure God asks, when He asks. He turns us on, and He decides how much should flow out of the faucet at any one time. Being filled with the empowering of the Holy Spirit enables us to pour Him out whenever, wherever, and however we are directed to do so.

I’ve heard all the arguments against the “infilling,” or as John the Baptist and Jesus, both, called it “the baptism” with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8, Acts 1:5). I’ve heard them all, and I say to them, “nay, you’ve got it wrong.” It’s no different than atheists saying that God does not give new life to believers, that we are not “born again” (as Jesus called it—John 3:3). How can they possible know what God can and can’t do if they will not trust Him to do what He says He can do (Eph. 2:8, Heb. 1:6)? Likewise, how can anyone not filled with the Spirit say that it doesn’t happen? That’s just silliness.

When I was a wee slip of a lad, the people in my church told me to avoid those “tongue talkers” because it was Devil worship. How was I to know any different? When you’re a tiny tot, you believe what you’re told by parents and those in authority—even the stuff that is simply wrong. Ah, but the Holy Spirit had different ideas, and many years later, as I was deeply investigating every dot and tiddle in the Word, I realized that God does, indeed, still infill people with His Spirit, and is still ready to do so whenever we come to Him and ask with absolute confidence. And so, infilled I was, with speaking in tongues (over which I have absolute control, as God intended). And what does that infilling do? It electrifies and magnifies everything about your relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Suddenly the Bible comes alive (Heb. 4:12), and its meanings become clear and operative in your life. Everything about your relationship to God comes into sharper focus, and to do His will becomes your sole life’s goal. Infilling completes the rebuilding of your soul—mind, will, and emotions. There’s much more that can be said on this subject, as past lessons reveal. To see them go to

People of Promise 82 Rebuilt 2

Our rebuild process began with the crucifixion of our old human nature (spirit), and its full and complete replacement with a spirit linked eternally to the Spirit of Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:20). But that’s only Step One. For you see, we did not get a new body, and the desires of the old carcass are in conflict with the desires of our new spirit (see Rom. 7 and 8). Not just our physical body, but our old soul, too. The soul is the mind, will and emotions. Before we became God’s children, our mind, will, and emotions were strongly influenced by our body and by input from the world around us. We thought the way the world thinks, we desired to do and did things the way the world does, and our emotions were tightly tied to our experiences in the world.

God could not leave us trapped, body and soul, in the ways of the world, and so He made provision for us to receive the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16), the Agape love of God (Rom. 5:5), and infilling of the Holy Spirit and His power (John 14:16-17, 16:7-11, Acts 2:1-4, Eph. 1:19-20). Thus we have installed in us the mind of Christ with which to supplant the old mind related to the ways of the world, the Holy Spirit to help us will what God wills, and God’s Agape to supersede our old emotions. But, and this is a very important but, we have to choose to use the mind of Christ, to be infilled with the Spirit and operate in His power, and to allow God’s Agape to control our feelings.

Remember, we have absolute free will (Deut. 30:19, Josh. 24:15). God cannot make us do anything. We have to choose (we have to “will”) to do God’s will. He will work hand in hand with us to accomplish all that needs to be done in our lives, but we have to choose to allow Him to do so. This is the place where the “rubber meets the road” because it’s very easy to get lazy and slack off, falling back into old worldly habits and actions. If we have the mind of Christ in us, why don’t we think with the mind of Christ, then, and not our old mind, which is focused on the ways of the world?

Well, the mind is not the brain. The brain is our “hard drive,” and just stores information. Any and all information. Good or bad, useful or useless. Our mind is the “thinker,” the “software” that manipulates the information housed in our brain. Our mind is our “decider,” making the decisions by which we guide our lives. And now for the really, really important bit of information: The mind of Christ, which God has put in us, will not, I repeat, will not, think with the things of the world. This is critical to becoming all that God wants us to be. We must, I repeat yet again, we must, choose to get God’s information into our brains so that the mind of Christ will have something to think with, and help us act appropriately.

And this is the tough part. It’s our part (God will help if we ask Him to). There’s no way around it. We cannot side step our responsibility. We have got to Read, Study, Meditate, Memorize, and then Act on God Word. That’s your resume (RSMMA), make it full and complete. There just “ain’t” no other way. I know, it’s time to whine and make excuses; that’s nothing but the manifestation of our childish nature. Get a grip. It’s time to dig in. As I’ve noted in the past, the presence of God in your life and your ability to operate in all His blessing is directly, let me say it yet again, again, directly proportional to the amount of time you spend in His Word and talking with Him about it. So, don’t go to God complaining and accusing. Get your butt in gear and do what you should be doing. As you do, you will discover a joy in working on your RSMMA that will absolutely possess you.

Now, Christians have their own “church” language. That’s good, because it allows us to talk about and think about concepts without always having to define them. But, often the “average” Christian doesn’t have a firm grasp on the definitions of the words being used. So let’s look at a commonly used word that fits in right here: sanctification. It means to become more like Christ Jesus. It means to be set aside for God’s use. It means getting a strong RSMMA together. Now, lets’ see what Jesus has to say about this process of sanctification: Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth (John 17:17). Well now, God’s Word is what purifies us, makes us holy, consecrates us, and sets us apart for God’s use. Furthermore, Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).

As we enrich our RSSMA we are also becoming more free in Christ—more free of Satan’s and the world’s influence, more free to share the Gospel, more free to pray and spend time with God, and more free to continue working to build up our RSSMA. Our faith in Christ and in God’s Word leads to yet more faith, which of course leads to more freedom. For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17).

Dig in, build your RSMMA, and continue to work on it. Free yourself from the things of the world and become all that God’s intends for you. Fill your brain with God’s information and allow the mind of Christ to operate richly in you. Get sanctified and more sanctified. The rewards are both here and now and eternal.


People of Promise 81 Rebuilt 1

We often miss all that God has for us by thinking the way we always did before we came to know Christ as Lord and Savior. One of the reasons that God had the Bible written for us is so that we have a written record that can help us think and act differently—like children of the King (Rom. 8:17) and not children of the world. We need to understand that God has provided a way for us to be totally rebuilt—from the ground up as it were. Since we are three part beings, spirit, soul, and body (1Thes. 5:23, Heb. 4:12), then God must have planned a way to rebuild all three parts. And, of course, He has.

The first rebuild is what happens when we make an honest, heartfelt denial of the ways of the world and accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. When we really and truly repent (turn away from the ways of the world and accept the ways of God) and really and truly ask God to make us His child, we are “saved.” But saved from what, and saved to what? Saved from our old ways of living and being and an eternal life with Satan, and saved to God’s ways of living and being and an eternal life with Him. But, and we need to understand this very, very clearly: God does not automatically rebuild us totally in spirit, soul, and body. There’s work for us to do, too.

He does rebuild our spirit being instantly and completely. He needs to do that so that our spirit (who is the real “us”) can then work with Him to rebuild our souls. When we give ourselves to God through Christ Jesus, our old spirit is crucified (put to death) and we are given a spirit that is eternally linked to the Spirit of Christ Jesus. As Paul noted, I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20).

Rather straight forward, but note the part that says the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God. God’s children are to live in faith in what Christ Jesus has done for us. In fact, when the crowd asked Jesus what their work was, He told then quite bluntly, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger] (John 6:29). We are operate our lives in complete trust in what Jesus did for us. It’s all been bought and paid for by His redeeming work on the cross, and He wants us to believe in what He has done and live our lives to reflect that belief. But then, we have to know all it is that Jesus did for us by His death on the cross. And not knowing is where we fall short.

So, Number One, believe that you now have a spirit that is eternally linked to, and part of, the Spirit of Christ. If that is really true, then this means that you truly are God’s child. Not some old sinner saved by grace, but rather a Child of the King, bought and paid for by the Blood of the Lamb. You are no longer the old you, and you need to think of yourself as a new you. Only then, will you be able to begin the process of becoming all that God intends. We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him] (1John 5:18).

Yet, even as God’s children, we can still sin from time to time, but such sin is not a part of our new God given nature; it is not a part of our new nature to desire to sin. Let’s define sin so that we can see what it really is: sin is living outside a relationship with God. If that’s true, then since we have the Spirit of Christ in us, we are eternally living in a relationship with God. However, the desire to rebel against God still lurks in the background because the information about our old rebellious nature still remains in our brains. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God) (Col. 3:5). You see, it is not our new spirit that wants to rebel against God, it’s the old us, whose information is still percolating around in our heads.

James very clearly set forth the way to such rebellion, to do things that put us outside a relationship with God. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death (James 1:13-15). We are responsible. The devil didn’t make you do it, and God didn’t make you do it. You made you do it. Period. End of discussion. What’s the solution? How do we honor our relationship with God and live in it to the fullness He intended?

Paul, who received his revelations directly from Christ Jesus understood this battle of sprit versus worldly desires and information, and wrote, For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature]. But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [bin the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh]. O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin (Rom. 7:22-25).

If we do sin (operate outside a relation with God through Christ Jesus) then He has provided a way to get fully restored to that relationship. We repent for what we’ve done that offended God (sincerely and honestly turn away from the offense), and ask for His forgiveness. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action] (1John 1:9).

We can indeed, overcome the, “desires of the flesh,” (acts that stand in opposition to God’s desires for us) with God’s help. [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight (Phil 2:13). For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue) (2Pet. 1:3).

And just how do we tap into that power? Easy. We go to God and tell Him we need His help. We explain the situation, in detail, and ask Him to help us avoid doing “xyz” so that we can live in perfect union with Him. We bind and loose as necessary (John 16:19, 18:18) employing the name of Jesus as our authorizing authority (Col. 3:17). And we give praise and thanks to God for all His aid (1Thes. 5:18). That’s the starting point. In the next lesson, we’ll look at other necessary tasks that we have to do that will help us to sustain our relationship to God.