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Separating Truth from Religious Behaviors and Rituals (Part Three)

Faith as Substance!

Therefore let no one judge you in regard to food and drink or in regard to [the observance of] a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. Such things are only a shadow of what is to come and they have only symbolic value; but the substance [the reality of what is foreshadowed] belongs to Christ.” – Colossians 2:16-17 (AMP)

Scripture is clear that the reality and substance of life is Christ and the faith of Jesus Christ – what His grace knows to be true of us and our world in our union with Him – our co-resurrection in Him! (Galatians 2:20).  This is also revealed in Hebrews:

  1. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” – Hebrews 10:1 (NIV)
  2. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

The reality (substance, material) of the believer’s life is the blessing of God in Jesus Christ (see also Colossians 1:13; Galatians 3:13-14) and our whole new reality of existence in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Darkness however, has no real substance or reality. It simply means there is an absence of light, and throughout Scripture, darkness is used to symbolize a lack of understanding about our identity and blessings in Christ (Isaiah 60:1-3; Colossians 1:13-15). This is why sin (anything that is the result of the fall of man, such as sickness, disease, punishment, condemnation and pain etc.), is the Greek word ‘hamartia’. Romans 3:23 in the Mirror Bible explains this perfectly:

Everyone is in the same boat; their distorted behavior is proof of a lost blueprint. (The word sin, is hamartia, from ha, negative and meros, form, thus to be without form or identity…” (MIRROR WORD).

Sin and darkness have no real, active form or substance. The word ‘sin’ itself means ‘without form’! Throughout Scripture, Jesus, the substance, is referred to as light (John 8:12; John 1:4; John 12:46).Darkness, however, is simply the absence of light, which means that Jesus and His reality is the ONLY one that has substance –  He enlightens the believer to their true identity, and the objective reality of Christ as all in all  (Colossians 3:11). He enables us to live within, engage with, and enjoy true reality, experiencing and manifesting the substance in and through His finished work. We have become partakers and receivers of God’s substance! Our bodies, our minds, our lives, and our relationshipsflower-181984_960_720 have gone from empty-desert wanderings to a blossoming garden of exuberance, beauty, creative-joys – all the substance of life! Truly life is an adventure of bliss and glory!

Christ’s faith in the power of His cross and resurrection (and your inclusion in that) is your effortless connector to all supernatural blessings and bliss, your ‘light switch’ in this world. Simple trust in His perspective enables you to see ‘in’ and ‘through’ Christ’s eyes, effortlessly flowing with the frequencies and vibrations of reality, manifesting all that Christ is and has in the here and now. Ephesians 3:6 declares to us that through the Gospel we become partakers of the promise of Christ (KJV).  This is why you cannot actively receive darkness and curses, as darkness is nothing. Christ’s light has come to reside within you, and the darkness has fled! Darkness has no form, order or substance to receive from. It does not belong in your reality or world anymore and has no hold in it. Simply knowing this truth enables us to be set free from feeling an obligation or necessity to engage in many religious behaviors and light-bulb-1407610_960_720.jpgrituals that pass as ordinary and commonplace in the church. You do not need to engage in warfare when joy-fare is rich and abounding in the substance of reality and power, because it engages with God’s faith, with the objective reality of Christ and life in Him! (see Nehemiah 8:10).

Being ‘in Christ’ means that you have been engulfed into the reality of heaven on earth in the here and now, to sink into it and enjoy it. Darkness and light is not in an active battle. Jesus poured out all of the wisdom of His substance in His cross and resurrection to release you into the revelation and subsequent manifestation of His life and the goodies of His heart and imagination – you have been plunged into the reality of realities! This truly is joy unspeakable and full of glory! (1 Peter 1:8; KJV)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” – Colossians 1:13 (NIV)

You do not need to live a life of religious suspicion or paranoia, which has no relevance to Christ and His finished work (the new, eternal age of the Gospel!). You cannot actively receive ‘the curse’, or even any curses, because the curse has no substance to actively receive from, and you are already in possession of the light-substance of Christ, which fortifies you!

 Many religious burdens are placed on people through false teachings in this area. The truth is that curses are without form and substance. They do not exist in your reality, the objective reality. So, for example, even when you or people around you speak negatively and not in faith, it does not impact or affect reality, as it is not drawing upon any negative substance. It’s not drawing upon anything at all! Yet whenever you enjoy the realities of faith in any form, that POSITIVE substance effortlessly flows into your world by grace through faith, protecting and fortifying you from sin, sickness – all darkness – because power-poles-503935_960_720.jpglight is reality, and no darkness can withstand it. It is this reality of light that HAS rescued you from the life of sin (no form, no reality), where you stumbled about in the dark, vulnerable to every ‘work’ of darkness.  

There used to be a ‘source’ that people COULD receive bad from (well more accurately, a system in which people could not engage with the good, as the law is not of faith – Galatians 3:2). However, the law was only a shadow, and Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). The curse no longer exists anywhere, it is not in reality, so there is only one source that believers can receive from, enjoy and flow with, the Holy Spirit. If someone doesn’t trust in Holy Spirit, and speaks and lives in a faithless manner, it does not mean that they will receive the bad – as the bad has no active form or substance – it just means that they aren’t actively enjoying the light (the realities of the Gospel) in those moments.

You are in union with the Godhead and can enjoy all that they are and have in the here and now!!!

As we believe in – simply co-see with God –  the finished work of Jesus, we naturally and effortlessly enjoy and experience the blessings of faith and grace – and so do our families, who get actively blessed through our faith. Negative words and actions have no active spiritual consequences; they just don’t have any positive power to release the blessings and substance of faith, so the person engaging in negativity isn’t enjoying the realities of faith in that moment. This is why Christians do not need to get into religious behaviors and rituals to try to ‘balance’ or ‘counteract’ faithless words or works. A lot of prophetic ministry today is shadowboxing, engaging in empty religious behaviours and rituals with no spiritual value, as Christ already completed the work and defeated the devil! Christ has already carried us into the substance of all blessings, the comfort and detailed affections of His love-dream come true!

Christianity should not be about what we have been delivered from (as looking back to the ‘dominion of darkness’ is pointless. We’re not there anymore!). Christianity is all about girl-918734_960_720what we have been delivered TO! – This is engaging with and enjoying the power-packed, creative-joy dynamite of faith!

Today, you can simply enjoy the realities of the Gospel, knowing that the faith of Jesus Christ is the only reality, and that as a believer, you ARE naturally in the Spirit and surrounded by heavenly blessings and realities at all times (see Romans 8:9; Galatians 5:25). There is NO condemnation and NO active spiritual consequences or curses for us in Christ (Romans 8:1). That is why Psalm 23 says that goodness and mercy are CHASING after us, as they are the only active forces – blessing is active, it has substance. However, darkness is like ‘the valley of the SHADOW (without form, substance, or reality) of death’ (see Psalm 23:5), yet even when we walk through that as believers, we walk WITH Christ, and his truth effortlessly leads us out of any areas of wrong beliefs and words (shadows).

Many preachers act as if darkness has substance, as much substance as faith even, but that is not true, and it places unnecessary demands and burdens upon people. Faith is substance, which is why when we enjoy faith in any form, we can actively, effortlessly move mountains with the realities of blessing that is released. God is so good and he is the Source!

The message of Christ’s finished work (our co-resurrection in Christ and subsequent inheritance in Him!) renews our mind so that we can enjoy the blessings of Jesus that are already ours, and be effortlessly transformed as a result, more and more in the natural realm, in a way that blesses us, others around us, and our circumstances (hence why the blessing of Deuteronomy 28 reaches to external circumstances and even farther – to our homes and families)…..That is why whenever you enjoy and comprehend faith, you know and can rest assured that your entire family and home is irrevocably, irreversibly blessed as a result, without you having to lift a finger! You’re all blessed and you can’t do anything about it – you certainly can’t speak your way out of a manifestation of that blessing, as all blessings are BY FAITH THROUGH GRACE. So there’s no words or efforts involved, and therefore no words or efforts which can disqualify you from receiving. FAITH, the active substance of blessing, is released WHENEVER the Gospel is heard:

  • “faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ.” – Romans 10:17 (AMP)
  • “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV)
  • “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16 (KJV)

However, because we can ‘receive’ faith in a manifest way, does not mean we can ‘receive’ darkness. Darkness has no substance. Faith is light, and darkness has never understood, threatened, or come near that light. It just flees from it (John 1:5). Just like when you switch on a light, all the darkness flees. Darkness is not an active force, and all darkness ‘died’ on the cross with Jesus when he made a spectacle of all principalities and powers through the revelation power of His reality….So words and actions are NEUTRAL if they 16are not an outflow and overflow of Christ’s substance of blessing and hope. The power is not words or our efforts or actions, but faith – faith is all about Christ and the realities of blessing we have through his finished work. Faith is co-knowing with God what He knows to be true of us in our union with Him. That is where the power is.

So carry on enjoying faith in grace-rhythms, in the ways that are normal, natural, and personal to you. You don’t need to counteract anything. Warfare is swallowed up by joy-fare in the New Covenant, because Jesus won the battle and carried you and your family to the victory, so you can enjoy and experience all of His blessings without hindrance or opposition! Under law, when the unclean touches the clean, circumstances became unclean. But under grace, your cleanliness in Christ is a constant reality, and so the unclean becomes clean effortlessly.

You are filled with the substance of faith! You can’t receive darkness, only blessing.swimming-1925391_960_720.jpg Believer, be set free from religious rituals and behaviours! Allow the Gospel to enlighten your mind, and as this occurs, religion will effortlessly fall from you, and you will discover yourself living effortlessly in the unforced rhythms of grace!

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” – Ephesians 1:17-23 (KJV)

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Limitless Life Devotional

The Enemy is Powerless!

Hebrews 2:14-15 (KJV)

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” 

The finished work of Jesus Christ is designed to completely free us from fear, particularly fear of a looming enemy who is able to actively attack us with sickness, sin, and disease at any time! However, many religious frameworks live unaware that Christ has destroyed the devil, although it is clearly stated in Scripture, in Hebrews 2:14-15. The Amplified version of this verse declares that through the finished work of Jesus, the devil has been rendered powerless and impotent. Beloved of God, you do not need to empower the devil in your imagination through legalistic religious rituals, which are based on superstition and fear rather than on the truth of Jesus Christ – your true reality. Colossians 2:15 (AMP) states clearly that: “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.” – Colossians informs us that Jesus made a public example of the enemy, using the language of a Roman ‘Triumphant Procession’, in which a completely defeated enemy was shown to be rendered entirely powerless and unable to ever engage in battle again. This is why you can be bold and confident that your co-crucifixion with Christ and co-resurrection with Him has plunged you into an entirely new world of heaven on earth (2 Corinthians 5:17). You triumphed over the enemy and completely plundered and defeated him at the cross, because you were ‘in Christ’! – Jesus took the keys of hell and death back from the devil (Revelation 1:18) and gave those keys to us, so that we could walk in manifest, manifold blessing, and effortlessly release heaven on earth wherever we go (Matthew 16:19). Nothing shall by any means harm you! (Luke 10:19)

Christ has given you all authority. Ephesians 1:19-21 reveals that as a believer God’s power is within you – the power that is above all other principalities and powers – and you are co-seated with Christ in his resurrected state, fortified in all of God’s blessings! (Ephesians 2:6). This is why you can confidently live in the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ, unafraid of the devil. The power that raised Jesus from the dead, that same power that disarmed all principalities and powers, lives within you and you are of one nature and one spirit with that power! (1 Corinthians 6:17). Throw off any legalistic teachings that make you devil-conscious, superstitious, fearful and paranoid! Jesus encourages us to stop being demon-conscious and to be conscious instead of our new life in Christ, which is a demon-free, oppression-free zone forevermore (Luke 10:20). Warfare is simply joyfare now, as the light of Christ within and through us – our new nature in Christ and the reality of grace – causes the darkness to effortlessly flee. When you step into a room, people naturally get delivered, healed, and restored, without you having to lift a finger. 1 John 3:8 encourages us that “…for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (KJV). In other words, the manifestation of God in Christ’s finished work, and within you, effortlessly has destroyed, and actively destroys, the work of the devil!

Remember, you do not base your theology on past experience in ‘deliverance’ groups, but on the finished work of Jesus Christ. Good theology is based on the truth of the revelation of Jesus Christ, His love, and His grace, and not on negative experiences. Jesus came full of grace and truth, and caused the darkness to flee by completely destroying it from our reality and life. Colossians 1:13 utters that Christ “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (KJV). We HAVE (past-tense) been translated out of a kingdom where the demonic can function and exist, and have been placed into perfect union with Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:6 writes that we are ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (KJV). The Greek word for ‘accepted’ used here is ‘charitoō’, which means to be encompassed, or surrounded, by favor. You are surrounded by God’s reality of faith and favor – what God knows to be true of you and your reality in your union with Christ. This is an evil-free, demon-free existence! It is the reality of light, which darkness cannot even approach. Instead, whatever touches this light gets transformed to light itself! All curses transform into blessings in your life, because you are encompassed by God’s favor in Christ! (Deuteronomy 23:5)

Separating Truth from Religious Behaviours and Rituals (Part One)

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation].Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP)

Grace is a rest!

636Many sincere believers base their lives upon their own efforts to achieve faith and the results of faith. Rather than resting in and enjoying the freedom of Christ’s finished work on their behalf (i.e. who they have become in Christ, who He is to them, and their vast, grand, already established inheritance in Him), simply trusting in his detailed care, provision, and love (1 Peter 5:7), they spend their time striving to produce results and manufacture the promises in Scripture. However, God wants us to get to a place where our burdens are completely lifted, and where there is no pressure for our own efforts to ‘produce’ or ‘manifest’ anything. Believer, you have uncompromised freedom in Christ, and are well able to simply enjoy and embrace the unshakable, secure realities of being ‘in Christ’ – sharing in all that He is and has (Romans 8:17). Faith, grace, blessings, fruits – absolutely everything in the Christian faith – is a rest. Galatians 5:1 (KJV) states that as believers we can “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

If what you are experiencing or doing in your grace walk doesn’t actually – in essence – feel like grace, but rather something you have to maintain and sustain with your efforts – no matter how Christian those efforts feel – then that is because what you are experiencing and doing isn’t grace, but a response to a legalistic belief or teaching that has impacted your understanding and awareness. Empty religious teachings feel burdensome, wearying, and provide no deep-seated peace. However, Jesus desires that you be free from all burdens and cares, so that you may discover the ‘rest, renewal, and blessed quiet’ of soul that is given freely in Him. You see, the essence of grace is honey-sweetness, 637.jpggoodness, and delight (Psalm 119:103; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 94:19; Isaiah 58:14; Psalm 21:2; Psalm 37:4). When you are under grace, there is an effortless, uplifting, revitalizing sense of ease, rest, and well-being.

The fruits of grace are therefore rest, refreshing, ease, encouragement, comfort, uplifting, total well-being, joy, and security – the list goes on and on! Grace encourages us that we are in a total, perfect, fortifying union with the Godhead, well able to rest in their love and protection, tasting of their benefits and blessings freely (1 Corinthians 6:17). I love the way that The Message Bible translates Matthew 11:28-30:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Believer, you were designed to live ‘freely and lightly’. The rhythms of grace are ‘unforced’, and certainly are not ‘heavy’ or ‘ill-fitting’! Religious bondage feels burdensome, heavy, ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and pressing. However, grace is a natural enjoyment of abundant life in Christ! (John 10:10). The focus of grace is Christ and His faithfulness, and not us and our works of faith. The essence of religious burdens is pressure and demand, but the essence of grace is overwhelming supply, because grace 638.jpgfocuses on Jesus and your already established reality of blessings in Him! Religion begins with self-sufficiency and lack, but grace begins with all-sufficient abundance in Christ and ushers in all the glories, beauties, and blessings of His finished work! Grace is the essence of success!

Therefore, if you feel you ‘have’ to do something to experience and enjoy manifest blessings, and that ‘something’ feels like an obligation or a demand, then it is a religious burden and not of grace. The reason it feels like hard (maybe even impossible) work is because of the resonance of Jesus’ freedom within your heart: you were created to live in the unforced rhythms of grace!

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Limitless Life Devotional

Imparted and Ready-To-Use Righteousness

Philippians 1:9-11

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’ (KJV)

One of the extravagant and lovely blessings our Papa has bestowed upon us is his gift of imparted righteousness! (And, I’m compartmentalising the blessings of God here, however it is the truth that in receiving Jesus and his life we receive everything! Indeed in receiving his life we receive his righteousness!) The gift of righteousness is beautiful and it is ours! Now, most, in terms of practical theology don’t consider imputed righteousness! And some, when considering this grace-given gift of imputed righteousness, don’t appreciate just how real, how supernatural, and how practical this gift is! For some it is merely an aid in striving to be good – like with the good wolf, bad wolf analogy; we still have the struggle, we still have a sinful nature, but at least there is a part of us that is holy… But, is that all it is?! Righteousness truly is more than just an add on that encourages niceness. Righteousness is a free gift in Christ, and this includes positional, imputed righteousness (your standing in the circle of the Godhead), but also IMPARTED righteousness! You don’t have to add your efforts to make this so! Jesus has made you actually righteous by filling you with the Spirit of righteousness and of holiness – you’re not bad, by nature you are good and holy. And this gift is sufficient for your living. So many are trying to be holy and live well, but to ‘try’ is to negate the gift that is in you! In Jesus we get to enjoy – as you enjoy your identity you will experience its fruits!

The truth of imputed righteousness means that we are filled with the very goodness, the very holiness, and right-ness of Jesus Christ himself! Jesus, through his death and resurrection removes the old, sin ridden humanity, and then through his Spirit fills us with his very own nature, glory, and righteousness – that’s imputed righteousness! This is what Paul is talking about in Philippians 1:11. Here’s the verse again: ‘Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’ You see, ‘being filled’ is a verb that in essence is talking about manifestation – a supplying! We in Christ, who know we are without offence will manifest and bear the fruits of that we are filled with! Oh, and just in case we might confuse this and believe we need to produce the fruit and not simply bear it, Paul adds: ‘which are by Jesus Christ’ – Jesus is the righteousness, we reveal him!

So, know today: Salvation is handy, as in – it’s useful! I’m not trying to water-down the grand, spectacular, and supernatural message of the gospel – I’m saying it can be used and enjoyed in everyday life! You know, some people believe as though the blessings and benefits of Salvation aren’t available; as though the can see their account balance, but can’t withdraw its funds! But, thankfully God is into extravagant and useful gift giving, and so, surprise, surprise, he’s actually made it so that we can enjoy the gifts he has bestowed upon us – he has made our inheritance available!

How Does Obedience Fit Into the New Covenant – Part Two

By Paige Hunt

In our last article we spoke about how obedience fits into the New Covenant – it is the effortless result of receiving the love of God, and abiding in the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is natural to conclude, then, that just as obedience is the fruit of right believing, disobedience is caused by unbelief.

Sin and disobedience are not the problem, and God is not an angry judge waiting to punish and harm people who are living in sin and disobedience. 1Rather, God looks upon those in messy lifestyles of sin and disobedience with love and compassion, understanding that the root of these issues is unbelief, and people’s behaviour is merely a result of that. The deepest issue is not sin and disobedience, but unbelief in Christ, His love, and His finished work.

Did you hear that? Sin and disobedience are not the issue. God has already dealt with those things through the obedience of Christ (see Romans 5:19), and has ‘sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.’ (Isaiah 54:9, NIV). Christ has already dealt with our sins on the cross, and he desires for all men to come to the knowledge of this through a full revelation of the New Covenant. Scripture declares that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4. ESV). Interesting to note is that the word for ‘desires’ used in this verse denotes not only a resolve to save, but a love and fondness for restoring, healing, and saving people. It is an emotional-filled word that speaks of the Father’s unconditional compassion and limitless grace.

This is our God, who Jesus revealed as ‘Father’. This is an intimate picture of life-transforming security, cherished relationship, and dependence. 562It is the relational Fatherhood of God that saves us from our disobedience, and not our own works and efforts, which in fact have the opposite effect and stir up more sin in our lives (see 1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:8).

“The pattern of Jesus’ life on earth gives insight into God’s method of transformation. He knows that you, like Zacchaeus (see Luke 19), will not be changed by performance, but by His Presence. The power of His love, the joy of His Presence, and the peace coming from His acceptance are far more capable of changing the human heart than rebuke, censure, condemnation, and rejection…” – John Sheasby, ‘The Birthright’: ‘Out of the Servant’s Quarters into the Father’s House’, p.93, bracket insert mine.

With this image of God as the Father of love and grace in our mind, let’s take deeper look at how God deals with disobedience in the New Covenant:

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me;” – John 16:8-9 (NKJV)

What matters (as in the primary focus) is not your lifestyle, but your belief system, because what you believe will directly influence your behaviour. This is why Jesus in John 16:9 states that the Holy Spirit convicts non-Christians of unbelief. Another thing to note is that the word for convict used in this Scripture is the Greek word ‘elegcho’, which means ‘to convince’. God desires to convince non-Christians of their unbelief, so that they can come to believe and rest in the all-sufficiency of Jesus more and more, and find the successful, abundant life that God desires for them to have! (See Romans 2:4).

The solution to any and all areas of wrong behaviour, of toxic emotions, and of failure is the finished work of Jesus, and hearing of the beauty and love of God as displayed in Christ. Hearing the good news will always inspire faith in our hearts, transforming our beliefs and giving us the abundant life freely (Romans 10:17; John 10:10). 563Even as believers, we can sometimes believe, act, and live as if we were still in the domain of sin, but through the Good News message the Holy Spirit continually convinces us that in Christ, we have been rescued from the mess and mire of sinful, disobedient living (Colossians 1:12-13). Jesus has qualified us to live without sin and disobedience, to walk in step with His Spirit within us!

Another way that Jesus explained how God deals with those who are not producing healthy fruits (which many would view as disobedience) is in his metaphor of the vine and the branches in John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” – John 15:1-5 (NIV)

Pruning and being cut off sounds pretty painful, and legalists love to use this verse to say that unless we are obedient, we will find ourselves under the punishment of God. However, Scripture says no such thing. In fact, the Greek term for cutting off these unfruitful branches is actually the word ‘airō’, which is better translated here as ‘lifts up’. This makes much more sense in the world of agriculture from which this imagery came. Paul Ellis explains this eloquently in his online article:

Unfruitful branches are lifted out of the dirt and re-dressed so they can be nourished by the sun. Sticking with that metaphor, the reason why some Christians are barren is that they’re facedown in the dirt and not looking at the Son. They’re busy, distracted, stressed, and have wandered from their protos agape, their primary love.” – Paul Ellis, ‘What Happens to Unfruitful Branches?’ [escapetoreality.org]

For believers and non-believers alike, sinful living is simply the result of not knowing how much God loves us, or how good this Good News message really is. Furthermore, pruning in our English terminology means ‘to remove unwanted parts’. However, God is our Creator and our Father, and he loves all that he has made! (See Psalm 145:9). No matter how disobedient you are, you will never be an unwanted or undesired part. In Greek, the word for pruning used in John 15 is ‘kathairō’, more accurately translated in this verse as ‘cleansed’. This is why Jesus declares to his disciples, who have been regularly hearing his words, ‘you are already clean (katharos) because of the word I have spoken to you’.

So God’s cure for disobedience is heaping upon us grace after grace! (John 1:14; John 1:16). 564God’s cure for disobedience is to speak the Good News over our lives, elevating us with the message of Christ’s obedience on our behalf! As we soak up this message, we begin to understand how much God loves us, and we effortlessly manifest the fruits of God’s Spirit and walk in His obedience. (See also Romans 1:16; Romans 10:17).

“Think about the relationship between a vine and a branch. Can a branch produce fruit? No. If you need proof, just cut a branch off a vine or fruit tree, and watch awhile to see how much fruit is produced. However, if a branch is attached to the source with a flow of life, it can bear fruit. The branch is incapable of producing fruit on its own….” – Steve McVey, ’52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday’

The Gospel message reveals to us the righteousness that we have obtained in Christ, and effortlessly produces God’s faith in our lives.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 (KJV)

Jesus does not want us to be self-focused – to live by faith in ourselves, where we are constantly under the mentality of ‘right vs. wrong’, or ‘disobedience vs. obedience’. 565Instead, as we remain in an atmosphere of grace, where we can hear and believe the Good News, that Good News continually convinces us to rest in Christ’s all-sufficiency, eradicating unbelief from our lives. Scripture calls this ‘the obedience of faith’ (Romans 1:5).

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith” – Romans 16:25-26 (NIV), emphasis mine.

How Does Obedience Fit Into the New Covenant? – Part One

By Paige Hunt

One of the questions that many people have when confronted with the Gospel of grace is ‘how does obedience fit into this new covenant?’ or ‘how will you stop people from being apathetic and irresponsible, if it’s all about God’s grace?’  – It can be a scary and daunting thing to trust in God over and above our own efforts. This is why some subscribe to the Old Covenant way of thinking, the belief that the substance and root of faith is obedience. However, the Gospel of grace declares to us that the substance and root of faith is God’s grace, God’s obedience, God’s favor, and God’s unconditional, irrevocable love towards us.

The Scriptures declare to us repeatedly that we do not need to live with a long religious to-do list in front of our noses anymorechecklist-1643784_1280, because in Christ, God has, will, and does take care of the details. In the New Covenant, obedience is a fruit of right believing, and not the root of faith – it is no longer about the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil, it is about the finished work of Jesus Christ, and our perfect, eternal union with him. Take 1 Peter 5:7 for example:

“casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (AMP)

This Scripture presents to us a covenant where God takes care of all of the details. Our job is to sink into his detailed, watchful care of us, trusting him with the essence, details, and fruits of our Salvation. apple-1717583_1280 After all, it takes no faith to follow rules and regulations, or to subscribe to outward forms of religious obedience such as reading the Bible, but it DOES take faith to trust that God cares for us, that God is a personal God of love, and that his grace is sufficient for us in all areas of life – in areas of strength, and particularly areas of weakness (See 2 Corinthians 12:9).

So let’s look at the topic of obedience today, and how this fits specifically into the Gospel of grace. In the book of John, Jesus declared, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15, KJV) This trips a lot of people up, as it sounds like a demand. However, we must look at the Bible as a whole. Although we are often much more able to imagine God as a deity of demand and requirement, Jesus in his perfect sacrifice revealed to us that God is not as was pictured in the Old Testament – in the Old Testamentviolinist-735413_1280 we saw fragments of the Father’s true nature, yet Christ came to reveal God as the God of grace and love, eradicating the impartial image of God as a Being of wrath, demand, and legalistic pleasure (see Matthew 11:27-30).  God is the God of supply. He is the Benefactor, and we are his thankful beneficiaries as we partake of the many blessings and riches of Christ’s finished work, and enjoy our union with his resurrection.

‘As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.’ – John 15:9-10, KJV

Let’s take another look at Jesus’ words about obedience. Here in John 15, Jesus clarifies that obedience is an overflow of receiving and abiding in God’s love. Jesus’ first words are: ‘As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love’. (KJV) In other words, we are able to cosy up in the Father’s unconditional, practical, detailed, lavish affections. As we do, we will effortlessly keep his commandments. Obedience is not a stoic demand; rather, it is all about recognising and partaking of our union with God through Jesus Christ, enjoying God’s limitless love and unconditional grace!

It is also interesting to note, as we allow the Bible to interpret the Bible, that God’s commandments are NOT the 10 Commandments depicted in the Old Testament. Without going into detail about this now, Jesus has completely shut down our obsession with being obedient to the Ten Commandments by declaring in John 6:29 that: ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.’ (KJV) In other words, obeying God’s commandments, and doing the ‘work of God’, is all about resting and trusting in Jesus Christ and his finished work. It flows effortlessly from seeing and depending on his love and unmerited favour. Galatians 5:6 articulates this well:

‘For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.’ (KJV)

I hope you are beginning to grasp by now that obedience under the New Covenant is all about embracing grace. Every gift, blessing, and manifestation of our righteous, holy nature in the New Covenant comes through receiving, apresents-153926_1280nd not through achieving. Obedience is a gift of grace, springing forth from a revelation of how much the Father loves us. Obedience is received, not achieved, so, even our achievements are received by, in, and through the finished work of Christ! Our lives are composed of grace through our Union with the Godhead.

Many other Scriptures declare these same truths, such as:

  • ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’– 1 John 4:19, KJV
  • For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:’ – 2 Corinthians 5:14, KJV
  • ‘”I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.’ – Luke 7:47, NLT
  • ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin’ – Romans 6:6, KJV

Obedience in the New Covenant is a fruit of receiving the love of God, and abiding in the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ. We were co-crucified and co-resurrected with him! (see Galatians 6:14).

One of the most powerful verses concerning the love of Christ is Ephesians 3:17-19:

‘That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.’ – Ephesians 3:17-19, KJV

It is not the degree to which you love God which determines the level of victory and power that you experience, or the level of obedience that you manifest.candy-1678933_1280 Rather, as you rest in how much God loves you, Scripture declares that you will be filled with all the manifest fullness of God. You do not have to depend on your own resources, on your love ‘for’ Christ, when God wants you to simply know and receive the love ‘of’ Christ. This is such good news!

[Look out for Part 2 next week. Subscribe to make sure you never miss a post]

 

 

 

What Does the ‘Wrath’ of God Actually Look Like?

What does the wrath of God look like? We know from the Bible that there is something, given the name ‘wrath’ that involves God and that involves people. But, what does it mean? How does it, or has it played out. What does the wrath of God actually look like?

Many people for a long time, inside the church, and out, have been taught the idea that God, in the past, developed some serious anger, and that it was because of the sin of humanity. Many believe that from the first ever sin – from Adam and Eve partaking of the Tree of Knowledge and good and evil, God’s wrath waxed hot against us all. 1But is this true? I mean if you forget the fact that it was actually man that hid from God, not the other way around, and if you forget the fact that God acted pretty cool about the whole thing, he was even gracious and merciful, he even provided for mankind in covering their shame with the skins of animals. So, if you forget those things, and also the truth that God displayed outrageous kindness to Saints throughout the Old Testament… you can kind of believe that God was actually the one who needed space from humanity. But we can’t forget the truth! Many though, still believe that God was getting ready, if not for Jesus, to destroy this world and every one in it.

In the beginning, as detailed in Genesis 3:8, Adam and Eve hid from God. It’s important to remember though that God didn’t hide from them nor harm them. God, from before the beginning loved and adored humanity, and nothing changed after the ‘fall’. After Adam and Eve ate from the ‘law’-tree God commenced his rescue mission to save mankind and grant them access to this great Salvation we know today!  6Genesis 3:15 tells part of this glorious rescue mission, it says: ‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.’ (KJV) God did not withhold his love and adoration from humanity – he in effect says: ‘I am not going to do nothing while sin, sickness, poverty, and sorrow hurt my children – I’m going to crush all that oppose them!’

However, although the grand story throughout the Old Testament, and of course Jesus himself, testify that God wasn’t angry with humanity itself, just that which would harm her; many still insist that the wrath of God is his anger toward mankind.

Many get their view of the wrath of God from religious idea which lacks creativity – you know, it’s really a mashup with concept from other religious ideas and texts from the Old Testament. When one ignores the grand story, good contextual tools, and of course the reality of Jesus and his Finished Work, one can concoct a whole host of funny doctrines – including that of the wrath of God being his anger against humanity, and of course the like of penal-substitution etc.8

But, this isn’t accurate! It’s not how it is! John explains in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God apart from Jesus. Many take their understanding of God from accounts written by people who didn’t even see the fullness of God – they only saw a shadow of the true and good God that we see revealed in Jesus! It is in the shadow reality that his passion was mistaken as anger – to those who saw dimly it was only right that God would want to destroy those who opposed him.

But the truth revealed in Jesus shows that his wrath was for that which opposed his creation. The truth about God, indeed about his wrath is revealed when Jesus appears on the scene in a body. Jesus and his finished work reveal what God’s wrath actually looks like! Many define the atonement by their idea of God’s wrath, but the finished work of Jesus actually, and accurately, defines God’s wrath! On the cross we see a good and kind God who would rather suffer than forfeit our fellowship. 4We see a God who cries ‘forgive them’ (Luke 23:34), and we see Jesus, looking weak, but destroying that what would dare to oppose the Almighty’s creation; namely sin and the curse.

In John 3:14 Jesus backs this up and relates his finished work to that of Moses lifting up the snake in the desert – the account details the Israelites been bitten by snakes and suffering under the cruel effects of the poison. Moses lifted a bronze snake on a pole and everyone who looked at it got healed. And likewise, Jesus took the curse, the poison of death and brought it down to the grave – he wasn’t busy appeasing his Father, he was actually saving us from that which we needed saving from: sin.

This is the good news – God is for humanity! Yes, even the wrath of God is something to be celebrated – even his wrath is for humanity!

Romans 8:3 explains God’s wrath further, it explains that sin has been condemned in the body of Jesus! Sin needed destroying and its death sentence was carried out in Christ; it wasn’t that God condemned the fruit of your sin in Jesus so he wouldn’t have to condemn it in you – no God condemned sin itself and all of its effects in Jesus so that sin couldn’t kill you.3 John 3:17 backs this up and states that God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. Sin was condemned – humanity was always meant to be saved!

Now, the idea that the wrath of God was his anger against humanity for their sin has a lot of whacky resulting ideas and doctrines, and this is another reason it’s so important to know the truth of what Jesus has accomplished and the motives behind it. This is why it’s important to know what the wrath of God looks like! One of the resulting whacky ideas that follows the idea of God’s wrath as his anger against humanity, is the idea that the wrath of God was aimed at the Son on the cross. This idea is erroneous; how can the Father be against the Son, or the Son be against the Spirit, or whichever way you want to phrases it. No, the Bible clearly teaches in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself!7

God doesn’t need target practice – his wrath wasn’t aimed at Jesus – the Godhead knew who they were after – and they did it –they got him – they took down the old creation, and every form of evil and every bit of the curse.

God’s wrath was his anger, not at us, nor aimed at the Son, but toward sin. The wrath of God should be rightly defined as his passion to save us! In fact, the Greek word for wrath correctly and accurately denotes ‘passion’!

You know, some read verses that talk about God’s wrath, for example Romans 1:18, to be saying that God’s fiery anger was poured out against human-kind for their evil behavior. But, the Greek word for wrath, orgē, can be translated; ‘passion’, as I said above, but also ‘movement of the soul’,’ impulse’, or ‘desire’. (BlueLetterBible.org). You know, God has always had a fiery passion for his creation, and this was what we see happening at the cross – Daddy God’s passion for us was revealed from heaven against all that would dare to threaten and harm his beloved.

The judgment and wrath of God aren’t coming, they already came. In Christ God put an end to the spiritual evils which plagued us, and he set us free – free to enjoy the fullness of his love and grace, and as we do that we see manifestation of his glory which is the answer to all earthly ills! 5

Did you know the wrath of God and the judgment of God go hand in hand? His judgment – the eternal judgment of the Godhead is that we were worthy and worth saving! We see this further in John 5:22 where Jesus said that the Father entrusted all judgment to him, and Jesus’ judgment was the same as it has always was – Jesus says in John 3:19 that the verdict had arrived when Jesus arrived – light has come into the world – the purpose – the verdict was the redeem, not punish!

Your Daddy God’s purpose and heart has always been grace-centered, gospel centered! Wrath, as in wrath being his anger against humanity, isn’t the ‘other side of the same coin’. God is Love. Pure Love. And his wrath is perfectly in line with the revelation of his being!

Judgment took place upon that cross, through the resurrection, and in the ascension, but it wasn’t scary – it was beautiful! The wrath of God has, already, been displayed, and it was beautiful too! We are now, as Jesus put it in Luke 4, quoting Isaiah 61, in the acceptable year of favor!2

Know today that your heavenly Father, your heavenly family – the Godhead, are so in love with you! You are in the New day of the New Covenant! Let’s be people who proclaim the gospel and show people the result of God’s judgment! Let’s be people who delight in the result of his wrath.

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