All that is taught


“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12 NLT
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36‭-‬40 NLT
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. – Galatians 5:16‭-‬26 NLT


Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:9‭-‬10‭, ‬12‭-‬15 NLT
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” – Luke 6:38 NLT

Sin, Repentance, Righteousness, Judgement

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21-25 NKJV

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under  the  sway  of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. – I John 5:16-21 NKJV

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let  yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you  do these things to  your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. – I Corinthians 6:1-11 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are  dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. – Revelation 22:14-15 NKJV

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5:1-7 NKJV

But we know that the law is  good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. – I Timothy 1:8-17 NKJV

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. – Hebrews 12:12-17 NKJV

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the  testimony  of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31 NKJV

Sow the Good Seed

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:7‭-‬10 ESV


Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:7‭-‬8 ESV

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, 

nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  

but his delight is in the law of the Lord , 

and on his law he meditates day and night.  

He is like a tree planted by streams of water 

that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. 

In all that he does, he prospers.  

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;  

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalms 1:1‭-‬6 ESV

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22 ESV


LORD, empower us by your Holy Spirit to receive your Truth and see it grow up –from a Hope that it might “some day come” — to an active and abiding Faith that is seeing sin overcome in our lives to meditate upon, believe, and obey your commandments — an obedience that is not just to the letter of the law, but that teaches for that higher bar of the very Love and presence of Christ abiding in our lives as LORD over our thoughts, words, and actions. Do not let our own opinions, feelings, desires or pride rule our day, but let us die to self and walk as new creations, as more than conquerors, as ambassadors of the Way, as light set upon a hill, as a holy people set apart for your purpose and calling. Make clear to us, reveal to us that your way is, and was, and always will be and that your voice and truth has not changed. Confirm to us that your whole Word is valuable and precious and that we do not pick and choose what suits our self, but we are to submit ourselves to and believe and understand the sweet, precious, and powerful nature of this Word of God that is sharper than any sword, and that cuts to the heart of the matter so we might find repentance and life abundant in Christ. And may it all be for your glory and honor, today and forevermore. Amen. 

Slaves?

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:15‭-‬18 NKJV

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt  to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Galatians 5:1‭-‬5 NKJV

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
John 8:34‭-‬36 NKJV

We naturally like the idea of being powerful and in control and in authority over our own lives. We naturally like our who to be inflated and proud,  in fact,  the world and modern society rewards and applauds those with inflated egos and envies them and puts them in high places of honor because they are usually very productive and successful from a worldly perspective.

I’m not saying that the humble cannot also be very productive and successful, but for the humble it is a byproduct of the Lord’s favor and blessing poured on them so they can help others – while for the proud, it is a heeping up of treasures for themselves. Yes, it truly is about the master of our heart and desires. You cannot say rich=favored/forsaken and poor=forsaken/favored anymore than you can say works=heaven and still=death. The Lord is not a respects of persons, stations, or titles and sets us each in our own position to be used according to His will and guidance, for His glory and honor.

Yes, if I’m seeking my own honor and glory, isn’t it clear which master I am serving? If I choose to live in evil and doubt over living in the righteousness of faith and godly love, isn’t it clear which master I am serving?

Do not fear, little ones, He corrects you in order to change you. He shows you what needs to be cast out of your life so that the enemy will not gain a foothold within your life. He tells you that there is a better master to free you, not just from the wages and consequences of death “some day” but to free you from a life of sin TODAY.

He who Christ sets free is free indeed. Are you on your way towards being set free? Are you longing for that day when sin and death and the darkness of this world will be long forgotten and you will walk in light? Then keep seeking Him diligently and remain steadfast in the faith,  because many have fallen away,  friend. And don’t rest in your own strength, which is weakness and imperfection. Our help comes from the Lord. Trust in Him and Him alone.  Hunger for righteousness for His name’s sake, not so that you can appear righteous in the eyes of others. Become a slave,  and in doing so, experience true freedom.

Slave to the master who frees slaves to an abundant life – or slave to the master who steals, kills, and destroys? We each choose. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Has my hard work been for nothing? Thank you, Jesus!

So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing. Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws. You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you.
Galatians 4:9‭-‬12 NLT

The world has spiritual principals and ways that sound good. The enemy does not seek to steal, kill and destroy with only things that are clearly evil and wickedness. The enemy also does a great job of offering us something that sounds “good” but that isn’t the “best”. The poison and traps that the enemy set before us are not always clearly marked as evil – in fact, they can appear to be good and attractive and useful.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:6 NKJV

Eve didn’t see the danger in eating the apple because it looked good to her eyes. She reasoned with herself and listened to the enemy who told her – it’s okay, you don’t have to listen to God. But God doesn’t warn us of things so that we just can ignore them and die – He warns us so that we might live and have an abundant life. His warnings aren’t there so that we can decide to ignore Him and choose the broad way of destruction where we make all kinds of justifications for ignoring His guidance and doing it our own way.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Proverbs 21:2‭-‬3 NKJV

It is better to live His way than to live our own rebellious and powerless way of constantly seeking forgiveness through religious sacrifices. And I’m not talking about the laws and “relative moralities” of men or even the law of Moses, but I’m talking about a greater law that fulfills both. I’m not talking about something “good” that the enemy can twist and turn for evil purposes. I’m talking about what is best.

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NKJV

Have you been satisfied with doing it your way, justifying all kind of things in your life that are “good enough” and settling for less than the best?

Have you fallen into religious practice and tradition and sacrifice instead of resting in the freedom of loving Him with your everything, surrendering to His perfect advice and guidance, and loving and serving others?

He is perfect and best. Let Him be your only portion, you holy fools, you faithful servants, you recklessly abandoned lovers of Christ – whose ways confound the wisdom, philosophy, and reasoning of the scholars, the theologians, and the religious. 

Are we foolishly trying to earn favor with God who lived us even when we were His enemy? Or so grateful for this free gift of grace, for our adoption as Children of God – that we offer the only thing we have to bring, our lives, as a living sacrifice – as our worship to our perfect, holy, righteous, merciful and loving God?

We all want “Freedom”

Each one of us either wants freedom from God’s righteous way to live the way we want to – or freedom from our sinful ways to live the way God wants us to.

There is God’s way and there is the way of the world,  and those two are at odds with each other. This is why many practice religion once a week just to live their own lives the rest of the week. They know what is the right way, but they do not want it. They know about God, but they do not love Him.

Many have found something they love better than God and His ways, and it is themselves and their ways.

Yes, He makes it clear that these things lead to destruction –

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NKJV

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are  dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation 22:14‭-‬15 NKJV

“Christian”, I do not tell you these things to stand as your accuser. I do not condemn you,  nor does Jesus Christ condemn you. But if you are still living this way, you must examine your heart and ask if you are still condemned like the world and its ways of sin. You must ask yourself what it is you truly desire. You must ask yourself who it is you really serve with your heart. And if it is not the Lord, if He is not Lord of your life, have you ever truly known Him as Savior? Has He ever truly known you as servant, follower, disciple, child of God?

Please, don’t rely on a religious ceremony or promise – the Pharisees did this (selling forgiveness and profiting off of the guilt of people) and were rebuked heavily by Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh, for misleading the people with empty religious practice. Rely on the Lord and the Lord alone – fall in love with Him and His ways.

If you can’t say that you love Him but you want to learn how, or you know that you need to love Him more now than you have in the past, that is a wonderful place to be – setting your eyes and your heart and your trust on the Lord. This is called repentance – it is turning away from sin, turning away from self, turning away from the world to seek God first and foremost and singularly in your life. He died on the cross so that you could repent and receive His Holy Spirit to guide and teach you.

Yes, repentance is a big step. Yes, it is a huge turning point in your life – and you get to maintain this repentance daily, even moment to moment for the rest of your life as you choose freedom from sin and temptation and death in a new life,  walking with a new Lord of your life. This is called walking in the Spirit instead of in the flesh,  and it produces the fruit of His nature in your life –

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who  are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬25 NKJV

Don’t settle for powerless religion that ends in death because it offers you a promise of freedom to feel comfortable continuing in sin – that is a lie from the devil himself – those are not “Christians”, nor do they love God – they are the synagogue of Satan.

Settle only for walking as a new creation,  because if Christ has set you free, you are free indeed.

Love your wife

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:25-33 NKJV

I want to be a great husband and father. I want to lead my family by my example of love. I want to be obedient to God. And I’ll be honest with you – most days, my greatest struggles are not with temptations, or my job, or with what I face in the streets/jails/rehab. The greatest challenge daily usually comes from within my own closest circle – either my family or those closest friends in my life.

Many times the greatest struggles are between our closest friends. Besides Jesus, I consider my wife to be my closest friend. But I have to admit that life inside our house is not perfect and without its tension, disagreements, and misunderstandings. When the Lord is calling us out into ever deeper waters, and we are making decisions constantly to swim against the stream of the ways of the world, and we are giving up on the very security and safety that our nature is used to craving – there is going to be tension even if that was just a single person being affected. But when it is a whole family – now you’re facing a challenge.

So how can we best deal with these situations? I like to look at how Christ treated people.

He asked questions and listened intently to see past any emotions, posturing, manipulation, and defensive behavior to hear the heart of their issue – so that He could address the root cause, not just the symptoms.

Christ offered His love and His guidance and was the leading evangelist,  teaching His disciples, His church, how to live a life more like Him. Discussions with Him would inevitably bring up convictions in the lives of those around Him over the things that weren’t yet yielded and that were self serving instead of honoring God and serving others – not because He was preaching AT them, but He was walking it out, and telling them, and showing them a right life.

When someone was willful and prideful, wanting to pull in a different direction that He knew was leading them to destruction, He was firm and bold – even to the point of direct correction – but even His correction had a loving purpose.  When someone was scared and of little faith, not yet trusting in God’s faithfulness to provide getting the need, and walking a doubt filled and powerless life, He was patient, gentle, and encouraging – but He still pointed out their doubt and their need to press in further. He didn’t crush anyone with direct judgement and condemnation, because the truth of His words spoke to them clearly and their own hearts either convicted them into new actions, or testified against their unwillingness to yield to His will.

Yes, He used discernment to see what was happening on the inside,  the underlying issue, and then He determined what fuel needed to be added to the fire. If someone was full of the darkness of bitterness, He would flame the fire of forgiveness, saying,  “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” If someone was full of the darkness of self interest and concern for their own plans,  He would flame the fire of sacrifice and service unto others. If someone was full of the darkness of worry and anxiety,  He would flame the fire of faith through offering either they lay down their heavy burdens at His feet or expect promised trials and testing that they cannot bear on their own. Yes, all of this to humble us, to remodel us, into a new creation that more and more resembles Christ.

And I’m supposed to show this kind of love towards my wife. And I’m supposed to lead my family in this same manner, making disciples of my children so that they can go out and bear their crosses and face opposition from the world. If we didn’t believe, we would laugh in the face of such nonsense and maybe settle for a Sunday morning religious practice to keep Good off of our backs so that we can spend our lives with the idol that we really love most, ourself.

But if we believe, there is work to be done daily. There is examination and guidance, and correction,  and firm leadership of the family that is expected from our fathers. There are difficult discussions and decisions that have to be has and made for the sake of our families – even in times where there is not yet agreement and unity, we must stand up and lead in love.

And we must learn to care enough about our families not to drag them along kicking and screaming, but to identify what they need and determine how we can best fill that need. To realize that what we think that we want is not always the same as what we need and what is best for us. We as fathers must strive to determine the true needs, and to provide for their needs, to make sure that an outpouring of His nourishing fruit is being fed to our families daily.

Love is not all puppies and balloons and cakes and ice cream. It takes work and sacrifice – and sometimes the very people you love and are trying to help would be happy with nothing less than hammering the nails into you themselves to watch you “die on the cross of your self righteousness” – but as long as it isn’t self righteousness and your only righteousness comes from Crust who lives in you, Jesus tells us –

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:13 NKJV

Lord, help us to feed our families with the fruit that they truly need from an eternal perspective, with a discerning eye, and with a loving heart. Amen.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
I Timothy 5:8 NKJV

Will we choose peace?

We can have the peace that God wants us to find in His guidance and example, or we can participate in the evil rebellion that hurts us and others around us. He offers us delivery from the traps of our old ways, and the strength to overcome and be set free, it is our choice that remains and that will determine the fruit of our lives.

The old way of the flesh:

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Mark 7:21-23 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mrk.7.21-23.NKJV

The promise of peace:

Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.
Psalms 119:165 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.119.165.NKJV

The strength offered:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/php.4.13.NKJV

The fruit to be born in our lives:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/gal.5.22-25.NKJV

Lord, we imagine how much brighter this world would be if filled with lives bearing your fruit abundantly. And even as we hope for a move of your Holy Spirit across our city, our state, our nation, our continent, our earth – even as we pray for and lay claim to your territory – we realize that we are the vessels carrying your Good News, your nourishing fruit, out to serve the world around us. Let our lives shine brightly reflecting your glory, Lord. Let us continue loving each small opportunity to show your love to others, not to just talk about you, but to live like you, too follow in your footsteps, sharing our life as a testimony, walking with you, and not loving our own lives even unto death. Rescue us, Lord, from that old man, that flesh, that enemy of your ways that wants to cling to us like burdensome chains of sin, death, guilt, shame, bitterness, unforgiveness, or unbelief. Free the captives, Lord, starting with us – equipping us, and guiding us, and using us for your glory and honor, forever and ever, Amen.

What is valuable?

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Philippians 3:7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.7.NLT

When we first read this verse alone,  we might think that when Paul says “I once thought these things were valuable” that the “things” he is speaking about are the things of this world. That’s a valid leap of logic when we’ve gained a basic understanding of the types of things that the Bible teaches us. However,  if we look at the context of this passage –

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Philippians 3:2-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.2-11.NLT

We can see that Paul is talking about worthless “things” like the following are, a wrong perspective:
– “pure-blooded citizen of Israel”
– “member of the tribe of Benjamin”
– “human effort”
– “strictest obedience to the Jewish law”
– “zealous”
– “obeyed the law without fault”

And He counts these things as worthless because of what Christ has done. He makes it clear that knowing Christ and having a relationship with Him is really what matters. He points out to us that it isn’t about “measuring up to Christ”, that it isn’t that we must be highly religious to be saved.

He points out that this right perspective is about :

– knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord
– worshipping Him (by walking in) the Spirit of God.
– relying on what Christ has done for us
– putting no confidence in human effort
– becoming righteous through faith
– trusting God’s way of making us right with himself
– experiencing the mighty power (of the Holy Spirit) that raised Him from the dead
– suffering with Him
– sharing in His death

You see, this new perspective is not just human,  outward compliance to the letter of the law. It isn’t just striving to work hard enough for a master to earn something in return. It is a process by which our hope and belief in His promises leads us to an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness for this amazing gift of grace – and it is in this humble place of receiving the undeserved,  unmerited gift of freedom that we have the opportunity to find love for God – to understand His love for us,  and to respond with a life loving Him in return, a life turned to Him in repentance and walking with Him faithfully because of the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us.

The results may look the same on the outside. Many people can act religious,  focusing on the outward obedience by striving on their own to imitate the walk of a born again Child of God. But if they don’t have His Holy Spirit inside powering their desires and motives,  their striving is worthless and useless because, I would have nothing.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.13.1-3.NLT

And yes,  if we have this love we will obey His commandments,  not just continue a life in sin. We will repent of our sinful ways, so I’m not saying that this Grace is a license to sin. I’m saying that Jesus set the bar a lot higher than just outward compliance that looks to human eyes the same as true obedience of the heart. God weighs our heart, and we cannot fool Him with silly religious sacrifices when He desires mercy. He set the bar at love – true Godly, righteous love – the very in-dwelling of God’s spirit and nature in our lives that produces the fruit against which there is no law.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.  When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
John 14:15-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.15-21.NLT

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you. Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Galatians 5:1-15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.1-15.NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:16-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.16-26.NLT

Obscene, foolish, coarse – or thankful?

Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.
Ephesians 5:4 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.5.4.NLT

I have had a rebellious nature that ruled my life and controlled me and led me into all kinds of bad decisions and unwanted consequences in my life. If someone told me, “You can’t do that” – an urging deep inside would tempt me to want to do it. It would tell me,  “There’s nothing really wrong with X, it isn’t hurting anyone,  there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do it. It isn’t going to hurt you.”

Yes, for many,  this is  a familiar voice. A voice that starts out saying, “It’s okay to do X as long X as it is in moderation – as long as it doesn’t control you” and then continues on with “just one more time” or “just a little more” once it has a foothold in our lives.

And if our prose and direction is all based on ourselves and what might be good or bad for me,  it is easy for us to listen to this voice. It is easy for us to fall into the dangerous trap of moral relativism where our minds can justify all kinds of things based on the situation, because there is no firm foundation in what is true – no firm foundation for what is right and wrong regardless of situation and circumstance. When we make ourselves the center and the focal point of our decisions,  we will be pushed this way and that way by the winds of spiritual influences (both bad and good) as they fight for control, and we will be battered like a small boat among crashing waves of the storms of our circumstances.

But when we decide that we love God, and that we are thankful for His offer of grace – thankful for grace made known to us through His coming in the flesh as Jesus Christ, His death upon the cross, and His resurrection to Heaven – thankful for His blood sacrifice that washes us clean from our sin, and clothes us in His righteousness – this changes or perspective.

It changes or perspective from:

What can I do?

To

What can I do?

And you’ll say, “But there is no difference in the two. They are the same words.” Yes,  they are the same words, but the two sentences couldn’t be any further from each other in their meaning and their message and their intent.

When I say “What can I do?” And I’m focused on myself – when I only see the world as my playground – the question becomes about what I’m allowed to do versus what I’m restricted from doing. The law becomes a curse that is keeping me from the things that I want to do because my life is only about my own desires and the fulfillment of my own life through the pleasures that I can grasp hold off during this short life.

But when my focus is on thankfulness towards God, then the question “What can I do” becomes about loving and serving God and loving and serving others. It starts a journey of discovering the certainty and narrow direction of God’s divine instruction that we would not choose if we were only concerned about ourselves.  It reveals the stumbling block of “freedom in Christ” that reveals the true desires of our hearts. Because if we want to use the promise of grace to cover our sins and continue in them (so that we will not be punished) then we are foolish, and in error,  and we do not really know God or love Him – we are just filling ourselves about who is the Lord of our lives and who it is that we truly serve.

You see, how can we hate the divine instruction of the Word of God,  but say that we love the Word of God that came in the flesh to walk among us as Jesus Christ? How can we decide that it is okay to twist and pervert,  to add and subtract from the Word of God,  so that it fits our own opinions and purposes and selfish desires and tell ourselves that we are walking in light and not stumbling blind in the darkness? Only a liar, only a deceitful heart, only those slippery words sliding off the tongue of a prideful enemy of God – only someone deceived could take that position as they try to lay waste to the firm foundation of the Word of God. Only someone not interested in serving God and seeing God’s Kingdom Come,  His Will being done in their lives – but instead seeking their own way,  their own will.

Haven’t we all fallen guilty of this at times? Isn’t the enemy tricky? Doesn’t He try to twist the Weird of God and use it against us so that we justify our own will and desires over what is right in the eyes of the Lord?

And don’t get me wrong, you cannot earn your way into heaven by trying to earn God’s favor because of your “good works” – because He tells us there is only one that is good, and that is God. But you can say,  “God, come live in my life, lead me along your narrow path, guide me in your ways,  use me for your work. Send me out and go with me. I am grateful for your grace and I want to learn to love you and serve you more each day. Thank you,  Lord. My life is yours.”

And this is a different perspective. This is a perspective of loving and serving others. This is the perspective that comes from belief – not belief in our head about an idea or concept of God or Jesus Christ,  but belief in Jesus Christ,  in the Word of God, in a relationship with a living Christ who commune with us and teaches us and guides us through this gift of the Holy Spirit.

So when it comes to coarse jokes, or cursing, or gossip, or lying, or anything else that we know is not glorifying to God – don’t we want to avoid them and instead demonstrate our thankfulness to God?

But you say, “That will just make others uncomfortable around me if I’m acting self righteous and won’t participate in things like that.” There is a difference between being righteous and being self righteous. Being righteous means that we have put on His righteousness,  undeserved and unmerited,  and that we are thankful and that we walk in a spirit of grattitude for what Christ has done and is doing in our lives. This perspective, one of humility,  does not offend others – in fact, many will recognize their own struggles in your wanting, and striving, and trying to live a better andnote faithful life while not judging others for their own imperfections.

Self righteous look much different than the humble,  gentle,  kind servant that Jesus Christ presented as our example. Self righteous looks like a pointed finger, condemnation,  accusation,  pride – someone feeling comfortable trying to sit in the judgement seat themselves over others. Self righteous pride is what got Satan cast down from heaven with a third of the angels – and he goes about roaring like a lion looking for someone to devour. So we don’t have to bite and tear like wolves or roar and devour like a lion, we are meant to leave the judgement to Him.

So you don’t hear me using the word obedience that much by itself,  because to the lost it is a word that reminds them off the curse of the law because they don’t yet understand the beauty of it. They, areonly thinking oftheir attempts at outward compliance to thelaw that hasalways failed them and been a curse and a burden because of their fallen nature. Instead, I speak of thankfulness and grattitude, because these will overcome the darkness,  they will overcome the hatred of the letter of the law which leads to death – and replace it with a love for the Word of God, a love for God,  a love for the Spirit of the Law. And once we decide to walk in that Spirit, the law is fulfilled by the fruit that it now bears.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:22-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.22-26.NLT