Released Into Fruitfulness

“And where the Spirit of the Lord is - Wherever this Gospel is received, there the Spirit of the Lord is given; and wherever that Spirit lives and works, there is liberty, not only from Jewish bondage, but from the slavery of sin - from its power, its guilt, and its pollution.” Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Wow. I never imagined that going back through the beginnings of this journey would be so moving. My first impression is how much my writing has improved. Since one of my goals for this blog was to develop my writing skills, I am thankful for progress.

The opening statement for my mission was simply this definition given for freedom in The Spirit Filled Life Bible:

It is God’s desire to enter every aspect of a person’s life and fill it with Himself. A person is sanctified when he commits every aspect of his life exclusively to Jesus. A person who is sanctified by God’s Holy Spirit is set free at the deepest dimensions of his life and is released into fruitfulness.

Of course the main objective was to first define freedom in Christ and then to set out to attain it. Do you remember some of the questions I posed at the beginning?

Is there anything we can do to speed up the process?

Will it be painful?

I believe the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes.” I do believe we can speed up the process through deliberate bible study and prayer, and it will definitely involve painful changes in our mind, will, and emotions.

I also believe the level of difficulty depends on how much bondage to sin we find ourselves in, and just how much “its power, guilt, and pollution” have infected our very lives.

However, we can be confident that we have no reason to fear. The temporary pain we experience while God is purifying our souls cannot even begin to compare with the peace of heart and liberty that will follow.

I am adopting some new worship songs for our continuing march to freedom. This one is titled Whom Shall I Fear:




Whom Shall I fear
Chris Tomlin
Lyrics

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the Light
Whom shall I fear

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my Sword and Shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in your hand
I'm holding on to your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful

Nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hand
I am holding on to Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side 

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Holy Before God

I am going back in time, only this time instead of going back to another century, I am just going back to 2012. I feel like it is time for a refresher course on what we have learned so far on this journey towards freedom in Christ.

I need to revamp some old posts and bring them back to life because some of the best teachings I have found on this subject are buried right here on my little blog.

So, this is a fresh repeat of a post titled It Starts With The Heart. Now more than ever I believe that to be true.

The following text is from the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible, in a commentary on Matthew 5:17-28:

Jesus Christ taught a revolutionary concept about what it means to be pure and holy before God. The Pharisees based righteousness upon keeping up outward appearances, but Jesus demanded that His followers allow His Spirit to produce true inner holiness. In other words, Jesus said, ‘Quit faking it!’

Jesus used two illustrations of unforgiveness, anger, and sexual lust to show us that it is the purification of our inner attitudes as well as our outward behavior that He wants to change. The lesson here is that we may put on a “religious act” in front of our friends, parents, and church. But God knows what is really going on in our lives.

Jesus doesn’t condemn us, but rather frees us from the bondage of inner sins. Jesus knows that the sin in our inner lives will enslave us if we don’t deal with it. God’s purpose for us is freedom from the burden of sin so that joy and victory can characterize our lives. 

I recently shared a testimony to encourage some younger women of faith in the trials of life they were struggling with. So many times we try to avoid the trials and the pain when sometimes we just need to let the trials do the work in us that God intends for them to do.

I can honestly say that even though I am battling huge giants in my present land, my life has never been better. You see it is as we struggle to overcome, that He gives us His life in exchange for ours, the more of Him, the less of me. And His life is the only one worth having.

You will see this quote by Oswald Chambers frequently around here:

If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult.  The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in—it stirs us up to overcome. 

Selah.

The Perfect Will Of God

 “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

In an excerpt from the illustration Transfiguration, Alexander Maclaren brings to light a compelling realization:

One master word for the whole Christian life is sacrifice, self-surrender, and that to God. Paul here brackets, with that great conception of the Christian life, another equally dominant and comprehensive [concept]. In one aspect, it is self-surrender; in another, it is growing transformation.

The inner man, having been consecrated as a prince, by yielding of himself to God, is called upon to manifest inward consecration by outward sacrifice; an inward "renewing of the mind" is regarded as the necessary antecedent of transformation of outward life.

I discovered something in this that I never recognized before. If the master word for the Christian life is sacrifice, or self-surrender to God, then being self–protective is counter productive to the process of sanctification, which leads to freedom.

Some of us had to learn at very early ages how to protect ourselves from emotional and/or physical harm. The process of unlearning a behavior that was ingrained as a survival mechanism can be daunting. Especially because this same insecurity then breeds poor choices to eventually compound our pain.

Maybe you have learned behaviors through the circumstances in your life that are keeping you from fully surrendering to God as well. Thankfully, He has provided for our brokenness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can trust Him to be our protector.

Maclaren continues: 

Note, then, THAT THE FOUNDATION OF ALL TRANSFORMATION OF CHARACTER AND CONDUCT IS LAID DEEP IN A RENEWED MIND. Now it is a matter of world-wide experience, verified by each of us in our own cases, if we have ever been honest in the attempt, that the power of self-improvement is limited by very narrow bounds.

Any man that has ever tried to cure himself of the most trivial habit which he desires to get rid of, or to alter in the slightest degree the set of some strong taste or current of his being, knows how little he can do, even by the most determined toil…

Only one Christ presents itself, not as a mere republication of morality, not as merely a new stimulus and motive to do what is right, but as an actual communication to men of a new power to work in them…

If you want to change your characters — and God knows they all need it — change the deep convictions of your mind; and get hold, as living realities, of the great truths of Christ's gospel.

If you and I really believed what we say we believe, that Jesus Christ has died for us, and lives for us, and is ready to pour out upon us the gift of His Divine Spirit, and wills that we should be like Him, and holds out to us the great and wonderful hopes and prospects of an absolutely eternal life of supreme and serene blessedness at His right hand should we be, could we be, the sort of people that most of us are?...

The beginning of all transformation is the revolutionized conviction of a mind that has accepted the truths of the gospel.

Selah.


The Blessedness Of Doing


“But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works--this person will be blessed in what he does.” 
James 1:25

When I first started this study on the word “perfect” in the biblical sense, quite honestly, it overwhelmed me. I was going through a particularly difficult time with my healthcare and did not have the strength to begin to fathom the ideas I was uncovering.

I was also a little intimidated by the subject considering that throughout history this has been a subject of great debate. However, I simply could not resist the in-depth pursuit of the scriptures in detail.

To say that I am thankful that I did would be quite an understatement. I am beginning to understand the emphasis and the necessity of this study and its relevance to our freedom in Christ.

First, I want to share a simply beautiful illustration by A. Maclaren, D. D., and titled The Blessedness of Doing (from James 1:25): 

To have the heart in close communion with the very Fountain of all good, and the will in harmony with the will of the best Beloved; to hear the Voice that is dearest of all, ever saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it"; to know "a Spirit in my feet" impelling me upon that road; to know that all my petty deeds are made great, and my stained offerings hallowed by the altar on which they are honoured to lie and to feel fellowship with the Friend of my soul increased by obedience; this is to taste the keenest joy and good of life, and he who is thus "blessed in his deed" need never fear that that blessedness shall be taken away, nor sorrow though other joys be few and griefs be many.

Finally, I would like to present a portion of commentary on the biblical context of the words “PERFECT; PERFECTION” written by W. L. Walker, titled The Christian Ideal that pretty much sums it up:

Perfection is the Christian ideal and aim, but inasmuch as that which God has set before us is infinite "Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48) absolute perfection must be forever beyond, not only any human, but any finite, being; it is a divine ideal forever shining before us, calling us upward, and making endless progression possible. … the perfect man, in the Old Testament phrase, was the man whose heart was truly or wholly devoted to God.

Christian perfection must also have its seat in such a heart, but it implies the whole conduct and the whole man, conformed thereto as knowledge grows and opportunity arises, or might be found.

There may be, of course, a relative perfection, e.g. of the child as a child compared with that of the man.

The Christian ought to be continually moving onward toward perfection, looking to Him who is able to "make you perfect in every good thing (or work) to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:21).



The Perfect Law Of Liberty


“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” 

I did not plan to say anything more on the subject of being “perfect” as Christians. However, the subject has been troubling me ever since my last post.

This is the whole premise of freedom in Christ: bondage to sin. This is the whole story of freedom from slavery in the Old Testament.

We are made in the image of God and we will never be walking in the freedom that Christ died for us to have as long as we live to our flesh. A true understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our only salvation.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon this amazing excerpt from Matt Chandler’s book, The Explicit Gospel. Any emphasis to the text has been purely mine:

The gospel is all about God. What He has done. What He is doing. What He is going to do.

The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Grace-driven effort wants to get to the bottom of behavior, not just manage behavior. If you're simply managing behavior but not removing the roots of that behavior, then the weeds simply sprout up in another place.

What ends up happening to so many of us is that we spend so much time trying to put sin to death that we don't spend enough time striving to know God deeply, trying to gaze upon the wonder of Jesus Christ and have that transform our affections to the point where our love and hope are steadfastly on Christ. The goal is this: that Christ would become more beautiful and desirable than the allure of sin."

Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it.

Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good.

It is the result of having transferred one's affections to Jesus. When God's love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship.

And when we love God, we obey him.


Selah.