Category Archives: Holy Spirit

Speaking in Tongues?

In this video we delve into the whole contentious area of speaking with other tongues or languages. Give us some feedback. Tell us what you think?

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In the dark – the lost coin! (part 3)

In the dark!

Luke 15:8 “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Lost something?

It’s a horrible feeling when you realise that you have misplaced your wallet or mobile phone. I automatically go into deep intercessory prayer – Lord help!

A lost coin

coinHowever, this is the point of the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15. God hasn’t lost something as trivial as a mobile phone. No, He’s lost the whole human race and He’s determined to get us back! In the parable of the lost sheep Jesus is the good shepherd. In this parable, the woman represents the Holy Spirit.

One coin?

Why though, is one coin so important when you have nine left? If you do some research, it is possible that this coin was part of a wedding dowry that the woman wore around her neck. In fact, the drachma coin – which is the correct translation – was a rare coin not in circulation and certainly not the normal possession of a peasant woman.

What does the coin represent?

women lost coinWhat does this coin represent? I believe that it represents our true identity as we are created in the image of God with his value stamped on our lives. Yes, the coin has rolled somewhere into a dark corner – maybe amongst dirt and grime. Nevertheless, it hasn’t changed our value just because we are lost. No, its worth just as much as one of the other coins around the women neck.

What does the women do?

What does the woman do? Does she stand around moping over her loss? No, she goes into action. First, she lights a lamp. Next, out comes the dust pan and broom and the whole house gets a complete spring clean as she searches high and low for the lost coin.

He shines into the darkness

darkWe can learn alot from this. There is no chance that the lost coin can be found in the dark so she lights a lamp. As lost people, that is exactly our condition: we are ‘in the dark.’ I mean, have you ever been in a cave when someone switches out the lights. It’s pitch black, so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. The Bible says that we were in that kind of darkness – a darkness that had power over us and somehow characterises us!

Colossians 1:13 “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”

Ephesians 5:8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

Translated from darkness!

The devil’s occult or hidden realm therefore, is one of darkness and once we are found by the Lord we are translated from darkness into the kingdom of light! Every shadow has to flee; every dark corner is revealed in our lives as the Holy Spirit goes to work!

2 Peter 1:19 “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light G3088 that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

She sweeps the house

Cleaning houseNext, the woman gets the broom and starts to sweep and tidy the house. This is exactly the strategy of the Holy Spirit in our lives as he goes around with his divine vacuum cleaner getting rid of the remains of last nights pizza and dirty dishes. ‘Tidying up’ is essentially separating the common from the precious or holy.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Then the mop is out, cleaning  floors and making the place spick and span. Wow this house is starting to look really good!

Ephesians 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word”

Of course, this is all in aid of finding the lost coin – and that’s exactly why holiness in our lives is good.

God loves a party

Therefore, God is not a party-pooper, a perfectionist only interested in a clean house. No, this is all for a reason – and indeed later on when she finds the coin –  the added bonus is that she can invite her neighbours into a nice clean house made ready for a celebration and party!

Diligently searching

Of course, while she is diligently cleaning the house she is looking out for the glint of silver. She searches everywhere. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is brilliant at searching for that which is lost:

1 Corinthians 2:10 “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Imagine the joy on the face of the woman, as at last she finds the coin in a dark corner, maybe covered in dust or worse. Joyfully she cleans it up and it’s restored back to its original beauty.

Real life example – Bartimeus

For a moment though, lets jump to a real life example in the life of Jesus. In Luke 18 we have the wonderful story of Bartimeus the blind beggar. In Luke 18 we are not told his name but we are told in the paralell passage in Mark 10. His name means: ‘son of Timeus’ and Timeus means ‘highly prized.’ That certainly relates to what we were saying about the preciousness of the lost coin.

Luke 18 35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”39Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” 42Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Blind and a beggar

However, even though his name  means ‘highly prized’ , here is a man who is not living up to his name. He is three things: he’s blind; he’s a beggar; and he’s a citizen of Jericho – the city of the curse. Surely, that’s just like us.  Even though we are ‘highly prized’ by God, we have been blinded and sold a lie as to our identity and self-worth by the god of this world – the devil. We are lost in our own dark world: the city of the curse.

2 Corinthians 4:4 “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

The unfortunate consequence of this blindness, is that he is reduced to begging for scraps. He’s at the bottom of the food chain because he cannot work. This is quite a contrast to another citizen of Jericho – who Jesus encounters later on: Zacchaeus who, although very rich, is likewise spiritually blind. Incidentally, his name means ‘pure’ which again, even though people didn’t see him this way, Jesus affirms his value! 

A revelation of Jesus!

What happens in the blind man’s man’s heart though, is a revelation as to who Jesus is. The worth of Jesus as the Son of David – a King! Indeed, light has shone in is heart and no rebuke from those around him is going to shut him up. This lost sheep is going to bleat its head off at top volume until the Good Shepherd responds!

Faith

Again, this an instance of: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! “ Acts 2:21. That’s what faith simply is. It’s recognising our inability; our weakness; blindness and helplessness; yet we call upon God to help. Indeed, its precious faith that Jesus is searching for and to this man  he says an interesting thing: “your faith has made you well.”.  What is God looking for? He’s looking for faith in the hearts of men:

Luke 18:8 “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Faith, therefore, is the currency of heaven. It’s extremely precious and valuable.

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

He receives his miracle

Therefore,  by faith (his own faith),  he receives this miracle of sight. His eyes are now open; no  longer in the dark. Found! Immediately, the work of repentance and renewal begins in his heart as he begins to discard his old lifestyle! Straightaway, he throws away his old garment (Mark 10) and follows Jesus in the way loudly praising God!

A celebration

Like the woman, who celebrates with her neighbour, this is the fruit of true repentance and a miracle – joy!

Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Fully sighted Bartemeus therefore, is now instantly in the praise and worship team of heaven; part of the royal priesthood!

1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

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Further reading:

Part 4 a lost son

Part 2 a lost sheep

Part 1 Lost 

Lost and found

A purpose focused church

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What is the unforgivable sin?

What is the unforgivable sin?

unforgivable sinIn the article ‘A better sacrifice’ , we touched on the possibility that it is possible to understand the Gospel and yet wilfully reject it. This is called the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Mark 3:28 “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:”

As Dr Henry Morris says:

“The one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ. Thus, speaking against the Holy Spirit is equivalent to rejecting Christ with such finality that no future repentance is possible”

John 3:18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

In Matthew 12:32 and Mark 3:28, the scriptures further describes the sin against the Holy Spirit as an ‘eternal’ sin. Meaning, it’s permanent and irreversible.

Can the believer commit it?

Indeed, this is the only sin that can’t be forgiven.  The good news for the believer however is: you cannot commit it – you believe!

Unbelief therefore, is not agnosticism (not knowing). It’s when the truth is known and yet rejected.

Are then any instances in the scriptures though of persons committing this sin? I believe there are. The first is Pharaoh in Exodus chapter 7

For Example: Pharaoh (A hardened heart)

Here is a ruler of whom it not only says that God hardened his heart but also he hardened his own heart. Despite multiple miraculous plagues he refused to let God’s people go and ended up in disaster. This contrasts nicely with a ruler such ŵas Nebuchadnezzar, who brought to the edge of insanity,  finally acknowledges the God of heaven in repentance and humility.

Hardening the heart therefore, is an act of will; a stubbornness to believe and a resistance to the gracious overtures of the Holy Spirit.

For Example: the children of Israel

Likewise, the Children of Israel suffer this same hardening of the heart and unbelief and its described in Psalm 95:8 (quoted in the book of Hebrews 3:8:)

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:”

In several other places in Hebrews this theme is tellingly repeated: Hebrews 3:15 and 4:7 for example.

For Example: their descendants

Of course, the descendants of these Israelite reprobates act in a similar hard-hearted and unbelieving fashion, rejecting the message of Stephen by stoning him to death:

Acts 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked an uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did”

This is clearly a deliberate and wilful rejection of the truth!

One of the bystanders to that execution (a Jew and a Pharisee): the Apostle Paul however describes the grace of God towards him because he was ignorant of the truth.

1 Timothy 1:13: “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” 

In other words, he didn’t reject Jesus wilfully.

Why can’t this sin be forgiven?

Why can’t this sin be forgiven? Why can’t this sin be repented of? The fact is, if the only way of salvation as proclaimed by Stephen, is rejected – then there is no hope!

Hebrews 12:25 “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:”

For Example: a person owes money. However, when offered a cheque for for £1000, they deliberately rip it up –  rejecting the kind offer.

Hebrews 6:6 “If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Understanding Hebrews

Maybe you have noticed – most of the Bible quotations so far – have come from the book of Hebrews. This is interesting, because understanding the sin against the Holy Spirit is a major key to understanding this book.

Additionally, three other helpful keys are:

  1. To whom was it written?
  2. Why was it written?
  3. How does it apply to us today?

To whom was it written?

In this light, let’s look at a commonly misunderstood verse of Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:26 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received  the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more  sacrifice  for sins”

Firstly, ask the question: ‘to whom was this scripture written?’ Most people people assume that the Epistle was written directly to them, when in fact it was written by a Jewish Apostle to his Jewish brothers: some born again Messianic Jews and others – who maybe had heard and understood the Gospel; are even meeting with believers – but are not yet true converts! The phrase “received the knowledge of the truth” is referring to these Jews.

Why was it written?

Next, ask the question: ‘why was it written?’  Clearly, he is addressing the problem of those Jews amongst the ‘Hebrews’ or Jewish believers, who have heard and been exposed to the power of the Gospel but refuse to accept the sacrifice of Jesus and instead are returning back to the temple worship. They are falling away.

Therefore, he is not warning gentile believers that they may lose their salvation through deliberate or wilful sin!

In fact, it makes no sense at all to interpret this verse that way: I mean – sin by its very nature is wilful!

Yes, you could sin accidentally, say break the speed limit, but most sin is a decision.

Watch your children – they choose to sin. Likewise, the first sinner Adam couldn’t plead ignorance. No, he deliberately sinned by taking the fruit from Eve his wife.

Hebrews 6:4 

Another scripture that makes sense when you know ‘why’ it was written, is Hebrews 6:4

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and  have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Again, this verse is talking about those who have heard the Gospel, maybe even experienced its power through healing or deliverance but have chosen to reject it – they have fallen away. No repentance is therefore possible. It’s the sin against the Holy Spirit.

The sin of rejecting the messiah

The wilful sin or the sin of wilfulness therefore, is a deliberate choice to reject Jesus as Messiah even when the truth is known and even experienced.

Furthermore, there are many other examples in Hebrews, of warning to the unbelieving Jews within the believing community who have clearly heard and understood the Gospel:

Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”

Hebrews 3:12 Take care brethren (Jewish believers and unbelievers) , lest there be in any one of you an evil (works filled) unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore let us fear lest, while a promise of entering his rest any of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us just as they also but the word they heard did not profit them because it was united by faith in those who heard.

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience

Application – So what about us?

Lastly, how do these scriptures apply to us today? I believe that even in our churches today, there are many who call themselves Christians, who go to church, tithe, read their Bibles, sing in the choir and even know a bit of theology– yet they are not saved and born again. They have a form of religion but no power.

2 Corinthians 13:5 “ Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

Read More:

Can you miss the grace of God?

Sinning wilfully

A driving analogy

Are future sins forgiven?

Total forgiveness

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Unblocking the wells of revival

unblockingYesterday, I spent some time unblocking my bath drain.  At first, I tried force: using a plunger to try and shift the blockage. Unfortunately that only made matters worse and instead of only a trickle of water draining away – it became completely blocked!

Looking online, I decided to try soda crystals and vinegar but when that didn’t work, I took a trip to Tesco and bought some purpose drain un-blocker containing some pretty potent and dangerous chemicals  – and poured that down plug hole. The results weren’t instantaneous but after repeating with some more soda crystals and boiling water to boot, eventually the bath unblocked and the water flowed freely again!

Why am I telling you this? I believe this is a pretty potent picture of what the Lord is doing in our lives and churches at the moment (if we would let him). In Genesis 26 the Philistines kept bunging up the wells that Isaac dug with rubbish in order to stop and contaminate the water supply. Isaac kept re-digging the wells his Father Abraham and third time lucky (just like my bath), unplugged one called Rehoboth – which means a wide place.

Similarly as the people of God, we are bombarded by the  negative ideas and  culture  from the world around us – even church culture that is quite honestly just “stinking thinking”! Often, we imbibe this rubbish through the media and internet and wonder why the Holy Spirit isn’t flowing in our lives!

I believe, the Lord is saying: “ I want to unblock the wells of revival – both individually and corporately in the churches”. This will take some pretty potent ‘medicine’ but it will work – a spiritual detox!

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Further reading:

Gardening and holiness

The Bible impossible tales

What’s all this fuss about hyper-grace?

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Fix your mind!

mindChrist in you (Part 4)

In the post ‘Why do I still sin’, we saw that the man in Romans 7 came to an important conclusion. He might be unable to conquer sin in the flesh but there was one area where he did have control – his mind or as the famous detective Poirot would say: “those little grey cells!”

Romans 7:25 “So, then, on the one hand I MYSELF with the mind (nous) am serving the law of God, but on the other, WITH MY FLESH, the law of sin.

This is an important step because as the famous proverb says: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” Proverbs 23:7.

The French philosopher Descartes said something similar when he made the famous statement: “ I think therefore I am”.

What is the mind?

The mind therefore, is very much at the centre of who we are but is much more than just the grey matter of the brain. No, the mind enables us to make sense of the world around us, giving us perception and experience of the physical world through the five senses. In addition, somehow it enables self-consciousness. We are not therefore, just computers and thinking machines.

For example, the mind does the following:

  • It enables us to conceptualise, anticipate, create and imagine.
  • It gives us the ability to experience emotion and pain.
  • It creates a conscience.
  • It gives us the ability to compute and think through problems logically.
  • It enables us to be self-aware.

Therefore, the mind is the inner man, the heart and soul of our being where all the information from the external world is processed.

In other words, as the physical senses of the body are a window to the physical world, enabling the mind/soul to experience that world; the spiritual senses of the human spirit are a window into the spirit, enabling the mind/soul to experience that reality.

How did sin affect the mind?

Now we have some idea what the mind is, how then did the sin and the fall affect the mind? Of course, one of the major effects of sin, is that a sinners is blinded to spiritual realities. This is what is called ‘being carnally minded.’

The unregenerate man’s spirit therefore is dead;  there is no information coming from that realm. That is why, to the lost man, the Holy Scriptures are a closed book unless the Holy Spirit sovereignly enlightens him or her because as Jesus said: his words are spirit and life.

2 Cor 3:14 “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

Psalm 119:120 “the entrance of your words give light, it gives understanding to the simple”

Likewise, spiritual truths to the carnally minded, even if highly educated, appear foolishness because they are spiritually discerned:

1 Cor 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Education then, though very important and beneficial, does not change human nature. It just creates a clever sinner at the end of the day.  A man therefore, may be totally brilliant and yet totally evil – an inventor of evil things. (Romans 1:30) Indeed, even in the thousand years or so before the flood before God wiped out the human race – the mind of man produced nothing but evil.

Genesis 6:5 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

How does new Birth affect the mind?

New birth and new creation though, changes not only the spirit of man but affects the mind also. God writes his laws (how he thinks) on our hearts and minds:

Hebrews 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

Indeed, he not only writes his laws but gives us the mind of Christ:

1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

How is the mind transformed?

This transformation of the mind though, although started at new birth, is an ongoing process unlike the born again spirit. There is now work to do. We have to learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to actually let the mind of Christ operate in our lives. We have to work out (exercise) our salvation.

Phil 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”

For example: Imagine a computer that has a brand new operating system installed. Unfortunately, there may be still old applications, picture files and even virus’s on the hard drive. Maybe a few careful deletions of inappropriate material and programs need to take place! Possibly, some of the applications need to be upgraded and modified to run under the new operating software.

As another example: A few years back my wife and I bought a ladies only gym. The existing staff and membership came with the business.  Of course, this meant all the existing problems and attitudes came along too! So, even though we had fresh vision and ideas for the business, we had to change the mindset of both staff and members who would rather that things remained exactly the way they were. This meant we had to overcome their resistance to change and this ultimately meant a few staff leaving.

This is very much like what happens when we get born again. Mindsets and habits don’t change overnight but the Holy Spirit (our amazing mentor) helps us turn the business around! So, don’t give in to the desire of the flesh. You’re in charge now, don’t let those unruly staff boss you around!

Romans 6:13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

Repentance and renewal

A renewal, a change of thinking and reeducation in our lives therefore is on God’s agenda.  This is what the Bible calls repentance.

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

Before we were saved for example, we might have had a very arrogant attitude. Well, now we need to change that attitude and learn humility.

Ephesians 4:28 “And be renewed in the spirit (attitude) of your mind;”

We sin because we think sin

A key to understanding why renewing the mind is so important, is to understand that we sin because we think or imagine sin. A man cannot sin if he cannot think it first. Cain murdered Abel in his imagination long before he flew into a jealous rage and actually spilt his blood.

That is what Jesus meant we he said:

Mark 7:21-22 “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”

In other words, the sinful behaviour comes from a sinful heart and thinking.

A few examples of attitudes and mindsets:

Andrew Wommack calls this: “stinking thinking”

  • If you are depressed ask yourself the question what am I thinking on? Depressed emotions generally come from negative thinking.
  • If you full of sexual lust, what are you thinking on? What are you looking at? If you often view pornography then this is going to reinforce lustful images in your mind and objectify others.
  • If you constantly worried and fearful about the the future then what are you listening to? What is you mind fixed on? Maybe you need to switch the news channel off now!Therefore,  you can’t necessarily change your fleshly appetites overnight but you can change what you think on. You can choose the TV programs you watch.

What are we filling our mind with? 

Therefore, what we put into the mind is what is going to come out. In other words, we are the product of our education, the books we read, the films we watch and the music we listen to. So, if we look at pornography every day then its not surprising that we have a problem with lust!

One of the major things though that is lacking in many people’s life, is peace. God’s supernatural peace is a gift that guards our hearts and minds. However, it’s also a product of what we are thinking on:

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding G3563, shall keep your hearts and minds G3540 through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Therefore, even though to the believer all things are permissible. Not all things are beneficial.  (1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 10:23) This should give us wisdom that maybe that it would be better not to watch that horror movie! Is it pure? Is it lovely?

The fruit of peace therefore, is a result of what we put into our hearts and a major way we can have peace is by reading God’s word. The Holy Spirit can’t make us read it, we have to do that, but he is pleased to give us understanding of it.

Luke 24:45 “Then opened he their understanding, G3563 that they might understand the scriptures,”

What is you mind fixed on?

Therefore, one way to have peace say, is to fix our attention on the prince of peace:

Isaiah 26: 3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

Most of the time, the mind can only really concentrate effectively one one thing at a time – yes, ladies even you! Maybe you can drive a car at the same time as eating a sandwich and listening to music but try working through a maths problem at the same time as writing a letter to your bank manger!

What we set or fix our minds on then, is like the rudder of a ship – it sets the direction of our lives. We can choose. We can either focus on the flesh and its desires or we can set our minds on the spirit and have the fruit of that: life and peace.

This is what is meant by the expression walking in the spirit.

Gal 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”

It’s in the mind and heart that belief or unbelief takes place. A double minded man (unbelieving) (James 1;8) is unstable, but the believer is to be believing and single minded. We are to set or fix our minds:

Romans 8:5 “For those who according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the spirit the things of the spirit”

Romans 8:6 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.

Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on the things above not on the things on the earth”

Spiritual warfare

Of course, that is easier said than done because we have an enemy, the devil, who will do his damnedest to distract, divert or deceive you. In fact, that’s really the only power he has over you. Spiritual warfare therefore, is mostly between the ears!  Don’t give in to his mind games!

2 Cor 2:11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (thoughts, mind games)

So, the devil can’t make you think a certain way but you are susceptible to suggestion and temptation. Think of TV advertising. Your kids would never have the desire for that latest gadget if they had not seen that advert on the TV!

The devil therefore, is not just interested in getting you to sin, he wants you to believe lies. This is the way whole people groups have been deceived and put under the bondage of philosophies such as communism for example. Christians too, have shipwrecked their faith because they have not tested what they were reading, hearing or experiencing by the word of God.  So, we must test the spirits whether they are of God. (1 John 4:1)

Col 2:18 “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind”

2 Cor 11:3 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

How does God wants us to fight the enemy? It’s not with carnal weapons but with spiritual weapons: the word of God, prayer, speaking in tongues, prophecy and so on.

2 Cor 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

How are you reckoning?

Lastly then, there is another important way we renew our minds. It is to reckon ourselves according to what the Bible says about us rather than how we feel.

Romans 6:11 “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In other words, when the Bible says we are dead to sin, even though maybe our experience contradicts the word, we continue to reckon according to the word rather than experience.

Likewise, by faith we put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Is that an act, are we a hypocrite? No, because this is who we truly are and we are renewing our minds as to that fact.

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Further articles:

Freedom from Sin (Part 3)

Why do I sin (Part 2)

Christ in you (part 1)

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The law of christ

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Christ in you (Part 1)

Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

christ in youGod lived in a box

Where does God live, where does he reside?

Acts 7:48  clearly says: “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

However, under the Old Covenant God graciously dwelt or tabernacled with man. In fact, for a while he came to live in a box (the ark), hidden in a tent (the tabernacle), in the desert. Unfortunately, to go in and meet God, you had to be an Israelite, a Levite and also the high-priest that year. The chances of meeting God and even surviving therefore were pretty slim! Moses, who saw the back-side of God was a very privileged individual!

Under the Old Covenant therefore, God’s presence was external. It was as Graham Cooke calls it: a ‘visitation mentality’. In other words, God came and he went. King David could say in Psalm 51:11:

“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”  

Therefore, the Holy Spirit came upon people, indeed he filled them but he didn’t indwell them. In other words, he didn’t reside there, he just came to stay for a bit and one day he was gone. His presence was always temporary. By the way, the prayer above is not appropriate for believes today because his presence in the believer is permanent – but we will get to that later!

God lived in Jesus

God’s ultimate plan and desire though, was always ‘habitation’. In other words, he desired to live with man permanently. The title of the Messiah, Emanuel, or God with us expresses this perfectly. Through the event of incarnation, 2000 years ago, God came to dwell amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Access was limited

The problem was, that even though God was manifest in the flesh, access was still limited: you actually had to be living in Israel, the crowds were big and technically salvation was available only to the Jewish people – Gentiles were excluded. So, even though Jesus was the temple of God, the access was not universal and was limited to the brief time that he was actually alive and walking the earth – a mere 33 years before being brutally murdered!

The Holy Spirit’s coming!

Jesus himself though, hinted  privately to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion, that a mystery was going to be unveiled. He revealed, that he was leaving and his replacement was soon coming – the Holy Spirit. This meant that the presence of God was coming and it would be personal and permanent to his followers. Not just a visitation but a habitation.  Indeed, they would literally carry the presence of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit everywhere they went and worship would no longer be in a physical temple but by the spirit.

John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with him”

The disciples get born again

However, it awaited the resurrection though, before the disciples could be born again and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This event is recorded in John 20:22,  when the living Christ Jesus breathed into them his own spirit (the spirit of christ), mirroring Genesis 2:7 when God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul.

John 20:22 “and when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them Receive the Holy Spirit”

Why Jesus had to leave

In order for the Holy Spirit to be sent from heaven however, Jesus had to ascend back into heaven to his Father – that is why Jesus tells Mary not to touch him in John 20:17 because he no longer wanted her to relate to him in the flesh but by the spirit.

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

Jesus had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come.

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

Pentecost

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came, he came to indwell the church, the body of Christ and tongues of fire settled on each of the 120 believers gathered there in that upper room.

Many years before, when King Solomon dedicated the temple (2 Chron 5:13), 120 priests sounded trumpets and the priests were unable to stand to minister because of the glory cloud of the Lord.

At Pentecost however, believers individually and collectively became the temple of the Holy Spirit – and that permanently.

1 Cor 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

So, each believer, a member of the body of christ, is a little christ, an anointed one or Christian  – a nightmare for the devil because everywhere we go, the presence of God goes – a moving temple!

Ephesians 2:21 “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

The revelation of the Apostle Paul

The full extent of the revelation of this magnificent truth though, awaited the conversion of the devil’s righthand man – the Apostle Paul. Paul, unlike the other Apostles, had never met Jesus in the flesh (as far as we know), only meeting him dramatically in a ‘heavenly vision’ at midday on the Damascus road.

What the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul, was that even though you might have known Jesus in the flesh and even touched and talked with him, now by the spirit every believer had far greater access to God the Father by the Holy Spirit.

2 Cor 5:16 “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”

Really close to God!

In fact, now you as a believer, are so close to Jesus that there is not a hairs breath between you and God!  

1 Cor 6:17: “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit!”

Christ’s Spirit is in you

Not only that, the truth is, that a christian is no longer in the flesh with a dead human spirit your born again spirit is the spirit of Christ.

Romans 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. “

Christ now dwells in the heart through faith. We have the Spirit of Christ.

“….so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:17)

Our spirit is alive and righteous

And, because it is Christ’s Spirit that lives in us, even though our bodies and souls are still affected and damaged by sin and death, our spirit is alive and is righteous and holy just like Jesus!

Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Eph 4:28 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Hebrews 12:23 “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”

A new nature

In fact, new birth means your nature has been completely changed. Before, it was natural to sin because you were of Adam’s fallen spirit – the old man. Now you have the new man Christ Jesus inside and you have a new nature, a divine nature just like Jesus. What is God’s nature? It is love.

2 Peter 1:4 “Wherebye are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Laws written on the heart

This new nature therefore wants to do what’s right. Through new birth, God has written or programmed his laws, (this is not the ten commandments but the commandments of God, his desires on our hearts.) This means, that new birth also affects the will, mind and emotions – the whole person.

Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people;” Hebrews 10:16

It affects everything

So then, this new creation miracle, is not restricted to just to the spirit. This new life, eternal life, resurrection power, works from the inside out, affecting and transforming both our emotions, mind, heart and even the physical body itself:

Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

The new nature does not sin

In addition, this born again christ like and righteousness nature cannot sin!

1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t sin but Christ in us cannot sin! There has been an identity change and the I the real I is who your are in Christ:

Romans 7:7 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

Therefore, you have a new identity. A new name. You are no longer called a sinner. No you are called a holy one or a saint.

A new identity

That is your new identity and like Paul you can identify yourself fully with Jesus in his crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. After all, that’s what baptism is all about!

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I (the old identity) . but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh (the physical existence)  I live by faith in the Son of God; who loved me, and gave himself for me”

Lastly, to finish, the real test of whether you are a christian and you are in the faith is that Christ is in you. If Christ is indeed in you, then outwardly you may not look like Jesus but your spirit is identical. You are like Christ!

2 Cor 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

Next article: why do I still sin?

Further articles:

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The end of law

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I hate failure!

i hate failureI hate failure. As a professional driving instructor though, I have to help people deal with it because it is part of life – even the best and gifted fail! Therefore, failure is not always a bad thing as long as its not catastrophic and we learn from it.

As believers are we going to fail? Yes more than likely? Are we going to sin? Probably. Do born-again and spirit filled Christians get deceived, duped and even bewitched into believing all sorts of rubbish and even heresy? Yes, unfortunately!

It’s a fact, that even the early New Testament church was not perfect and immune to heresy and failure.

“Remember the height from which you’ve fallen! Repent, and do what you did at first. (Rev 2:5)”  – The letter to the church at Ephesus.

However, before this gets too depressing let me ask this question. Is the grace of God big enough to cover all these eventualities? Can all things (including failures) work for good for those who love God and are called according to purpose? Yes and Amen. As Paul said somewhere, your grace is much more than enough. The wonderful truth is, that even though the church fails, and we fail spectacularly, Jesus still loves his church and He still loves us. That is amazing grace!

In fact, the Bible is full of examples of failure. It doesn’t cover up the mistakes, sins and stupidity of the saints. Look at Jonah for example. What an idiot! Did God use him powerfully though? Yes, in fact he was one of the greatest evangelists ever – I mean the whole of Nineveh repented! What a revival!

Then there is: Gideon the fearful; Sampson the lustful; Jacob the schemer; Abraham the liar; Moses the murderer; David the adulterer;  Solomon the polygamist and shall we go on!

Is grace an excuse for failure?

It’s important though, not to make excuses for our failures. Oh well, it doesn’t matter because Jesus loves me and forgives me. Indeed, yes He does but He is also going to teach you and discipline you like any good parent would a child! God’s desire is that we are perfect as He is. He doesn’t want us to sin. He wants us to know the truth. He wants us to be more than a conqueror. He wants us to overcome, flee temptation and resist the devil.

Learning to succeed

The Father wants us to grow and mature. He doesn’t want us to stay baby and carnal christians drinking only milk. He wants us to succeed.

For example: as a driving-instructor I am not expecting perfection the moment my pupil gets in the car for his or her first lesson. I’m not expecting them to drive straight to the test centre! No, that would be crazy and extremely dangerous! In fact, in the first few lessons I expect the pupil to make mistakes! If they don’t, then they are probably not learning! However, if they have had 40 hours of lessons and they still don’t look in their mirrors – then there is going to be some strong words spoken by me!

The Holy Spirit – your personal trainer

The fact is, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to ensure that we get to the end of the journey and enter heaven safely. My objective as a driver trainer is to get my pupil from “learner-land” to the “heavenly gates” of the test-centre and a life-time of safe driving. That is my mission. Similarly, the Holy Spirit’s mission is to deliver you in one piece to heaven!

2 Timothy 4:18 “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

What you need to know is that you can’t do it on your own. No, God has graciously given us the Holy Spirit as a coach to help us navigate through the minefield of our brand new spiritual life. I’m convinced, without His help to guide us, none of us would make it!

“the Lord knows how to rescue the ungodly from temptation”  2 Peter 2:9

This is because, there are many dangers and hazards on the way, as we navigate this uncharted territory. Similarly, as a learner driver we have to learn to read the warning signs, cope with other unpleasant drivers and navigate our first roundabout!

The Christian life though, is even more difficult than this – its like learning to drive in Iraq with IED all over the place! The reality is that,  we are opposed by a wily and dangerous terrorist and enemy in the devil, who is out to trip us up and kill us if he can! So yes, we may stumble and fail but the promise of scripture stands:

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).

Psalm 37:24  “Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”

You’ll make it!

Therefore, the blessed Holy Spirit is the guarantee or earnest of our inheritance. He is a down payment guaranteeing final payment. In addition, the package is sealed by him personally so it’s not going to get tampered with or damaged on the way!

2 Cor 1:22 “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. “

Ephesians 1:14 “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

The good news is, that Jesus not only starts us off on this adventure of faith, He’s there at every step of the way and he ’s there at the finishing line cheering us on!

Hebrews 12:12 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; “

Phil 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

In addition, as we run this race of faith, a huge crowd of saints who finished their journey are cheering us on!

Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”

As an instructor though, I love the end of the journey when the pupil passes the test. I rejoice with them! What an amazing day its going to be when we see Jesus face to face!

Expecting to fail

Its a fact though, that some people expect to fail – they have faith for it! They expect not to make it. Some even torpedoe their own success because they believe they are a failure.

When I’m teaching driving, a common issue is that of the pupil being frightened of stalling the car. Most of the time they are fine, but as soon as they are at a traffic lights with cars impatiently waiting behind, then they start to think thoughts of fear. They start to believe that they are going to stall when that traffic light changes. Guess what happens? They are so fixed on the fear of failure that they don’t concentrate, the light changes, in panic the clutch comes off too fast with not enough gas and guess what – they stall!

Fixated on sin

Some believers are like that. They are so fixated with sin and failure that they end up sinning all the time because that’s all they ever think about. How do you overcome sin? You look to Jesus and his perfection. In God’s eyes we are already perfect so performance comes out of who we already are. When teaching driving, if you remove the fear of failure and allow mistakes, then suddenly the pressure is off and the pupil moves off perfectly.

Likewise, thats what grace does for us: it allows failure but does that produce sin? No it produces holiness!

Similarly, if the pupil is conscious of the close scrutiny of the instructor, then they become self-conscious and guess what happens? Lots of mistakes! Fear is actually a carnal emotion. It is focusing on ourselves and how we feel. Pupils are nervous because they are self-conscious rather than road-conscious!

So we failed – again!

So, what happens when we fail, blow it? Does God shake his head and say to himself: “well I never expected that. I am totally at a loss to know what to do.” No of course not, his grace already has the supply ready. He’s going to make sure you get what you need to learn the lesson. Its up to you to listen and learn. If you don’t , then the Holy Spirit is the most patient instructor you’ll meet! He won’t shout at you but neither will he let you give up. He may use the dual-controls occasionally or reach over to steer and stop you clipping the kerb but generally you just get to try again until you get it!

If you want to know how the Father reacts when you sin and fail, then read the parable of the prodigal son. When the son returned what was the Father’s reaction? Was it anger? No it was open arms, gifts and a party! That is grace.

Jesus is our defence

Likewise, when we fail and sin, the Bible says we have an advocate (defence lawyer) with the Father.

1 john 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

Jesus is on your side. Many of us think that when we sin, the lights of heaven dim and alarms are flashing and ringing everywhere, angels are scurrying around in a panic. Well, Jesus is on your case but guess what’s coming your way – more grace! It’s only the devil that is the accuser of the brethren. He’s going to point out all your failures and his best weapon is a perfect weapon – the law! However, the Law won’t help you change at all.

I think that many of us are too hard on ourselves, we think we should be able to live holy and get very upset with ourselves when we fail again and again. I’ve got pupils like that who are perfectionists and it hurts their pride when they can’t do something!  Likewise, how are we going to learn to be holy and righteous unless we learn from the master – Jesus Christ the righteous!

Persistence

The Bible has a simple antidote to failure: repentance or a change of mind. As Graham Cooke says: if you don’t like that thought – have another thought!  So if we fail, we get to have another go!

Therefore, persistence, patience and endurance are great qualities. The pupils I have that succeed, are not necessarily the most gifted. No, its the ones that are determined, have counted the cost and don’t give up whatever happens. Likewise, in the spiritual life the Bible says:

Proverbs 24:16  “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:”

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