Category Archives: Temptation

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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Repentance is the key to real change

IMG_5387I don’t know about you, but over the years as a Christian I’ve spent too much of my time trying to change my behaviour- with very little success I might add! Unfortunately, many of the sermons we hear from the pulpit are reinforcing a subtle works message of behavioural change: you should be this you should do that. No wonder, there is still too much depression amongst believers!

The  reason for this problem though, is that even though we have understood that the new birth is the start of this miraculous change in our lives, we haven’t really understood the role we play in applying the truth of the Gospel. In nut shell our role is not to try and change our behaviour our role is to believe and renew our minds.

What is repentance?

Therefore, I believe that repentance is the key to real and lasting change. Now, what I mean is not what many are preaching. Repentance according to scripture is a change of mind, a change of thinking. Remember, when you heard the Gospel you had to change your mind about everything and admit that you needed a Saviour? You were converted or you turned around.

Acts 20:21 “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

Feeling sorry or remorse for your sins is not necessarily repentance!

For example:  Judas did that but was never saved ending his own life by hanging.

Matthew 27: 3 “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders”

Likewise, Esau showed plenty of emotion but no real change of mind.

Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Godly repentance

Paul talks about godly repentance to salvation:

2 Corinthians 7:10 “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

God doesn’t say to us: “I’ll only forgive and save you when you have stopped sinning or you have shown that you are sorry enough.” – If you think that, then you need to repent because you don’t understand the power of sin and your inability to change!

No, God commands us to repent (Acts 17:30) and interestingly the verb is present infinitive – meaning we continue to repent. Repentance therefore is something we do. God doesn’t do it for us. (He wouldn’t command it though if we couldn’t do it!)

All you did to get saved is repent and believe. You trusted God to save you. You stopped working: you repented from dead works. (Hebrews 6:1). Miraculously, you were born again. Your old nature died. You were crucified with Christ. You were raised with Christ. It wasn’t dependent on how sorry you felt for your sins, it was a simple act of looking to Jesus by faith.

When the children of Israel sinned, God punished them by sending serpents among them. In his grace, God also provided a bronze serpent on a pole and all who looked at it were saved. Likewise, when we look to Jesus we are saved simply by faith.

John 3: 14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”

Why do we still sin?

So, why do we still sin? Of course we still have the flesh, but I believe that at the root of every sin is wrong believing.

The Apostle Paul said that what is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23) This is the root of sin. Why did Adam and Eve sin? It was mistrust in God’s goodness that caused them to believe the devil’s lie and take of the forbidden fruit. Sin started with a thought, a doubt in the mind of Eve.

Therefore, if you have a pattern of sin in your life – look for the pattern of unbelief and repent. How do you do that? Is it by having a pity party and saying sorry and you won’t do it again? No, it’s by confessing (speaking out the truth) of Gods word and believing it in your heart.

Romans 10:10 “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Let’s get practical

Example 1: If you are a constant worrier, afraid that God won’t provide materially, this is sin because it is not of faith. How do you change this behavior? Is it by constantly confessing this sin to God or a priest? Is that going to change you? No, repent and renew your mind. Open your Bible and find out what God’s word says. Start confessing the word and renewing your mind until the truth about Gods provision and care moves from your head to your heart!

Example 2. Say you are controlled by lust and are always looking at pornography. How do you overcome this sin? Again, is it by confessing every-time you sin, crying lots of tears and saying to God you won’t do it again? No, because at its root there is a deeper problem – a lack of intimacy and love.

http://www.charismanews.com/us/41536-how-to-eradicate-the-porn-pandemic

How do you address this lack? Well, Paul says it is better to marry than burn. (1 Corinthians 7:9) We can’t suppress sexual desire (after all God created it) but we can express it in the proper place – which is within marriage.

However, even marriage will not completely satisfy the need for intimacy because we were designed for a relationship with Father God. The answer is to fill your mind with a revelation of the Father’s love from the scriptures and by the Holy Spirit experience that love, rather than indulge in lustful thoughts and pornographic images.

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Further Reading:

Why you need to repent

Repentance – it’s not what you think!

You should be

Total Forgiveness

Grace a licence to sin?

Sinning Wilfully

The Dangers Of The Holiness Movement

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Free Bible Teachings

Have a listen to some free Bible teachings I preached on a variety of subjects:

free-audio-messages

Enjoy and tell me what you think

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The Dangers Of The Holiness Movement – Dr Harry Ironside

The following is part of the testimony of Dr Harry Ironside regarding the holiness movement and doctrines such as the “second blessing”. The complete testimony can be read here:

As nearly as I can now recollect, I was in the enjoyment of the knowledge of God’s salvation about a month when, in some dispute with my brother, who was younger than I, my temper suddenly escaped control, and in an angry passion I struck and felled him to the ground. Horror immediately filled my soul. I needed not his sarcastic taunt, “Well, you are a nice Christian! You’d better go down to the Army and tell what a saint you’ve become!” to send me to my room in anguish of heart to confess my sin to God in shame and bitter sorrow, as afterwards frankly to my brother, who generously forgave me.

From this time on mine was an “up-and-down experience,” to use a term often heard in “testimony meetings.” I longed for perfect victory over the lusts and desires of the flesh. Yet I seemed to have more trouble with evil thoughts and unholy propensities than I had ever known before. For a long time I kept these conflicts hidden, and known only to God and to myself.

But after some eight or ten months, I became interested in what were called “holiness meetings,” held weekly in the “Army” hall, and also in a mission I sometimes attended.

 At these gatherings an experience was spoken of which I felt was just what I needed. It was designated by various terms:

“The Second Blessing”; “Sanctification”; “Perfect Love”; “Higher Life”; “Cleansing from Inbred Sin”;

Substantially, the teaching was this:

When converted, God graciously forgives all sins committed up to the time when one repents. But the believer is then placed in a lifelong probation, during which he may at any time forfeit his justification and peace with God if he falls into sin from which he does not repent.

In order, therefore, to maintain himself in a saved condition, he needs a further work of grace called sanctification:

This work has to do with sin the root, as justification had to do with sins the fruit.



The steps leading up to this second blessing are, firstly, conviction as to the need of holiness (just as in the beginning there was conviction of the need of salvation).

Secondly, a full surrender to God, or the laying of every hope, prospect and possession on the altar of consecration; thirdly, to claim in faith the incoming of the Holy Spirit as a refining fire to burn out all inbred sin, thus destroying in to every lust and passion, leaving the soul perfect in love and as pure as un-fallen Adam.

One lady told how for forty years she had been kept from sin in thought, word, and deed. Her heart, she declared, was no longer “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” but was as holy as the courts of heaven, since the blood of Christ has washed away the last remains inbred sin. Others spoke in a similar way, though their experiences were much briefer. Bad tempers had been rooted out when a full surrender was made.

 Evil propensities and unholy appetites had been instantly destroyed when holiness was claimed by faith.

Eagerly I began to seek this precious boon of holiness in the flesh. Earnestly I prayed for this Adamic sinlessness. I asked God to reveal to me every unholy thing, that I might truly surrender all to Him. I gave up friends, pursuits, pleasures – everything I could think of that might hinder the incoming of the Holy Ghost and the consequent blessing. I did not, however, obtain what I sought, though I prayed zealously for weeks.

At last, one Saturday night I determined to go out into the country and wait on God, not returning till I had received the blessing of perfect love. Falling on my knees beneath a sycamore tree, I prayed in an agony for hours, beseeching God to show me anything that hindered my reception of the blessing. I struggled against conviction, but finally ended by crying, “Lord, I give up all–everything, every person, every enjoyment, that would hinder my living alone for Thee. Now give me, I pray Thee, the blessing!”

As I look back, I believe I was fully surrendered to the will of God at that moment, so far as I understood it. But my brain and nerves were unstrung by the long midnight vigil and the intense anxiety of previous months, and I fell almost fainting to the ground. Then a holy ecstasy seemed to thrill all my being.

My troubles were all ended now. The wilderness was past, and I was in Canaan, feeding on the old corn of the land. Nevermore should I be troubled by inward drawings toward sin. My heart was pure. I had reached the desirable state of full sanctification. With no foe within, I could direct all my energies toward vanquishing the enemies without.

 This was what I thought. Alas, how little did I know myself; much less the mind of God!

For some weeks after the eventful experience before described, I lived in a dreamily-happy state, rejoicing in my fancied sinlessness. One great idea had possession of my mind; and whether at work or in my leisure hours, I thought of little else than the wonderful event which had taken place. But gradually I began to “come back to earth,” as it were. I was now employed in a photographic studio, where I associated with people of various tastes and habits, some of whom ridiculed, some tolerated, and others sympathized with, my radical views on things religious.

Night after night I attended the meetings, speaking on the street and indoors, and I soon noticed (and doubtless others did too) that a change came over my “testimonies.” Before, I had always held up Christ, and pointed the lost to Him. Now, almost imperceptibly, my own experience became my theme, and I held up myself as a striking example of consecration and holiness!

This was the prevailing characteristic of the brief addresses made by most of the “advanced” Christians in our company. The youngest in grace magnified Christ. The “sanctified” magnified themselves.

A favorite song will make this more manifest than any words of mine. It is still widely used in Army meetings, and finds a place in their song or hymnbooks. I give only one verse as a specimen:

The people I know don’t live holy;
 They battle with unconquered sin,


Not daring to consecrate fully,
 Or they full salvation would win.


With malice they have constant trouble,
 From doubting they long to be free;


With most things about them they grumble;
 Praise God, this is not so with ME!



The first ecstatic experiences seldom lasted long. The ecstasy departed, and the “sanctified” were very little different from their brethren who were supposed to be “only justified.” We did not commit overt acts of evil: therefore we were sinless.

Lust was not sin unless yielded to: so it was easy to go on testifying that all was right.

 My thoughts of sin, as well as of holiness, were very unformed and imperfect. Therefore it was easy, generally speaking, to think that I was living without the one, and manifesting the other. When doubts assailed, I treated them as temptations of the devil. If I became unmistakably conscious that I had actually sinned, I persuaded myself that at least it was not willful, but rather a mistake of the mind than an intentional error of the heart.

I did not dare open my heart to my assistants in the work, or to the “soldiers” who were under my guidance. To do so I felt would be to lose all influence with them and to be looked upon as a backslider. So, alone and in secret, I fought my battles and never went into a holiness meeting without persuading myself that now at least, I was fully surrendered and therefore must have the blessing of sanctification. Sometimes I called it entire consecration and felt easier. It did not seem to be claiming too much. I had no conception at the time of the hypocrisy of all this.

What made my distress more poignant was the knowledge that I was not the only sufferer. Another, one very dear to me, shared my doubts and anxieties from the same cause.And now I began to see what a string of derelicts this holiness teaching left in its train. I could count scores of persons who had gone into utter infidelity because of it. They always gave the same reason: “I tried it all. I found it a failure. So I concluded the Bible teaching was all a delusion, and religion was a mere matter of the emotions.” Many more (and I knew several such intimately) lapsed into insanity after floundering in the morass of this emotional religion for years and people said that studying the Bible had driven them crazy. How little they knew that it was lack of Bible knowledge that was accountable for their wretched mental state – an absolutely unscriptural use of isolated passages of Scripture!

I observed that the general state of “sanctified” people was as low, if not often lower, than that of those whom they contemptuously described as “only justified.” 

Finally, I could bear it no longer, so asked to be relieved from all active service, and at my own request was sent to the Beulah Home of Rest, near Oakland.

 

I had now been for over five years labouring in the organisation with which I had linked myself, and ever seeking to be certain that I had attained a sinless state. In some twelve different towns and cities I had served, as I thought, faithfully, endeavouring to reach the lost, and to make out of them staunch Salvationists when converted.

At last, it began to be clear to me that the holiness doctrine had a most baneful influence upon the movement. People who professed conversion (whether real or not the day will declare) struggled for months, even years, to reach a state of sinlessness which never was reached; and at last they gave up in despair and sank back in many instances to the dead level of the world around them. The standard set was the unattainable. The result was, sooner or later, utter discouragement, cunningly-concealed hypocrisy, or an unconscious lowering of the standard to suit the experience reached.

When I went to the Home of Rest, I had not yet fully given up seeking for perfection in the flesh. In the rest home I found about fourteen officers, broken in health, seeking recuperation. I watched the ways and conversation of all most carefully, intending to confide in those who gave the best evidence of entire sanctification. There were some choice souls among them, and some arrogant hypocrites. But holiness in the absolute sense I saw in none.

Deliverance came at last in a most unexpected way. A lassie-lieutenant, a woman some ten years my senior in age, was brought to the Home from Rock Springs, Wyoming, supposedly dying of consumption. From the first my heart went out to her in deep sympathy. To me she was a martyr, laying down her life for a needy world. I was much in her company, observed her closely, and finally came to the conclusion that she was the only wholly sanctified person in that place.

Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks after her arrival, she, with a companion, came to me one evening and begged me to read to her. In God’s providence a pamphlet caught my attention which my mother had given me some years before. Moved by a sudden impulse, I drew it forth and said, “I’ll read this. It is not in accordance with our teaching; but it may be interesting anyway.” I read page after page, paying little attention, only hoping to soothe and quiet this dying woman. In it the lost condition of all men by nature was emphasized. Redemption in Christ through His death was explained.

I was startled after going over the first half of the book when Lieut. J–exclaimed, “O Captain, do you think that can possibly be true? If I could only believe that, I could die in peace!”

 Astonished beyond measure, I asked, “What! do you mean to say you could not die in peace as you are? You are justified and sanctified; you have an experience I have sought in vain for years; and are you troubled about dying?” “I am miserable,” she replied, “and you mustn’t say I am sanctified. I cannot get it. I have struggled for years, but I have not reached it yet. This is why I wanted to speak to you, for I felt so sure you had it and could help me!”

We looked at each other in amazement; and as the pathos and yet ludicrousness of it all burst upon us, I laughed deliriously, while she wept hysterically. Then I remember exclaiming, “Do you think,” she asked, “that it is because we depend upon our own efforts too much?Can it be that we trust Christ to save us, but we think we have to keep saved by our own faithfulness?” 

”But,” I broke in, “to think anything else would open the door to all kinds of sin!”

We saw that we had been looking WITHIN for holiness, instead of WITHOUT We realized that the same grace that had saved us at first alone could carry us on.

I can but praise Him for the matchless grace that gave me to see that perfect holiness and perfect love were to be found, not in me, but in Christ Jesus alone. 

And I have been learning all along my pilgrim journey that the more my heart is taken up with Christ, the more do I enjoy practical deliverance from sin’s power, and the more do I realize what it is to have the love of God shed abroad in that heart by the Holy Spirit given to me, as the Earnest of the glory to come. I have found liberty and joy since being freed from bondage that I never thought it possible for a soul to know on earth, while I have a confidence in presenting this precious truth for the acceptance of others that contrasts with the uncertainty of the past.

Grace a licence to sin? 

Sinning Willfully

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Training For Reigning

Some Christians think I’m sure, that if you preach grace, you are preaching some sort of benevolent, weak and irresponsible Father: a God who has forgiven us all our sins and so therefore no longer cares what we do. In other words, we can do what we like and continue to live a life of sin without consequences.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Grace is now our schoolmaster and teaches us to live holy lives.

“[Titus 2:11-12 KJV] 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”

Therefore, if you are born again, you have no choice: you have graduated from law school and enrolled in the school of grace, faith and of the Holy Spirit. Is this some kindergarten or some playschool? No, it is more of a boot camp and it can get pretty tough at times!

You are now a soldier of Jesus Christ.

“[2Ti 2:3 KJV] 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

In a similar way, Paul compares the Christian life to that of the athlete preparing for a race and as every athlete knows – winning takes dedication, discipline and courage.

“[1Cr 9:24-27 KJV] 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. and every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (adokimos – not standing the test)”

This school of grace and of the spirit is therefore certainly not some pushover where results don’t matter. This is training for reigning –a school you don’t get to leave if you fail. No, you get to take the test again and again. Failure is not option!

So what is God’s purpose in all of this? Why does he need to discipline or train us? Is it because he angry with us, punishing us for our sins?  No, the training is an evidence of his  love and Fatherhood:

Hebrews 12:6  6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

This is training with a purpose. God knows that with Christ in us we have entered the arena of spiritual warfare and he wants us able to fight and defeat the enemy with spiritual weapons. That is, he wants to strengthen us to be tough enough to be able to withstand temptation and anything the enemy may throw at us.

He wants us to be holy and separated to him. In other words different!

“Hebrews 12: 10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Even Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t escape this training and we can see how he endured temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. Therefore, this gives us a clue that the purpose of the training is not to do with punishment. In fact, its because we are part of his family and are his sons and daughters that we are chastened.

“ [Hbr 5:8-9 KJV] 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

I mean, how do we treat our own children? Would we be good parents if we never sent them to school or trained them at home? No, we send them to school because we want them equipped to face the challenges of life on their own one day. To be able to stand on their own two feet.

I remember when I was teaching a class once, there was a boy who physically couldn’t sit still on a chair. This was because his parents believed, that a child should never be disciplined or be restrained. They even told him that he didn’t have to go to school if he didn’t feel like it. I found this really sad, because even though he was intelligent and gifted, he could never get anything together because of his lack of self-control.

Therefore, Gods discipline and training is for our good not for the shear fun of it – that would be cruel! In fact to be accurate he doesn’t manufacture the trials either. No, even the unbelievers face the same trials of life that we do. The difference however, is how the believer responds to those trials.

Ultimately though, God is testing something that the unbeliever does not have: FAITH.

God is not interested in an intellectual acknowledgement of truth  he wants a practical and robust faith  tried and tested by the storms and trials of life. A faith in God that produces patience: a tenacity to hold on to God’s promises and an ability to receive what he’s promised.

So, if your sick learn to receive healing and then go and heal someone else. If your struggling with temptation learn how to flee and resist it. If your feeling discouraged and weary, learn how to draw upon the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the scriptures and then go and encourage someone else.

[Jam 1:2-4 KJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

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Sinning Wilfully!

sinning wifullyHebrews 10:26

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

Read out of context, and at face value, this verse apparently supports the view, that if we sin knowingly, purposefully, voluntarily or wilfully – that’s the end of a relationship with God and our salvation!

Sin is wilful!

The first obvious problem with this interpretation: it doesn’t make any sense – sin by its very nature is willful! Yes, you could sin accidently, say break the speed limit, but most sin is a decision. Watch your children, they choose to sin. A child doesn’t need much education to end up sinning wilfully! Adam couldn’t plead ignorance – he deliberately sinned by taking the fruit from Eve.

Reading in context

So what does it mean, why the confusion? There are two mistakes that are made when interpreting this verse.

1)   Firstly, 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 and are even meeting with believers but are not yet true converts! The phrase “received the knowledge of the truth” is referring to these Jews.

2)   The second is not to read it in context. For example, at least read it in the context of chapter 10 where it is explaining why the sacrifices are now redundant because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus!

Hebrews 10:18 “Now where there is forgiveness of all these things, there is no longer any offering for sin”

The sin of rejecting the messiah

The willful sin therefore, is a deliberate choice to reject Jesus as Messiah even when the truth is known and even experienced. It is a sin against the Holy Spirit.

Stephen says to the Jews just before they stone him to death:

“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 a deliberate and wilful rejection of the truth!

One of the bystanders to that execution: the Apostle Paul however, describes the grace of God towards him in 1 Tim 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.

Likewise in Hebrews 12:25 the warning is to unbelieving Jews:

“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:”

There are other multiple examples in Hebrews which are warning the unbelieving Jews within the community who have heard 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

Hebrews 6:4 “For in the case of those who have been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come and then fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the son of God and put him to open shame.

So what about us?

So do these scriptures apply to us today? Certainly. 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 are not saved and born again.

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?”

Can you miss the grace of God?

What do you do when you sin?

 

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Run!

The diabolical plan of your enemy the devil is to make you feel distant and separate from God. He knows that if he can tempt you to sin, and even better sin and then feel guilty and condemned – he’s got you where he wants you.

Then, he will lie to you and encourage you to separate yourself from God, to have a pity party and before you know it you are no longer drawing on God’s grace and enjoying his love, but beginning to even doubt the goodness of God.

So, if you are tempted, like Joseph– run away. If you fall then immediately run to the throne of grace, obtain mercy and find grace.

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”

 

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