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A lost sheep – ‘Lost’ Chapter 2

If you want to get to sleep counting sheep can help. But most of us don’t lose sleep over a wandering sheep! In Jesus’ day, though, a story about lost sheep resonated with those listening and certainly they clearly understood the metaphor.

The metaphor of a lost sheep

sheepIn Matthew 12:11 Jesus used the lost sheep metaphor to make the point that saving human life is more important than keeping to rules:

Matthew 12:11 “And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”

Later on in Matthew 18 he repeats the analogy with the story of another rescue – if we didn’t know better, we might have thought the Jesus was a shepherd (well, he was, of course) – the Good Shepherd!

Matthew 18:12 “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?”

We go astray – just like sheep

The point of all this is that as fallen, sinful human beings we are just like sheep in our behaviour: we constantly stray and do stupid things!

Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

1 Peter 2:25 “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

We do the same sinful things over and over again even when we get the same negative results – insane!

Example: crazy tortoise!

This reminds me of when I was young and had a pet tortoise. It had nice enclosure with a chicken wire fence, plenty of grass, and even a little wooden house to live in. Every day the tortoise did three things: it ate, it slept and every other waking moment it spent climbing the fence trying to escape!

Surprisingly, tortoises are very good climbers but unfortunately they have no common-sense. In fact they have no sense at all, so that, when this one arrived at the top of the wire he just kept going and inevitably fell off onto his back. Ingeniously, he would then put his back legs up against the fence to push himself upright and get out of this scrape. Amazingly, he never learned the lesson – give up – but would begin the whole process again. He didn’t live long and I do wonder whether he died of concussion!

What’s the point?

So, what’s the point of this story? What can we learn? How does my crazy tortoise relate to us? If there hadn’t been sheep in biblical times, might the Bible have used the tortoise as an example?

“All we like tortoises have gone astray (very slowly!).”

Jesus, therefore, is the ultimate pastor or shepherd and his mission is to rescue dumb sheep – or tortoises – out of the mess they get themselves into! Our designation is lost – resistance is futile!

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Parable of the lost sheep of – Luke 15

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Who are the lost sheep?

As we see in the above passage Jesus further expands and clarifies the parable of lost sheep as told in Matthew 18, intimating clearly, that he views the listening tax-gathers and sinners as the lost sheep! I don’t expect they were hearing this message in their local synagogue – if they attended at all!

This parable is basically saying that Jesus isn’t interested in faithful church-goers -the religious. No, he’s after the black-sheep of the family: the guy who sells crack cocaine; the prostitute; the pervert. It’s these people he’s prepared to risk life and limb for. This shepherd is scouring the outback in search of just one sheep because even sinners, broken and lost have value!

Zaccheus gets found!

This parable is played out in real-life later on in Luke 19 when a real ‘live’ wandering sheep by the name of Zaccheus is ‘found’ hiding in the branches of a tree!

Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

A party!

Therefore, just as Zaccheus cannot believe his luck on being asked by Jesus to put on a party; the shepherd in the parable is so delirious with the success of his mission, that he invites his neighbours around for a knees up – over a sheep! A little crazy perhaps ? Might God be a little more into partying than we thought was decent?

Luke 15:7 “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”

What about repentance, though? – I hear the religious intone. If repentance means saying sorry for your sins – how does a sheep do that? I mean all it does is bleat, right! Of course, Zaccheus showed the fruits of repentance in the over-the-top restitution he made – but how could a sheep?

What is repentance?

I think the answer might lie in understanding that the sinful human condition separates us from God – in other words, we are lost! The moment that sin entered the world, Adam and Eve became wandering sheep and their first instinct was to hide amongst the trees and ‘cover up’ with fig leaves.

Indeed, religion is really an exercise in covering up nakedness and making us feel comfortable with our alienation and separation from God.

Colossians 1:21 “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”

Separated from God?

This separation, though, is a virtual one. What do I mean? Well, it’s all in the mind; all in our thinking. God isn’t avoiding us. We are avoiding him!

Romans 1:25 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”

Ephesians 4:17 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,”

Ephesians 2:3 “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

As you can see from these scriptures, sinful thinking leads to sinful behaviour. Might repentance, be not so much about what we do – but rather about a change of mindset? Is it that, when we encounter the pure love of God as we are laid on the good shepherd’s shoulders, we change our minds (repent) and a whole load of sinful thinking that has alienated us from the life of God falls away? Hopefully, the poor sheep learned the lesson: that wandering off equals a night in the dark and a near-death experience!

Chapter 1 – Lost

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Short and inspiring book

bookIn this short and inspiring little book, Paul Noble reveals a Saviour-Shepherd-God who searches diligently for each of His lost sheep UNTIL He finds them. However, there’s no lost sinner MORE lost than the self righteous religious soul who regards him or herself as qualified for divine acceptance because of his or her own good deeds, done in a spirit of slavish servitude with expectation of just recompense.

But there’s hope for even the most  self righteous and self-deceived among us! After all, any of us might be such–given the right chemistry, temperament, and circumstances, right? I believe that you will find Paul Noble’s portrayal of our Saviour-God’s heart and diligence to pursue and restore us deeply touching and encouraging.

Our Heavenly Father will never force us to receive Him or recognise our father-child relationship with Him. HOWEVER. . .! Our Saviour-Shepherd-God CANNOT help being the Wonderful, All-Powerful LIGHT that He is, and there’s no inner darkness too black, obscure, entrenched or hidden that it can escape His healing radiance. His arms are ALWAYS open to us! May His Spirit inspire you to worship as you read these pages!

–Charles Slagle
Author of ‘From the Father’s Heart’

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FREE book – Christ in You

I believe 2016 is a year when the Holy Spirit is going to be delivering many of us from living under a mixture of Law and Grace. I believe we are in the midst of at GRACE REVOLUTION and boy don’t we need it (especially here in the UK) .

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To help this revolution along download FREE PDF book: “Christ in You.”

Why I write?

writingI started writing my first blog post on the 17/08/2013 and as a result I’ve now written four KIndle books. This is exciting, because years ago in 1992, Charles Slagle prophesied over me that I would write but it awaited the era of WordPress and Kindle for this to be possible NOW!

“Its just marvellous how he’s going to write, not only songs, but he’s going to write music that, even if it doesn’t sound musical, just the sweetness of heaven will come through. Stories, articles that are written against injustice. Father, he’s a good researcher. When he does his homework he does it very thoroughly. I see him astounding teachers when they tried on him. Good grief! He sounds like [hes at]college when he’s only at high school. So, Father, I thank you there is going to be something that he’s going to be released [into] with his ready writing pen or word-processor, that’s going to burst chains asunder, where people have been illegally treated by legal systems, where oppression has continued in a spirit of hypocrisy. He’s going to be a clear voice that cuts through the crap of this world: the light of Jesus.

Christ the end of Law (Amazon Kindle book)

under lawWhen you’ve finished my first book, maybe you would like to get into some really meaty theology with my second book: The End Of Law . I’m praying this book is a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit, demolishing arguments and everything that raises up against the knowledge of God, enabling believers everywhere clearly understand the truth that a believer is no longer under law – in any shape or form.

Christ the end of law for righteousness

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Why do I sin? Christ in You – (chapter 5)

why do I sinWhy do I sin?

In the previous chapter I made a radical statement: I said that Christ in you cannot sin.  What do I mean by that? Does it mean that a born-again believer never sins again? The Apostle John in his first epistle indeed seems to say exactly that:

The believer 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.”

1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

In point of fact he also says that if you commit sin you are of the devil! You can’t get much more black and white than that!

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

However, we do sin

Sadly, we all know from our own experience that even after we become born-again and are filled with the Holy Spirit, even though we desire to live a holy and completely sinless life is not a reality and is probably not even possible. Indeed, the writer John, a few verses later, seems to contradict himself and confirms this by the following verses:

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

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

So, what is John saying? Does he really mean a believer cannot commit sin?

A believer does not practice sin

Firstly, a better translation of 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:8 and 1 John 3:8 and the phrase ‘commit sin’ would be ‘practice sin’, as translated in the ASV. This is because the tense of the verb ‘sin’ is not ‘Aorist’ (sinning in a moment of time, even once – see verse above 1 John 2:1). It is in fact,‘present active’ or sinning continually.

Therefore, John is saying that a true believer may sin in a moment of time but doesn’t sin continually – or practice sin. In fact, if they do sin continually, then there are grave doubts that they ever knew Christ in the first place!

1 John 3:6 “No one who sins (present active) has seen him or known him!”

A believer practices righteousness

However, I don’t believe that the above explanation, although technically correct, is the complete answer because John not only talks about practicing sin; he also talks about practicing righteousness. See the following scriptures:

1 John 2:29 “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him”

1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no one deceive you, the one who practices righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous”

1 John 3:10 “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious, anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God”

Now, this is problematic because John uses the same present active tense to describe righteousness! In other words, a believer practices righteousness – he or she doesn’t just do occasional acts of righteousness, like an unbeliever might. No, they constantly and continually do righteousness every day, at all times.

Now, we can easily cope with the idea that we occasionally sin but can we honestly say that we practice righteousness day in, day out? Well, John says if you don’t, then you’re not born again! There must be a more complete answer – and there is!

I believe, in context, the Apostle John is describing who we are in the spirit. In other words our spirit man (Christ in us) indeed practices righteousness and cannot sin.

Why do we still want to sin?

So then, if we have Christ in us and a brand new nature, why do we still want to sin as well as want to do what’s right? Do we posses two natures now: a sinful nature and a Christ-like nature that are locked in some sort of mortal combat or tug of war? Or, are we perhaps schizophrenic with some kind of weird personality disorder? For many of us that’s certainly what it sometimes feels like.

No, I don’t believe that is the case; you don’t have two natures. You have one new nature that is Christ-like. However, the scripture does indeed suggest that there are two opposing forces: the flesh and the Spirit at war inside you!

Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The conflict of desire

Paul describes this conflict of desire in Romans 7:

Romans 7:15 “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do but I am doing the thing I hate. 

Romans 7:16 “But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do I agree with the Law confessing that it is good.”

In effect, what he is saying is that even though he doesn’t want to do bad things, he has no power to actually stop doing bad things – even if he wants to. So, becoming monk, hiding away from the world and from all temptation to sin, will not change the fact – that even in a monastery sin is with you. The war carries on regardless.

Romans 7:23 “I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members”

Regrettably, even though you are born-again, you still carry around the body of death, your mortal and sinful flesh: mind, memories, emotions, will, sexual drive and so on.

Romans 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

As Paul says in an earlier verse in Romans 7:14 that we are sold in bondage to sin:

“For we know that the Law is spiritual but I am of the flesh sold in bondage to sin”

Its not me, its this darn flesh!

However, in verses 17 and 20 of Romans 7 Paul comes to three important realisations:

Firstly, there is no good in his sinful flesh (note he is careful to say in his flesh because he knows that his spirit man is good and desires good.)

Romans 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Secondly, he has no power to do the good that he (his spirit man) wishes.

Thirdly, he realises that if he doesn’t want to do it, then it’s not really him doing it. In other words, it is sin in the flesh. His true identity therefore, is not in the sinful behaviour but in the new man.

Romans 7:17 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Romans 7:20“But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me”

Example – driving your screaming kids to school!

Imagine you are driving your kids to school and they are behaving very badly in the back seat, fighting, screaming and even trying to distract other drivers. You can’t do much about it because you’re trying to keep your eyes on the road. Do you just ignore the behaviour and pretend it’s not happening? No, of course not – if you don’t deal with it soon, you’re likely to have an accident!

Sin in the flesh could similarly be likened to a big, bad dog straining at the leash. We need someone to help us and fast! Who is going to deliver us from this body of death? Who do we turn to?

Most people, of course, turn to Mr Law. Yes, he’s Mr Perfect, he knows the rules absolutely. But he’s no teacher or coach! All he does is point out that your children are misbehaving and he even finds time to comment on the inadequacies of your driving! Thankfully we are no longer married to Mr Law! The Law, religious rules, church attendance, will power, determination, self-help, education, self-discipline, self-reliance, striving, and even prayer may all help and even manage the sinful flesh for a while but they can never ultimately control it.

A positive note

The writer of Romans chapter 7, though, ends on a positive note: he maybe stuck, in need of help, under the Law, frustrated and unhappy in this struggle against sin but he has now seen the light at the end of the tunnel.  He has grasped two important positives:

Firstly, he now knows there is only one person, Jesus, or Mr Grace who can help him get free from the law of sin and death. The writer has now given up on himself and also on Mr Law!

Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

Secondly, he now has a clear revelation of who he is in Christ (see I MYSELF in the verse below). He understands now beyond a doubt that his sinful flesh is not his identity even though it is his responsibility.

Romans 7:25 “So, then, on the one hand I MYSELF with the mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, WITH MY FLESH, the law of sin (my capital letters and bold letters added)

To conclude therefore, how do we answer our original question: “why do we still sin?” We still sin, not because we have a sinful nature but because still we have the sinful flesh! 

Questions for discussion

1) How do we understand the contradiction in John’s First Epistle where he apparently says someone who is born-again cannot sin?

2) How do we explain that John says that a born-again believer continually does righteousness?

3) Why, even though we are born-again. do we still want to sin?

4) What are the conclusions that Paul comes to in Romans 7?

Chapter 6 is coming next week  but  why not sign up to receive email updates? 

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

Or … In the meantime why not read the whole book on Amazon Kindle?  

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Happy New Year

THE END OF LAW – FREE EBOOK

Happy new year! I believe 2015 is a year when the Holy Spirit is going to be delivering many of us from living under a mixture of Law and Grace. May my second short book: The End Of Law, be a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit, to enable believers everywhere clearly understand the truth that a believer is no longer under law – in any shape or form.

In 2015 may the Grace Revolution begin in your life!

The End of Law coverTo download FREE version 1.1 PDF please click here. The End of Law

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Chapter 1-  Introduction

If you want to learn to drive do you go to a Driving Examiner or a Driving Instructor? Likewise, if you want to be holy do you go to the Law of Moses for help, or the Holy Spirit? Now, there is nothing wrong with what Driving Examiners do and the standards they uphold – although they could be a little bit friendlier sometimes! However, their job is not to help you, only to see if you meet the required standard.

Sin is missing the mark. How do we miss that mark? We fall short of the glory or goodness of God. The Law of course is a perfect standard of righteousness; it points out all your faults with absolute accuracy but does nothing to help you become righteous or holy.

Likewise, the UK driving test has to be passed by law and in many ways functions like the Law of Moses – it points out all your faults: major, serious and minor but doesn’t lift a finger to help you! It is totally negative and doesn’t focus at all on what you might have done right. Thus, passing a driving test doesn’t help you learn to drive – it doesn’t produce drivers at all. All it does is prevent bad drivers taking to the roads!

For example: Imagine if you never had a driving lesson and all you had to help you was the driving test form. Would it be possible to drive by just looking and learning from that list of possible faults? No, of course not, that would be ridiculous! Imagine working out how to control the clutch or deal with traffic just looking at a list of faults – impossible! No, what you need is an instructor or a coach who knows HOW to drive – an expert, an example. As believers, that’s exactly what we have – the most patient, gracious, enthusiastic coach – the expert and wonderful Holy Spirit.

My hope and aim therefore, in this short book is to explain clearly why Jesus freed us from the the Law of Moses and I hope my insights as a Driving Instructor have already peaked your interest!

Thanks and a Happy New Year – Paul Noble

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What’s in Version 1.6?

Includes discussion points at the end of  each chapter and a brand new chapter on New Birth to better explain the thesis. If you want an, ePub file so you can view on your iPad or Apple device, please eMail me and I’ll send it to you. Kindle coming soon!

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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:”

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Please feel free to comment and if you spot any errors please email me! If you enjoyed the book please consider making a donation as writing books is a labour of love and I have more books in the pipe-line!

The book is free but please respect the copyright and ask for permission if you wish to reproduce or use as part of a group.

Thanks Paul Noble

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