Tag Archives: works

Does grace work?

Grace workDoes grace really work? In this article, I want to address the issue and perception of some, that those of us who preach grace teach and encourage spiritual laziness, because we talk about effortless change and rest. In other words, we are portrayed as believing that there is nothing for the believer to do – it’s all up to God because we are under grace. It follows then, we are encouraging people to behave like spiritual bums who slob it out in the heavenly departure lounge until Jesus returns! I believe that if grace is truly been preached nothing could be further from the truth.

My experience

Actually, I know from my experiences this year, that a revelation of God’s abounding, super, amazing, hyper-grace will result in you working far harder and producing more fruit in a shorter time than you ever thought possible. I mean, allow me a little foolish boasting on my part – this year I managed to write two Kindle books (I don’t know if they are any good,  you’ll have to read them and tell me what you think) but if you had told me that I would accomplish that a couple of months ago – I would have not believed you! I’ve noticed also that instead of reading a portion of scripture a day I’m reading chapters. Is this because I’m disciplining myself? No its happening quite naturally because I’m hungry for the word – ok boasting over!

The fruit of grace

No, grace empowers; it transforms; it produces vision and action; it results in fruit for God; it produces holiness – GRACE WORKS.

1 Cor 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

In fact, if it doesn’t produce the above then was it really grace? No, I don’t believe so. Grace in the believers life will always have an effect. It is the antidote to sinful behaviour and addictions. It will teach you to deny ungodly lusts.

Titus 2:12 “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;”

Grace empowers

Therefore, what sinners (including sinning believers) need more than anything, is more grace not more law because that is the only thing that will empower them to change. Like the woman caught in adultery in John 8,  Jesus first took away the power of sin (the law) by removing any condemnation by saying: “neither do I condemn you”.

Then he follows with a command not to sin because grace has empowered her. Jesus therefore came to free us from the power of sin so that we would be his special people zealous for good works.

Titus 2:15 “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Evidence of faith?

It follows then, that works follow grace; there should be evidence that someone is saved! True grace will transform and reform you from the inside out and if over time there isn’t evidence of any transformation, you should wonder whether you have received God’s grace in vain.

2 Cor 6:1 “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”

Ask yourself, is there enough evidence to convict you as christian? Are you truly holy or different from the man in the street or do you watch pornography and cheat on your taxes like everyone else? Even worse, does the fruit of your life actually contradict the message you preach?

Titus 1:16  “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

Faith works

James tackles this very issue of genuine faith in his Epistle, when he makes the assertion that faith or believing on its own is not enough to save. That seems a heretical statement to evangelicals but what he’s saying is that saving faith is more than an acknowledgement of the facts and a reciting of the creeds. As he points out later, even the devils believe – and they are not saved!

James 2:17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

Faith therefore has to come alive and produce fruit or works to be seen as genuine faith, gold tested in the fire – FAITH WORKS!

1 Peter 5:17 “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:”

For example, how do we know Abraham had faith, can we see right into his heart? No, his works recorded for us in scripture are the evidence of his genuine faith! He was tried and found faithful. This is the kind of faith that the Apostle Paul believed he had found in his protege Timothy:

2 Timothy 1:5  “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

Faith and grace therefore go together like salt and pepper. Grace is towards all but it is not received by all. Faith is the supernatural ability given by God to receive from the unseen realm all that God has provided through his grace.

False faith

Hence, not all what looks like faith is faith. In the Bible there are example of those who look like the genuine article but in fact are not. One such case is  of Simon the sorcerer:

Acts 8:13 “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.”

Was Simon a genuine believer? On the surface yes, but as it turns out heart was not right before God and the is no record of genuine repentance. In fact, historical records shows us that he became an enemy of christianity and the source of gnosticism. So, what did Simon believe? I think he believed the evidence of the miracles but he didn’t experience new birth himself.

Maybe that is what in the writer of Hebrews 6 had in mind – in that interesting passage which some claim proves a believer can lose their salvation. In fact, it is nothing of the sort, the writer is concerned for his Jewish readers that they may turn out just like Simon the Sorcerer. The test is the fruit.

Hebrews 6:8 “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”

Therefore, just because a person says they are a christian doesn’t mean they are! In fact, Paul prophesied that there would be attacks against the church from within and without.

Acts 20:30 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Even today, there are still those who want to dilute the message of grace by mixing it with a little bit of law. Unfortunately, that nullifies grace working and that is exactly what the enemy doesn’t want – GRACE WORKING!

New Creation Church Gosport 

Further reading:

United as one (song)

What is the kingdom of God?

What is holiness

Work out your own salvation (prophecy)

Training for reigning

 

Download my Kindle books on Amazon:

Christ the End of Law
Christ in you the hope of glory
Christ the End of Law KIndle Amazon

1,170 total views, 1 views today

Why do I still sin?

stressedChrist in you (part 2)

In the previous article  ‘Christ in you’, I made a radical statement. I said Christ in you cannot sin.  What do I mean by that? Does it mean that a born again believer never sins again? John in his first Epistle seems to indeed say 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.”

Indeed, he also say 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?

However, we all know from own experience, that even after we are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, even though we desire to live holy, a completely sinless life is not a reality and is probably not even possible. Indeed, John himself 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 believe does not practice sin

Firstly, a better translation of 1 John 3:9,  1 John 5:8 and 1 John 3:8 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), but ‘present active’ or sinning continually.

Therefore, John is saying that a true believer may sin in moment of time but doesn’t sin continually – or practice sin. In fact, if he or she does 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 the above explanation, although technically correct, is the complete answer because John not only talks about practicing sin, he 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.

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

So, why do we still want to sin?

So, if we have christ in us and we have a brand new nature inside of us as we believe, why do we still want to sin as well as want to do whats right? Have we got 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 schizophrenic with some kind of weird personality disorder because for many of us that’s certainly what it feels like?

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

Gal 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 a similar 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 its is good.”

In affect, 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 relentless:

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”

Unfortunately, even though you are born again, you still carry around the body of death, your mortal 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: Romans 7:14, 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!

In verse 17 and 20 of Romans 7 though, 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, that 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’s 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”

For example. 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 your trying to keep your eyes on the road. Do you just ignore the behaviour and pretend it’s not happening? No, of course not, because if you don’t deal with it soon, you’re likely to have an accident!

This is very much like sin in the flesh. It’s a like 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 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 to you that your children are misbehaving, and he even finds time to comment on the inadequacies of the driving! Thankfully we are no longer married to Mr Law!

Therefore, the Law, rules, church attendance, determination, self-help, education, self-discipline, even prayer, all may help for a while and even manage the sinful flesh but they will never control it.

A positive note

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

Firstly, he knows now there is only person who can help him get free from the law of sin and death – he’s given up himself and on Mr Law!

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

Secondly, he’s now has a clear revelation of who he is in Christ (I MYSELF). He understands now beyond a doubt, that his sinful flesh is not his identity even though its 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.

To conclude therefore and to answer our original question: “why do we still sin?” We still sin because we have the sinful flesh!

Further articles:

Previous article: Christ in you

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The law of christ

1,134 total views, 1 views today

The end of law (law series part 1)

end of lawEnd of law for righteousness

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

Most protestant christians don’t believe they are saved by works. In other words, they don’t believe that keeping the law will ever make them righteous. And yet, many would say of this verse: “well it only says the end of the law for righteousness”,  implying that we do need the law as a standard to produce correct behaviour in a christian’s life.

Hebrews 7:19: For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Well, this verse clearly says that the law made nothing perfect, so why do we think its going to bring perfection or holiness once the believer has experienced salvation? I mean, are we saying that although the law isn’t capable of producing righteousness before were saved, somehow it is capable of producing and maintaining righteousness after we are saved? Go figure!

We need the law to point out sin?

Anyway, some might say: “we need the law to point out sin”. Now, they are right in identifying the strength of law, its expertise: forensically pointing out sin. Indeed, nothing escapes its perfection, skill and legal prowess.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Does that mean then, that pastors and preachers should preach law every Sunday to convict their congregations and keep them in line? Well yes, if their congregations are unsaved because the law is designed by God for just such people. The law is tailor-made for the unrighteous:

1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers

Therefore, if you are preaching the law from the pulpit at believers then you are preaching the wrong covenant and preaching death! In fact, you are putting your congregation under a curse. (Gal 3:10).

Not under law

For the believer however, NO! The law’s task is complete. Law was designed by God to lead us to Christ by demolishing our self-righteousness and showing us we need his righteousness.

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

So, once we have been brought to Christ, the law’s schooling and discipline is over. We have graduated from law school, we are now in the school of faith and of the spirit.

the lawCome on! It’s time to take off the trainer wheels and get pedalling!

In Romans 7, Paul illustrates the legal basis by which this marriage to law is terminated. He shows, that we are delivered from the tyranny of law by death – our death in Christ. Therefore, even though the law is not dead, we are dead to the law!

This means three things:

We are not under law but under grace

Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

We are delivered from law

Romans 7:6 “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

We are dead to the law

Romans 7:4 “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

How did we die to its demands? Through the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

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

The law and all of it’s demands therefore, was removed and nailed to the cross of Jesus:

Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

Jesus completed the law

Jesus though, was the only human being qualified to do this because he came under law (Galatians 4:4) and perfectly fulfilled it by living a perfect life. When he died at the cross, he completed every requirement of the law and not only that, every shadow and type and detail of the law that alluded to him.

Matt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Ah, some will say, Jesus said that as long as heaven and earth exist the law applies.  So, it must apply to us today? Please read carefully! Jesus said that he didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfill or complete. So, at the point Jesus was speaking (before the cross), the law hadn’t as yet been fulfilled or completed. However at the cross it was perfectly fulfilled.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

At the cross then, there was a change of covenant and a change of priesthood. Jesus is now the high priest of our confession. We are under a new covenant and so indeed, there has been a change of law.

Dead to the ten commandments

Now of course, some legalistic believers wriggle here and divide the law up into three parts: the ceremonial law,  the judicial law and the moral law and claim that only the first two parts have been done away with and that the moral law or ten commandments still apply.

Firstly,  there are no grounds in scripture to dissect the law in such a way, as the law is always viewed as one complete whole and system of 613 commandments.

For example James 2:10 says:

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the lawSo speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”

Secondly, Paul blows this theory wide open in 2 Corinthians 3 because he refers to the centre-piece of the law: the Ten Commandments (clearly referred to as the ministration of death engraven in stones) –  as done away!

2 Cor 3:7  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

And again:

2 Cor 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

And yet again further down, he makes clear the ten-commandments have been abolished.

In Colossians 2, as we have referred to earlier, Paul shows that the whole law including the ten commandments is blotted out:

Col 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Further down, Paul gives details of this freedom from the law and all its various ordinances:

Col 2:15 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:”

If you still not convinced, Paul says it a different way in Ephesians 2:14-15:

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”

So what separated Jew and Gentile? It was the law. Gentiles were never under the law even though they “instinctively do the things of the law”  (Romans 2:14) . However the cross has removed that difference and both jew and gentile are made righteous by faith apart from law.

Conclusions

In conclusion, therefore the believer in Christ  is not under any part of the law.

We are not children of Moses but the children of Abraham. Abraham the man of faith was never under law!

Of course, does this mean, that a believer is lawless, that we are spiritual anarchists? Of course not but we will discuss this later on in the series.

Why not sign for email updates and ensure you get the next post of the law series part 2 Jesus and the law

Further articles:

Living by law or grace – prophecy

The law our school master

The shadow of the law

613 jewish commands

 

8,160 total views, 1 views today

God Is At Work!

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

If you are born again – God is at work! You are an amazing miracle of the grace of God, a reflection of his glory, a new creation. No longer are you a vessel fitted for destruction (Rom 9:22) but you are his workmanship, a reflection of his artistry and effort. In his eyes today, you are a unique and amazing work of art in Christ!

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Can this work be destroyed or corrupted? Can these vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23) be lost, unsaved, unredeemed, unjustified? If they are saved by grace (God’s work and not by their own works) then no longer can they mess it up, so indeed they truly are saved and secure!

The fact is, God has designed it so the seed that produced new birth and Christ in you is INCORRUPTIBLE (not liable to decay or destruction!) You have eternal life. The work of God with in you is INDESTRUCTABLE!

1 Peter 1:23 “Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible

Not only that, but the good work that God has started in your life he’s not going to leave half-finished. Many of us start working on something and find we can’t finish it, either because we don’t have enough resources, or maybe we just lose interest. The good news is, God has evaluated the cost of this venture paying the ultimate price for your purchase. He’s not going to lose interest! So, do you really think God is going to give up on you now?

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:

Clearly, this means that God will execute it and God will perform it. Your job is to rest and trust in the work Jesus done for you at the cross – in other words have faith.

Does this mean we have nothing to do we just sit around and let God do it all? Of course not!

Phil 2:12 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

 Your part in the plan is to take this salvation seriously, don’t mess about because God is at work in your life.  Co-operate, have faith and as the next verse says: stop murmuring and complaining – get with the program!

1,479 total views, no views today