Friday, November 22, 2013

Overcoming Sin


In most of the apostles’ writings, or teachings on faith, the latter is presented as an active part of life. Faith must be exercised in order for us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of the Father (ref. 2 Pet. 3:18).  James says: “Faith without works is dead”  (James 2:17,20). This is especially true when it comes to sanctification.  Nothing is going to happen in this area unless we actively participate with the Spirit of Holiness.  Unfortunately, we, along with many others, have been ignorant of this fact and as a result ended up in the condition described by the prophet: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure” (Isa 5:13:14).   

What do we do when sin has become so ingrained into our being, that it is even reflected in our personality and seems to be a permanent part of our make up?  We have heard it quoted many times that we must “cast down every imagination, or reasoning that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Cor 10:5).  But if we are deficient in our knowledge of Truth, that is the knowledge of who the Father is in His Son, we can be very easily fooled into believing lies, particularly those that masquerade as truth.  Scriptures do tell us that Satan can act like an angel of light and his ministers (demons) may be transformed into ministers of righteousness (ref 2 Cor 11:14-15).  Thus, if we have been saved out of the ignorance of this world’s wisdom, it behooves us to seek first YHVH’s kingdom, His righteousness and the wisdom that is from above from the Father of light.  We also must renew our minds by the revelation knowledge of our new creation life in Messiah Yeshua.

A question that I have been pondering at various times, after falling prey to the enemy, was: how do we permanently get rid of the power of sin? How do we renew our minds so that it no longer thinks any other thoughts except in accordance with the mind of Messiah?  The apostle Paul faced a very similar problem when he confessed through his letter to the believers in Rome: “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom 7:19-20).

I think most of us can relate to that statement of Paul’s, as there are those things that work in us that we know to be sin but just can’t seem to get rid of.  So how does Paul deal with this problem?  He has a wonderful excuse. He maintains that it is no longer he who was performing these activities, but the power of sin that was “working in his members”.  Well, I to could say that the devil made me do it (and as a matter of fact that may not be so far from the truth). Indeed, Satan was the originator of it all. However, Paul does say that it is possible to overcome this wretched part called the “power of sin working in our members”“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God -- through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord!” (Rom 7:26-27).  That is a great answer, but what does it mean?  Is it practical advice? What exactly does he have in mind by this phrase “through Yeshua Messiah our Lord”? 

Through” -  dia (dee-ah'),  a primary preposition denoting the  channel of an act; by,  through,  for,  for this cause,  because,  by the  means of, the ground or  reason by which something is or is not  done; by reason of; on account  of;  because of for this reason;  therefore; on this account.
When we call upon Yeshua, yielding to His righteousness, which releases the flow of His life and nature in us, the power of sin will weaken and ultimately will diminish to nothingness in our life.  Therefore we must willfully stop identifying and participating with sin. There is a fundamental faith factor here that must come into the equation for overcoming sin forever. It will take an actual intermingling of the waters of the Spirit of Holiness with the waters of our life, by living our life from Yeshua’s source, that is the Spirit of the Father.  He must become “LORD” that is supreme ruler

Also the word “through” means the finished work, act, labor of faith and willing obedience, which was exercised by our Redeemer when He gave up His life on the execution stake/tree.  The world of sin, Satan and his kingdom were overcome once and for all when Yeshua the perfect man died.  This was the Father’s righteous judgment upon the son of disobedience (Adam).  But the good news is that Yeshua was not only a man, He had another life in Him, the indestructible, eternal Life of His Heavenly Father. That power raised Him from the dead and transferred Him into a realm of glory so high that He now rules over all principalities and powers in the heavens and on earth.  If the rulers of this age had known that this would be the outcome of the crucifixion, they would have never done it (ref. 1 Cor 2:8).  They were defeated and all humanity was reconciled to the Father, as He (the Father) through the blood (life) of His Son opened the gate of fellowship that man once had in the garden with Him.

We, who are of the first fruit of the risen life, contain within us the same life and power that raised Yeshua from the dead and defeated every attempt of the enemy to get Yeshua to fail and to fall. The Word tells us that we are seated with Yeshua in heavenly places and that we have the same authority over all these rulers and powers, but not in ourselves; only “through” the lordship, rulership, kingdom authority of the Only Begotten Son of the Father -“Yeshua”.  There is no other provision made to come out from under and have victory over the powers of sin and darkness.  We cannot do it through righteous deeds or dead works.   The apostle says “through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah”. 

Whether we are looking to overcome sin in the form of its temptations, lusts, pride, personality characteristics, or of its programming that is engrained in our minds, it is possible to defeat it through active obedience.  Loving YHVH with all our heart, mind and strength binds us to Him in such a way that it releases His life and nature into ours. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.   

Not only do we have to come to the knowledge of who He is, but also to become aware of that which He is not.  We have to take the responsibility to repent when we participate with that foreign nature of sin, resist temptation, work out and practice the divine nature that is now in us, as the Spirit has given to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.  Our true nature in Him is listed as: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).   The body of Messiah has been given workers “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah” (Eph. 4:12-13).  Yeshua also said that it is possible to become a perfect man:  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

But thanks be to God [our Heavenly Father], who gives us the victorythrough” our Lord Yeshua our Messiah (1 Cor. 15:57).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Father's love

Most of us have never heard our earthly father say, “I love you”, or “this is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased”.  Can you imagine how Yeshua felt when His Father said those words to Him?  I think every son or daughter would give every thing they have just to hear an “I love you,” said by their father.  But because we have a spiritual enemy, that steals, kills and destroys, our fathers are (or were) in no condition to respond to us in a Godly manner. As a result many of us have been robbed of one of life’s greatest treasures, the love of a father.  This has created a great void in the heart, and has often precluded us from giving and receiving love.  Have you heard the voice of our Heavenly Father say to your heart "I love you".  

After having our heavenly Father’s love ministered to me, my eyes were open to how many times the apostles pointed to our “Father”.  When Yeshua taught his disciples to pray he said, “our Father”(Math 6:8), and he continued to refer, many times, to His Father and their Father.  In his writings, Paul also keeps reminding the believers of their relationship with the Father.  “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’" (Gal. 4:6). “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’"  (Rom. 8:15).  Many times the apostles begin their letters to the congregations of believers with this greeting:  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah”. 

I began to wonder why we would want to address our Heavenly Father in any other way but “Abba”.  In the scriptures YHVH is known by many names, and when examined they all speak of fulfilling some need in one’s life, especially in the one area that we spoke about above that we long for the most, and that is the Father’s love.  If we looked at His role as a loving Father, all His names or attributes would be included in that one relationship.  So why do we not just call Him with the most endearing of all names (which also helps us set our own identity in order)?   

I can honestly say that I did not know His love for me, even after 30 years of being a believer.  I knew Him as a good provider, very similar to my earthly father, but something was always missing.  Was it a lack of spiritual maturity, or did it have something to do with obedience unto sanctification?  I had to seriously consider the latter, because it wasn’t until receiving teaching on this subject that His Father’s heart began to be revealed to me. 

There were many spiritual blocks in my life that the enemy had set up over the years, blocks which had to be removed. But first I had to recognize and admit to their existence, take responsibility for cooperating with them and then repent and renounce each one of them individually.  Amazingly, after they were cast out or down, that which remained in me was… His presence.  Thus I am getting to know my Father as that perfect love, and because I have been created in His likeness, I also get to know who I am as a new creation in Messiah with exactly the same nature.  

In the first letter of the Apostle John, he writes: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).

In this verse we can see the connection between purifying ourselves and seeing the Father.  The Greek word for “revealed” is from Strong’s 5319: fanero, phaneroo {fan-er-o'-o} “to make manifest, appear, be manifest”, from the root “to enlighten”.  We can never know who we are as His progeny, unless we come to the revelation knowledge of who He is as revealed in His Son.  Our new life as children of a loving heavenly Father should bear the same nature as the Father, and thus anything that is not of Him is also not of us.  So how do we proceed when we realize that there are things in us which are a far cry from the Father’s expression?  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1).  It cannot be clearer! We must take the responsibility to “cleanse [or purify] ourselves” from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. We will not be able to do this if we are ignorant of the spiritual realm and the truths of sanctification. Most of the problems in the Body of Messiah could be resolved if we were rid of many of the spiritual influences that come from the power of sin working in the flesh.  Thus, if we see ourselves as children of the same Father and having this same nature, we will easily recognize one another.   John puts it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God [our heavenly Father] and everyone who loves is born of God [the Father] and knows God [the Father].  No one has seen God [the Father] at any time. If we love one another, God [the Father] abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  God [the Father] is love, and he who abides in love abides in Him [the Father] and God [the Father] in him” (1 John 4:7; 12-13; 16).  Thus we have fellowship with one another and our joy can be made full.