Self-Made Religion

Colossians 2:20–If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— Colossians 2:21 Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”.  Colossians 2:23–These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

What is self-made religion?

Worship which one prescribes and devises for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of faith which ought to be directed to Christ.; misdirected zeal and the practice of ascetics.

What about the elemental spirits?  Colossians 2:8–See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

“The apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in the Colossian church is a response to the news that many believers had been subscribing to heretical philosophies rather than sticking to the gospel of salvation by grace apart from works. The church had begun to add certain spiritual requirements to their doctrine, reflecting an adherence to Old Testament laws rather than following the wisdom of Jesus (Colossians 2:2–4). These new believers struggled to resolve their former legalistic beliefs with the radical concept of the complete sufficiency of Christ—both for salvation and sanctification.”  From “Got a Question” Website.

John 17:14–I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

We have been transferred from the world to His kingdom.  We are alive to Him not to the elemental spirits of the world.  The Colossians were using man-made religion to fight against the flesh.  The Galatians were doing the same thing.

Galatians 4:9–But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  Galatians 4:10 –You observe days and months and seasons and years!

I was raised in a denomination that was full of dos and don’ts.  There were so many rules, ordinances and regulations, they would fill a book.  In fact, they did fill a book that we had to memorize and live by at the cost of sin.

Later, I joined another denomination also full of rules, all loosely tied to scripture.  We had to take communion every Sunday, had to go to church every Sunday, no mixed bathing or males could not swim with females, no musical instruments allowed in Sunday service.  These are a few of many examples that could result in sin if not followed.  There was a Christian school where the kids had to sign a pledge that they would never dance at the risk of being kicked out of school.  Evidently dancing was a sin.

There are countless examples of Christian self-made religious laws, rules and rituals we have created to deal with temptation and the flesh or the world around us.  When we set up these New Testament ordinances, we are missing a major truth.  Back in Paul’s day these regulations were intended to deal with the elemental spirits of the world.  They had the appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion, but they were of no value in stopping the flesh.  The same applies to our modern-day self-made religion or rules/laws we create by taking the letter of the Word and making it into laws.  We then start depending on these laws for justification rather than the grace from His cross.  He has delivered us from sin and the flesh. 

Hebrews 13:9–Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

We are strengthened by what He has given us rather than by what we try to do for Him.  Rather than trying to adhere to man-made religious rules/doctrines that have the appearance of wisdom, He now wants us to walk in and by His Spirit.

Romans 8:1–There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:2–For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Lord, may You deliver us from all self-made religion that may have crept into our lives that we may be totally dependent on the law of the Spirit of life in Christ and Your many riches of grace.  May You teach us to hear and follow Your Spirit.

Holy and Blameless

Ephesians 1:4–even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 

What does it mean that we are holy and blameless?

Ephesians 5:27–so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

1 Thessalonians 3:13–so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Holy—A most holy thing, a saint, pure

Blameless—guiltless, irreproachable, not chargeable in court, just, no condemnation

Jude 1:24–Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

1 Corinthians 1:4–I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 

Colossians 1:21–And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Colossians 1:22–he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

We see from these scriptures some key words: He may establish our hearts blameless in holiness, He keeps us from stumbling and presents us as blameless.  He will sustain us to the end, guiltless, we are not lacking in any gift, we are reconciled.

We are made holy and blameless from His grace.  This is a gift.  He presents us blameless and above reproach to God.  We cannot make ourselves holy and blameless through our efforts.  We are part of His body and Jesus will present the body in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish to His Father.  

Colossians 2:2–that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, Colossians 2:3–in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

One of those riches and hidden treasures is the gift of being made holy and blameless before Him.  As He reveals the riches of His grace to us, He is gradually shifting our focus from us to Him, from our efforts to His gifts, leading us to enter the rest of His grace.  We can rest in the fact that He has made us holy and blameless.

The NIV version of Col 1:22 says we are holy and without blemish in His sight, free from accusation.  This is God’s perspective of us.  What else matters?

How can this be?  When I look in the mirror, I do not see holy and blameless.  I do not feel holy and blameless.  I have never had a fellow Christian call me holy and blameless.  Through introspection I do not see a holy and blameless person.  This is beyond my comprehension.

He made us holy and blameless through the sacrifice and blood of His Son.  We may not see this through the natural eyes of our mind, but God sees holy and blameless when He gazes upon us because we have trusted in the death and resurrection of His Son. He loved us so much He sacrificed His only begotten Son not because we were righteous.  When we look in our mirror, we see our own reflection; He sees the blood of His Son that makes us holy and blameless.

2 Corinthians 3:18–But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.

He is leading us to let go of our efforts to improve on His work, His grace, His sacrifice that makes us holy and blameless and trust in the power of His Spirit in us.

2 Corinthians 4:7–But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;

Lord, we thank You for the many riches of Your grace that You have bestowed upon us through Your Son, Jesus.  May we see ourselves through Your perspective.  Thank You for transforming us from glory to glory.  Thank you for sacrificing Your only Son for us because You love us.  May You continue to open our eyes and give us the strength to see the depths of Your grace for there is power in Your love.

The Mind of Christ

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

What does it mean that we have the mind of Christ?

I have searched for other scriptures that might mention the “mind of Christ” to no avail.  Digging a little deeper (I love digging a little deeper.  Would be a great name for a song) to write this blog and discovered many related scriptures, that don’t use those exact words: mind of Christ.  

The definition for “mind” in this scripture is: the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things of recognizing goodness and hating evil.

Christ is living in us through His Spirit and He gives us higher powers of the soul to perceive divine things recognizing God in a way that is beyond our carnal/natural minds.  Yes, we still have a carnal mind.  Our old sin nature was crucified with Christ and we were raised with Him, a new life born in us.  We were enslaved to our old sin nature, but we are not enslaved to our carnal minds.  We also have the mind of Christ living in us.  Let’s dig a little deeper(smile) into the mind of Christ before the carnal mind.

We need supernatural help to understand the scriptures.  Luke 24:45–Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 2:10–these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11–For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  1 Corinthians 2:12–Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

The Spirit searches the depths of God, even the thoughts of God.  We cannot comprehend the thoughts of God on our own ability or with our natural minds.  It is through the Spirit or the mind of Christ, that we understand the riches of His grace freely given to us by God.   

1 Corinthians 2:14–The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  We cannot see or understand past the letter of His word unless we have His Spirit open our eyes to understand His thoughts.

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

To quicken our mortal bodies—to cause to live, make alive by spiritual power to arouse and invigorate, quickening as respects the spirit, endued with greater power of life.  The Spirit will quicken us.  He wants us to set our minds on Him—to understand or be wise.  We can trust the Spirit is in us who is one with the mind of Christ.

Colossians 3:1–If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Colossians 3:2–Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Romans 8:5–For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

We have His mind and His Spirit living in us revealing the thoughts of God.  We also have our old carnal mind living in us.  Our carnal mind (flesh) is not able to comprehend anything spiritual other than things of this world and it is at war with the mind of Christ living in us.

Galatians 5:16–But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:17–For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

We cannot fight this carnal mind or our flesh on our own power or our own initiative.  To use our own natural strength, will power, to fight our flesh is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  When we walk by the Spirit, He will put the deeds of our flesh or deeds of our carnal minds to death.  We often tend to follow God with a mixture of our natural understanding and strength not realizing that our natural/carnal minds are at enmity with God ie I am going to try real hard to be like Christ and trust your Spirit for the rest.  His Spirit responds, “No thanks, I’ve got this”. He wants us to be totally dependent on His Spirit to lead us in our walk.

Romans 8:13–For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will liveRomans 8:6–For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:7–Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  Romans 8:8–So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 

Lord, we thank You for revealing Your thoughts through the mind of Christ living in us that we might understand and set our minds on the many riches of Your grace freely given to us as we trust Your Spirit to lead us each day.    

Riches of God

Ephesians 1:18–having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

What are these riches of our glorious inheritance?  Here are a few.

  1. Kindness and forbearance which lead us to repentance—Rom 2:4
  2. The riches of His glory are for us, his vessels of mercy—Rom 9:23
  3. Oh, the depth of His riches which include wisdom and knowledge of God—Rom 11:33
  4. Redemption through His blood, forgiveness of our trespass according to the riches of His grace—Eph 1:7
  5. His riches of grace in kindness towards us in Christ are immeasurable—Eph 2:7
  6. The riches of His grace are unfathomable—Eph 3:8
  7. According to the riches of His glory we are strengthened with power through His Spirit—Eph 3:16
  8. He will supply our every need according to His riches in glory—Phil 4:19
  9. The riches of His glory revealed a mystery: Christ in us, the hope of glory—Col 1:27
  10. He gives us the riches of full assurance and understanding of God’s mystery which is Christ—Col 2:2
  11. God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us—Eph 2:4
  12. The earth is full of His riches—Ps. 104:24

As it says in Eph 1:18, we cannot see these spiritual riches unless He first opens the eyes of our heart.  He enlightens us that we may know the riches of our glorious inheritance.  These riches provide wisdom and knowledge.  We are dependent on Him to teach us and provide the wisdom that we might understand His riches.

His riches and grace are one and the same.  Grace is a gift.  His riches are a gift.  We cannot earn them.  He gives us grace because He loves us.

These riches provide power for us to live through the Holy Spirit.  This power strengthens us each day to follow Him, to walk in His Spirit.  He wants us to be 100% dependent on His power not ours.

There is no end to His riches of grace.  We cannot measure His grace.  It is limitless.

His riches will meet our every need.  They are sufficient, even more than sufficient.  

The riches of His glory revealed a mystery hidden for ages.  He had planned long ago for His Son to live in us.  The Son of God now lives in and through us each day.  What greater riches than giving us His Son to live in us?  He is our hope of glory.  He will one day bring us into even more glory prepared for the sons/daughters of God in heaven.  His riches provide us full assurance and understanding of Christ in us, not us trying to live for Christ but yielding/trusting that He will live through us.

God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us.  Out of His love for us He pours forth these riches in our lives.  We may wonder, how can He love me?  Who am I?  What have I done to deserve this kind of overwhelming love full of His riches?  Nothing!  In fact, His grace illuminates our weaknesses.  His grace brings power and this power shines a big spotlight on our weaknesses.  There is no room for pride in a heart and life filled and led by His grace/Spirit.  When we follow our own initiative sans the Spirit, pride is generated.  In a life filled with His grace we gladly boast of our weaknesses thus He is glorified, not us.  

It seems we are mostly led by how we think or feel.  Spiritual facts like His riches lag behind our thoughts and feelings about ourselves.  His riches seem incomprehensible.  I do not feel spiritually rich and my thoughts are usually led by my feelings.  It is through faith that we begin to see the riches of His grace and the spiritual reality of His kindness and immeasurable grace begin to fill our minds placing how we feel about ourselves in the background.  Then we are led by the mind of Christ rather than our carnal minds.  He wants His spiritual facts to fill and lead us through our faith in Him.  One example of a spiritual fact: His riches of grace in kindness toward us are immeasurable.

To repeat:

Ephesians 1:18–having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Lord, may you open our eyes to see your great riches for each of us that we may walk in and comprehend them each day.  We thank you for your kindness and redemption through Your Son’s blood.  May You enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might trust in the spiritual facts of Your unlimited riches of grace.  Your Son in us is our hope of glory!

Lost & Found

Ephesians 1:4–even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 

Ephesians 1:5–he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

Ephesians 1:11–In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

I have always wondered how we could be lost unless we were not at some point, found. If we lose our phone, we first had it in our back pocket. 

From these three scriptures we get a glimpse into eternity in the past, before the foundation of the world.  He chose and predestined us before the Garden of Eden.  In other words, He knew each of us before the creation of the world.  It is very difficult for our minds to comprehend a time before creation.  This is where we were first known by God and thus, found.  Jeremiah was known by God before he was born. 

Jeremiah 1:5–“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

At some point in our lives we enter the kingdom of darkness and become enslaved to sin.  If we are serving sin, we are living under the dominion of Satan.  We become lost in this darkness.  We cannot see when it is dark.  We are lost sheep.  Even still, we are His because He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, but we are lost in the kingdom of darkness following our sin nature.  When we cannot see, we do not realize we are lost. 

2 Corinthians 4:4–In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

We are lost and blinded in this kingdom of darkness.  Where is our hope?  How do we escape this darkness?  There is only one way.  He came to find the lost.

Luke 19:10–For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 15:4–“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

Only He can open our eyes to see that we are living in darkness and there is light nearby.

Acts 26:18–to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Colossians 1:13–He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

We were His sheep because He foreknew us, He predestined us to adoption as His children.  He comes looking for each of His sheep and shines His light into our minds and hearts, so we see that we are living in darkness and serving sin.  He reveals His cross as a way out of this kingdom of darkness.  When we trust in Him and His death for us, our sin nature dies, and He gives us a new life, a new creation. 

Romans 8:29–For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Instead of lost and found a more accurate description is: found, and lost, then found.

The prodigal son was found, and lost, then found.  God so loved the world that He gave His son to save us from the kingdom of darkness.

Hebrews 2:9–But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

We thank you, Lord that You knew each of us before we were born.  We thank You for sending Your Son to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness.  We thank You for your grace in letting your Son taste death for all of us and for finding us, for opening our eyes to see Your light.  Thank You for bringing us home, Abba.

Spiritual Blessings

Ephesians 1:3–Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

God did not hold back on giving us an inheritance.  He gave us every spiritual blessing.  

Movies in 3D are a thing of the past.  I loved the old time 3D movies because they would project all kinds of objects or monsters that would jump out in the audience.  It was so real that we would reach out our hands to try to grab the objects floating in front of our face.  When I would take the 3D glasses off, the movie screen was a blur.  Sometimes we may feel like we are only seeing one dimension of a scripture that we have read for years.  And then He will open our eyes to see something deeper.  His Spirit is opening the eyes of our hearts to see the deeper riches of His grace.  He wants us to see the hope of our calling for He has given us a glorious inheritance. 

For instance, what are these spiritual blessings mentioned in Eph 1:3?  As usual, Paul answers my question if I but read further.  We can put on our “spiritual 3D glasses” and see that Paul describes these blessings throughout his letter to the Ephesians.  I will list some of them taken from his letter (there are many more mentioned throughout the scriptures).

  1. He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.
  2. We are holy and blameless before Him.
  3. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons/daughters through Jesus.
  4. And we have the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace.
  5. He gave us wisdom and insight to understand the mystery of His will.
  6. We have obtained an inheritance and were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
  7. He will give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
  8. He will enlighten us that we may know the hope of our calling.
  9. He will reveal the riches of our glorious inheritance and His greatness of power.
  10. He made Him head of His church and His fullness fills us all.
  11. When we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Christ.
  12. He has seated us with Him in heavenly places.
  13. He has given us immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness in Christ.
  14. We are His workmanship created in Christ.
  15. We were once far off but now have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  16. He Himself is our peace.
  17. He has reconciled us to God.
  18. Through Him we have access to God through His Spirit.
  19. We are members of the household of God.
  20. We are being built together into a dwelling place for God by His Spirit.
  21. We are partakers of the promise of Christ.
  22. Through the church the manifold wisdom of God will be made known.
  23. Through the power of His Spirit He will strengthen us in our inner man.
  24. He will give us the strength to comprehend the depth of His love for us.
  25. We will be filled with the fullness of God.
  26. He is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think.
  27. Grace is given to each of us according to Christ’s gift.
  28. He will bring us to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
  29. He has given us a new self, created in His likeness in true righteousness and holiness.
  30. He has given us armor to stand firm.
  31. His power works within us.

A suggestion: Start at the top of this list of our spiritual blessings and memorize/meditate on one per day.  It is okay to personalize each blessing.  For instance, number one—“Thank You, Father for choosing me in You before the foundation of the world”.  Or, number 31—“Thank you, God that Your power is at work in me”.  As you meditate, ask Him to take you deeper into the meaning of each blessing.

Lord, we thank You that you have given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

The Kingdom of Light

1 Corinthians 15:47–The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:45–Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

We all know the story of God creating Adam, then Eve in the Garden, or the first man.  What an earth shaking, momentous, in the history of time, event.  The first man to walk this earth but he fell and was removed from the garden.  He was created of dust just as we are; ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

God had another plan even more earth shaking than the first man.  Thousands of years later He created a new race, a new man, a new Adam, a second Adam.  This second Adam came from heaven and gave eternal life.  

Before this second Adam (Jesus) could become a life-giving spirit, He had to die.  This was God’s new plan for a new race of man.  His Son died, and in His resurrection, He became the first-born from the dead.  It says first-born from the dead because God had many more children that would follow and be born from the dead.  

Romans 6:5–For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  Colossians 1:18–And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

We are this new race of people and we have been born from the dead.  We inherited from the first Adam’s DNA but when we die and are born again, we inherit a new life, leaving the old life in our spiritual grave.  We now have a new DNA not of this world but of heaven, a new image.  Together we make up a holy nation.

1 Peter 2:9–But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Corinthians 15:49–Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.  1 Corinthians 15:48–As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

God had another plan for the second Adam and His offspring.  They would become a holy nation within a new kingdom.  God created a kingdom of light for His Son before the foundation of the world that we might one day be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom.  In this kingdom we eat of the tree of life not of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  He frees us from the dominion of darkness and transfers us in our new birth into His dominion of light and freedom from sin.  

Colossians 1:13–He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

We are those on His right.

Matthew 25:34–Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

The garden of Eden must have been amazing however, the kingdom of light He has prepared for us far exceeds the garden.  Just as Adam walked in the garden, we, the children of the second Adam, now walk in this kingdom of light.  

Revelation 1:6–and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

BC & AD

Romans 5 and 6 details the many results of Adam’s sin.  The list below describes the state of man before Christ came and died and our condition before we accept Him as our savior.

Before the Cross

Sin came into the world through one man

The judgement following one trespass brought condemnation 

Death spread to all men

All sinned

Because of one man’s trespass death reigned

Sin reigns in death

Judgement and Condemnation for all

We were all made sinners

We were enemies of God

We were ungodly

We were under the wrath of God

Many died through one man’s trespass

We are enslaved to sin

Sin has dominion over us

Wages of sin is death

From Rom 5 & 6: Grace offered after we accept Christ as our savior;

After the Cross

We are justified by faith

We have peace with God

We have access by faith into His grace

We rejoice in the hope of His glory

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

While we were still sinners Christ died for us.

We are justified by His blood.

We are saved from His wrath.

We are reconciled to God by the death of His Son.

We are saved by His life.

The grace of God and the free gift of the grace of one man, Jesus, abounds to many.

This free gift following many trespasses brings justification and life to many.

When we receive the abundance of His grace, we also receive the free gift of righteousness.

We reign in life through Jesus.

We are made righteous.

Grace reigns through righteousness leading to eternal life.

We are baptized into His death.

We are buried with Him by baptism;

We are raised with Him from death to walk in newness of life.

We are united with Him in His death and resurrection. *  

Our old self was crucified with Him.

We are no longer enslaved to sin.

We have died and are set free from sin.

We now live with Him.

Christ was raised from the dead and will never die again.

He now lives to God.

We are also dead to sin and alive to God.

Sin will no longer have dominion over us.

We are not under law but under grace.

We have been set free from sin and are now slaves of righteousness.

*Footnote—It says were/are untied with Him in His death and resurrection.  The definition of united—born together with, of joint origin, implanted by birth or nature, grown together or planted together.  Apply these words with His death and resurrection and we get a picture of our oneness with Him.

The Gospel of Grace

Acts 20:24–But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

What is this gospel of the grace of God?  Grace is a gift.  The gospel is a gift.  We receive this gift through faith.  We walk in this gospel through the Spirit.  This sounds plain and straight forward.  However, the enemy tries to divert and subvert the grace part of the gospel.  He was doing this with the Galatians and Paul strongly confronted them. The enemy has been defeated and yet the he still attacks us.  If he can divert us away from His grace, even in a small way, he is leading us to a partial grace gospel or a gospel without grace.  Grace is at the heart of the gospel so it is no wonder the enemy attacks and tries to lead us away from and blind us to His grace.   Galatians 1:6–I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

Paul had taught them about the gospel of grace, but some entered into their midst to teach a distorted version of the gospel.  The gospel becomes distorted when grace is removed or lessoned.  Paul felt strongly about anyone who would teach a gospel without grace or a mixture of grace and law.   Galatians 1:9–As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Paul was called by grace.  He knew grace in a personal way.  Grace was a vital part of the gospel that saved Paul. Galatians 1:15–But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,

We cannot earn His favor through religion or our own efforts. Even though the Galatians put themselves back under the old law, we face similar attacks/temptations today when we mix grace with our self-efforts.  Justification is a gift/grace.  There is nothing we can do to add to our justification.  Galatians 2:21–I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Grace, faith and the Spirit go hand-in-hand.  We are saved by our faith in a gospel of grace and then walk by the Spirit in His grace. Galatians 3:2–Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 

Once we have faith in the gospel of grace the enemy tries to lead us away from a grace walk and from being led by His Spirit to a walk based on our own efforts or a mixture of the Spirit and our own efforts.  He will throw guilt and condemnation at us that threatens our faith in His sacrifice and our justification.   Galatians 3:3–Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

God has redeemed us from the law.  We have been set free from the law and are now under grace.  He wants us to trust that the sacrifice of His Son has done it all.  Galatians 5:4–You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  Romans 5:1–Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:2–Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

If we do not have a law to guide us, how do we follow Him?  How do we deal with our flesh without laws, to keep our flesh under control?   If we believe in salvation offered to us by the sacrifice of His Son, how do we walk in this grace gospel?  We do not need laws to deal with our flesh.  Galatians 5:16–But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

We believe in a gospel of grace by faith.  We do not live by laws but by the Spirit.  Often times we tend to mix His grace with our efforts.  I will try hard in 5% of my life, God, and trust your grace for 95%.  Or, more likely, I will work hard at 50% of my walk and trust your grace for the other 50%.  Unbeknownst to ourselves, we are diluting His grace much like the Galatians.  He wants us to be 100% dependent on His grace, walking by and led by His Spirit in faith.  The gospel of grace and a walk in His Spirit are inseparable.   We are saved by His grace, justified by His grace.  Then we walk in this grace through the leading of the Spirit, not through our well intentioned, self-effort.  He is in the driver’s seat we are in the back seat.  Galatians 5:18–But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 

What about our weaknesses?  How do we deal with those and walk in a gospel of grace?  2 Corinthians 12:9–But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I have been walking with the Lord for 50 years as of last month.  For the last 20 years I have been searching the scriptures to learn more about the depths of His grace.  One thing I have learned is how many teachings I have allowed into my heart and mind that focus on what I have to do, my self-effort.  Over the years these teachings have been sort of packed into my heart, in some ways hammered in especially in a few more legalistic churches early in my walk.  It is these very teachings that have made it difficult for me to comprehend His grace.  I have read scriptures about me being justified but just read over them not really understanding.  When we have these teachings that focus on what I have to do instilled in us it makes it very hard to comprehend His grace ie. that I am justified.  And our justification is just one of the many, many aspects of His grace.  A repeated focus on what I have to do, can harden our hearts impeding our understanding the gospel of grace and have the same impact the law had on the Galatians, leading us away from grace.  A law gospel is basically trying to live by our self-effort or by the strength of our flesh.  A gospel of grace is living by faith in His strength, trusting that He is in us and will live through us.  And then there is the mixture or partial gospel, living by the strength of our flesh mixed with His grace/Spirit.  Grace and the Spirit are inseparable.  A grace gospel is totally dependent on His Spirit, trusting that He is in us and will live through us, sans self-effort. Romans 8:2–For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  Paul was admonishing the Galatians to get back to a gospel of grace.  Galatians 5:4

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  Galatians 5:5–For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  I no longer receive a mixture gospel teaching or anything into my heart and mind that is not based on His grace and a total dependency on the leading of His Spirit.  When we mix our efforts with His grace, we are diluting grace.

Lord may you protect us from the enemy who wants to lead us away from your grace that our walk with you may be 100% grace and zero per cent us.  Open our eyes that we may comprehend Your gospel of grace.  May You soften our hearts and remove any teachings that have been planted that divert us away from Your grace and a faith walk led by Your Spirit.  May we finish the course and ministry that You have given each of us that we may testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  Galatians 6:18–The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Hope of Glory

Colossians 1:27–To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

What is this mystery?  The answer is right there, Christ in you.  This mystery is full of riches, riches of His glory.  The glory is in Christ and Christ is in us.  He chose to reveal this mystery which had been hidden.

Colossians 1:26–the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

In Him we have been made complete.

Colossians 2:9–For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

Hope does not disappoint. 

Romans 5:2–Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We are His heirs.  Heirs of His glory.

Romans 8:18–For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

This glory will be revealed to us and to all of creation.  Everything that has been created is anticipating the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8:19–For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

And creation will share in His glory.  In His glory there is freedom.

Romans 8:21–that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

The new creation within is now clothed with a tent of flesh.

Romans 8:23–And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies

None can see this new creation except God.

Colossians 3:3–For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

But there will come a day when our new, spiritual bodies will be revealed but clothed in His glory.

Colossians 3:4–When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We live in the world but are not of this world.

Philippians 3:20–But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

He will change us in the twinkling of an eye.

Philippians 3:21–who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

He has adopted us and is our Abba.  He loves and cherishes His children.

1 John 3:2–Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Thank you, Jesus, for transferring us from the kingdom of darkness into your kingdom of light and for revealing the mystery of You living in us.  Thank you for the many riches of your glory and grace.  There is none like you, Lord, our hope of glory.