“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Gal. 2:20-21)
Almost all denominations of Christianity have valued portions of the Laws of Moses (Mosaic Covenant) and added them to the New Covenant established by Christ. Without being aware of it, this has made most Christians guilty of the whole Mosaic Law… which says it all must be kept. At the same time, there becomes a growing hypocrisy in our understanding of the New Covenant. We teach about grace, and want the guidance of the Holy Spirit; but keep mixing it with Laws that no longer serve the same purpose for the Christian Believer as they did for the Jew. This is not to say that we cannot learn many wonderful truths from the Mosaic Law. We are just no longer bound relationally with God through that “spiritual agreement”. We are in covenant relationship with God through a New Covenant ratified by Jesus Christ, not by Moses!
The Issue is Spiritual Freedom:
The fact that most churches have not understood this vital point, has caused us to loose sight of ”grace through faith” and minimize the very power of the New Covenant itself. Most denominations have become very good at mixing the Old Covenant instituted by Moses with the New Covenant. They have forgotten that the Old Covenant has become obsolete while the New Covenant is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It is our freedom. The problem is that there are consequences to stepping away from grace… a loss of freedom.
The Issue of Life or Death:
It all has to do with what you “behold” or set as your standard of relational truth! One covenant brought death (and always will); the other brings Life (Rom. 8:2). If you believe any of the Old Covenant is still binding to a believer in Christ, then it will become the basis of your perception of obedience. We must, however; read what the Apostle Paul has to say about the cornerstone of the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments (2 Cor 3:4-18). The central goal of the Old Covenant is to behold our sin and make sacrifices according to how we have fallen from glory (Rom. 3:23), but the goal of the New Covenant is to behold the Glory of God as it reveals itself in the face of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6) and is manifesting itself in our personal transformation (2 Cor 3:17-18). We are moving from one level of glory to another level of glory by the Spirit of the Lord… its our freedom in Christ.
Again… “We are moving from one level of glory to another level of glory by the Spirit of the Lord.” That’s our freedom in Christ!
How Jesus has Set Us Free:
The Holy Spirit is changing us… and it effects our behavior, our attitudes and our giving. Yet, to live under the law of obligation (like the tithe or circumcision) actually releases two deceptive realities… shame or pride. Both of these problems are “religious spirits” that aim to rule our behavior and limit our relationship with the Lord Jesus and those in the Body of Christ. When we find ourselves unable to live up to the standards set by those more mature than us, it releases a false sense of guilt, shame and condemnation. When we live according to some arbitrary religious standard and find ourselves successful without the need of faith, we become vulnerable to personal pride and boasting.
Jesus came to do away with the “measurements” on all levels and substitute His life for any standard – perceived or real… we become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). He became our standard bearer so that we could walk in freedom, being led by the Holy Spirit and feeling the joy of a living relationship with the Father. Its a freedom to live, grow and serve as God would have us serve. Its not a license to sin any longer, but a freedom to live by faith and relationship with Christ, through the Holy Spirit… and where the Spirit of the Lord is – there is liberty!
Whom the Son sets free – is free indeed! (Jn. 8:36)
This verse is arguably the most profound and exciting statement in the Bible. We know Jesus came to seek and save the lost, but the good news goes much farther than that. Salvation is not merely the removal of our sins, it is access to life as a new creation. Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us to offer a radical transformation of what it means to be human.
The Christian holiday of Christmas is not only about Jesus; it’s about you and me!
When John wrote that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, he used an ancient image the Jews were familiar with. The word he used that is translated “dwelt” literally means “to pitch one’s tent”. It was a reference to God’s dwelling among the Israelites in the tabernacle, a special tent that was the precursor to the temple of Solomon (Exod. 40:34-38). The difference is that the Word, “Jesus” didn’t just dwell among humanity, He became human. He actually put on flesh and became like us… in our frailty and our vulnerability.
As the perfect human, Jesus comes to define everything it means to be human. Whatever Jesus is, that is what He has made humanity to be in Him. To be fully human is to know God (Jn. 17:3)! To be fully human is to live in the knowledge that He loves us, wants us, and will never let us go. Jesus heals and restores our full humanity, becoming for us the Glorious Revelation of how God feels about humanity.
“For God so loved…” (Jn. 3:16).
Jesus shows us what life is all about. It’s about walking in communion with God, being in relationship with the One who created us, loves us, dwells among us, and adopts us as His own precious children. In becoming flesh, Jesus showed us the Father’s love and compassion toward us. He “pitched His tent” among us, because He wants to be with us… to identify with us. God didn’t turn His back on sinners, He came to live among them, to love them and to heal them.
“Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:4-6)
The need today, is for all Christians… loved, washed and raised to noble position; to rise up out of the clutter of the world and walk in newness of life! We must walk knowing our position and authority in Christ: Kings and Priests unto our God. We are commissioned with delegated authority (Mt. 28:18-20) and seated in heavenly places with Christ. We hold a noble place, at the right hand of God (Eph. 2:6-7). Yet nobility of this order will not arise from self-exalting thirst for power… it only comes by surrender and yielded devotion to the Will of God. As those anointed by the Holy Spirit, we lay hold of a promised inheritance; by practicing the holy and royal responsibilities (1 Pet. 2:5-9). The character of Christ is experienced by those who have freely given themselves to His purposes. Its found in those seeking to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, in order that they may attain the power of a resurrected life… overcoming and abundant in every way. (Phil. 3:10-11)(Jn. 10:9-10)
6 Principles of The Valiant Heart:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:7-10)
- Submit to God: Set your mind upon God’s Will and Purposes! (Rom. 16:19-20)(Col. 3:1-4)
- Resist the devil: He is your enemy. He will flee, because he is defeated! (Acts 10:38)(1 Jn. 3:8)
- Draw near to God: Relationship and intimacy establish your authority in Christ! (Jn. 15:14-16)
- Cleanse your hands: Renounce evil practices because they hold us in bondage! (Jn. 5:14)(1 Jn. 1:9-10)
- Purify your hearts: Confess evil imaginations and strongholds of the mind! (2 Cor. 10:3-6)(Ps. 139:23-24)
- Humble yourselves: Rely and lean upon God’s Fathering heart! (Prov. 3:5-8)
We have been commissioned to develop a culture that ignites the greatness in others. Many of us have had negative influences that seemed to suck the wind right out of our sails. Yet no matter how destructive these forces may have become, God has great plans and royal destinies for His people. It is our finest hour when we are able to create pathways for people to find their journey to the Palace.
Memories Vs. Dreams:
A friend of mine once said, “When your memories are greater than your dreams, then you are already beginning to die.”
Imagine if you were raised in a palace where everyone around you spoke to you about your destiny to become a king one day. Who would you be today? How do you think those expectations would effect your dreams? If you knew you were destined for greatness and could not fail, how would that shape your thoughts? …your living? …your personal risks?
Living the Life:
The Lord has told me that it is not too late to think like Solomon… to use God-given wisdom and believe in the greatness inside of me. Even if the role models of my life were negative and stole the joy of my childhood, I do not need to remain an orphan (Jn 14:18). I am a Child of God, which means I have a royal destiny (1 Pet 2:9-10). I follow Christ as my example and hear the Holy Spirit calling me into my true identity. As I begin to act like royalty, issues that felt like mountains in my life have become mere stepping stones to future promise. It feels good to overcome the obstacles that once hindered me.
A Culture of Greatness:
As the Royal Priesthood of God, we are called to develop a Kingdom Culture in our homes, churches, communities and nations that brings out the best in others. We do this by seeing and treating people as God created them to be. Our knowledge and love for others must come from our intimacy with God. We are no longer His slaves, but friends, walking by His side as kings and queens of His court. Being born into a Royal Family means we co-reign with Christ in the Kingdom of God. The culture we reflect is based upon the relational character we enjoy with our Heavenly Father. Jesus gave us the example of releasing a culture of greatness by doing what he saw the Father doing.
The Key is Honor:
Honor expresses value in others. It is one of the greatest attributes of nobility in the entire Bible. When the Kingdom of Heaven rules the heart, honorable behavior comes naturally. We give honor to people, not just because they deserve it, but because we are honorable citizens of the King. It is the standard or condition of the heart, not just the product of a good environment. It eliminates the need for control and manipulation, because it empowers with God-given purpose. People are great, because God created them in His image and for His glory. When we carry honor in our hearts, people can feel it and they respond to it, because it ignites the greatness inside of them.
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” (1 Sam. 16:1-2)
God’s greatest challenge is always to get us to see what He is seeing!
There is a key phrase in the above situation that unlocks some wisdom for us… God says “Samuel, you have to get over your feelings for Saul… if you want to see what I am doing.” When Samuel was able to obey God, “fill his horn with oil and go to Bethlehem”; an amazing plan would become visible. It was actually going to unfold before his very eyes… and go beyond his human perception. In fact, natural sight would limit Samuel’s vision! God had a king of His own choosing, to rule over Israel!
God’s guidance is usually not as discernible in the moment as it is in hindsight. We may not sense what God is doing in our midst of our situations or how God is leading us. Even the great “Prophetic Gift” did not unlock what God was doing. Yet, God did have a plan… a purpose that would gradually become more clear, more discernible and more acceptable to Samuel’s human understanding. That is the story of every Christian Believer… it is a walk of faith, not sight! Thus we must be willing to train ourselves let go of our “perceptions” in order to see what God sees.
Seeing the Big Picture:
“I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
This story, as with so much of the Old Testament; demonstrates that God’s “providence” operates beyond the realities in which our seeing operates. But even so… we remain within reach of God… so we can have a participation in the process. Note that God’s “Big Picture” is on the flock and not just the individual sparrow. We have to remember that we are co-laborers… to His plans and purposes. In our “do it myself” age, we tend to individualize so many of the messages of the Bible. Here, it is important to note that it is the community, the people of faith that is under God’s care. Neither Samuel nor Jesse’s household would have understood the way in which God was providing for Israel, but God’s eyes were on the people as a whole and not merely the individuals.
Samuel might have questioned the direction God was sending him… Jesse might have questioned the choices Samuel was making as he turned away all of the older boys… But God was providing for His people, a king of His own criteria! He had seen something, known something and was doing something that was way beyond the limitations of human choice.
We must remember this when we decide to attack our own problems with our wisdom and limited experience. God sees the Big Picture and has a plan and purpose in His directives that go far beyond our imagination and skill level. The only way to see like God is to begin with surrendering your sight to the Holy Spirit. You might ask “How?”… and I would tell you that you will never do it by ignoring what you see!
The way to do it is by focusing on the right goal… by looking into the riches of God’s Glory (2 Cor. 4:6)(Heb. 12:1-2).
Look Into the Glory:
As you look into the Glory of God you begin to see what God sees. Inside the human heart is the capacity to see things that are images and visions placed there from the Holy Spirit. What the heart sees is better than what the mind sees, because it has the ability to evaluate and discern where it is leading. God is never seeing life in terms of “snap-shots” or “snippets”, as we see and perceive. His vision is all about spiritual purpose and His awareness is complete with all understanding. He sees the end from the beginning, with a fore-knowledge of the next moment, year or decade.