Posts Tagged ‘Rom 3:23’

Change is Coming

Scripture: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Thought for Today: “Welcoming the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance:

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by serving and the worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2).

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chastened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father cherishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

Clothed in Glory

It’s interesting to me that all of the creatures God made had coverings… except man. Animals had fur, birds had feathers and fish had scales or shells. But man did not have any outer covering, as he didn’t need it before the fall. Why? Because God clothed man in His Glory.

“You made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him (or clothed him) with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:5)

God’s Original Intent:

The atmosphere of the Garden of Eden was permeated with the same splendor as heaven. There was no sin in the beginning and man walked with God everyday in a peace filled relationship in the “cool of the day”. This means they walked together in a spiritual dimension where they shared a oneness that was maintained by God’s Glory (a covering) and God’s Honor (atmosphere).

The Garden of Eden was Heaven on Earth:

The original Hebrew word for “crowned” means “to encircle”, “to surround’. In other words, Adam and his wife were surrounded by God’s Glory and Honor. They had been clothed with the Glory of God and didn’t need natural clothing and they were living in an atmosphere of perfect relationship and did not need natural knowledge. God was giving man a wonderful environment to rule, where God would truly be their provision and protection if this stewardship could be maintained.

Losing the Glory:

However, once they had been deceived by the serpent and sinned, they were no longer able to focus on spiritual reality as the Glory that once clothed them, seemed to lift. They found themselves naked. Notice that they immediately respond to their new condition by becoming afraid. They made coverings for themselves and hid from God. This is an interesting response since Adam and his wife felt no shame of being naked before they sinned (Gen 2:25).

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Gen 3:7)

Why would they even consider making coverings for themselves? Weren’t they the only human beings in the Garden of Eden? Weren’t they surrounded by only animals, birds and fish?

Hearing God’s Voice:

The reason is given when Adam is answering God’s call “He answered, I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen 3:10). Adam and Eve were afraid, because they were naked before God. I understand being ashamed, but why would they be afraid? They were afraid, because they were naked and had lost their original God given Glory. Now they found themselves controlled by a deception, a satanic lie that they needed natural covering and natural knowledge to sustain their lives. This came as a fulfillment to what God said to them earlier, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The moment they were no longer in God’s Glory, they died spiritually and inner peace was replaced with fear.

Spiritual Death:

We are able to see a powerful expression of God’s Fathering love in the moments following the broken relationship. God, seemingly unaware of man’s location, calls out to man and asks him of his connection to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:11)

Spiritual Life:

Then God makes the first sacrifice, in order to clothe them properly.  ”The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). God would spill the blood of a lamb; one of His created beings, to provide a garment suitable to cover human shame. This would serve as humanity’s first revelation that spiritual life is in the Blood.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom 3:23)

Our spiritual death has its connection to sin by the loss of our covering (God’s Glory) and our relationship (God’s Honor) based on His Presence (Holy Spirit atmosphere). Yet the Apostle Paul goes on to tell us of the reality of God’s grace… God’s favorable actions toward us who trust in Christ Jesus. He  tells us that God has restored access to His Glory and Honor in the free gift of salvation. Access to all that was lost could be restored through the Blood of Jesus. 

“We have been freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).

The Gospel of Restored Glory:

This good news cannot be overstated, because it is not accomplished by anything man can do (Rom 3:20)(2 Cor 5:21). God proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us, in our place and for the spiritual relationship to be restored that once was established in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that when anyone turns to God in faith, a veil is lifted from their hearts and they are enabled to behold the Glory of God in the very face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:16-4:6). As believers who continue to look into that Glory a transformation takes place, whereby we are being changed into the same image (God’s original intent) from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18).

Jesus Said – Be Clothed In Glory: Power from On High!

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49)

Evidence of Glory

What transpires as humanity moves toward the culmination of all things… is it disaster or restoration?

Scripture reveals that the Kingdom of God will come in all of its fullness… that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the LORD and culminate in a great awareness of His Presence and Preeminence. Our God shall come enthroned saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne will say, “Behold, I will make all things new.” (Rev. 21:3-5)

The Bible reminds us that the great tragedy in the Garden of Eden was not just sin, but separation and the fact that man had “fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Although many, professing to be wise; have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22-23)… this tragic estrangement was never God’s intent. His delight is with man, sharing fellowship in the brilliance of His Glory (Gen. 3:8)(Ps. 8:5).

Man was created for experiences in God’s Glory (Isa. 43:7). The Children of Israel saw the Glory of God in the cloud (Ex. 16:10), and on the mountain (Ex. 24:17). The same Glory that shaped the hearts of Moses, David and Solomon; was seen filling the tabernacle (Ex. 33:7-11 & 40:34-35) (2 Sam. 6:2) (2 Chr. 5:13-14). Both Isaiah and Ezekiel saw visions of God’s Glory. From the earliest of days until now, the knowledge of God’s Glory has been a topic of prophetic importance (Hab. 2:14). The Hebrew prophets envisioned a day when God’s Glory would increase; impacting the nations and transforming the fabric of cultures and governments. For example, Isaiah prophesied the following decree of the Lord, “I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see My Glory” (Isa. 66:18). Ezekiel proclaimed, “The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold, the Glory of the LORD filled the temple” (Ezek. 43:5). Each of these Old Testament people insisted that the same Glory they had experienced, would be manifest on the earth.

Just listen to these words: “The Glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isa. 40:5)

Overlooked by many, this reality began to emerge during the time of the New Testament. Jesus came as the Glory of the Father (Jn. 1:14), announcing the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mt. 4:17). Through the person and work of Jesus, a great shift took place. Strongholds of darkness were torn down. God’s Presence was increasingly experienced on a level that rivaled ancient encounters in the Garden. Reflecting on this wondrous reality, the Apostle Paul boldly declared: “We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s Glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

It appears that many are looking for more… driven by concerns about darkness and fear. They’re not cognizant of the ever-increasing glory. They’re blind to the fact that they’re actually living in the age that the prophets longed for. Everybody keeps asking when we’re going to experience God’s Glory? Not realizing that the day of the Lord’s Presence has already begun. Jesus said, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the Glory of God?” Therefore if we, who believe; would only open up our hearts, we would finally discover the desire of the ages.

Just look into the eyes of Jesus… and there you will find the knowledge of the Glory of God (2 Cor. 4:6).

New Covenant Believing

Most churches have not understood the reality of New Covenant Believing. The challenge is that the Spirit of the Lord has set us free and we are not sure what we should do with our religious standards! Trying to fulfill the Old Testament Law has caused us to loose sight of “grace through faith” and minimize the very power of the New Covenant itself. Many denominational structures have become very good at mixing the Old Covenant instituted by Moses with the New Covenant ratified by the Blood of Jesus. 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.

The New Covenant of Liberty:

It is our freedom… our Day of Jubilee if you will! Jesus said, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!” (Jn. 8:36). The problem with living under religious systems is that they tend to teach the burdens of faith, rather than the freedom of belief. Stepping away from grace will always lead to a loss of freedom in Christ. But Christ has made us free to celebrate and worship in the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Understanding Covenantal Seasons:

The Old Covenant brought death (and always will), because it was designed to be a “tutor” that would bring us to Christ. The New Covenant brings life as the morning speaks of a New Day, because it reveals the victory over sin and the wealth of strength offered to the believer by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1-11). Make a note of the word “believer”, its not a title, but an activity. You see, 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 is revealed in the face of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6), and experienced in our personal transformation (2 Cor. 3:4-18). This means we are called to worship and celebration by what we see in the eyes of Jesus. Our praise is motivated by the fact that we are moving from one level of Glory to another level of Glory by the Spirit of the Lord… its our freedom in Christ.

How Jesus has Set Us Free:

Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I call you friends, for all the things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15:15). Jesus gave His disciples some of the most amazing secrets, like keys to His Father’s heart. And He made it clear that the things He was telling them would need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand and walk out daily (Jn. 16:12-15). Obedience was not going to be bound to a set of rules, but a hearing and perceptive ear. As these disciples were able to hear the voice of the Spirit, they would begin to obey the purposes of God by relationship and honor… “friendship”.

Favor & Fellowship:

The Holy Spirit is changing us and it effects our behavior, our attitudes and our believing. To live in the freedom of listening to the Holy Spirit’s Voice releases two powerful realities… favor and fellowship. Knowing you are loved and accepted by God allows you the freedom to grow in the knowledge of the Glory of God as you look into the face of Jesus. When we live in relationship, we experience the power of love and the freedom that comes to those who walk honorably toward the heart of the friend. In this case God is calling us to see ourself as His friend, His Child and His Chosen One.

Living by Human Standards:

Living by human standards distorts our view of real friendship. When we find ourselves unable to live up to the standards set by those we perceive to be more mature than us, it releases guilt, shame and issues of condemnation. When we live according to some arbitrary religious standard and find ourselves successful without the need of relationship, we become vulnerable to personal pride and boasting. It doesn’t make having some basic standards wrong, it just means they are subjective and difficult to measure in changing times and cultures.

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).

Jesus Christ 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, is New Covenant Believing. Its a freedom to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit and live out of the abundance of our growing knowledge of Christ’s victory at the cross.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)

Look & Believe

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor 4:3-4)

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)

Just keep looking into the face of Jesus Christ!

At the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Jesus stood up and cried out with a loud voice, “Is anyone thirsty? Let him come to Me and drink, because believing will release in you rivers of living water!” (Jn 7:37-39) Not reasoning, doctrinal traditions or church programs… believing will do this. Yet its not just any believing it is believing that is moved by the Spirit as we look into the face of Jesus Christ.

Looking into things:

When we look into things, they reveal their glory. They reveal the nature of their design and their purpose. As a youth I can recall buying Hot Wheel toy cars and spending hours just looking at their unique style, color and cool features. Some were very tough looking and I could imagine driving wilderness roads and crashing through any obstacles in my path. As I played, my mother would often shout from the other room, “It sounds like an amazing adventure in there!” Whereby I would feel embarrassed by my intensity as the discoverer of the “glory” of my new car.

God’s Amazing Adventure:

When God created Adam, He made a powerful decision. He asks Adam to name the animals. In doing this He was teaching Adam a basic principle about glory. He was teaching Adam that when you look into the nature of something it will eventually reveal its character and purpose. When these things are discovered, “naming” it becomes simple. But it also creates a platform for relationship with the animal being named. Adam would need to discover how a porcupine was unique to the elephant, lion or bear.

The Point:

In this process God was making Himself vulnerable to the desire of Adam, because the training would serve to help him value the Glory of God. Adam would sin and fall short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23) and all would be lost except the memory of God’s heart toward Adam. As God returns to the Garden of Eden to find the man hiding himself, it was not man who could not find God… it was God who could not find man. Oh, God knew where he was, but his sin now created separation because of the Glory that stood as a barrier between the perfect and the fallen. God calls man to Himself and clothes the man with the garment of a lamb, shedding blood and forever revealing the pattern of recovering a lost Glory.

The Nature of Our Father:

This is what a Father does, he creates avenues back into relational Glory. He restores, redeems and invites the son or daughter back into relationship even when the requirements for reconciliation have changed forever. And change they did! There would never again be access to the Garden on the same level of relationship. Adam and Eve would need to set their eyes upon a new Tree of Life… the Cross!

2000 Years Later:

The Lamb of God would come and take away the sin of the world and the same God who commanded light to shine in the darkness would shine in the hearts of those who believe. The light would reveal a knowledge like no other, it was the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Note: the knowledge of the Glory is not the Glory, but the Glory itself is found in His face. Look into the face of Jesus Christ and believe that what you behold is your destiny… and you will see what nothing on this Earth can offer – abundant life.

Just keep looking into His beautiful face… and see the Glory of God!

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