Tag Archives: Identity

Christianity is NOT Behavioral Modification

Christianity is NOT Behavioral Modification

 How many times have we heard, “You are a Christian, you are not supposed to act that way.” No I am not talking about those people who have not believed yet but I am talking about those who would consider themselves part of the body. It is true that if one is a believer there are certain characteristics that will manifest out of what we believe. I love how Jesus described Nathanael in John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (deceit, nothing false) This may not be what Jesus was pointing out but I take it as Nathanael was a genuine person in that what you see is what you get and he was not putting on a show to try to become someone he already wasn’t.

 Many judge one another based on what they read in the bible because they have been taught that this is what it means to be a Christian so this is what we must do to become. The reality is that the characteristics that many are referring to are not the path or the way to becoming but a fruit of being. In most mainstream traditional churches the teaching varies from various people in the bible being our role models to even trying to become like Jesus, and yes I know we are the church but to make it easier for all to follow I am talking about those who gather regularly in traditional settings under traditional teaching. The problem with the way though this is traditionally taught is that the technique usually used is simply behavioral modification. They look at the Law and say follow these to become, not realizing Jesus fulfilled the Law for righteous requirements because no other man could and now we are righteous by him, in him, through him, with him. What we are failing to recognize in many cases is there is nothing we can do to become because we are sons of God and we just have not believed that truth. A very liberating scripture when applied to this is John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

 Behavioral modification itself can never make you a son. At best it can only make you like a son and only for as long as you are willing to put forth the effort to manifest such a charade. But when you know the truth, that you are a son, and you believe it then you no longer have to become because you are. Manifesting what many believe to be the attributes of a Christian then are effortless because they flow out of you not because you are acting but because they are who you are. The greatest of these is love. If love does not just flow out of you, then you have not fully believed who you are as a son. The danger lies in trying to love others when you are not even experiencing love because you are trying to produce and maintain out of your own effort, going against what you believe which at some point will produce things like resentment, bitterness, anger, hatred and others all of which have their root in pride. Instead of the love of God, which is true love and that is always unconditional, one will be sharing a manufactured love that at some point is going to have strings attached.

 How many millions of people have gotten burned out at some point in trying to be a Christian, and just think of the hundreds you may even know who experience a defeated life, even leaving the church body, because they just feel they could never live up to the expectation of God. All of this is because of believing a lie that they are not already a son, but are trying to become who they already are. The adversary has never changed his tactics. Why? I do not think it is not because he can not think of any others but because this simple one works so well. Turn these stones to bread so you can prove you are the Son. Eat of this fruit to be like God. Keep these rules and laws to become a son.

 

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The Law Reveals Sin

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

      Paul does point out a fact about the law. Think of it this way until the law people’s lives were in turmoil from the effects of sin manifesting in their lives. This is like having a sickness without understanding that sickness in general even exists. So the law revealed to mankind what they were experiencing in their lives was a result of sin. If they had never been exposed to the law then they would not have realized that it was sin itself that was plaguing them. But just receiving the revelation that sin is what was causing this issue is not the cure. No, this is like one who is dying physically finally finding out the name to a terminal disease. There is no hope in knowing what is wrong if there is not a cure. Fortunately we have the cure through Jesus though. In him we find our true identities as sons of God and no longer slaves to sin for through him sin and its effects have been annihilated.


Jesus Is A Reflection Of Us

      “Every human life is equally valued and represented in Christ. He gives context and reference to our being as in a mirror; not as an example for us, but of us.” Every since I read this quote by Francois du Toit I have had to reevaluate the way I look at things in my relationship with God. I have really been  blessed in that I have had the privilege this past year of doing nothing other than studying the Word and listening to others. Thankfully this path started out in a message of grace and God’s unconditional love, which I have come to realize that is the only way  love can truly exist or it is a counterfeit. In retrospect month after month the revelation that God really loves me and there are no strings attached has continued to grow and now after 14 months of experiencing this growth I finally think that my heart has been prepared to not only hear but to start believing the truth. It seems like it has either taken this long to finally hear something that caused a paradigm shift in what I thought or that my heart was finally softened to be able to agree with what my mind and ears were hearing; quite possibly both worlds colliding for just such a time for this.

 I can honestly say that in these past 14 months I have spent well over 3,500 hours just reading, praying, and listening to teaching that has helped condition the soil of my heart. In all that time I have learned that God is love, in fact it is the very essence of his existence, and all throughout the bible this love manifests in pointing to his Son Jesus. In these past months the religious theologies and doctrines I grew up with have been challenged, debunked and purged out of my belief system. I would not say 100% of them as there were things that I believed to be true which still remain true and very foundational basic concepts. Occasionally in this process something that I was not aware of still pops up, but in these cases there is not much of a struggle because it was usually hard for me to believe much of the things I had originally learned seeing that it did not bear the fruit of Christ. Yesterday was one of these days, when I read that quote. I had known from reading and hearing that we are complete in Jesus yet even with everything I have come to believe in just being a son, just existing in the way God desires for us to walk for the maximum fulfillment of life, I had not realized I was still trying to become like Jesus. But when I read, “…not as an example for us, but of us.” I had to change my focus and beliefs about myself and just like Adam quit trying to become who I am already.

 The first scripture that I thought of when I had this shift was Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” I will not debate this but the simple fact that God predestined us means that it was his will or desire for us and not something where we have no choice in the matter. After Jesus went to the cross everyone from that point going forward became a new creation and here is a simple why. Adam made a choice to try to become like God and in doing so sin entered into the world through his unbelief. I think we are missing something here because even though man could not keep the law for righteous requirements, as Adam instantly proved, we know that is was not impossible to do because Jesus did. My point is that it was not impossible because of the law itself but because of man. With that said now as a new creation the law cannot come into play at all because Jesus removed the law, so if in ignorance we try to fulfill it in some capacity, it has no bearing on our righteousness. We also have a born again spirit. Some debate on when this occurs and personally I think this was a one time event that occurred already at the cross. Personally my opinion, and that is all it is, is that just like being born through the womb in that we had no choice in being born again spiritually we had no choice. Some think that being born again is equated with believing on Jesus for eternal life and no where in scripture does it state that. Jesus said that unless one is born of a woman and Spirit they cannot enter in the kingdom of Heaven and Jesus in fulfilling prophecy made this possible. The reality is though whether it was at the cross or if it occurs when one believes does not matter as long as it did  and because until one believes nothing is going to change in their lives anyhow.

 O.k. so I know I said a few things on this one scripture but I still did not say why this scripture stood out first. The reason it did is like I said I was inadvertently trying to become like Jesus or as the scripture here says conform to his image, and though this is a way of interpreting this scripture it is correct to say that God designed us to be like his Son, remember we were created in his image and likeness. So we are not becoming like Jesus, we are like Jesus and Jesus made it possible for us to live like him. In this being predestined to conform or as I said designed to be like Jesus, we know Jesus coming was a part of the overall process for us as sons to be able to be who God designed us to be. We know that Jesus played a part in this overall process of mankind’s design because he was the lamb slain from the foundation of this world, meaning that he was to be sacrificed before man was even created. In that Adam failed, because he could fail, Jesus came and by removing sin, fulfilling the law for righteousness and destroying the works of the devil making it impossible for mankind to fail, because our quality of life and our relationship with God have nothing to do with what we can or cannot do but solely on the fact if we believe on Jesus. Our works have no bearing on our identity and the only thing they can do is reflect what we believe to be true in comparison to the truth.

 Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This made me wonder if this great revealing was based on our unbelief in the fulness of our identities. What if I choose to believe and am fully persuaded in my heart that Jesus and I are one in union and walking in that understanding choose to believe that Christ in me is the hope of all glory, the physical manifestation of the goodness of God. Col 1:25 Under these circumstances could this glory that is to be revealed actually reveal itself now and not in some distant time? I guess the point that is so important for me to understand and to make to you is Christ is an example of who we already are and that by simply believing we can allow who we are to surface. We have Jesus as our example, not to become like him by changing what we do, but he is our example of who we already are and has we believe in the truth and walk in it we by default will conform to his image, which is God’s desire for all of us.

 Paul said in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I have heard many teach on this saying that we can attain three different levels of God’s approval and I never agreed with that, even if they say they are preaching the grace of God. I really believe Paul is trying emphasize the point here in by changing what we believe about ourselves, specifically our identities, so that in simply being who we are created to be we will prove not only to ourselves but to others the entire will of God for our lives. Looking at Jesus we all know he faced persecution and scripture tells us that as believers we will, but this is not supposed to influence our identities and I always see Jesus just being Jesus. He isn’t trying to be a healer as he is healing. He is not trying to be loving as he is love. These are attributes that just because he is in the room they are going to flow out of him and these same attributes along with others are the very essence that make us who we are because we have become one with Jesus. The same Spirit that dwells in Christ dwells in us. 1 Corinthians 6:17 “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”

 I read some details on the life of John G. Lakes, which probably many of you know who he is, and the one thing I noticed was the transformation in his life over the years in going from one who did not necessarily believe in healing to one who understood that there is no excuse for not being whole. I think this renewing of his mind came about in seeing time after time the finished works of Jesus take effect and manifest in the lives of others regardless of what they believed or where they were at in the circumstances of their lives. There is the reality that Jesus took sin out the equation so the effects of sin have no place manifesting in the life of a believer, but also just as importantly Jesus bore the effects of sin upon himself so that whatever has manifested in the life of anyone, whether they believe or not, has been redeemed in his body broken for us so they are whole. We are God’s only limit because of what we choose to believe. Jesus plainly said that these signs will follow those who believe and just after that the statement was made the scripture continues on by saying that they went forward preaching the Word with signs following. Mark 16:17,20

 I wanted to bring this up because as believers we tend to think that because we intellectually accept something as true then we believe it. This is part of the equation but what we believe in our heart is really what matters. If I say that I believe that by Jesus stripes we are healed and I am not walking in total health then I have to humbly accept the fact that my heart is still be persuaded of that fact. Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed and we say to that mountain move then is will move. Mat 17:20 Point being the evidence of faith is not in commanding the mountain to move but that it went. I also therefore think just as Mr. Lake grew in the revelation that wholeness and life is a part of our identity in Christ we too need to grow in our identities.

 It is quite possible that most of us deal with what we call the chicken or the egg debate. We can dwell for eternity on the debate of which came first, though I did find it amusing that a while back I saw something that “scientifically” that had proven the chicken itself did. Anyhow it is quite possible in how we relate to faith that we stumble across a barrier. I am not giving justification to this issue just pointing it out. In many cases we find faith never becomes active in the life of a believer until they see faith in action. And there may be something to this in that this may just be how some people function in their learning. Jesus did several acts of faith before sending out his disciples. There are also a handful of scriptures that basically saying that upon seeing they believed. This does not mean that everyone who sees something will believe it, but that is their choice to make. And in the relationship aspect of things between us and God the sooner one believes the truth the better off they will be because if they have to wait till they see a miracle to believe then they are just existing in life and not living it in the quality that our Father has created for them. Basically no matter how good one who does not believe thinks they have it, it cannot compare to the quality of life we can have from God.

 God has designed all things in this world with us in mind so that to whatever measure is possible in its fulness we could continually walk in and experience the goodness of God. I have heard many say that I am just living in a dream looking for some imaginary utopia or Garden of Eden but I know that there is a reason behind all of humanity seeking such things. God designed us to live in an environment like this and as part of our design to exist in a state of just being which is basically a normal life from God’s perspective for us, otherwise why would we all desire something similar. We only seek after something that is lost, and if something was never a part of our life to begin with, that is also not there now, we would never desire to seek it.

 In writing this and thinking about the what this means to me I noticed something that stood out. Every time we do the works that Jesus said we would do in His name and not through our effort, it affirms our identity as sons of God. Fruit is produced out of simply being a son and believing on Jesus which continuously grows the bond we have between us and our Father. So everything that manifests as a byproduct in our lives of just being a son of God reinforces our relationship with God and everything we try to do out of our own effort starts tearing down this relationship. When we lay hands on the sick and heal it is a way of receiving affirmation that we are sons. I am not stating that this is the point of healing nor even a desire from God in any way but just stating it as a fact.

 Hopefully this has inspired you to think about your life from a different perspective. I know it has caused me to start looking forward in life from a different point of view and caused a new desire for me to clean off the mirror I have of Christ so I can see more and more each day who I am already in his reflection of me.


The Glory In Us

     It appears that in many circles there is still an expectation of God to come down. Even today there are songs teaching us to call out to God to let His glory fall down. This is not scriptural though for the church, as believers in Jesus. It was for those who were Jews under the previous covenant because God did not live in man, but in the covenant between Jesus and God which we partake in by receiving Jesus His glory is in us because He is in us.

Romans 8:17-18 KJV And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

     Paul understood that the glory of God resided in us through Jesus. The glory of God manifests from within us as we praise God and minister one to another through loving one another, teaching or prayer and even when we are just enjoying the life God desires for us to experience. We need to have the correct mindset so our hearts and minds and spirit are in alignment or agreement with God. If we keep waiting for God to come when He has already declared He would never leave us or forsake us then we are sending mixed messages of unbelief to our hearts.

     It kind of reminds me of when people sing about being desperate for Him. My response is receive eternal life by believing on Jesus as Lord and you’ll never be desperate again. To claim to be desperate for God is an insult because to be desperate means to be without any hope. I realize many do sing such songs not even understanding truly what they sing, and it is true that without God there is no hope, but these songs are sung by those who claim to be believers. How many times have you ever heard an unbeliever singing a worship song to God? The  mere fact that they are singing to God means they believe. I really think people just worship in these songs of death because they sound so spiritual and emotional but are speaking disbelief through what they say sending mixed messages to their hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 GW 12 Since we have confidence in the new promise, we speak very boldly. 13 We are not like Moses. He kept covering his face with a veil. He didn’t want the people of Israel to see the glory fading away. 14 However, their minds became closed. In fact, to this day the same veil is still there when they read the Old Testament. It isn’t removed, because only Christ can remove it. 15 Yet, even today, when they read the books of Moses, a veil covers their minds. 16 But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 This Lord is the Spirit. Wherever the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

     We increasingly reflect the glory of God as we conform into his image. This means the more we become like Jesus, not through what we do but by believing who we truly are in Christ, the more His glory manifests in us. Moses had God’s glory come upon him but it would fade away so he had to wear a veil so that the Israelites would not see the glory fade away from his countenance. But when we receive Jesus we receive his glory and the more we conform to his image, which is to change from our ways to his and become like him in the very same way he is like our Father, the more his glory is revealed in us and through us and influences those around us.

John 7:38-39 KJV He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

     God is flowing out of you, not coming down. Jesus is SEATED at the right hand of our Father, who is also seated in his throne. Jesus will remain there until he returns for the church so it is up to each one of us to release his glory from within us. Paul stated that no matter what experience we go through in life there is nothing that could ever happen to us that can compare to the glory to be reveled in us. IN US is where God’s glory resides on earth and if we do not share his glory and reveal it to others by becoming like him then it is our fault why His glory does not flow or fill the room. So remember the next time you pray or sing for “God to fill this place” that He is wanting to more than you and let Him flow from within you.

     But getting back to the glory of God, just what is it and how do we experience it? God himself tells us exactly what his glory is when he revealed it to Moses. Now Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt and seen many miracles, signs and wonders. He spoke with God regularly and very openly yet Moses after all of this asked God to show Moses his glory. God responded that he would reveal his glory to Moses passing by him by declaring his name. In going past Moses it the glory of God was declared as: Exodus 34:5-7  And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  6  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,  7  Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…

     So all the things that Moses saw were not the glory of God but his glory is in who He is; merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in good and truth etc. It is kind of like when you think of American football you might think of Brett Favre or Tebow now, meaning that they are what you think of when you think of football. Whatever it is that you like; there is someone whose name you can usually associate with it. Such characteristics or traits are the very embodiment of God and that is what makes us his glory when these traits are what manifest in our lives. God’s glory is his nature and we experience his glory when we let his nature become prevalent in our lives. When you are in his presence these are the traits that you experience or can feel. Like love in that one can feel loved or can display love one to another in action.

     So how do we experience the glory of God? Well for starters receiving his glory would be a good place to go. Now that you know that God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering and so forth have you believed and received that unconditionally in your heart? Take mercy for instance, have you received God’s mercy in knowing that you are totally 100% forgiven of all sin and free from any punishment through Jesus or do you still think God holds any sin against you. You cannot experience the freedom of mercy until you are willing to receive mercy. This means then as our hearts and our minds our fully persuaded to believe that what God declares as his glory are true in our lives, and to the degree we believe, we can experience his glory.

     Some have asked if God’s glory is tangible. I can only go based on my experience, which even that is limited in comparison to what one can experience in the presence of God’s glory, in which I would say yes. Going back to love, one can feel and experience love. Now some may say that love is just emotions but I would say love can produce emotions and let us look at a similar example based on feeling. Have you ever been in a room alone when all of a sudden you felt someone else’s presence? Now this is a real feeling yet some would debate that because of the lack of tangibility. In other words they did not physically touch the other person, but let me ask you this, does it mean the other person was not there if you can feel their presence though they are standing behind you and you cannot perceive them through any of the natural five senses? This goes on a spiritual level where there is spiritual interaction and then based on how in tune we are with our spirit we get that gut feeling that many may call a sixth sense.

     Now some will say that they did not see a cloud or some other manifestation so there was no glory present. Umm I must have missed that in the scriptures when God described his glory to Moses. Can physical manifestations exist, I would say why not. Even though to the best of my knowledge I have not experienced what others have I would not want to begin to say that God’s glory cannot manifest in different ways in the physical realm. It may be his goodness that can manifest as light, I do not know.

     But in getting back on subject to the title of this section, God’s glory is in us as believers, just as it is in Jesus. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. See to the degree that we walk in the grace of God and his truth is to the degree we manifest God’s glory in our lives. Our day to day experiences in life are greatly influenced by what we truly believe, which influences the decisions we make. The more we believe in our hearts and mind about God’s grace and truth the more our decisions will be based on God’s glory and the more of his glory we experience and express to others.