GOD’S VIEW OF INDEPENDENCE

Galatians 5:1 – It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Freedom and independence are very closely related. The independence that the Lord has purchased for all mankind through the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross is an independence from Satan’s control. Before the Lord went to the cross to bear the penalty of our sins and overcome the power of the kingdom of darkness, all humanity was enslaved to Satan’s kingdom. That slavery prevented anyone from being truly free and independent.

God views freedom through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God views the world He created through the lens of Christ’s atoning work. It was two thousand years ago that freedom was established for mankind. The Lord does not see seven billion people in the world, but two men. Adam, who through his disobedience, thrust humanity into bondage and the Last Adam, through whom freedom was purchased. We are either related to Adam, our original parent, drawing from his natural life, or we are related to the Last Adam, drawing from His life in the Spirit.

In Galatians, Paul is addressing freedom from religious bondage under the Law. The Law was necessary because of bondage to our sin condition. But the Law could not free us from that condition of sin. Only the Lord Jesus could do that by becoming the sacrifice for sin. His sacrifice was acceptable to God the Father. Now the Father receives all those who come to Him through faith in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

Freedom and independence have been secured in the world through the gospel of the kingdom of God. The nations that receive God’s king, by receiving the message of the kingdom of God, are nations that have enjoyed true freedom and independence given by God. When a nation that has received the gospel draws back, they lose the liberty that the Lord has provided for them and it allows the kingdom of darkness to have increased effect on that nation.

Father, I thank you for the freedom You have provided in Christ. By faith, I receive all You have done for me. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help me to keep standing firm and not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Use my freedom to share with others that they too may be free from sin and stand firm in the victory of Christ. I pray for all people to come to know the freedom You have made possible. I pray for the nations to be discipled as You have commanded. I especially pray for my country to surrender to Your appointed king, Jesus the Christ.

BAPTIZED INTO PEOPLE

1 Corinthians 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
For every time the Bible speaks of Jesus as “Savior,” it speaks twenty-nine times as “Lord.” With much of the preaching we hear today through television and other forms of media, it sounds like God is only “blessing” us, as we define blessing emotionally. I thank God for the music, ministry, times of healing, and encouragement. All are a part of the celebration of our joy. Underneath all of the celebration and blessing is a move of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the ministry that He was sent to perform. The Holy Spirit is the one who baptizes us into the body of Christ and is raising up God’s redeemed community in the earth.

Baptism in water confirms identity with Christ’s death and resurrection as well as our covenantal relationship with God. Paul said, “You were baptized into death” and “You were buried in baptism.” That cut you off from the Adamic society as a controlling influence in your life. We have also been cut free from the demonic realm as an influence over us. As we rose out of the water, it was God’s intent to “baptize us with the Holy Spirit.” We were given a new life principle, that is, to walk in newness of life.

Another dimension we were given in baptism is that we were baptized into people. That dimension is missing in contemporary church life. “For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body.” Paul goes on to say, “We have been made to drink into one Spirit.” To be baptized in water and in the Spirit is only two thirds of God’s intent. The other third is that I am baptized into people. Acts 2 tells us that over 3,000 brethren were added to the Lord’s church that day. With women and children, perhaps it was closer to twelve thousand. Immediately, they began to hang out together, going from house to house with gladness and singleness of heart, breaking bread. “The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47, emphasis mine).

The beauty of what God is doing in the earth is when people are brought together in the unity of God’s government. We are not brought together in some kind of indefinable mass. We are brought together in a definable, governmental structure under God that is clearly delineated in the Word of Truth as the churches of God in the earth, with their elders, with their leaders, and with their authorities.

Father, I affirm my faith that You, according to Your Word, bring all things into one in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29). Further, I affirm You are building me together with others, “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Teach me to be yielded to Your governmental structure which is ordained by the Holy Spirit who is living in me.

RULING OVER SELF

Ephesians 4:22-24 – In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Jesus is Lord! The heavenly Father intends that the Lord Jesus Christ find His reign manifested in the lives of those He has redeemed through His blood and the work of the cross. Jesus’ Lordship is not abstract, but very specific as it relates to every believer. Jesus said, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38). The strong implication is that we must die to self as He did and enter into His life through the power of His resurrection.

Paul is clear, in Ephesians 4:22-24, that we have a part in this new life that Christ has provided. We must “lay aside the old self.” The old self is corrupted because of “lust” that is rooted in “deceit.” Lust is a phrase which describes the emotions of the soul, the natural tendency towards things evil. Such “lusts” are not necessarily base and immoral, they may be refined in character, but are evil if inconsistent with the will of God. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright ©, 1985 Thomas Nelson Publishers).

“Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:12-13). Sin is rooted in lust. Paul says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” The issue is who and what will reign in our life. The will of God is that Christ would rule in us, not sin which once had dominion. Sin is still in our members, but the body of sin has been destroyed through the victory of the Lord. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).

By the power of the Holy Spirit the believer can live free from sin by daily choosing not to let sin “reign in one’s mortal body,” choosing rather to let Christ reign through the power of the Spirit. Our salvation is to bring us to His reigning daily in our lives. His reign begins in the individual, from there to the family, and on into the community. The message of the gospel is for all men everywhere to repent. “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:30-31).

Father, I give myself to the rule of Christ. I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to govern in my life, that sin would no longer rule in me. I choose Your dear Son and His nature today.

THE GOSPEL

1 Corinthians 15:1 – Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved.
The Corinthians had received the gospel by the revelation of the apostle Paul. In his letter, he wants to make sure that they have understood the message he had preached. By the time Paul is writing to these believers, many had brought confusing words to them about the gospel. Paul states, “Now I make known unto you.” The gospel needs clarification because of all the various individual views that are represented. In today’s contemporary church, there is still confusion regarding the gospel.

The word gospel means to announce good news. The question we must ask is, “what good news?” Paul helps us know what good news he is speaking about, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Romans 14:9). Again Paul states, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). We see that the good news is that Christ died and lives again. The rest of the good news is laid in the fact He is presently reigning as God’s appointed king. The early church represented Christ as “Lord.” In that day, the Romans declared Caesar as Lord, but the Christians declared, “Jesus is Lord!”

God’s purpose in the gospel is for Christ to reign over all of God’s creation. “The aim of the gospel is to declare and enthrone Jesus as King” (Charles Simpson, What Is the Gospel? page 2). This is exactly what the angels declared to the Shepherds at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:10-11 “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

For many years, in parts of the church, the emphasis has been on salvation, based on Romans 10:9-10. Verse 13 must also be included, “For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (emphasis mine). It is clear throughout the New Testament that the desired end is not simply salvation, but to make Jesus Lord.

John the Baptist and Jesus both declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Paul ended his ministry in his own rented house; “solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23). The enemy has sought to stop the message of the “good news,” through martyrdom and by distorting the message. He has failed! The good news of the gospel is being revived around the world. Today, multitudes are declaring that “Jesus is Lord!”

Have you embraced the full gospel of the kingdom of God? If not, why not receive Jesus, not only as your Savior, but your king? Begin to speak the full message of the gospel, the good news that Jesus is Lord.

THE ORDER OF GOD’S KINGDOM

Mark 9:35-36 – If any wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.
In Jesus’ statement to His disciples, and to us now, He establishes the order of God’s kingdom. This is in direct contrast to the systems of the world. In the world, the order is to do whatever you must to succeed and get to the top. This is an attitude which is directly related to the problem of sin and evil. Men, ever since the fall, have striven for authority, control, and domination. These are major struggles in the human experience.

The solution is found in Christ. Headship begins with a benevolent Heavenly Father who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. This amazing favor flows from God’s Throne to earth. True authority originates with God. God sends to all humanity His “Obedient Son.” Because of Christ’s obedience to the Father’s authority, the kingdom of God is established in the earth. The authority of God is reigning in a Man. The Lord Jesus Christ first endured the cross as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin. He broke Satan’s power over humanity and made it possible once again, to be restored to God. God established Christ, the Man, as Sovereign over mankind. When we choose Christ and obey His command to repent and be baptized, we exchange one type of authority, the kingdom of darkness, for another, the kingdom of God.

The Father promised the Son Their Holy Spirit would be given to everyone who would trust in Christ. Through the “Power of Their life-giving Spirit,” we receive of the kingdom of God and are given authority in the earth. An authority over Satan’s kingdom, an authority in our sphere of influence, an authority over sickness and disease and most importantly, an authority over the self-nature that is rooted in sin.

In the Holy Spirit, we have authority to receive the “new creation man.” In the earth, God’s people are reigning with Christ. The Lord’s Church is to be led by those surrendered to the Life of the Holy Spirit as “gifted” (grace-filled leaders) who are watching out for the souls of God’s people. They are to be servant-minded individuals who see themselves as last of all and servant of all.

Father, I thank You for the order of Your kingdom. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and create in me the heart of a servant. Help me choose a daily posture of humility and servanthood. I choose to walk under Your authority that begins at Your Throne. I pray for Your new creation man to be fully manifested in my life.

THE WORD OF GOD IS MY COUNSELING MANUAL

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth.
The Holy Spirit is the One given by the Father and the Son to help us apply the Word of God. The word “Helper” could be translated Counselor. We should not need a human counselor because we have both the Holy Spirit and the “Counselor’s Manual,” the Bible, to instruct us. As we read and apply the eternal principles recorded in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is present to help us by giving counsel. It is the Holy Spirit that breathes life on the Word and causes us to have understanding. Sometimes that understanding comes through others. Counsel can come through life experience. Other times, counsel can be given by a trained individual, such as a pastor or a licensed counselor. Our main source of counsel should be God’s Word and our relationship with God’s Holy Spirit.

One of the most powerful scriptures is found in 2 Timothy 3:15. Paul instructs Timothy by reminding him that from a child he had known the sacred writings, which are able to give wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ.

First, we must know the writings of Scripture. Wisdom comes as a result of knowing God’s Word. It is that wisdom which leads to salvation, not only eternal life, but wisdom that delivers and helps make us free in this life, by helping to transform our thinking. Biblical thinking helps to produce peace and joy found in the Holy Spirit. Many are bound up in their relationships with others. This freedom enables us to relate properly to others. Many are in bondage economically. The wisdom that the Scriptures give us about handling money will cause one to be stable financially. These and many other life- relating topics are covered by the 2 Timothy 3:15 verse.

I have found it helpful to make up lists of biblical principles that I study and memorize to apply in my life. The book of Proverbs is one of the great portions of Scripture that instruct us in every type of situation life can produce. For years, I would read a Proverb a day. I would meditate and memorize verses that stood out as I was reading a particular chapter. Try it for a month and see how much wisdom you will gain and how many bad experiences you avoid.

Father, thank You for the counseling book You have given me. I recognize that I need Your Holy Spirit to help me understand the Scriptures. I ask in faith for the Holy Spirit to help me apply Your eternal principles of truth in my daily life.