In today’s message, the Lord has led me to take a break on the series of messages we are currently covering and give us more of a prophetic message—a message that will contain what I believe the Spirit is saying to His church, what He plans to do in His church, and how you and I can make sure we participate in it. So, buckle your seatbelts, and get ready for a wild ride today!
In case you missed the memo, today is Pentecost Sunday, and like I’ve said, how appropriate that on the day that the Lord initially opened up the church for business, we are reopening its doors for business! Glory!
And while the true church never closed—for we are the church—it is exciting that we are again congregating after two and half months of being quarantined! Now what hopefully we were doing on our own, we can do together! We can worship with each other! We can learn with each other! We can sow the fruits of goodness and righteousness with each other! Praise, God!
So, since today is Pentecost, I’ll give you one guess where we are going in our Bibles! You guessed it—Acts chapter 2:
Like today is in many ways, Acts chapter 2 was a significant day in the history of the New Testament church. It was the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out and when thousands of new converts were made as a result.
Now, mind you, that leading up to the Feast of Pentecost, the disciples spent much of their time in hiding, in fear of the Jews. They had locked themselves in their homes and in this upper room because they knew that the religious leaders would be quick to have them arrested and put to death since they were Jesus’ followers. So, you could say that they were “quarantined” as well.
Now during this time, they had experiences with the Resurrected Christ as He appeared to them on several occasions and spent 40 of those days teaching them things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Which hopefully, has been what has been happening for many of us too. Hopefully, we have had some good one on one time with Jesus to where He has been revealing Himself to us and teaching us things. But my point is that they were stuck in their homes and behind closed doors for 50 days (a number we will address momentarily). But all of that changed on that great and glorious day in Acts chapter two.
And what a great day this is for us as well: Church, we have spent the past two and half months apart (from the physical perspective), and during this quarantine time, we have seen many of our necessities and conveniences stripped away from us. Fear has hit us like I’m sure the disciples then had to deal with as well. And like it has been for us, the feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc. must have been crippling. I’m sure like it was for them as well, we have had to learn new things and develop new routines in order to survive.
So, my point is that while their situation was more severe than ours has been, we still have shared some similarities. And one of those similarities is that the day both us and them came out of our isolation time is on PENTECOST.
So, let’s look at this event described in Acts chapter two and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us today:
Acts 2:1 begins with the following statement— “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come…”
Now notice that Dr. Luke (the author of the Book of Acts) said that this special event happened “when the Day of Pentecost had fully come.” You see, the Feast of Pentecost was a day; it was not a weekend, a week or a month. It was celebrated on just one day every year. Though the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles were each observed for seven days according to the law, the Feast of Pentecost was kept for only one day—a point significant in itself.
By saying the Day of Pentecost had “fully” come, this was likely a reference to how even though the people had already arrived from other nations to celebrate Pentecost, what transpired in Acts chapter 2 was on the actual Day of Pentecost—being exactly 50 days after Passover. But I believe it can also allude to the fact that Pentecost was “fully fulfilled” on this Day as the Holy Spirit was poured out and the church truly began!
Either way one looks at it—our Pentecost has fully come in the giving of the Holy Spirit. Yes, He was “fully” poured out and these things have been “fulfilled” among us!
So, a good question would be— Why did God choose the Feast of Pentecost to be the time where He filled His church with the Holy Spirit?
Well, one obvious reason for this is because these Jewish Feasts were meant to illustrate things: Colossians 2:16-17 clearly teaches us that the festivals prescribed in the law were shadows of things to come. For example, the Feast of Passover was when Jesus was crucified—Him being the lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. Therefore, Christ is correctly called by the apostle Paul, our Passover (First Corinthians 5:7).
So, like Jesus’ crucifixion was strategically set for the Feast of Passover, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was ordained for the Feast of Pentecost.
But I also believe another reason God chose Pentecost to be the day that “church opens” is because it was a strategic maneuver in regards to evangelism.
You see, Pentecost was known to be the most attended feast on the Jewish calendar because of what time of the year it was celebrated. At no other Feast would there have been representatives of so many nations. Therefore, I believe God knew that this was the best time to evangelically bring in the first-fruits of the church. So, He poured out this great sign for the people present of so many different tongues and reaped a harvest of 3,000 in one swoop of the Holy Spirit. Glory!
So, like Jesus was said to be sent in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4), there is a method to God’s system of doing things. Yes, He is on a calendar to accomplish His purposes. He’s got a clock. And in His infinite wisdom, He works all things together for the good of those called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).
Which leads me to today: I believe today is a strategic day on God’s calendar as well. Yes, I believe today—this Sunday—is a strategic part of God’s clock for High Point Church and for the universal church as well.
So, let’s look at the rest of these verses in Acts chapter 2 and glean His prophetic word for us today:
THE POWER OF UNITY
After letting us know in verse one that this event occurred “when the Day of Pentecost had fully come…” we are then told that “…they were all with one accord in one place.”
Church, I can just about guarantee you that today, we too are as in one accord in this one place as we have ever been. Why? Because we have been separated for around 2 ½ months. So, I venture to say that we are all extremely excited and full of hope concerning today’s service. Therefore, we are in one accord because we are in this “one place.” Glory, Hallelujah!
I want us to now read the 133rd Psalm—because I believe this powerful psalm explains to us the power of being in this kind of unity. This psalm reads— “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.”
You see, if there is one thing the devil is absolutely terrified of, it is the anointing. This is, in fact, the reason Satan fights against those who grab ahold of the truth and actively seek God. He fights against those who read their Bible, pursue God in prayer, and are putting their hand to the plow because he is afraid. Afraid of what? Afraid of the one who gets ahold of the truth and begins to walk in the anointing of God. Why does this scare him? It is because the anointing of God destroys in a nano-second what he maybe has been working on for years. For example, he might have kept someone in physical or emotional bondage for years and then the anointing comes and immediately destroys that yoke! Hallelujah! This is what he fears!
Friends, this psalm is prophetically declaring that there is a corporate anointing for the body of Christ, and when we dwell together in unity--forgetting our cultural differences, putting aside our doctrinal differences, and laying down our pride and insecurities—for one common purpose and one common goal, that it is a good and pleasant thing! When we join together as the body of Christ, that oil of the Holy Spirit can then flow from one part to the next, from top of the head down the edge of the garments.
So, it is no wonder why Satan fights unity so much! It is because He fears the corporate anointing and he is afraid of a body of believers who might join together with one common goal. This is why you see church splits. This is why you see division in the community. And this is why you see such an escalation of divorce. It is because his number one goal is to divide! For a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Do you remember when Jesus was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub? What was His response? He said that Satan cannot cast out Satan, for a house divided against itself cannot stand. In other words, you even see order in Satan’s camp. It is not perfect chaos. He has systematic order in his kingdom because he knows the power of operating in this way. Ephesians 6:12 shows us how, in his kingdom, he has ranks of demons: First, there are the principalities. Under them, there are the powers (or, authorities). Then comes the rulers of the darkness of this age and then the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Friends, he has order and each demon in his kingdom works according to their assignment and their position.
Let’s turn over to Genesis chapter 11 and see an example of how Satan inspired an event called the Tower of Babel:
In Genesis chapter 11, we the story of man called Nimrod (no ladies, I am not talking about your husband. I’m talking about a man actually named Nimrod.) And this man had a plan. He and his people decided they wanted to make a name for themselves. So, they planned to build a tower that would reach to the heavens lest they be scattered across the earth. Well, God saw what they purposed in their heart to do and came down and divided their language because He said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” That is a powerful statement! Jesus basically said something similar when He said that nothing shall be impossible for us. And why was there the prospect of this people accomplishing anything and nothing being impossible for them to do? It was because they were one! It was because all had one language! It was because they had tapped into a spiritual law that when a people become one and they pursue a common goal—with one mind, one mouth, and in one accord—nothing shall be impossible for them.
So, if this is a true principle for Satan and the ungodly, how much more do you reckon this will work for the body of Christ!?! I guarantee you that if it works for them tenfold; it will work for us a hundredfold!
And, as a matter of fact, we’ve already seen it work in the Book of Acts!
THE GOD OF SUDDENLYS
So, let’s go back over to Acts chapter 2 and look at what happened when the Day of Pentecost had fully come and when they were all together with one according in one place …
Verses 2-4 say, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues (that’s the only thing you will ever find divided in God’s kingdom), and one sat upon each of them. And then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Now notice how verse 2 begins— “And suddenly…” How many of you know that we serve a God of “suddenly’s!” You might not can see it happening at this moment, but you certainly can “suddenly” see it happening in the next moment.
We see these “suddenly’s” first in the birth of Christ as the multitude of heavenly hosts “suddenly” appeared to the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:13). But not only do we see these “suddenly’s” in the first coming of Christ, the second coming of Jesus Christ is also said to come “suddenly” (Matthew 13:36).
Now the Book of Acts itself is a book that reveals to us that God “acts” suddenly! Of course, we see this here in Acts 2:2, but also in Acts 9:3 we see that God knocked Saul of Tarsus off his horse by the light that shone around him suddenly. In another instance, we see how in Acts 16:26 that “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”
Now the consistencies that we see in all of these “suddenly” accounts are this: In none of them, were the people prepared for what was about to happen. In some, they were just going about their daily business. But in others, the people were praying, praising and seeking God. So, what we can learn from this is that while some “suddenly’s” come as sovereign acts of God to fulfill His purposes, others come when God’s people act and press into His purposes. Amen.
May we be a people here at HPC that act—gathering together in one accord in this one place—and experience another one of these “suddenly’s.” Amen.
But I want you to notice what specifically and “suddenly” happened in Acts chapter 2 …
THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT
Verse 2 goes on to say, “…there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” There was a manifestation of something powerful! And the only way that they knew describe it was that there was a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind that filled the whole house!
Now this was not the only time that the Holy Spirit was typified as wind in the Scriptures: In John chapter 3, we have the popular story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the nighttime, and Jesus teaching him about the new birth. The story begins in verse one: “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” (John 3:1-8)
I just love how Jesus never even responds to Nicodemus’ comment, but jumps right into the truth regarding the necessity of being born again. So, after Nicodemus questions how a man can be born a second time, Jesus goes on to explain that this new birth is a spiritual thing and, therefore, the Holy Spirit is who performs this spiritual new birth in us. But here is the point I want you to see:
In verse 8, after Jesus tells him not to marvel that He said that one must be born again (verse 7), He describes this spiritual rebirth with a physical example. Again, He says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What was Jesus saying here? He was saying that while we cannot see wind, we can see the effects of it. Likewise, while we cannot see the spiritual new birth that takes place in those who believe on Jesus Christ and confess His Lordship in their lives, we can see the effects of it. In other words, we cannot see the spiritual change that took place within someone, but we can both see and hear the fruit of that change. Yes, like Jesus said, we cannot physically tell where this change came from or where it is taking us (i.e. We cannot see how the Holy Spirit entered someone and our ultimate destination in heaven). Amen?
But Jesus was specifically talking about being “born of the Spirit,” right? So, we are seeing the Holy Spirit being compared to the wind that blows where it wishes. Therefore, just as the wind blows where it wishes, the Holy Spirit blows where He wishes. In other words, this means that He does things according to how He wills to do them—dispersing His gifts and graces as He wills.
But the fact that the Holy Spirit is described as “wind” in the Scriptures, teaches us more than just He’s going to do what He wants to do. We can learn how He leads us in what He wills to do.
THE SOUND FROM HEAVEN
Interestingly enough, when we look at Matthew 4:1 where Jesus was being led by the Spirit to go into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, the word “led” there also is used to describe “setting sail.” Yes, this word was used to describe how navigators would launch out to sea by setting sail.
You see, when you are sailing you don’t just set your sails how you want to, you let the direction of the wind dictate how you arrange your sails. Likewise, we shouldn’t try and “set” everything in our life; we should let the “wind” (the Holy Spirit) dictate how we arrange everything. It is pointless to work against Him. Therefore, “the wind” can refer to “His will.”
Now the fact is, like it is possible to sail against the wind, it is possible for a believer to go against the Holy Spirit’s leading. And the truth is, the majority of Christians have done this more often than we have not. Like it was with Saul of Tarsus, in his zeal for what he thought was the will of God, he “kicked against the goads,” persecuting God’s church. And while that is an extreme example of going against the will of God, it shows us how we can, as Bob Seager sang, go “against the wind”—kicking against the direction the Holy Spirit is trying to take us.
But again, there is cooperation needed on our part! Our sails must be set to catch the wind and to be led into His plan and purpose for our lives. So, how do we do that? Well, let’s look at a couple of Scriptures that teach us how to “set our sails.”
Now the first example shows us the necessity of actually having a sail to set before we ever learn how to set it. This is found in Second Timothy 3:16-17 where the apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The words “thoroughly equipped” in verse 17 come from a word used to describe a boat that was “completely outfitted” with all of the bells and whistles that would “totally equip” that boat for sailing to its destination. So, what are we seeing here? That it’s the Word of God—in fact, all of the Scriptures—that thoroughly equip us with the sails needed (among other things) to get to the other side. Hallelujah! Jesus said that His words were spirit and life (John 6:63). Therefore, in order to be equipped with the sails that will catch the wind of the Spirit, we need to be in the Word of God—studying to show ourselves approved and meditating on His sayings both day and night.
Now we will come back to these verses in Second Timothy in a moment, but let’s look at another verse that teaches us how we set our sails to catch “the Holy Wind”—and it sheds light on the example we just saw of the importance of God’s Word.
In Second Peter 1:20-21, the apostle Peter gives us insight into how the Scriptures were God breathed. It says, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
You see, these holy men wrote the things that they wrote because the Holy Spirit was “moving” them to write them. And don’t be mistaken here: This does not mean that He was directing them, dictating to them what to write. No, He was simply blowing into their sails and “inspiring” the things that they wrote.
But my point is that this Holy Spirit “moving” that the apostle Peter described is similar to how wind will carry things. Therefore, we see the truth of “setting the sail” used again, and we can learn that if our intentions are to glorify God and to love and bless others, then we can trust that the Holy Spirit will move us into His perfect plan for us!
For example, we see this same word being used in the account of Jesus’ burial, how the man we just talked about—Nicodemus—was “led”. In John 19:39, it says, “And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.” Yes, the word “bringing” there is the same word that Peter used to describe how holy men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the things they did. Now it might seem like Nicodemus is just choosing to do this, but I want you to see that just as those who penned Books of the Bible, Nicodemus was being moved by the Holy Spirit to honor Jesus at His burial. In both examples, there were no fireworks and spectacular manifestations, but they were being moved by the Holy Spirit simply because their sails were set. Amen.
Now as we talk about this wind of the Spirit, it is important that we correctly understand where this wind comes from: You see, when you study the word “Spirit” in the New Testament, you find that the Greek word used (Greek pneuma) also means “breath.” So, the wind is not necessarily something like we see caused by nature; the wind of God is what comes from His mouth.
Let’s go back in Acts 2:2 and camp on this truth for a moment:
Notice in this verse that the sound of this rushing mighty wind preceded the manifestation of the wind itself. You see, I believe it’s important for us to hear the Holy Spirit before we can feel Him. We could say it this way, “In order to feel the rushing mighty wind, we must first hear the soft, gentle breeze.”
What this means is that hearing what comes out of God’s mouth is key to experiencing His presence and power! This is why we harp on God’s Word at our church—because we believe God’s Word and His Spirit agree. And when I say, “God’s Word,” of course, I am talking about the Holy Scriptures and what He has said on these pages, but I am also referring to the now, on-time, rhema words from God that are alive and powerful.
And I’ll tell you—there are still these sounds coming from heaven today that if we will just listen, we can hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in this hour.
And I believe what the Holy Spirit is saying today is this— “The hour is coming and now is, when old things are passing away and all things are becoming new. There is a paradigm shift in the spirit, and you will know it. The crooked places are being made straight and the valleys are again being filled with the abundance of rain. The mountains are being removed and the places laid in waste will have streams of living water flowing in them again. Yes, I will bring these times of refreshing, says the Lord, and the people, my people, will delight themselves in the abundance of My pleasures. Their hearts will be one with Mine, and I will be released into their deserted places, restoring all that the enemy has scattered. Have I not said, You will know it? For you surely will know it when I bring all these things to pass. My kingdom come, and My will be done in this earth as it is in heaven. Saith the Lord of hosts, the God of peace.”
FILLED WITH FIRE
And then in the remainder of Acts 2:2, we see how this rushing mighty wind “…filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Did you know that this is exactly what the Holy Spirit thrives on—filling people and things. He doesn’t like partially inhabiting stuff; He wants to fill them up to where there is no room for anything else.
You see, the Holy Spirit is jealous for us (in a good way). He wants all of us: In James 4:5, the Word of God says, “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?”
Now the language here is very impacting when you understand what James was saying: First of all, notice that he describes the Spirit as “dwelling” in us. This word describes someone “residing” or “inhabiting” somewhere permanently. We would say that they are “living in their home.” And the implication in this is that the Holy Spirit is not just living there, but He is filling the house. Then the word “yearns” describes how someone would “greatly desire or long for” someone else because of their heart for them. And, finally, the word “jealously” is the common word used for “envy”—which is always (except for this one time) used to describe a work of the flesh, not a work of the Spirit. So, is the Holy Spirit violating His very nature here? Heavens, no! This simply describes His heart of love for each of us, and His unwillingness to share us with anyone or anything else. Yes, the Holy Spirit greatly desires, longs for, and yearns for you and I! And why? It is because His personality and emotional makeup is to have fellowship with you, and you with Him, that is not unfaithful in the least!
Now I am not sure where the specific Scripture reference that James is referring to here is located but I do know that there are a lot of references in the Old Testament to the Lord’s desire for his people to be faithful and not “play the harlot.” So, there are certainly a lot of examples that we can draw from in the Old Testament that describe the Lord’s desire to have this kind of “unadulterated” relationship with His people. Not to mention, this statement is preceded by verse 4 that calls us “Adulteresses” if we make ourselves friends with the world. That is because we are “married” to God and when we try and have a relationship with our ex-husband, the world, we are being unfaithful to our current mate. The Holy Spirit represents that current mate here and the Word says that He “yearns jealousy.”
Therefore, a paraphrase I like to use of this verse is as follows: “The Spirit that has come to settle down, make His home and permanently fill us, is bent with an all-consuming, ever-growing, excessive, passionate desire to possess us totally, and is envious and filled with jealousy toward anything or anyone who tries to take His place.”
Ephesians 4:30 portrays something similar: It says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The word “grieve” is the Greek word lupete and is most commonly translated to be sad or sorrowful. I have heard that it is used to denote the emotions of a betrayed spouse, such as, being hurt, wounded, betrayed, misled, lied to, and abused. He is our spouse and partner and He hurts when we are unfaithful to Him.
So, the Holy Spirit’s infilling means much more than a one-time experience; this is an all-consuming experience to where the Holy Spirit is allowed in every room in our house and He is fully embraced.
Then notice what is said next in Acts 2:3: We are told— “Then there appeared on them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” This means that while the Holy Spirit sounded and perhaps even felt like a rushing mighty wind, he visually manifested in that upper room in the form that looked like fiery physical tongues. It is rather obvious to me that they were grasping to describe this supernatural experience and were using the best examples they could think of to describe what they saw on that day.
So, it was as if the disciples who were in that upper room on that day were the candles (i.e. candlesticks, lampstands, etc.) and the Holy Spirit was that flame on the wick. Which should teach us how important we are in this equation. You see, if there is nothing to burn, a fire does no good and will cease. So, just as we need the fire to burn bright, the fire (i.e. the Holy Spirit) needs the church to burn bright through. Amen? Saints, we need to understand just how valuable we are to the Lord: While we certainly need Him (There’s no questioning that!), He needs us too.
This is why He has done everything He has done for us by His grace. Sure, He did it because He loves us, but He has covenanted Himself with us because He desires to work together with us. This is how much He respects us as well as loves us. Therefore, He made His Church “golden candlesticks” (see Revelation 1:20). No, we are not dollar store candles here; we are the richest of the rich, the swankiest of the swanky; yes, we are the top shelf GOLDEN lampstands. So, you ought to remind yourself of this— You’re golden!
But my point is that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit looked like little flames of fire. And the Holy Spirit appearing to be like fire in Acts 2:2 should not be foreign to us—for can you recall what John the Baptist said in Luke 3:16-17, in speaking of Jesus? In this passage he said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So, what accompanies the Holy Spirit when we are baptized is also a baptism into fire. And in the next verse he explains what this fire’s purpose is— “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” This describes to us what this baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire does in our lives. This “fire” of the Holy Ghost will burn away the sin and everything else that doesn’t need to be there. We see that God is called an “all-consuming fire” in Hebrews 12:29 and this is one of the many benefits of fire—to burn things, particularly things that need to be burned up.
Do you remember when the Bible says that God sat on the mountain after the Exodus, and that “the mountain melted like wax at the presence of the Lord”? This is found in the 97th Psalm, which says, “The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.” (Psalm 97:1-6).
In fact, we see this in Exodus chapter 19 when the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai—the Bible says that mountain began to smoke because of the fire of the Lord that sat upon it (see verse 18).
So, in this example, when God sits on the mountain, the natural could not stand the supernatural. Likewise, when God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, sits upon you, those carnal things that are contrary to Him will melt away at the presence of the Lord. All impurities are burned out of us through His fiery presence. Amen!
You see, fire changes everything it encounters. Nothing goes away from fire unchanged. Either is it consumed or purified. But nothing goes away from fire unchanged. Likewise, having the Holy Spirit will change us, and the more we allow Him to burn in our hearts, the less the things that are carnal and sinful will be allowed to remain in us. Church, the Holy Spirit is a purifier! It has the power to take the hidden impurities that are in precious gold and cause it to rise to the surface that it may be removed once and for all. But we must ask ourselves the question, “Am I letting the Lord reign in every area of my life?” We must invite Him in, deeper and deeper into our lives. We can do this directly, and we can also do this indirectly through praising and worshipping Him, as He inhabits the praises of His people (see Psalm 22:3). His reigning in my life pushes out all that doesn’t belong—sin, disease, sickness, lack, etc.
On that note, we hear many in the church today preaching that the fire that tries us are the trials and tribulations that come into our lives. And while there is some truth to that, I submit to you that the best way to be refined is through the indwelling presence of the FIRE Himself! Yes, the Holy Ghost—like fire—works in us like a consuming fire, burning up all the chaff in our life. Amen.
So, as we’ve seen, we have already been made golden, but the fire of the Holy Spirit can make that gold purer & more precious. And hopefully this is all of our desire—to have the Holy Spirit refine us and make us more into a living reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ in our choices, behavior and life in general. Amen? And one of the ways we can keep this fire burning brightly is by praying in the Spirit, which edifies or builds us up in the Spirit (see First Corinthians 14:4 and Jude, verse 20).
AND NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE
And finally, we get to verse 4, which gives us the end result of this Day of Pentecost— “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Notice, first of all, that they were all filled. No, not one of them was left unfulfilled, but all were filled with the Holy Spirit. And guess what came with being filled with the Spirit—something came out of their mouth! They began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance!
Now we come full circle back to what we covered earlier—the Tower of Babel. If you recall, this people who spoke one, common language aspired to build this tower that reached to the heavens. You could say that they aspired to build an “upper room” to this tower. And one of the indicators of their unity of purpose was that they all spoke the same language. So, the Lord had to confuse their languages in order to keep all these things possible to them.
Well, I see a parallel here in Acts chapter two—that they were inhabiting this upper room in one accord, and in doing so, God gave them one language! Amen! Why? So that nothing will be withheld from us! Yes now, all things are possible to those who gather like this! Amen!
Friends, what we see in Acts 2:1-4 is Psalm 133 fulfilled! When they gathered together in that upper room in one accord, the Holy Spirit—the anointing Himself—came upon each one of this royal priesthood and took ordinary men and women and made them extraordinary! That oil was poured out on them and was mixed with those tongues of fire and they became the light of the world. Hallelujah! They became that golden lampstand filled with oil and with fire at the wick to burn bright in this dark and perverse generation. But how did it all start? As they were in one place and in one accord! Lord, may these lamps burn bright for your glory! May these churches be golden lampstands in this community! May we be the lights of our community even to the ends of the earth! Amen!
So today, we are continuing our look “in the Mirror” where we are beholding, not our identity after the flesh, but our true spiritual identity. That’s right: we are looking in the mirror of God’s Word and seeing what we look like in Christ.
We have seen in this series where Paul said as we behold the truths of this New and Better Covenant, that we are changed into the same image from glory to glory (Second Corinthians 3:18). That means that just as Moses was physically affected when He beheld God on Mount Sinai when He gave the law to Him, we too will be affected by the glory of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. But it’s going to take us climbing this mount and spending time in the presence of God like Moses did, letting Him speak these truths to our hearts and revealing to us who this mirror says that we are! Glory!
So, let’s quickly recap what we’ve seen in the mirror thus far. You have learned that:
1.I Am Loved – This is the filter everything is to be viewed through – the filter of God’s love for us. I also made the point that since we are referred to as the Lord’s “Beloved” many times throughout the New Testament, then that means that not only are we loved by Him, but we “Be-Loved” by Him.
2.I Am His New Creation – Not only can we see that we are loved by God when we look in this mirror, but we can see that we are God’s own work of art, His masterpiece, and His new creation! This means that we are absolutely special, having His treasure placed in these earthen vessels!
3.I Am Chosen – This led us to another part of our spiritual identity—that we are chosen. We learned that in Christ Jesus we have actually been chosen, selected, and predestined. And one of our biggest takeaways is what we were chosen & predestined unto—and Paul says that is to be adopted.
4.I Am Holy – A couple of weeks ago, we delved into the truth that we are also “holy.” And we learned that being holy does not just describe some state of perfection; it can actually mean that we are special, precious and different to God. We saw one of the predominant ways that God sees us by looking at how He refers to us—and we saw that over 50 times in the Epistles of the New Testament, we are called “saints.” Now we learned that “saints” describes “holy ones,” and is the same word used to describe things like the “Holy” Scriptures, the “Holy” Spirit, and the “Holy One,” Jesus Christ Himself. We also made the point that there is a difference between our “who” and our “do.” Yes, we need to be holy in all our conduct! Yes, we ought to live holy lifestyles! But what we need to avoid is basing our holiness on our actions. We are not holy because of what we do; we are holy because of what Christ has done.
5.I Am Righteous – Then last week, we discovered that in Christ not only are we holy; we are also righteous. We looked at several verses in the New Testament and saw that while righteousness is certainly not anything that we can acquire on our own—for there is none righteous, no not one, and all of our righteousness is as filthy rags—there is a righteousness that we can be made strictly by the grace of God. So, we looked over at Romans chapter 3 and saw how the apostle Paul beautifully explained this, and we also saw from Second Corinthians 5:21 how God accomplished this in our lives.
But one of our biggest takeaways from last week’s message is that in order for us to walk in this new spiritual identity of, for example, true righteousness and holiness, we must strip ourselves of that old identity associated with the old man, be renewed in our attitude and mentality, and put on the identity of our new man. Amen!
We looked at Ephesians chapter 4 to explain this, and we learned first that we must be taught these things by Christ Himself (see Verses 20-21). That means that we must learn these things from the Holy Spirit Himself and not just from another man or woman. Sure, God gives us good, anointed teaching, but that is not how we receive revelation. These things are revealed to us by our Father in heaven, as Jesus said to Peter. So, what this means is that we are going to go before the Lord and have Him show us these truths so that when you and I look in the mirror, we are able to say, “You are in Christ, and are a Son of the Living God!” Church, flesh and blood cannot reveal these truths to us; only the Holy Spirit can!
And we specifically saw that what Christ is teaching us is “the truth (that) is in Jesus.” Not the truth that is in us; the truth that is in Jesus. And guess who is “in Jesus”? We are! Everyone of us who is born again is in Christ Jesus! Therefore, everything we are “in Him” is the truth, not who we are “in ourselves.” Saints, the truth is not what you see today; the truth is what God sees today! Glory!
So, as we learned, after we first strip ourselves of our old identity by removing ourselves from it as far as we can, and after we have the spirit of our minds renewed (i.e. change the way we think and our attitude), then we can put on the new man.
And, glory to God, we learned what this brand “new man” looks like: First of all, he is “created according to God.” We saw that this phrase “according to God” literally denotes “according to what God is in Himself.” The NIV translates this phrase, “created to be like God.” The TEV translates it, “created in God’s likeness.” Which echoes what God said in Genesis 1:26 when He created Adam in His image and according to His likeness. So, we learned that this means that God’s image and likeness, which we lost in the first Adam, has been restored by the last Adam, Jesus! Glory!
And the wonderful news about this new man we have on the inside of these bodies is that the image and likeness it is created in is “true righteousness and holiness.” Therefore, we can look into this spiritual mirror and truthfully say, “I am holy, and I am righteous!”
WHAT CHRIST JESUS BECAME FOR US
So, this week, I want us to move into something else that we see when we look into this mirror: I want us to see today that we are redeemed, delivered, and free in Christ Jesus!
Let’s begin in First Corinthians 1:30: After the apostle Paul explains that not many wise, mighty, and noble (according to the flesh) are called—because God has chosen the weak things of this world to show His glory—after this, he makes this statement, describing what God did for those He’s called. He says, “But of Him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
This verse contains a lot of things that Christ already became for us, amen? He became for us (When? Through His crucifixion and resurrection) wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Jesus already, through His resurrection, became wisdom for us! I believe that means that Jesus was the manifest wisdom of God in how He made the provision for our sin, but I also believe this means we already have wisdom put to our account! But notice that God, in His wisdom, has done the following things for us in Christ Jesus …
You see, Jesus “became” these things for us, not “will become” them for us. So, regarding the final term Paul used, “redemption,” He has redeemed us—not is in the process of redeeming us or will someday redeem us. No, this is something that has already been done! Christ already has redeemed us.
You know, there are some things that we are praying for God to do that He has already done. So many Christians are pleading with God to please do this or please do that- saying things like, “God, would you heal them?” Well, what do the Scriptures say?
Well, the Scriptures say explicitly, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:17) and “by His stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) So what these Scriptures (amongst others) show us is that Jesus already paid the price for all of our weaknesses and sicknesses just over 2,000 years ago.
When did He do this? When did He take our infirmities and bare our sicknesses? Well, the Scriptures teach us that it was at the same time that He Himself took our sins. So, this implies that it was on the Cross! Amen!
So why do we ask the Lord to heal us today? This is implying that we don’t already believe what He said He has already done. Amen?
You see, we need to adopt this mentality in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ that if God’s Word says it, it is so. We don’t care what we see, what we hear, what we feel or what we’ve experienced! No, if God’s Word says He has already done something for us, then I don’t care what you have or currently are experiencing! That’s when we should choose to believe that He has already taken care of it and then begin to act like it’s already so.
Saints, this is how we receive from God… In many Old Testament examples, God would tell the children of Israel that He had already given them the Promised Land, He had already given them the City of Jericho, He had already made Abraham the father of many nations, and the list goes on and on. Well, in the natural, it didn’t look like it, did it? No, in the natural, the giants were still in the land, the walls were still there, and Sarah was still barren! But faith is not moved by what it sees; faith is only moved by what it believes! And faith believes what God says is so! Amen! Therefore, as it is in this case of Galatians 3:13, it would be a good idea for us to, when we are reading our Bible, pay particular attention to the tenses being used.
Well, here the Apostle Paul says that Christ has already become wisdom from God, and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption! Amen!
Now before we look at these terms, let me quickly say that there are a lot of words we hear in church like these, that while we might be able to quote them, I fear that we do not truly understand what they all mean. Yes, we use these biblical words like “salvation, sanctification, forgiveness, justification etc.” but most believers do not see their true meaning. We need to know what these terms mean. Amen? So, let’s quickly look at these three …
First of all, the Holy Spirit through Paul said, Jesus became for us “righteousness!” That means we already have total right standing with God and complete justification with God! Of course, we covered this last week. Then Paul said that He became for us “sanctification!” That means that we already have been set apart and made holy through Christ! That’s, of course, what we looked at two weeks ago.
But notice this last term he used: Lastly, we see that Jesus became for us “redemption!” So, this week, let’s go into some detail about this word “redemption” …
WHAT IS REDEMPTION?
What does the Bible mean when it says that we are “redeemed?” Well, there are a couple of words that are used to define “redeem or redemption”—both of which are used to describe the payment of a price to purchase someone from slavery or the ransom paid to set free a slave who is in bondage. Other words that are used to describe “redemption” are “to buy back, to purchase, and to release.” In one of the words used for “redemption” we see the word “marketplace” contained in it, which is important.
So, when we combine together the various little & subtle words for “redemption,” the word-picture we get is of a slave—a slave in satan’s marketplace to where they are in his possession and under his dominion.
Now if that seems foreign to you, you need to understand what our plight is before we received Jesus. The Scriptures teach us that we were “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14)—not because of our own individual sins that we committed, but because of the sin of the First Adam. Romans 5:12 teaches us that through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Now certainly if we were to live our whole life with not one sin committed, there might be hope for us. But this is impossible—for we are all conceived in sin and guilty of sin from birth (Psalm 51:5).
Now many people are deceived into thinking that they will go to heaven one day because they have been a good person, haven’t done too many bad things, etc. Those people are way off base—for God does not grade on a curve and compare us to other people. Our standard is the perfect holiness and righteousness of God Himself, and this is what we will be judged by. Amen!
Therefore, every person hearing this was or is currently a slave to satan: You see, people need to understand that, unless they receive Christ—His sacrifice and His Lordship—they are serving satan. There is no, “Well, I haven’t decided yet about whether I’ll give my life to Christ or not.” There is no middle of the fence! You either receive and submit to Christ or you have, by default, submitted to sin. So, there is no indecision. Until you have decided to give your life over to the Lord, you have given your life over to sin. It’s that simple.
And any of you young people need to realize that God does not have any grandchildren. You are not automatically a Christian just because of the decision your parents have made; no, you become a Christian by your own personal decision to be born again and become a child of God yourself. Saints, there is only one mediator between God and man—the man, Jesus Christ! It’s not your parents!
So, everyone who is born in the flesh was sold under sin by Adam to satan and are a part of his slave market. And the only way to become free from that bondage is to be born again and become a child of God.
THE PRICE FOR OUR REDEMPTION
So, as we consider again the word “redemption,” we see that a price or a ransom was required to obtain our freedom. So, what was that price?
First Peter 1:18-19 says, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
So here we see that the price paid for our redemption was not the traditional form of currency, silver or gold. In other words, there is nothing of this corruptible world of enough value to pay the price to secure our redemption.
And this is worth noting here: There is nothing you can do to buy your freedom, deliverance, salvation and healing. I know there have been many traditions handed down in the church that we have to do this to be free, that we have to do that to be delivered, or that we have to do these seven things to walk in our redemption. But no, this Scripture says that corruptible things—that is, things of the flesh—cannot purchase our redemption. Only the “precious” blood of Christ (there’s that reference to the “King” again) can redeem us! The word “precious” describes something that is extremely “costly” and “valuable.” This is the price that was necessary to purchase our freedom! Amen!
Now is there anything more “costly” or “valuable” than the blood of the Lamb? Is there anything more expensive than the blood of the Son of God Himself? Absolutely not! Well, this is the price Yahweh paid to redeem you! So, what does that say about us?
You see, we’ve made this point already but it bears repeating here—if God paid the maximum price that could be paid to redeem you and I, then how valuable does that make us? That’s something to think about, isn’t it?
You see, God is the original Jew, is He not? And we know that as a general rule, Jewish people are pretty smart investors. So, do you think that God, who alone is wise, would pay a price that high for something that has significantly less value? I think not! No, if God were to pay so great a price for something or someone that has significantly less value, then that would be considered poor judgment. No, the poor judgment is not with God; the poor judgment is with us! What do I mean by that? I mean that we are the ones who do not see ourselves in the proper light and with the proper value. Saints, we must conclude that we must have at least equal value to God as His Only Begotten Son if that is the price He paid to redeem us. Amen!
Someone will say, “Well, I don’t think there is anything or anyone as precious and valuable as Jesus!” But didn’t Jesus pray in John 17:23 that the world would come to know that God loves us even as much as He loves Jesus. Amen! So, we are evidently extremely valuable to God!
Therefore, our only hope to be set free from this predicament was for the price or ransom to be paid on our behalf. Why? Because we didn’t have enough to pay it on our own! There was no amount of good works, good deeds or works of righteousness that we could do to be set free from the slave-market of satan and sin. No, the only price that could be paid to purchase our freedom was the blood of the perfect and just Son of God Himself—the precious blood of the Lamb! Amen!
Now First Corinthians 6:19 also elaborates on the end result of our redemption: It says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
So, if you have been redeemed by Christ—purchased and paid for by your King—then you are not your own anymore, right? In other words, your life is not your own anymore—you don’t determine what you do and when you do it, you don’t choose where you go and how you go there. And why? Verse 20 goes on to tell us— “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
So not only was my spirit bought, my body was bought. Now obviously this means that we are not going out and doing all kinds of immoral things spiritually and physically because we are God’s possession now. But it also can mean that, since our spirit and body are now God’s, does the devil have any right or power to afflict our spirits with sin or our body’s with sickness? Heaven, no!
OUR REDEMPTIVE STORY
So, these are things that have already happened: Christ has redeemed us! In Him we have redemption! These are not things that will happen for the born-again Christian one day; these are things that have already happened! Praise the Lord!
So, let’s now go over to Colossians 1:12-14 and see the full picture of our redemptive story:
So, after the apostle Paul prays one of His God-inspired prayers for the Colossian church, he seemingly begins to transition into some of the things that God has done for us in Christ Jesus. And in verse 12, he begins by saying, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
Now before we get into the verses that specifically pertain to our redemption, notice here that the apostle Paul says that in Christ we have been “qualified” to be partakers of an inheritance! I could preach on this for weeks, but let me just say that Christ is the redeemer, not us. He is the One who qualified us, not we ourselves. So, all of these awesome promises that revolve around our redemption are based on the fact that Christ is the redeemer and His blood is the price that was paid to redeem us. Therefore, we are now qualified!
In verse 13, the Apostle Paul said, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”
Notice how the past tense is used again. It is not that God is in the process of delivering us or God will deliver us someday off in the future; No, God has already delivered us! Therefore, when it comes to any area of our life where the kingdom of darkness is trying to maintain dominion over us, we do not need to ask God to deliver us. We need to exercise our faith in this Scripture and declare in the face of these negative situations— “I have been delivered!”
Now the word “delivered” literally means to be “rescued.” Second Peter 2:7 gives us a good example of what it means to be delivered when Peter speaks of righteous Lot being delivered from the oppressive conduct of the wicked in Sodom & Gomorrah. Now we know that this was an actual “rescuing” of Lot and his family from the judgment that was to come and from the temptations that surrounded them on a daily basis. Amen? And let’s recall why he was delivered—because he was righteous and his uncle Abraham interceded on his behalf to rescue the few righteous in that city from the wrath that was to come. Amen!
Notice the phrase that Paul went on to use in Colossians 1:13 describing what we have been delivered from— “from the power of darkness.”
The word “from” comes from the Greek word ek which literally means “out of.” The word “power” comes from the Greek exousia which would more accurately be translated “authority.” So, what we are talking about being delivered “out of” is the “authority of darkness.” So, what does this mean? This means that anything from the kingdom of darkness has no authority over us any longer. Now it did. Darkness did have authority over us as long as we were lost in the world and unregenerate. But when we were redeemed from that slave-market of darkness, we were also made free from his authority. So, guess what? Sin no longer has dominion over us! Satan no longer has any power or control over us! We have been rescued from his authority! Amen!
Oh, but again, we are rescued unto something and not just from something. Colossians 1:13 goes on to say, “and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” The reference to “the Son of His love” could simply be translated— “of His beloved Son.”
So, we are talking here about an address change! We no longer live under the authority of the kingdom of darkness! Now we have been “conveyed” into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, Jesus!
You see, it would have been mercy enough for us just to simply be rescued, but as First Peter 1:3 says, God showed us “abundant mercy.” How? By not only rescuing us from satan, sin and sickness, but by conveying us into His very own family through the new birth! Hallelujah! And how did all of this happen, according to First Peter 1:3? “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!” Amen!
Now the word “conveyed” literally describes “a relocation, to change places or to be transferred.” (KJV- “translated”) The Spirit Filled Life Bible says that it “refers to the deportation or transference of captured armies or populations from one country to another.”
So, at the moment we received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior we were transferred into His kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is right now in our midst—albeit in the spiritual realm (Luke 17:21), and positionally we are now in it! Even though we now live on this sin-cursed earth, Philippians 3:20 says that we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven right now as God’s children although we presently remain in this world! That’s good news, saints!
Now let’s look at verse 14 where Paul goes on to say, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Ephesians 1:7 echoes this verse when it says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”)
Now by beginning with the words “in whom” or “in Him,” we understand that Paul is referring to “in God’s beloved Son, Jesus.” So, in the Beloved Son of God “we have redemption”—again, echoing what Paul said in First Corinthians 1:30.
So, again, the word “redemption” literally describes the setting free of a slave by the payment of a ransom. So, when we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior we were set free from the dominion, the penalty, and the power of satan and sin. He has freed us from our slavery to sin and has restored to us the place of perfect liberty from the kingdom of darkness.
And Paul goes on to tell us what the ransom price was that was paid to purchase our liberty by saying, “through His blood.”
Again, Jesus’ precious blood was the ransom that was paid to purchase our redemption. It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats nor of anything or anyone else to purchase our redemption (Hebrews 10:4). It had to be the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19). Nothing else would have sufficed! It had to be perfect righteousness becoming all of our sin in order to pay our enormous sin debt. Glory to Jesus!
But now we learn something more about our redemption here: The apostle Paul describes our redemption as— “the forgiveness of sins.” In other words, what does our redemption look like? It looks like “forgiveness.” Amen!
The root word for “forgiveness” literally means “to send away.” It means to dismiss and send away—the complete releasing from bondage to a debt—with the added quality of totally cancelling any obligation and punishment, with no debt left to pay at all (also, “remission”). Amen!
That sounds a lot like the Year of Jubilee, doesn’t it! Why? Because to be forgiven—sent away and dismissed—was not something we had to pay for! Our debt was totally cancelled and nothing else is left to be paid! Praise God, Jesus is our Jubilee!
You see, for most people this celebration of “Jubilee” occurred only once in their lifetime, and for some not even that, as it only occurred once every 50 years. But, praise God, in Christ our Jubilee is once and for all of our lifetime! Also, on this year of Jubilee, all Israelites who had sold themselves into slavery were set free, and all land that had been sold reverted to its original owners. So, this describes bondage that they had placed themselves under! In other words, they deserved to be captive and under the dominion of another. But it didn’t matter! Even though they deserved their slavery, they got what they did not deserve—complete liberation and restoration! Amen!
And, praise be unto God, this is what our Savior provided for us—complete redemption and deliverance, not to be brought under another form of bondage, but to “send us away” into His glorious liberty! Amen!
Let me end today by giving you a few Scriptures that teach us this:
You guys know I love the Book of Galatians, right? Well, I believe the theme of this awesome epistle that expounds upon the grace of God is found in Galatians 5:1, which says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
The literal Greek rendering is slightly different in this verse. For example, this phrase was actually at the beginning of the sentence in the original language’s sentence structure. Therefore, some translations that recognize this say, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free … therefore, stand fast.”
Now regarding this phrase “for freedom,” the Greeks had a unique way of having a slave secure his freedom in their day. It was an emancipation performed by one of their supposed gods. So, the way this worked is that this slave would somehow save the money that was needed, but because he had no legal standing, he couldn’t pay it himself. So, his master would take the money, pay the appropriate amount to the temple treasury on the slave’s behalf. (Now here is the kicker…) Then there was an official document that was executed, bearing the words “for freedom” on it. Therefore, because the slave was now property of the gods that freed him, nobody had the legal right to enslave him again.
This is, in my opinion, what the apostle Paul was communicating to these Gentiles—an example they could certainly relate to. Saints, Christ paid the price on our behalf so that we could now be God’s property, and no one has the right to enslave us again. Glory!
But what this verse is teaching us is that while freedom and liberty have been purchased for us by Christ, we are going to have to fight for it! That is why Paul began by saying to “stand fast” in it. Church, we have to fight for our freedom in many cases because we have an enemy who will resiliently try and rob us of our spiritual rights in Christ Jesus. Amen?
Another powerful passage of Scriptures that echo this truth about our freedom is John 8:30-36:
In John 8:36, Jesus says, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Here is Trey’s translation: “So, if Jesus sets you free, you are really free!”
Now the context of this verse is of one being a slave of sin. So, Jesus was teaching this group of Jews who actually believed Him (not the ones who didn’t believe on Him, mind you) that if they abide in His Word, they will really be His disciples. That is when they will come to know the truth, and the truth will make them free.
So, the freedom Jesus is speaking of is freedom from the dominion of satan and sin. Therefore, Jesus is really talking about redemption, isn’t He? And what is awesome about this is Jesus didn’t just say we would be free; He said that we would be free indeed—that is, REALLY free!
Praise God, that means that we do not have to be in bondage to any of the works of the devil! I am, you are, WE are really set free from sin and its wages, which is death! That means we are set free from the devil’s devices and the penalty of yielding to him. He cannot make me sin! He cannot make me sick! He cannot make me broke! He cannot oppress, depress, or have dominion over me in any way!
Now he certainly can if we let Him. He will do everything he can to bring us into bondage by tempting us at every turn. So, if we do not know this—that we have been redeemed and set free—then he will capitalize on our ignorance.
This is why Jesus said that the key to walking in this freedom is walking in the Word—that is, abiding and continuing in the truth of His Word. Glory!
Church, this is the mirror that reveals to us this freedom we learned about today! It is what shows us what Christ has done for us! And we must continue in it—constantly beholding its truths. This is how we will experience true freedom and liberty. Amen and amen!
Glory to God, saints; if the Holy Spirit lives in us, then freedom lives in us—for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (See 2 Corinthians 3:17)!
Brothers and sisters, you have heard the Gospel here today! This is the good news of your redemption! And my prayer for everyone here who is born again and who know that you are today a citizen of heaven is that you will have a revelation that you are freed from the dominion of satan, sin, and sickness, that you have been delivered and that you have been set free.
So, let’s continue our look “In the Mirror” today and find out what else we look like. And when I say we are looking “in the mirror,” we are not talking about a physical mirror. Of course, the world likes to identify us by how we look on the outside, but the Word is what shows us our true spiritual identity on the inside. So, that is the mirror we are looking in—the mirror of God’s Word.
And I cannot stress enough the importance of us discovering who we are in Christ—for when we do not understand who we really are, we fall prey to that roaring lion who constantly is trying to devour us. However, when we are established in our spiritual identity, he is going to have a much more difficult time stealing, killing, and destroying our lives—because we know who we are and whose we are. Amen!
We have based this series on a passage of Scripture that is used to describe who we are in Christ Jesus--Second Corinthians 3:18–which I believe accurately “reflects” what happens when we look in the mirror of this New and Better Covenant. In it, the apostle Paul says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
So, this verse teaches us that as “we all”—that is, every born-again believer who is now found in Christ—behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord—which we have learned is the mirror of God’s new covenant which exceeds much more in glory than that of the old covenant… When we behold it with this unveiled face, we are being constantly transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Living God! So, what that means is that when we look into this New Testament and behold it without the veil, it will change us from the inside to the outside. In other words, our outward man will begin to reflect the condition of the inward man. Amen!
So, let’s quickly recap what we’ve seen in the mirror already:
At the beginning of this series, we talked about how even the Lord Jesus Himself had to grow in His spiritual identity. We verified this by looking in the first couple of chapters of Luke’s Gospel and we learned that Jesus grew up in the wisdom, strength, and favor of His Father. If you missed that one, you need to get ahold of it!
Then we moved into the specifics of who this New Covenant teaches us that we are: Several weeks ago, we began looking into this mirror by looking at the filter everything is to be viewed through—love. And I made the point that I believe the first thing you and I need to see when we look into this mirror is that WE ARE LOVED! In fact, I made the point that since we are called the Lord’s Beloved many times through the New Testament’s Holy Spirit inspired pages, then that means that not only are we loved by Him, but we “Be-Loved” by Him.
But not only can we see that we are loved by God when we look in this mirror, we can also see that we are His new creation. And this is what we learned next—that we are God’s own work of art, His masterpiece, and His new creation! This means that we are absolutely special, having His treasure placed in these earthen vessels!
This led us to another part of our spiritual identity that we would do good to look at in the mirror of God’s Word: Not only are we loved, not only are we His masterpiece, but we are also chosen: We looked at a number of Scriptures a couple of weeks ago, and we learned that in Christ Jesus we have actually been chosen, selected, and predestined. So, we learned that God “chose” all of us. How? In Him! So, you see, God the Father chose His Son Jesus, but by us choosing to be “in Him,” we are chosen as well.
So, again, all of us who have received the Lord Jesus Christ are “chosen” by God—not because we in ourselves are holy and without blame before Him, but to become holy and without blame before Him (See Ephesians 1:4). But one of our biggest takeaways from this verse is what we were chosen & predestined unto—and Paul says in Ephesians 1:5 that it was “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”! We learned that adoption is actually one of the greatest acts of love that one could perform—because for a couple to adopt a child means that they specifically chose that child—meaning they picked out exactly which child they wanted. Now that, my friends, is love!
And we learned that Jesus Himself was that precious, chosen stone from First Peter 2:4-10, but in the same passage of Scriptures, we saw that we also are living stones. Therefore, we are precious, valuable and “chosen” as Jesus was and is. Therefore, looking in this mirror, we see that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Amen!
Then last week, we looked into this mirror and saw that we are also “holy,” which might seem to be a hard “gos-pill” to swallow, but it’s true!
We learned that being holiness is in the eye of the beholder. Just like something holds the value of what someone else is willing to pay for it, likewise, we are holy unto the Lord because He esteems us as holy to Himself. So, we saw last week that being holy does not just describe some state of perfection; it can actually mean that we are special, precious and different to God.
I used a couple of examples to illustrate this: One was of the “Holy Bible,” and while it’s certainly perfect and infallible, it is also called “holy” because it is special and different from any other book on the planet. So, it is “holy” in that it is a special and precious Book while also being perfect and without error. But we looked at another example in First Thessalonians 5:26 where Paul said to greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. A holy kiss would obviously be both a pure and a different kind of kiss—meaning, it’s not like other kisses out there, while at the same time being void of any impure motives.
So, we learned that just like we have a “Holy Bible” and “holy kisses”—which are precious and pure things—God’s church is said to be holy and without blame before Him in love. That means that He views us, spiritually speaking, as “infallible, without error, precious and prized.” Yes, we are different, His own peculiar treasure, that is passionately loved by our Creator!
And again, we saw how verses like Ephesians 1:4 say that we are holy and without blame before Him: You see, we might have a different opinion of ourselves and others might have different opinion of us, but it’s not anyone else’s opinion that is important; it is God’s opinion that truly matters.
So, last week, we saw one of the predominant ways that God sees us by looking at how He refers to us. And we saw that over 50 times in the Epistles of the New Testament, we are called “saints.”
Now we learned that the way that we generally use the term “saints” today is to either refer to old Christians or dead ones. But the Bible doesn’t share these same sentiments. When you look at these 50-plus verses that use the word “saints” you will see that they all refer to every born-again believer. So, someone might then gravitate towards watering down the meaning of the word “saint” when they see it refers to every Christian, but it does essentially mean what we have believed it to mean. It comes from the Greek word hagios which literally means “holy ones.” And we learned that this word hagios is the very same word used to describe God’s “holy” law (See Romans 7:12), the “holy” apostles and prophets (See Ephesians 3:5), the “Holy” Scriptures (See Romans 1:2), the “Holy” Spirit (Romans 5:5), the “Holy One,” Jesus Christ Himself (See First John 2:20 & Revelation 3:7), and, yes, the Lord God Almighty Himself who has the hosts of heaven constantly declaring that He is “Holy, holy, holy!” So, do you know what that means? It means if we are His holy ones, then we are in the same boat with the rest of these other Most Holy things! So, as Romans 11:16 says, “if the root is holy, then so are the branches.”
Now we made the point that there is a difference between our “who” and our “do.” Yes, we need to be holy in all our conduct! Yes, we ought to live holy lifestyles! But what we need to avoid is basing our holiness on our actions. We are not holy because of what we do; we are holy because of what Christ has done.
So, we looked over at Colossians chapter one and learned that not only did Christ make us holy, but He also made us blameless and above reproach in the sight of God! Again, in His sight; not other people’s sight or our own, but God’s.
We also learned that the word “blameless” refers to being “faultless & without blemish”—like the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were to be without blemish. In fact, we saw how this word “blameless” is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:19 to describe Jesus as the Lamb “without blemish” and without spot. Therefore, we have been presented to the Father like pure and spotless lambs because we are in the Lamb of God who is pure and spotless! That means we have no spots, no wrinkles, and are presented that way to our Holy Husband (Compare with Ephesians 5:26-27).
Then we saw how the next words— “above reproach”—literally mean “not called in” (i.e. “not called to account”). This phrase describes being totally free from any charge being on our account. You see, not only are we made without blemish, but all the charges that were previously on our account have been washed away in the blood of Christ! Glory!
And we saw that all of this is contingent upon us continuing in the faith when Paul went on to say in verse 23— “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard…”
We saw that “the faith” being referred to here is the faith of Jesus Christ, our new and better covenant. So, we saw that as James 1:22-25 teaches us, continuing in the Word is how we will begin to see these truths reflected in our lives. Therefore, church, we must set these truths ever before us and proclaim them in the face of all temptations to believe otherwise. So, when our flesh, our own heart, or the devil tries to tell us that we are impure, unclean, or not special, it is then that we need to proclaim that we are “Holy!” When our mind or the enemy tries to tell us that we are to be blamed, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “blameless.” When any of these things try to bring an accusation of something we may have done, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “without reproach.” Yes, it is when we look in the mirror and declare “It is written, It is written, It is written” that we will begin to experience the fruit of who are in the spirit.
Amen. So, we are certainly holy in Christ Jesus, and I want us to now turn in our Bibles over to Ephesians chapter 4 because I believe these verses reflect these truths and lead us into what the Lord has for us today …
THE IMAGE OF THE NEW MAN
In Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul says– “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Now just before these verses, in verses 20-21, notice how Paul told them, “but you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…” So, in these verses, Paul is assuming that the Lord has been teaching them through their fellowship with the Holy Spirit. And what was Paul supposing they had been taught by Him? That is what he goes on to say, beginning in verses 22-24. So, what this shows me is that this is one of the main things that Christ is going to teach us—putting off the old man, renewing our minds, and putting on the new man.
But notice how the apostle Paul includes in verse 21 the phrase that says, “as the truth is in Jesus.” This is an important part of the context, as we will learn momentarily. But let me add here that the truth is in Jesus; it is not in the flesh or in ourselves. Yes, the truth of who we are is found only in Christ Jesus!
You see, because of their carnality, most people only think what we can feel, what we can see, what we hear, etc. is the truth. But that is not what is “true” according to the Holy Spirit. Here, He inspired the apostle to write that the truth is “in Jesus.” In other words, who we are in the spirit is the truth, not who we are in the flesh. In other words, if this mirror tells me that, in Christ, I am righteous, holy, loved, blessed, etc. then, bless God, that is the truth—for the truth is in Christ, not in this physical, natural world. The truth is not what you see today; the truth is what God sees today! And that is exactly what Paul goes on to describe in the following verse …
So, let’s move on to Ephesians 4:22-24 and take a look at three short verses that comprise what we are learning from Christ Jesus …
In verse 22, the apostle Paul starts off by talking about what we need to “put off.” Now I think it is interesting how Paul consistently started off his teachings on “putting on” and “putting off” with the “putting off” part. For example, in Romans 12:2, before he said for them to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, he exhorted them to not be conformed to the world. And in both these verses in Ephesians chapter four and Colossians chapter three, he exhorts them to “put off” these worldly behaviors before he told them to “put on” the godly virtues. (i.e. Why repentance was first!)
Now the words “put off” come from the Greek word apotithemi which means “to put aside” or “to place away” (like clothing). But notice that it is not God who takes these things off of us; we are the ones that take them off. And as we know, clothes just don’t just fall off of us. Therefore, this process is up to us and that means that it will take some effort and determination.
But when it comes to this putting off of the old man, let’s not just look at this putting away of the former conduct of our old man as us simply changing our actions. Let’s look at it from the perspective of putting off our former identity—for the things we do in the flesh first come through the mind (i.e. a mindset, mentality, etc.).
You see, we understand from other New Testament verses that the old man has been crucified and done away with (see Romans 6:6, Colossians 3:9, Galatians 2:20 & 5:24). So, we are not trying to crucify the old man! He was crucified with Christ! When we entered into Christ our old man died! Our job now is to strip ourselves of the old habits and tendencies left in our flesh by the old sin nature. In essence, Paul is saying, “Don’t keep living as if that old man is still alive!”
You see, it’s a new mentality Paul is telling us to adopt. We are not that old man anymore! He’s dead, being crucified with Christ! We are a brand-new man! Which leads me to verse 24:
After telling us in verse 23 to be renewed in the spirit of our mind—which I believe to be our attitude, Paul tells us to then “…put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Now by beginning verse 24 by saying, “and that you,” Paul is reiterating that just as it is our responsibility to “put off” the old man, it is our responsibility to “put on” the new man. The words “put on” come from the Greek word enduo which mean to clothe or dress. You see, God gives us the clothing, but it is our job to “put on” what He has put in our possession. And the gospel I wish to share with you today is what Paul says are the garments God has put in our spiritual closet …
Notice that we are exhorted to put on this new man “which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.” Now I want us to take some time this week breaking down this part of verse 24 …
First of all, notice how Paul describes this new man as that “which was created according to God…”
The phrase “according to God” literally denotes “according to what God is in Himself.” The NIV translates this phrase, “created to be like God.” The TEV translates it, “created in God’s likeness.”
So, we can see from this phrase that the new man was created in the image and likeness of God just as Adam was originally created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). So do you know what this means!?! It means that God’s image and likeness, which we lost in the first Adam, has been restored by the last Adam, Jesus!
Let’s look back at these verses in God’s original creation because I believe they reveal to us what has now transpired in our born-again spirit:
In Genesis 1:20-25, we are told that God made all of the animal creation “according to their own kind.” In other words, they were created to reproduce after their own kind (i.e. in their own image and likeness), but what He did for us was much better! He did not create us to reproduce after our own kind; He created us to reproduce after His own kind! Let’s now look at verse 26: Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
You see, with every other living creature that He created, He said that they would reproduce after their own kind. But with us, He said that we were to be made in His own likeness and image! In other words, we were to reproduce after His own kind! Verily, verily I say unto you we have truly been crowned with glory and honor!
Notice that God said, “Let Us” … This is the first reference we have to the Trinity in the Word of God, where God counsels among Himself that He would create man in their image and according to their likeness. I believe that this is why we find that we are created as a tri-fold being as well. As we have seen, First Thessalonians 5:23 says that our whole person is comprised of three parts—spirit, soul, and body. So we are, in essence, a “trinity” as well.
Let’s look over at Genesis 2:7… In this passage, we are told that God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. You see, just as God is a Trinity, He created us as three-part beings—spirit, soul, and body—and in Genesis 2:7 we have the description of how this worked…
And although God is concerned with all three parts of us and has provided salvation for all three parts (one part takes place immediately when we are born again and others will come when He returns), our spirit—our core and central part of life—is what is the most important… Notice that He breathed into man the breath of life through His nostrils. This is what Jesus did in John 20:22 when He breathed on His disciples. You see, just as the old creation began with the breath of God, so the new creation began with the breath of God as well. And the awesome thing is that God’s Word is God-breathed! And does the Word of God not say that we are born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever?
So, what does it mean that we are created in His “image”? This is a reference to how we look. God, in His infinite love for us, created us to look just like Him. So, when we look around us, we need to understand that we are looking at God! Each one of us, bear the mark of Yahweh. But too often, we look at ourselves and are dissatisfied with how we look saying things like, “I don’t like my hair, I don’t like my hair color, or my ears are too big.” This should not be so. We should value the way that God made us because each of our unique physical characteristics are a reflection of God Almighty Himself and, He made us like He saw fit to make us. We should respect and honor how He made us and not demean the way He created us.
So, what does it mean that we are created in His “likeness”? This is a reference to how we are like God or are compared to Him. In other words, Adam and Eve were not just like Him in physical appearance; they were created like Him in His nature, characteristics, and actions. This is why the device that the serpent used to tempt them was so ridiculous. He said that if they ate the forbidden fruit that they would be like God. Well, the truth was: they already were like God! But, you see, my brothers and sisters, Satan still uses this tactic today: He will tempt us to think that we need to be something that we already are: to chase our own tails, if you would.
But as we well know, this temptation worked. Eve ate of the fruit to be like God and the image and likeness that they were created in was partly ruined because of the Fall. Although man maintained His physical appearance to a certain degree (aside from the death that works in each one of us causing things to stop working in our bodies and things to waste away), the death that we experienced was mainly unseen.
This was the result that God forewarned them would happen when He said, “You shall surely die” … In the Hebrew language, the phrase “surely die” literally says, “in dying, you shall die.” In other words, there are two deaths that came as a result of the sin in the Garden: Number one, “in dying” He meant they would die spiritually. They would experience a separation from God in their spirit which caused them to lose many of the elements of His likeness. But then He said, “in dying, you shall die” or in other words, “because of your death spiritually, you shall die naturally.”
So this is what happened: When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, they immediately experienced death by having their spirit die. This was like being killed from the root. So then, the result of having their root system die, was that “in dying spiritually, they shall die physically.” This will come with time but because what is unseen and underground (i.e. the root) is spoiled, it will eventually cause the part of us that is seen to spoil as well.
You see, what we lost in the Garden was the image and likeness of God in our spirit. Our root system was killed. So, this obviously affected our outward man as well. This is why we see things like sickness, weakness, infirmities, diseases, and death rampant in the world today. It is because we lost the glory! We no longer can be naked and unashamed because we have become sin-conscious. But the good news is this—what the first Adam lost in the fall, the last Adam has regained through His resurrection!
The New Testament teaches us that the fullness of the image and likeness of God that man possessed in the Garden has been regained through Jesus Christ! Not all of the glory has been manifested immediately. Our body, for instance, still has death abiding in it, but the price has already been paid for its resurrection and glorification! That will come when Jesus returns on that great Day! But just as Adam & Eve died spiritually the moment they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we were made alive spiritually the moment we ate from the tree of life! Yes, we gained back the image and likeness of God the moment we ate from the tree of our Lord Jesus Christ (i.e. the cross) just as they lost the image and likeness of God the moment they ate from their tree.
Now unfortunately many of us have been taught otherwise. Because of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of many ministers over the years, we have been taught that we are essentially just as lost as Adam and Eve were when they were banished from the Garden. We have been taught that we are just little worms and lost sinners. And although they do admit that we are saved by grace, that salvation is pushed off in the future after we die. But although this is what many preachers teach today; this is not what the apostles taught!
Let’s turn over to First John 3:9 and look at one of these verses I’m referring to …
THE DIVINE NATURE
First John 3:9 says that “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and He cannot sin because He has been born of God.”
Now, of course, this does not mean that someone who has been born again cannot commit a sin and miss it occasionally. This would not be consistent with this First Epistle of John itself because he said in the first chapter that if we say that we have no sin, we are a liar and the truth is not in us. He went on to say that if we do sin that we can confess our sins and be cleansed from all unrighteousness. So, from these Scriptures we can see that John is not saying if we are a Christian, then we will live spotless lives. So, what is he saying?
The first thing we need to understand is that when this verse words things like “does not sin” or “cannot sin” it is not to be read like we talk today. If I were to say, “I do not sin” or “I cannot sin” you would hear that I’m saying that I never commit a sin. But in the Greek language, words have different tenses so when the Bible uses a phrase like “does not sin” you have to look at the tense that is used in the verb because that will indicate whether the writer was talking about “having done, doing, or continue to do the sin. And in this particular situation, the tense is indicating that we will not continue to do (or, practice) sin. Therefore, we can see that John is not referring to a Christian avoiding every specific act of sin; he is referring to how a believer does not continue a lifestyle of sin after he or she has come to know the Lord.
And what is the reason that the Apostle John gives that whoever has been born of God does not continue in sin? He says that whoever has been born of God does not sin because God’s seed remains in him! You see, this is why Jesus said to Nicodemus that you must be born again. It is because a new nature has to be placed in you to, number one, take out of your spirit the sin nature and its penalty, and then, number two, to put in you a new nature that will lead you out from under the dominion of sin. And the new birth is the only way that all of this could have been accomplished!
But what does John mean when he said that God’s seed remains in us? Well, the word “seed’ comes from the Greek word sperma which is obviously where we get the word “sperm” from. So, what we can begin to see now is that when the Bible speaks of being born again, it is not some symbolic term of having a new beginning or something else like that (although the new birth does provide a new beginning). No, when we are “born again” we literally are reborn in our spirits. How? Because God’s very own “seed” is placed in us and remains!
Now let’s look at this from a natural and physical perspective: What is inherent in the seed of a man? A man’s sperm carries in it the DNA of the father! So, when we are physically born, we are born with the DNA of our earthly father. This means that we have his nature and will grow up to look and act like him in certain ways.
So, now apply this to being born again: When God’s seed is placed in us and we are born again spiritually, the same thing occurs: We essentially receive the spiritual DNA of Almighty of God! In other words, we receive His nature! God is love, so love becomes our nature. This is why John went on to say that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. This is also why peace and joy are immediately experienced. It is because He is the God of peace and He is joyful God, so joy and peace are products of His nature. And, yes, all of the rest of the fruit of the Spirit- patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc. are all resident in that new nature that is within us!
Let’s look at the Amplified Bible’s translation of this verse because I believe it perfectly illustrates what this verse is saying: It says, “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides within Him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within Him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God.”
Let’s look over at a passage of Scripture in Second Peter chapter one that goes along these same lines:
Second Peter 1:3-4 says that “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
You see, church, this is who we are! Our God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We don’t give ourselves these things; we were begotten again to life and godliness! Yes, this is how you and I were made partakers of God’s divine nature—through His exceedingly great and precious promises!
Notice that the apostle Peter said in verse 4 that through these great promises of the gospel, we have been made partakers of God’s divine nature! This literally means that we have become sharers of His godly characteristics! And “sharing” is when someone gives of their own to someone else, letting them partake of it as well. That’s what God did: He shared with us His godly nature, His divine characteristics. And, no, this does not make us “God,” but it does show that He made us to share in His nature by the new-birth. Hallelujah!
TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS
Now let’s go back over to Ephesians chapter 4 and look at a couple of the specific “divine characteristics”—the image and likeness of God Himself—that the apostle Paul said we have been given …
He said that this “new man which was created according to God” was created “in true righteousness and holiness.” Wow! Did you know that this was in your Bible!?! What Paul is describing this image and likeness of God that we’ve been created in as is “true righteousness and holiness.” Therefore, saints, our new nature that we inherited from Christ through the new birth is created in God’s true image of holiness and according to His true likeness of righteousness. Amen!
And notice that He calls this holiness and righteousness--true righteousness and holiness. That is opposite of false righteousness and holiness—because if there is a true kind, there must also be a false one. So, what is the false kind of righteousness and holiness? That would be the man-made kind, and that is what we must strip ourselves of—that self-righteousness and man-made kind of holiness that puts its confidence in the flesh!
Church, this true righteousness and holiness is something that has been given by grace and not something we grow into or something that eventually will be created in us through our own self-effort! This is how we were created at the new birth! We are not trying to become righteous or holy; we already have been created righteous and holy! Our only job now is to start putting on this new nature and spiritual identity and wearing it in our everyday lives!
So, this would be Trey’s Translation of Ephesians 4:24: “and dress your outer lives with the new nature you have been clothed with on the inside, which was created in God’s very own image and likeness—absolutely righteous and thoroughly holy!” Amen!
But, in the past, I have made the mistake of stopping in verse 24: Notice what Paul said next in verse 25: “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.”
By beginning this verse with the word “Therefore” we can see that this thought is tied together with what we saw that he just said before. So, Paul says next— “putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”
You know, one of the reasons that people do not see themselves in “true righteousness and holiness” is because they see it as untrue and believe they would be lying if they said they were truly righteous and holy. But I just love how he tells us to put away lying right after telling us that our new man that was created by God is “truly” righteous and holy. Why? Because the truth is that our born again, new man is righteous and holy. That is the truth—the truth that is found in Jesus! Therefore, we need to be speaking this truth with our neighbor!
I AM RIGHTEOUS!
But what I want us to camp on this week is that this new man—the new us which is recreated in the image of God’s holiness—is also created in His true righteousness. What that means is that not only are we holy, we are also righteous. I am—you are—righteous in Christ Jesus!
Now, as it is with many terms we see used in the Bible, we do good to look them up and find out exactly what they mean. In this case, what is righteousness? Righteousness literally means “rightness.” Therefore, our righteousness before God describes our state of “being right and in agreement with God’s standards.” So, what this means is that the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and are born again, we are positionally made “right” in God’s sight. You are probably familiar with the description of righteousness as “right standing with God,” which is, in my opinion, an adequate definition. He indeed makes us “right” in His sight to where we stand before Him positionally holy and blameless!
But my favorite definition of “righteousness” was given by the late E.W. Kenyon. He once beautifully defined righteousness as, “It is the ability to stand before the presence of God without a sense of fear, inferiority, or guilt, as if sin never existed.” Glory to God! I love that!
I know these are radical statements to some of us, but allow me to go through a couple of Scriptures that verify these true statements:
Second Corinthians 5:21, a verse that goes along with verses we have looked at thus far in this series, says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
You could interpret this verse to say that Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us even though He did not deserve it, so that we, who knew no righteousness, could be made righteous even though we did not deserve it. Wow! What an awesome truth! The Father placed all of the sin of the world upon Jesus, making Him our sin, even though He never experienced sin, so that we, who all have experienced sin, could be made righteous through Christ! In other words, He identified with our sin so that we could identify with His righteousness! What a glorious act of grace!
So, yes, there has only been One who has ever walked this earth that has truly been righteous before God, and that is the Son of God Himself. But that is why He came! Yes, that is why Jesus came to the earth, so that after living a completely righteous life and fulfilling the righteousness of the law, He could then go to the Cross for us so that we who have all lived completely unrighteous lives and have broken God’s righteous requirements could receive all He had! Glory!
Many of us are familiar with how we are all born into this world with a sin nature and are, therefore, deemed “sinners.” Well, the reason we are born with this corrupt nature is because of the sin of the first Adam. He, through his one disobedient act in the Garden of Eden, sent a curse upon all those born through his lineage to where every man and woman is born into this world a “sinner”—that is, with a sin nature. We all were just born this way—before we even chose to disobey God ourselves. So, you could say that we were made “sinners” by grace—that is, by a free gift from the first Adam and completely independent of our works, right?
Now you know where I am going with this, don’t you? Just as we were made sinners by the grace of the first Adam, likewise we were made righteous by the grace of the last Adam—the Lord Jesus! The apostle Paul used this same example in Romans 5:12-19 of the similarities between the first Adam and the last Adam. In these Scriptures, he compared how what we inherited through Adam in the Garden was a type of what we inherited through Jesus on the Cross. When we were physically born, we inherited a sinful nature; when we were spiritually born-again, we inherited a righteous nature. It is that simple. Thank you, Jesus!
So, this example of Adam should make us think on what we believe about what Jesus truly provided for us. Let me explain this by asking you a question: Do you believe that there was any righteous act or any amount of good works that you could have done to make you in right standing with God before you became a Christian? Of course, you don’t! To believe otherwise would completely violate our core beliefs that we are saved solely by grace and not by any good works we have done. So, let’s turn this question around then: How can we believe that any unrighteous or sinful act we commit can make us a sinner after we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ during our born-again experience?
You see, before being born again, there was no amount of good that we could have done to make us righteous in the sight of God. Likewise, after being born again, there is no amount of sin we can commit that could make us unrighteous in His sight. To not believe this nullifies the grace of God that washed away our sinfulness completely independent of our good works.
This is why I despise the common Christian statement that says, “I am just an old sinner saved by grace.” This is completely contrary to what we are taught in the New Testament! No, you are either an old sinner who needs to be saved by grace or you are the righteousness of God in Christ that has already been saved by grace. You cannot be both! If you are saved by grace, then you are no longer a sinner. If you are still a sinner—meaning that you make a lifestyle of sinning—then you either need to get truly born again or you need to learn to walk in the Spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh.
Now sure, all of us even after we become the Lord’s disciples are going to make mistakes and yield to the flesh from time to time, but that does not make us “sinners.” Being a “sinner” implies that sinning is a profession to a person. In other words, a “sinner” is a person who habitually practices sin as a lifestyle.
This should not be the testimony of a follower of Christ. Our profession should be that of practicing righteousness and, as First John 3:7 says, “He who practices righteousness is righteous.” What this means is that if we have been made righteous through Christ, it will result in practicing righteousness in our life. Let me use the example of an apple tree: When an apple tree is alive, it will bear apples in its season. In other words, if it is truly a living apple tree, apples will manifest. For an apple tree to not ever bear any apples would cause someone to question whether it is really an apple tree or whether it is dead. Likewise, just as Jesus taught, our fruit is the indicator of what kind of tree we truly are (see Matthew 7:17-18).
But my point is that even when we are made righteous in Christ, we still are likely to fall short of the glory of God in our actions from time to time. Sure, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives, but because we live in this unredeemed body (which will receive at the Second Coming of Jesus what our spirit received when we were born again. Hallelujah!), we will have times where we yield to the flesh and miss the mark of perfection. These are the times when we must know who we are in Christ positionally—not identifying ourselves by our works, but identifying ourselves by who we are in Christ.
So, you and I—everyone who is born-again—has been made “right” with God and free from the sense of inferiority. Yes, we are righteous before Him because of what Christ has done for us. In fact, we ought to say it right now: I Am Righteous!
FILTHY RAGS OR A RIGHTEOUS ROBE?
Now I’m sure many of you balked at saying those three words— “I Am Righteous”—because there are likely some countering thoughts that will come up in people’s minds.
Many of us have been trained that there are none righteous, no not one. We know the Scriptures also teach us that all of our righteousness are as filthy rags (See Isaiah 64:6). And guess what? That’s true! The Bible goes to great lengths to show mankind that no one is righteous, but it does this for a specific reason—and that is so that we will not try and establish our own righteousness and place our trust in our own righteousness.
Let’s look at one passage of Scripture that teaches us this truth that there is none righteous--Romans 3:10-23: Starting in verse 10 and going through verse 18, the apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament passage of Scripture, which makes the statement that there is none righteous. However, the important thing to note is that this verse in Romans is a quote from the Old Testament. In fact, in verse 19 he says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law…” Paul said that this is what the law says but since we are not under the law anymore those verses aren’t talking to a New Covenant believer.
Then Paul goes on to say in Romans 3:21-22, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.” When Paul says, “But now…” he means, “as opposed to the dispensation of law (i.e. Old Testament).” Then he says, “…the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed.” This means that “But now, as opposed to the old covenant when there was none righteous in God’s sight, true righteousness has now been uncovered and now covers all who believe!” And it’s been revealed “independent from the law” too! In other words, the law has nothing to do with our righteousness. Righteousness has been given by grace and not earned by works. Then when he said, “being witnessed by the law and the prophets” he meant the new covenant of righteousness was foreshadowed in the law and foretold by the prophets. Our dispensation was prophesied about! So, this is our way of knowing that this doctrine of righteousness was not conjured up, but it was previously planned and witnessed by the Old Testament. And the way it is given is “through faith in Jesus Christ.” This righteousness is indeed apart from the law, but it is obtained through another law—the law of faith, which is believing in the works of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said it’s “to all” which means “it is offered to all” and then he says it is “on all who believe.” The word “on” literally means “upon.” So, this righteousness is placed “upon” those who have faith in Jesus Christ—hence, the description of righteousness as a “robe” (Isaiah 61:10) and as a “breastplate” (Ephesians 6:14).
Then Paul says in verse 23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is relating back to verse 10 where he makes the statement that there is none righteous. You see, no one can be good enough to meet God’s standards of righteousness by their works. So, God had to make a way for us to receive it freely by grace and that’s what He did through Jesus. Praise God!
So, glory to God, every one of us who have called on the name of the Lord and have received Him as Savior and Lord of our life have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. It was not the law or our own works that accomplished this; it was the grace of God that made it happen. So now, we have His divine nature, having been born of God, and His nature is one of holiness and righteousness in truth. Glory to Jesus!
So, let’s forsake the lies that judge us according to the flesh, and start believing the truth of who God says we are. This is ultimate expression of humility—when we believe what God says about us above anything else. Let’s be a people of humility, church, and look in the mirror and say we are who the I Am says we am! Amen!
Today, we are continuing our series of teachings entitled “In the Mirror” where we are beholding in the mirror of this new and better covenant who we are in Christ Jesus. Again, the purpose of these messages is for us to learn what our true spiritual identity is so that we are protected from the identity theft that the enemy of our soul is constantly trying to accomplish.
You see, the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and what this means is that even His creation, who are loved and chosen (as we’ve been learning) can still have their lives destroyed if they simply do not have correct knowledge. It doesn’t matter how loved we are and how much God wants them to experience a better life, if we persist in ignorance, then the enemy can rob us of what is rightfully ours.
The ultimate example of this is how the Lord God provided the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus, for us. He died for the sins of the world! He provided all of mankind with the opportunity for complete redemption, total salvation, and all of its many benefits. But do all receive this so great of a salvation? Of course not! And why not? Because the majority are simply ignorant of it. Sure, they might have heard the gospel before, but their spiritual lightbulb was never “enlightened.” Therefore, they persist in walking in darkness and, if they never receive the light, will be destroyed as a result of their lack of knowledge.
But it doesn’t just work this way with unbelievers: How many of you know that there are a lot of born-again Christians, who while they know about Jesus dying for their sins and will go to heaven one day, are ignorant of some of the other things that Jesus died to provide for us in this life? And guess what the result is—they will likely have the enemy rob them of the quality of life God had for them to live.
So, my point is that grace can be provided for us, but if we don’t know that it is available and stay ignorant of His provision, we can have the enemy steal it from us and even kill us as a result. Church, we need to know who we are and what we have in Christ Jesus so that we can walk in the life God has for us! And this is going to occur as we behold in this mirror of the new and better covenant all that we are and have in Jesus and then walk in these truths. Amen?
So, we have been looking at a passage of Scripture that is used to describe who we are in Christ Jesus--Second Corinthians 3:18–which I believe accurately “reflects” these truths. In it, the apostle Paul says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
As we have seen, the “we all” being referred to here is the Body of Christ, the Church of the living God. Therefore, every born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, believer is with “unveiled face”—meaning, we are not reading the truth of the glories of this new & better covenant with a veil over our face like those under the Old Covenant. And that is why Paul goes on to say, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord…” What glory are we beholding? Those truths of this new and better covenant of what Christ has done for us and who we are in Him! This is what we are to be beholding—the mystery of this New Covenant which is Christ in us, the hope of glory! Therefore, beholding the mirror of truths contained in the New Testament is us looking at who we are in Christ and who He is in us.
But, again, notice that he says that we are beholding “as in a mirror” these truths. So, the specific mirror that you and I need to be looking into in order to see who we now are is the far more exceedingly glorious New Testament where our new spiritual identity is on full display. Glory!
So, let’s quickly recap what we’ve seen in this mirror thus far:
A few weeks ago, we began looking into this mirror by looking at the filter everything is to be viewed through—love. And I made the point that I believe the first thing you and I need to see when we look into this mirror is that WE ARE LOVED! The first and foundational thing our hearts need to be established in, is in the fact that we are greatly loved by our Creator.
I made the point that since we are called the Lord’s Beloved many times through the New Testament’s Holy Spirit inspired pages, then that means that we “Be-Loved” by Him. So, the next time you look in the mirror, point at yourself and boldly say, “You be loved by God!”
But not only can we see that we are loved by God when we look in the mirror, we can also see that we are His new creation. This is what we saw next—that we are God’s own work of art, His masterpiece in Christ Jesus!
So, because of His great love, God began something special in each one of us when we made Jesus the Lord and Savior of our life. We saw from Second Corinthians 5:16-18 that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus where old things have passed away and all things have become new. And we learned that what God creates, He does perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Amen?
So next time you and I look in the mirror, we ought to say, “I am God’s New Creation! He is the Potter and I am the clay! And He has placed His treasure in this earthen vessel! Therefore, I am God’s Masterpiece, His poem!” Amen!
This led us to another part of our spiritual identity that we would do good to look at in the mirror of God’s Word: Not only are we loved, not only are we His masterpiece, but we are also chosen.
We looked at a number of Scriptures last week, and we learned that in Christ Jesus we have actually been chosen, selected, and predestined. Ephesians chapter 1 teaches us this: We saw that the apostle Paul said in verse 4, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
So, we saw that God “chose” all of us. How? In Him! So, you see, God the Father chose His Son Jesus, but by us choosing to be “in Him,” we are chosen as well. Glory! And notice when it was that God chose both us and Christ: It was not after we did everything right or grew up spiritually into a certain level of holiness and righteousness. No, He chose us in Him “before the foundation of the world.” That means before ever the foundation of the earth was laid, God chose us in Him. Yes, before we ever did anything wrong or right, we were selected by God. Amen!
So, again, all of us who have received the Lord Jesus Christ are “chosen” by God—not because we are holy and without blame before Him, but to become holy and without blame before Him. Which led us to an important point, if we were chosen before we made any of our choices—good or bad—then does that mean we do not have a choice? Absolutely not, because there are many Scriptures that teach us that one must choose salvation to be the chosen for salvation.
We learned this from Ephesians 1:5 when Paul mentions that dreaded word “predestined.” In this verse, he went on to say, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” But what we learned is that God’s predestination is based on His foreknowledge according to Romans 8:29 & First Peter 1:2. Therefore, love does not choose what others do; love gives a choice! And that is why God has always given mankind a free will.
We also looked at the Scripture where Jesus made the following statement— “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (See Matthew 22:14). And we learned that the word “chosen” here is the same word commonly defined as “elect.” But the word “called” is important here—for it means to be “invited” (to something like a banquet). You see, this shows us that just because one is “called” doesn’t mean that they have accepted the invitation.
But the main point I wanted to get across from this verse is not how we become the “predestined,” it is to show you what we were predestined to—and Paul says here that it was “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”!
I made the point that I believe adoption is actually one of the greatest acts of love that one could perform. Why? It is because when a child is begotten, although their parents might have been planning on having that child, the specifics regarding that child were not chosen. In other words, the parents receive what is handed to them by the grace of God, and of course, they love that child. But for a couple to adopt a child means that they specifically chose that child—meaning they picked out exactly which child they wanted. Not only that, but they jumped through many hoops to be able to adopt a child. It wasn’t like they decided they were going to adopt one day and they said, “Let me make a call.” No, it took a lot of time, effort, and resources to be able to have custody of a child. Now that, my friends, is love!
But my point was that so many children who are adopted seem to struggle with the idea that their biological parents gave them up for adoption. But as difficult as that is (and I certainly do not make light of the struggle involved in one’s soul if this was what life handed them), what that person needs to magnify is not what their biological parents did to them, but what their adopted parents did for them. You see, the fact that there was a couple out there who specifically chose a child to be a part of their family even though they originated from another man and woman shows the unconditional love and grace of God. How do I know this? It is because this is exactly what Father God did for each of us:
So, the Lord chose, predestined, and adopted us into His family, etc. because He wanted to; not because He had to! Always remember that: It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the abundance of grace that He already has given! Amen!
Now we concluded last week by looking at a section of verses that beautifully summarizes and further describes what we learned– First Peter 2:4-10: We learned that Jesus was the original Living Stone that God chose and held great value to God. But we also saw how Peter went on to say that “we also, as living stones…” meaning that we too are elect by God and precious!
Church, this illustrates to me something awesome: I made the point already that the value of something is based on what people are willing to pay for it. Well, if God the Father was willing to pay the price of that living stone—Jesus—to redeem us, then that means that you must be at least equally as valuable to the Father as the price He paid. Let me say it this way: Since God paid the astronomical price of the blood of His Son for your salvation, then that automatically means that you are extremely precious and valuable—even to the point of being worth as much to Him as Jesus is. Now that is a hard “gos-pill” to swallow right there!
But we looked at verses 9&10 because I believe these verses “mirror” who we are as God’s living stones: We are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
You see, we are God’s chosen people today. Now some believe that Peter was talking to Jewish believers here, but verse 10 teaches us otherwise—for Peter said that these believers were not a people of God, but are now the people of God. So, I believe we who had not obtained mercy have now obtained mercy in Christ Jesus!
So, just as Israel was called holy unto the Lord God and His own precious treasure unto Himself, now all who call on the Lord Jesus Christ and are born again are His holy nation—for all who are in Christ are citizens in the kingdom of God. Glory be to God!
Now this week, I want us to camp on this point we briefly touched on about God’s people being considered holy to Him because when we look in the mirror of the New Testament, we see this same truth reflected time and time again.
TWO KINDS OF HOLINESS
Now we saw last week that being holy does not just describe some state of perfection. We saw that it can actually mean that we are special, precious and different to Him. So, holiness is not necessarily some state one attains to. It also describes the way another views something or, in this case, someone.
I used the example of the “Holy Bible” and how while it’s certainly perfect and infallible, it is also called “holy” because it is special and different from any other book on the planet. So, it is “holy” in that it is a special and precious Book while also being perfect and without error.
But here is another good example of how “holy” can also mean to be different and special: First Thessalonians 5:26 says to greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. Now how many of you know that you are not go around kissing other Christians like you would kiss your wife!?! You better not come to this church kissing on people like you kiss your spouse. No, a holy kiss would obviously be both a pure and a different kind of kiss—meaning, it’s not like other kisses out there while at the same time being void of any impure motives.
Well, just like we have a “Holy Bible” and “holy kisses”—which are precious and pure things—God’s church is said to be holy and without blame before Him in love. That means that He views us, spiritually speaking, as “infallible, without error, precious and prized.” Yes, we are different, His own peculiar treasure, that is passionately loved by our Creator!
Church, I believe this is the way the apostle Paul used this term “holy” in Ephesians 1:4 when he said that God chose us in Him “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Now when we look at the terminology here, we can read it as saying that Jesus chose us in Christ so that someday we should become holy and without blame before God. But that is not what Paul was saying here. He was saying that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world so that we should, at the moment we receive Him, be holy and without blame before God. In other words, in Christ Jesus, we are holy and without blame at the moment we are born again and remain that way as we remain in Him. Amen!
And notice how this verse says that we are holy and without blame before Him: You see, we might have a different opinion of ourselves, and others might have different opinions of us, but it’s not anyone else’s opinion that is important; it is God’s opinion that truly matters. And if He views us as “holy” (i.e. special, precious, different, and prized) and “blameless” (We will look at this in a moment) then that’s the way we are. Period. Amen?
Now one of the ways that you know how someone views you is by how they refer to you. And when we look in the mirror of this new covenant that you and I are in with God, we see a term that is commonly used to refer to us—the word “saints.”
Of course, this term is used when someone like the apostle Paul was referring to one of his churches, but again, we need to take these references like “beloved, saints, etc.” like God is talking to us, as all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and these men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the things they did. Therefore, when we see that we, as a body of believers, are referred to as “saints,” then I take that as how my Heavenly Father sees me.
In fact, I have found that we as the body of Christ are referred to as “saints” over 50 times in the New Testament! (See Romans 1:7, 8:27, 12:13, 15:25-26,31, 16:2,15; First Corinthians 1:2, 6:1,2, 14:33, 16:1,15; Second Corinthians 1:1, 8:4, 9:1,12, 13:13; Ephesians 1:1, 1:15,18, 2:19, 3:8, 3:18, 4:12, 5:3, 6:18; Philippians 1:1, 4:21-22; Colossians 1:2,4,12,26; First Thessalonians 5:27; Second Thessalonians 1:10; First Timothy 5:10; Philemon 5,7; Hebrews 6:10, 13:24; Jude 3,14; Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4, 13:7,10, 14:12, 15:3, 16:6, 17:6, 18:24, 19:8, 20:9). That’s a lot! In fact, it is used many more times than the term “Christians, believers, etc.”—any of these other titles that we give ourselves today as followers of Christ. So, apparently, this is one of the predominant ways God sees us. Glory!
You know, the way that we generally use the term “saints” today is to either refer to old Christians or dead ones. That’s right—we like to call the elderly Christians who have lived somewhat “holy” lives this, and some also like to refer to the renowned Christians who did great things many generations ago this way too. But again, the Bible doesn’t share these same sentiments. Like we said, it refers to every born-again believer this way time and time again in the New Testament.
Now someone might then gravitate towards watering down the meaning of the word “saint” when they see it refers to every Christian, but it does essentially mean what we have believed it to mean. It comes from the Greek word hagios which literally means “holy ones.”
In fact, this word hagios is the very same word used to describe God’s “holy” law (See Romans 7:12), the “holy” apostles and prophets (See Ephesians 3:5), the “Holy” Scriptures (See Romans 1:2), the “Holy” Spirit (Romans 5:5), the “Holy One,” Jesus Christ Himself (See First John 2:20 & Revelation 3:7), and, yes, the Lord God Almighty Himself who has the hosts of heaven constantly declaring that He is “Holy, holy, holy!” So, do you know what that means? It means if we are His holy ones, then we are in the same boat with the rest of these other Most Holy things!
Romans 11:16 gives us this same principle: “if the root is holy, then so are the branches.” We might say according to Jesus’ word in John chapter 15, if the Vine is holy, then the branches are truly holy as well!
Now I understand that there are those out there who might say, “Well, don’t the Scriptures say that we are to be holy even as He is holy? (See First Peter 1:16) Yes, but the context here specifically refers to being holy in all our conduct, and we need to understand that there is a big difference between our “who” and our “do.” No, I am not talking about your hairdo, but about your actions, conduct, etc. So, yes, there is a difference between who you are and what you do.
Speaking of hairdos, this is one of the very things some church people think makes someone holy—how they wear their hair. They take Scriptures like First Peter 3:1-6 and say, “See there, if you are going to be holy, then you can’t be fixin’ your hair, wearing jewelry or nice clothes.” No, no, no. That’s not Peter’s point here. He was not saying that a Christian should not wear nice clothes, put on jewelry, or wear makeup. Listen, if an old barn needs painting, paint it, bless God! Just don’t make your outward man your priority. So, what Peter was teaching them was that we shouldn’t “merely” be concerned with adorning our outward man—for its beauty is fleeting—but we should give our attention to what we are wearing on the inside for that is what is very precious in the sight of God. And I’ll tell you, the hidden man of our heart is what is important! It is to God and ought to be to us as well!
So, should we walk in holiness? Absolutely! We need to live lives that correspond with who we are in the spirit and reflect our holiness for all the world to see. What we should avoid, however, is basing our holiness on our actions. We are not holy because of what we do; we are holy because of what Christ has done.
Let’s look at another verse in this Mirror that reflects the same truth, just in a different way:
WITHOUT SPOT OR WRINKLE
In the Book of Colossians, which is a mirror book to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:21-23). What a powerful passage of Scriptures!
Now when Paul begins with the words “And you,” what he is doing is continuing along the lines of what he said in the prior verse about Jesus making peace through His blood and reconciling the world unto Himself. So, a good paraphrase of these truths might be: “Not only has God reconciled all things back unto Himself through Jesus Christ, He also has reconciled all of mankind to Himself that receive His Son Jesus Christ.” Glory to Jesus! This will become important when it comes to what he said next …
Paul goes on to say, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works.” Notice that this says we “who once were.” That’s a far cry from “who now are.” But it sure doesn’t feel this way sometimes, does it? Sometimes those “wicked works” can leave us feeling in our minds like we are alienated from and enemies of God, can’t they? Yes, when we miss it and fall short of God’s glory, we are left feeling “alienated,” which literally means “to be excluded, separated, or foreign to.” This means that His life can feel “foreign” to us. Not only that, but we can even feel like God is hostile towards us.
But I want you to notice where the core-root of this alienation from and hostility towards God was located— “in your mind.” In other words, what we experienced was a result of the way we were thinking and what we believed in our heart. So, what this means is that if it was our “stinking thinking” that led us away from God in the first place, then the renewing of our minds must be part of the process of restoring us back to God. In other words, if this alienation began in our minds, it is possible that we can continue to experience alienation in our flesh & soul until our thinking changes.
And I am telling you the truth, the majority of Christians who have been fully reconciled to God do not sense or experience that reconciliation and live their entire lives feeling like God is way up there somewhere and they are stuck way down here all alone. This ought not to be so, church! This verse goes on to say, “yet now He has reconciled.” Not, “yet in the future He will reconcile,” but “now He has reconciled.” Therefore, all who have put their faith in Christ have been and currently are reconciled unto God! Glory!
Once you renew your mind to that truth—when you own it as yours—then say goodbye to feeling like you are alienated from God and His enemy! Praise God! You will experience that peace that comes through His reconciliation!
Then notice the glorious truths of verse 22— “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight…” So, Jesus offered up His life as a sacrifice for our sins in order to present us to God like an offering that is holy, blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God!
Now we’ve already touched on this word “holy,” but let’s look at the other terms used to describe our reconciled condition in Christ …
The word “blameless” refers to being “faultless & without blemish”—like the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were to be without blemish. In fact, this word “blameless” is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:19 to describe Jesus as the Lamb “without blemish” and without spot. Therefore, we have been presented to the Father like pure and spotless lambs because we are in the Lamb of God who is pure and spotless! That means we have no spots, no wrinkles, and are presented that way to our Holy Husband (Compare with Ephesians 5:26-27).
Notice the next words— “above reproach.” This literally means “not called in” (i.e. “not called to account”). This phrase describes being totally free from any charge being on our account. You see, not only are we made without blemish, but all the charges that we previously had on our account have been washed away in the blood of Christ! Glory! But wait, it gets even better …
Paul goes to say that we are holy, blameless, and above reproach “in His sight.” This is the same “sight” that all things are naked and open to the eyes of (See Hebrews 4:13). The Greek word for “sight” literally means “to look down it,” denoting a deep inspection and a penetrating gaze. You see, God has so thoroughly cleansed us, made us blameless, and erased the charges we once had, that not even God’s most thorough and penetrating inspection can detect a flaw in our newly recreated spirit! Glory!
Again, the picture that Paul is painting here in verse 22 is of God’s most desirable offering under the Old Testament. He began by showing how Jesus—who truly was the perfect sacrifice—died for us so that He could present us—who were imperfect in ourselves—as “holy, blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God.” Yes, Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God who is without blemish and without spot—suffered in our place—so that we could become His perfect and holy people, that even under the most complete and thorough inspection of God Himself would be found to be perfect and complete before Him! Glory to God!
And guess what qualifies us for this amazing grace? Just a continuing faith as verse 23 goes on to say— “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard…”
Now “the faith” being referred to here is the faith of Jesus Christ, our new and better covenant. So, with that in mind, let me remind you of one of the verses that we are basing this series on--James 1:22-25. In these verses, Pastor James was teaching his congregation how God’s Word is like a mirror, and the way to be a doer of the Word is to continue looking in the mirror as opposed to hearing the Word and then going away from the truths you’ve heard.
Well, I see the same principle here in Colossians 1:23—that we must continue in this mirror of the New and Better Covenant, grounded and steadfast in it, in order to experience this “holy, blameless, and above reproach” state. And I would say that this is exactly how you and I live in the awareness of who we are in Christ and how our Father views us—by continuing to look in the mirror of the faith and constantly beholding these truths! Amen!
Church, we must set these truths ever before us and proclaim them in the face of all temptations to believe otherwise. Yes, when our flesh, our own heart, or the devil tries to tell us that we are impure, unclean, or not special, it is then that we need to proclaim that we are “Holy!” When our mind or the enemy tries to tell us that we are to be blamed, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “blameless.” When any of these things try to bring an accusation of something we may have done, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “without reproach.” Yes, it is when we look in the mirror and declare “It is written, It is written, It is written” that we will begin to experience the fruit of who are in the spirit. Amen!
So, last week, we continued our series of teachings entitled “In the Mirror.” And again, the purpose of these teachings is to behold who we are in Christ and learn our true spiritual identity so that the enemy is not able to steal what is rightfully ours.
We have learned that just as identity theft is arguably one of the most harmful and inconvenient ways that someone can steal from us, spiritual identity theft is one of the ways that the enemy robs us of everything that God has for us. So, it is imperative that you and I look into the mirror of God’s Word and behold who we are in Christ in order to establish our hearts in these truths so that the thief cannot come steal, kill and destroy God’s life from us.
Now I have entitled this series “In the Mirror” because the Word of God describes itself as a mirror that reflects to us both who we are and what God wills for us to be. And we have been looking at a passage of Scripture that is used to describe who we are in Christ Jesus--Second Corinthians 3:18–which I believe accurately “reflects” the truths the Lord wants us to see in this series.
But of course, that is not how people use the law of the Old Covenant—back then and even still today, people try to use God’s law as a mirror. What I mean is they are looking into it to try and find their identity (i.e. as a means to attain salvation, saying things like— “If you just keep God’s law, He will accept you.”) But that’s not true! The truth is that through the New Covenant, Jesus has already made us acceptable, qualified and justified in the sight of God—us all.
That is why the apostle Paul said in this verse, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
As we have seen, the “we all” being referred to here is the Body of Christ, the Church of the living God. Therefore, every born-again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, believer is with “unveiled face”—meaning, we are not reading the truth of the glories of this new & better covenant with a veil over our face like those under the Old Covenant. And that is why Paul goes on to say, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord…” What glory are we beholding? Those truths of this new and better covenant of what Christ has done for us and who we are in Him! This is what we are to be beholding—the mystery of this New Covenant which is Christ in us, the hope of glory! Therefore, beholding the mirror of truths contained in the New Testament is us looking at who we are in Christ and who He is in us.
But, again, notice that he says that we are beholding “as in a mirror” these truths. So, the specific mirror that you and I need to be looking into in order to see who we now are is the far more exceedingly glorious New Testament where our new spiritual identity in on full display.
So, a couple of weeks ago, we began looking into this mirror by looking at the filter everything is to be viewed through—love. Yes, I made the point that I believe the first thing you and I need to see when we look into this mirror is that WE ARE LOVED! It is the first and foundational thing our hearts need to be established in is in the fact that we are greatly loved by our Creator. This is who we are, and this is what propels us into the other truths that we will look at in the coming weeks.
This is why I call this “Mirror,” that we call the Holy Bible, our love letter from God—for all of it speaks of the great love that God has for His creation and the great lengths that He has gone to in order to express that love towards us. So, when you and I read these Scriptures, we ought to see time and time again on these pages that we have a Heavenly Father who so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son so that He could have a spiritual family to both love and be loved by.
I also said that this one truth is what I believe to be the single greatest revelation that we could ever receive. And why? Because knowing in our hearts God’s great love for us will produce in us several other virtues—and perhaps the most important is the ability to fulfill the Great Commandment to love God and to love one another.
Church, we are the Lord’s Beloved! That means that when we look in the mirror of God’s Word, we can clearly see that we “Be-Loved” by Him. So, the next time you look in the mirror, point at yourself and boldly say, “You be loved by God!” Your flesh might cringe when you do it, but just know that because you see it in the mirror of God’s Word, you can declare it in the mirror of this world. You be loved and there is nothing you can do about it—save receive it in your heart and confess it with your mouth. Amen!
But what we learned last week is that, because of this great love that God has for us, He began something special in each one of us when we made Jesus the Lord and Savior of our life. Now, to the naked eye, we might not see it, but it’s true nonetheless. And it is for this reason that many parts of the New Testament are foreign to us and the Bible seems hard to understand.
So, we went over to Second Corinthians 5:16-18 and saw that from now on, we do not know Jesus according to the flesh anymore since His death, burial and resurrection. Now we know Him based on the Gospel that says He was raised from the dead and lifted up to sit at the right hand of God—completely glorified and highly exalted. This is how we regard no one according to the flesh—by believing the Gospel when we cannot see it. And we saw that this is an important point to understand under our new covenant—that because we all died with Christ and have been raised to a new life in Him, we are not to judge anyone according to the flesh anymore.
Then in verses 17-18a it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God…”
Church, it is sad, but most Christians live and die, never understanding what took place in them on the day they were born again and found in Christ. They receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and they see themselves no different than the way they were before they were saved. But, saints, being “in Christ” holds many tremendous promises that we would do well to both see and embrace.
As we learned, when we were born again, something glorious took place in the spirit realm: Second Corinthians 5:17 goes on to say that at the moment we were placed in Christ, we became a new creation in Christ Jesus, where old things passed away and all things became new. So, contrary to popular opinion, we are not just sinners saved by grace; we are now saints because we have been given an abundance of grace.
Last week, we also saw that we are not just this physical body that we look at in the mirror. Nor are we just the soul—the life we have on the inside of our physical body. First Thessalonians 5:23 teaches us that our “whole” person is “completely” spirit, soul, and body. So, we learned from Second Corinthians that it was our spirit, not our soul or our body, that became this new creation. Yes, saints, our spirit is the part of us that was completely transformed when we received our Lord and Savior and, therefore, we might not sense any of these changes physically or emotionally. It is the part of us where old things passed away, it is the part of us where all things became new, and it is the part of us that became “in Christ.”
Now, as we learned, we were not created out of nothing. We had “old things” that “passed away”— namely, an old man that was crucified with Christ. We had an old sin nature that needed to be crucified on the cross of Christ. This was that old man that had death abiding in it. It was the part of us that could not love and serve God. It was the part of us that was incapable of living in obedience to Him. And, finally, it was the part of us that could not experience the life of God and experience salvation. This old man had to “pass away” and die. And this is what happens in that moment that we make Jesus the Lord and Savior of our life. The old man dies and, behold, all things become new! Glory to God! In other words, all things in our life begin afresh and anew! There is a new beginning in our life! Everything wrong and sinful that we had said or done before we came to know Jesus Christ was washed away in His blood! It doesn’t matter how big our sins were. It doesn’t matter how many sins we committed. They are all washed away in the blood of Christ and even the old sin nature that we had that inspired us to commit those sins was crucified.
So, in essence, it is as if we were created out of nothing. Not that there was never a life we lived before we were born again, but the slate has been washed so clean by the blood of Christ that it is as if our world never existed before salvation. So, let me encourage you that it doesn’t matter what you did and it doesn’t matter how gross the sin. If you have been born again—all the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new in you!
So, in Christ, we are not just renovated, renewed, or upgraded; no, our spirit is completely recreated with the life, nature, and characteristics of Christ Himself! Yes, friends, when you made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life, your spirit was not just improved upon, renovated, or healed. No, when you became a Christian, your spirit was recreated!
But the main point we made last week is that if we are a new creation, being recreated in Christ Jesus, then we are God’s masterpiece!
We looked at Ephesians 2:1-10 and learned more about this: We saw in verses 1-3, the apostle Paul shows us what our situation was before coming to the knowledge of the Lord, and in verses 4-9, he shows us all that God did for us by His amazing grace. But we camped on how the apostle Paul concludes this great doctrinal lesson by saying in verse 10— “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Now like we saw in Second Corinthians 5:17, when the Bible says that we are His workmanship and created in Christ Jesus, it is referring not to our outward man, but to the inward man—that is, our spirit.
Now as beautiful and wonderful as God’s original creation was and is, and as amazing as His grace over His creation was and is, the part of us that became a new creation and a product of His workmanship was the spiritual part of us. Yes, it was our spirit that was recreated in Christ at the moment we were born again and is a product of God’s workmanship.
So, we learned what it is to be His “workmanship”. This word comes from the Greek word poiema which is where we get our words “poem” and “poetry” from. As a matter of fact, this word poiema came to describe something that was a product of an artist’s handiwork or artwork—like a sculpture or a painting. Therefore, this word describes something that is a product of one’s creativity and artistic abilities. So, when the apostle Paul said that we are God’s “workmanship” here in Ephesians 2:10, you could translate this that we are God’s own work of art! Better yet, since God—who has to be considered the most creative and wonderful artist ever to exist—is the one who designed and sculptured our spirit, then you could say that we are His masterpiece! Hallelujah! Did you get that? You are God’s own handiwork, His work of art, and His masterpiece! You have been created in Christ—beautifully and ornately fashioned by the Creator, who is the epitome of creativity and artistry! And as I said last week, let me assure you in the worst English that I can: God don’t make no junk! 😉 If you are His workmanship, then you are perfect, complete, and beautiful! There are no flaws in your spirit man!
We looked at the way the apostle Paul words it in Second Corinthians 4:7 when he says that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. Now the emphasis I usually hear placed on this passage of Scripture is on the earthen vessels themselves. People will say, “Yeah, we are just cracked and flawed jars of clay.” But what about the treasure that in these vessels? You know, I guarantee you that if you were to buy a piece of land, and started excavating it and came upon an earthen vessel that was buried out in it that was filled with precious treasures, you wouldn’t spend your time calling people, telling them about your dirty old cracked earthen vessel, would you? No! You probably wouldn’t even mention the thing that the buried treasure was hidden in! You would be rejoicing in the treasure that was in it! (That sounds like that would have been a good parable for Jesus to use, doesn’t it? 😉)
So, let’s use the analogy of a painting or a sculpture to describe what happened in your spirit when you were born again: When God took your dead spirit, where no good thing dwelt and painted/sculpted you into a new creation in Christ, what He did was He painted on the canvas of your heart the likeness of Jesus Christ! What He did was He sculpted, as the potter sculpts the clay, a full image of Jesus Christ Himself in your inner man! So, He made you all that He is because you are in Him and He is in you! Praise be unto God!
Understanding this is what will make truths in the Word of God such as we are the righteousness of God, we are saints, and we are beloved, easier to accept! It is because it is not our righteousness! It is not our holiness! It is not a matter of how lovely we are! You are accepted, forgiven, redeemed, saved, righteous, holy, and loved because of who He is in you! So, when the Father looks into a born again, child of God, He is not looking at our faults and shortcomings; He is looking at the beautiful image of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! Jesus is what makes us God’s masterpiece!
So next time you look in the mirror, say, “You are God’s New Creation! He is the Potter and you are the clay! He made you just the way you are supposed to be! You are molded, shaped, and fashioned by the Master Craftsman, His own handiwork! And you are not a Van Goh, Picasso, or Da-Vinci either; you are God’s Masterpiece! You are His poem!” Amen!
Just like in God’s original creation when He made the sun, the moon, the stars, this earth and all that is within it, He rested on the seventh day and saying at the end of the sixth day, “It is very good” (See Genesis 1:31) Now He didn’t rest because it wore Him out and He needed a breather from all that “creating.” No, He rested in the sense that an artist will cease from his work, knowing that it is finished, and will sit on his or her stool with the brush in their mouth, admiring their work.
I’m telling you saints, when Jesus hung on that Cross and said, “It is finished!” it really was. Sure, we are a work in progress when it comes to our physical self, but when it comes to our spirit, we are finished, and we are very good! Amen!
So, that leads us to another part of our spiritual identity that we would do good to look at in the mirror of God’s Word: Not only are we loved, not only are we recreated, but we are also CHOSEN.
A HOLY PEOPLE
Before we get into the New Testament, let’s begin in the Book of Deuteronomy--Deuteronomy 7:6-8. I want us to look first in this passage of Scripture because I believe God’s heart in choosing the people of Israel to be His own, chosen people “mirrors” what God did for us in Christ Jesus.
In these verses, God began to say to the children of Israel— “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth…”
Now, first of all, when He began by describing them as a “holy” people to Himself, we need to understand that He was not using this term “holy” like we do today. No, He was not saying that they were perfect, blameless or flawless; he was saying that they were different “to the Lord your God”—meaning, they were not like the other nations, but were special, different, and precious to Him.
For example, this Book is called “The Holy Bible,” right? What that means is that it is a special Book, and not to be considered like just like any other book out there. It’s different in that it is inspired by God and ought to be precious to us. Likewise, Israel is called God’s own special people and precious to Him. We see this in the rest of verse 6 when He said, “…the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”
Now can you imagine how this must have made Israel feel? “We are special to God! We are His favorites among all the peoples on the face of the earth!” But this was obviously not because they deserved it either. God set them apart for Himself before all of their mistakes and flaws, and why? This verse says it was because He “chose” to choose them.
Notice what the Lord went on to say in verses 7-8— “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
You see, there are two very important things to understand in these two verses about God choosing Israel:
1.He said that He did not set His love on them or choose them because of how mighty and strong they were in terms of numbers. What this is saying is that the Lord does not choose people because they are strong, smart, talented, or worthy of being chosen in any way. No, He actually delights in choosing the weak, the poor, the dishonored, etc. In other words, one is not chosen because they are sufficient in themselves or because of their own abilities and work. It is all by His grace, and as He goes on to say, because of His love.
2.But He also said that He chose them because He was keeping His promise which He made to their fathers. In other words, the Lord is a covenant keeping God. If He swore an oath to someone, He will keep it no matter what. And the great news for us is that Father God’s covenant is now with His Son! So, now God will keep the covenant that He swore to His Son! Glory and hallelujah!
THE CHOSEN ONES
Now I understand people read verses like this one in Deuteronomy and say, “Sure, this is true for Israel, but I am not Jewish”—and so, they will doubt that this applies to them. I am going to prove to you today that this exact thing is true for everyone who receives the Messiah as their Lord and Savior. Amen!
So, let’s begin looking in the mirror of the New Covenant by going over to Ephesians 1:3-14: This will be a section of verses that we will likely revisit in the coming weeks, but I want you to see today how this principle of being “chosen” is one of the big “In Christ” truths we see in the apostle Paul’s letters.
Notice in Ephesians 1:4 that the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Now the “us” referred to here is Gentiles and Jews alike because the apostle Paul, obviously Jewish was writing to the Church of Ephesus, obviously consisting mainly of Gentiles. So, God “chose” all of us. How? In Him! So, you see, God the Father chose His Son Jesus, but by us choosing to be “in Him,” we are chosen as well. Glory!
And notice when it was that God chose both us and Christ: It was not after we did everything right or grew up spiritually into a certain level of holiness and righteousness. No, He chose us in Him “before the foundation of the world.” That means before ever the foundation of the earth was laid, God chose us in Him.
You see, Jesus is called in Revelation 13:8 the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. That means that God’s provision for the salvation of the whole world was “chosen” before the initial foundation of this world was ever created. Glory! What this means is that the provision for sin was made before the sin was ever committed. God alone is wise!
But let’s consider this for a moment: Like the Passover Lamb was “chosen” on the tenth day of the first month, but was held until the fourteenth day of the same month (See Exodus 12:3&6), Jesus, who is our Passover Lamb, was chosen well before He was crucified. Well, did you know God essentially did the same with you and I? He chose us before we did any good or evil (Compare Romans 9:11)!
We looked at the following verses before, but they bear repeating here:
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
So, the first thing we have recorded that God told Jeremiah was this one truth—that before he was even formed in his mother’s womb, God already knew him! And before he was physically born, the Lord had even “set him apart” (i.e. sanctified) and ordained him to be prophet to the nations. Mind you, this was before Jeremiah had ever done anything to deserve this awesome calling and it was before he ever made the mistakes that we all know he must have made in his life. God chose Him by grace! Amen!
We see this as well in the life of the apostle Paul, when in his testimony, he said, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace.” (Galatians 1:15).
So, like Jeremiah, we see Saul of Tarsus being set apart and chosen from his mother’s womb, being called through the grace of God. And, boy, don’t we know that God choosing the apostle Paul before he was born was certainly an act of God’s grace—because this guy was the ringleader of the persecution of the church in Jerusalem!
But you and I have to know that if God chose men like Jeremiah and Paul before they were formed in their mother’s wombs, and if He chose Jesus to be the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, then wouldn’t He do this with everyone else? Amen! That means that before you were ever formed in your mother’s womb, He knew you. And before you were born, He had already chosen you, calling you through His grace. Glory to God!
So, again, like we see in Ephesians 1:4—all of us who have received the Lord Jesus Christ are “chosen” by God—not because we are holy and without blame before Him, but to become holy and without blame before Him. There is a big difference in one versus the other!
PREDESTINATION & ELECTION
Now let’s move on to verse 5, because when we talk about God choosing people, there is a doctrinal issue that comes up that is misunderstood by many: Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 1:5— “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
You see, when many Christians see this word “predestined,” they cringe. Of course, there have even been denominations built on this particular doctrine. And although I do not claim to have a complete understanding of this subject, I believe it is not as complicated as many have made it.
If you look at verses such as Romans 8:29 & First Peter 1:2 where this word “predestined” is used (or alluded to), you will see a common thread with this subject of predestination: In both of these passages of Scripture, you will find that our election and predestination is based upon God’s “foreknowledge.” This is important to understand because many incorrectly believe that God is just picking and predestining our paths simply because He wills and purposes it for us. But no, God is not some great puppeteer up in the sky picking and choosing who will choose Him and who will reject Him. How do I know this, you ask? It is because this would be inconsistent with God’s nature, which we know to be love.
No, love does not choose what others do; love gives a choice! And that is why God has always given mankind a free will. It is the reason He put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden and it is the reason why there is a hell reserved for all who reject Him. He does not give us these alternate options because He wills that any perish. We are told explicitly in the Bible that He does not desire for any of His creation to perish (see Second Peter 3:9). But God, in His great love for the human race, has given us a choice! He has given us a free will! He has said, “Behold, I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing.” He sets before us two paths: a. Doing it His way and, subsequently, choosing life or b. Doing it our way, and subsequently, choosing death. Therefore, people chose the path they go on, and when we choose the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we become the “chosen” ones.
But the fact remains that the Bible does indeed say that we are “predestined.” So, what does this mean? Well, the answer is found in that word “foreknowledge”: The word “foreknowledge” comes from the Greek word proginosko which is where we get our English word “prognosis” from. So, what is a prognosis? A prognosis is a predetermination of the outcome of current symptoms based on their usual course. In other words, a prognosis is a foreknowledge of what a current symptom will result in if left untreated.
You see, God knew our hearts before we were even created. So, He was able to predetermine what we would do with the truth presented to us. In other words, He had complete foreknowledge of the choices we would make before the world was ever formed. So, since God knows what decisions we will make before we make them and because He knows the end from the beginning, He was able to “predestinate” or “choose” us to be His own based on this proginosko (i.e. foreknowledge).
Friends, God is a good and just God who loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for all, that all will have the opportunity to receive His free gift. He would be violating His nature of love to not extend this free gift to everyone. Aren’t you glad you are one of those “chosen” ones that “chose” Jesus? I sure am!
But here is another good way to explain this controversial subject: More than once, Jesus made the following statement— “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (See Matthew 22:14).
The word “chosen” here is the same word commonly defined as “elect.” We see this word translated this way in Colossians 3:12 & First Peter 1:2. But the word “called” is important here—for it means to be “invited” (to something like a banquet). You see, this shows us that just because one is “called” doesn’t mean that they have accepted the invitation.
For example, we see this in Jesus’ parable of the Great Supper found in Luke 14:15-24: Jesus begins by saying, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many…” So, we see that this man (an obvious type of God the Father) gave a “great” supper. That indicates this was a big deal! He did a lot to prepare all of this food and drink! Likewise, the Lord did a lot to prepare so great a salvation for us. Sure, He killed the fatted calf which provided the meat of our salvation (a type of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection which assured our salvation), but He also provided many delectable sides and desserts that come with this so great of a salvation. Amen.
Then we see that He “invited many.” That indicates that He did not just invite a “select elect;” no, he invited a bunch of people—for again, many are called, but few are chosen. Now there are varying beliefs of who these chosen were, but I personally believe the few that are “chosen” are the few that decided to come when the invitation was sent out to the “many.”
Now in verse 17, Jesus went on to say, “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’” So, we can clearly see that since the “certain man” was Father God that “his servant” is His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus was sent to the earth at “supper time” in the kingdom of God. Why? “To say to those who were invited…” Notice that they were invited before He was sent. This again describes to us the true doctrine of predestination & election.
You see, it is not that God predestines one to life and another to destruction. No, He simply made preparations for the Great Supper and sent out the invitations beforehand. Then He sent out His Holy Servant, Jesus, to say to those who were invited, “Come, for all things are now ready.” This was essentially the Gospel that Jesus came to preach during His 33 years on the earth. But did they “Come” in response to His invitation? Nope! All of these that Jesus was sent to did not accept the invitation to the Master’s Great Supper, but began to make excuses as to why they couldn’t come. And (sadly) still today, out of the many who are invited (i.e. called), few become “chosen”—meaning few accept the invitation.
But as we saw earlier, this word “chosen” is also defined as “elect”—which literally describes “the act of picking out or choosing.” So, you could say that “election” is “selection.” Which leads me to my next point …
ADOPTED AS SONS
The main point I want to get across from this verse is not how we become the “predestined,” it is to show you what we were predestined to—and Paul says here that it was “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”! Now this, my friends, is something to shout about!
You see, I believe adoption is actually one of the greatest acts of love that one could perform. Why? It is because when a child is begotten, although their parents might have been planning on having that child, the specifics regarding that child were not chosen. In other words, the parents receive what is handed to them by the grace of God, and of course, they love that child. But for a couple to adopt a child means that they specifically chose that child—meaning they picked out exactly which child they wanted. Not only that, but they jumped through many hoops to be able to adopt a child. It wasn’t like they decided they were going to adopt one day and they said, “Let me make a call.” No, it took a lot of time, effort, and resources to be able to have custody of a child. Now that, my friends, is love!
Now of course, Shannon and I do not have any experience in adopting another human being but we do have experience in the adoption our baby blue girl, Bluesy. I will not bore you with the story, but I will say that Bluesy was not as easy on the eyes as the other puppies that were up for adoption. She was not as fluffy and cute as some of the others. But the father / the husband saw potential in that runt of the litter and made his case to adopt her above the others. And, praise God, we did!
But my point is that so many children who are adopted seem to struggle with the idea that their biological parents gave them up for adoption. But as difficult as that is (and I certainly do not make light of the struggle involved in one’s soul if this was what life handed them), what that person needs to magnify is not what their biological parents did to them, but what their adopted parents did for them. You see, the fact that there was a couple out there who specifically chose a child to be a part of their family even though they originated from another man and woman shows the unconditional love and grace of God. How do I know this? It is because this is exactly what Father God did for each of us:
He predestined us to come into His family—making all the necessary preparations and provisions to apprehend us as His own. He did this by setting aside His Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world, and sending Him to this earth in the fullness of time to die our death that we might live His life. He then chose us out of this world’s orphanage—specifically hand-picking us to become His own. And in the process of predestinating and choosing us, He changed us from being one of those dirty little orphans into holy and blameless children, washed in the blood of the Lamb. And with this spiritual adoption into His family came all the blessings that come as being a child of God. Amen! We are made rich! We are made whole! We are made clean! And we have a name now in that our Elder Brother and our Heavenly Father have brought us into their family. Praise be unto the Father of lights!
And as we are told in the end of verse 5, He did this “according to the good pleasure of His will.” That is just an old English way of saying, “He did all of this because He desired to and because it made Him happy.”
Yes, friends, the Lord chose, predestined, and adopted us into His family, etc. because He wanted to; not because He had to! Always remember that: It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the abundance of grace that He already has given! Amen!
THE CHOSEN GENERATION
Now, in conclusion, I want us to look at a section of verses that beautifully summarizes and further describes what we have been learning today:
In First Peter 2:4-9 the apostle Peter says, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
First of all, I want you to notice in verse 4 how Jesus is described as a living stone who was rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious. It would be like us seeing a “Rock” on the ground that looked just like a regular old rock. But what we fail to realize is that this Rock is actually the rarest of stones and worth more than all of the world’s diamonds combined. What this illustrates to us is that even though Jesus was rejected by people because they never saw the value that was in Him, God had “chosen” Him, knowing how priceless He truly was, is and evermore shall be.
You see, usually what determines the value of something is what people are willing to pay for it. In other words, when people begin paying large sums of money for an item, then the value begins to increase of that item. However, in the case of Jesus, men rejected Him—not seeing His true value. You could say that they took that valuable stone and cast it aside as common and worthless. But how many of you know that
no human being truly has the right to determine what is valuable—only God because His is the only opinion that matters!?!
But, you see, many Christians accept this truth about that Living Stone named Jesus. However, notice what the apostle Peter went on to say in verse 5— “you also, as living stones…” Now wait a minute: I thought Peter said that Jesus was this living stone. He did, but he also says that “you also, as living stones.” Again, as He is, so are we in this world! Just as He is the light of the world and told us that we also are the light of the world, He is a living stone, and we also are living stones. Glory!
This illustrates to me something awesome: I made the point already that the value of something is based on what people are willing to pay for it. Well, if God the Father was willing to pay the price of that living stone—Jesus—to redeem us, then that means that you must be at least equally as valuable to the Father as the price He paid. Let me say it this way: Since God paid the astronomical price of the blood of His Son for your salvation, then that automatically means that you are extremely precious and valuable—even to the point of being worth as much to Him as Jesus is. Now that is a hard “gos-pill” to swallow right there!
Now let’s skip down to verses 9-10 because these verses teach us some awesome truths: Verse 9 begins by saying, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The first two words “But you” now turns the attention to us—all those who have obeyed the truth and believed on that Chief Cornerstone. So, what this means is that everything contained in verses 9-10 is a solid look into our spiritual mirror!
And the first thing Peter says is that we are a “chosen generation.” Now some translations define this phrase as “elect race.” And this is not talking just to Jews here. The true “chosen generation” and sons of Abraham are those who walk in the faith of Abraham. Didn’t John the Full Gospel, Pentecostal, Charismatic (He wasn’t Baptist) say that God could raise up these stones to be sons of Abraham? (Matthew 3:9) Interesting analogy, huh—because that is exactly what happened! He took these Gentile stones that were rejected and made them alive, sons and daughters of Abraham! Glory!
Then Peter goes on to call us—all followers of Jesus Christ—a “royal priesthood”: Notice that in this phrase, there is a reference to both royalty and the priesthood. Doesn’t Revelation 1:6 say that He has made us all kings & priests unto our God? I see that as saying we as born-again believers who are in Christ are both sons and servants of God. We are born (again) as God’s sons and are therefore the kings that the King is King of (i.e. King of kings). But we are also made His priests—that is, those who serve at the altar of God and minister to others. Both of these are who we are!
Then Peter describes us as a “holy nation”: We are obviously not talking physically here. No, we are now fellow citizens in the kingdom of God, and therefore, are a part of the holy nationality. Amen!
Then He describes us as “His own special people”: Now the King James Version translations says, “peculiar” and sometimes I think that would have been a more accurate translation😉. But no, this phrase literally describes those who are “God’s own possession”—which “mirrors” what the Lord repeatedly told Israel as we saw before. We are His treasure!
And the purpose of us being a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His own priceless possession is so that we “may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Church, this is one of our primary callings—to proclaim His praises to those who are lost and without God in the world. Just as Israel was called to be God’s light to the Gentiles, now all who are in Christ are also called to be a light to the world and proclaim His praises.
You see, the church today is God’s chosen people. Some think that Peter was talking to Jewish believers here, but verse 10 teaches us otherwise. For Peter said that these believers were not a people of God, but are now the people of God. So, either A. Peter was talking to Jews of natural descent here and saying that they are not God’s chosen people until they accept their Messiah or B. he was talking about all Gentiles who were not God’s people now becoming God’s people. I believe the latter is the truth. I believe we who had not obtained mercy have now obtained mercy in Christ Jesus!
So, in conclusion, we all—all who are in Christ—are the chosen ones of God! This means that before the first foundation of the earth was ever laid, we were selected and hand-picked by Almighty God to be His own priceless treasure! We were adopted by our Heavenly Father, elected by Him to be holy and without blame before Him and for Him!
What an awesome truth to know that we are the chosen ones of God. This should fill our hearts with joy and peace knowing that God thought enough of us and loved us enough to personally select us to be His elect! Glory to God! This is who the mirror says that we are! Amen.