Chapter 5: Common Law “Marriage” part II
Happiness or Holiness:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:1-6).
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God (I Thessalonians 4:3-5).
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24, NAS).”
Neither immorality nor impurity should be named among God’s people. These texts are life-altering. Far too many people are concerned more with their personal happiness than holiness before God and it should not be. When seeking happiness, there’s guilt involved feeling like they’re being selfish seeking such happiness. In this state of guilt, the concept of holiness gets swept under the rug.
Imagine if you will a person completely surrendered to God. This particular person will no longer seek happiness nor will they be led by emotions of guilt, shame, fear, or anything else. They will be, on the other hand, focused solely on pleasing the Savior. In this condition, there is no room for anything other than holiness; they’ll do whatever it takes to be in direct obedience to the One who can resolve any matter. A person, such as the two men mentioned above, would be able to make clear, concise decisions concerning their own personal life. They would be able with ease to tell their girlfriends that, since they’re seeking the face and holiness of Christ, they must of necessity break union, or at the very least, stop living in sin. Their desire for holiness would cause them to surrender completely to Christ and, in so doing, do whatever necessary to follow Christ.
One must understand that commitment and surrender are vastly different things. Commitment in or to anything means that you are the one in control; you can quit whenever you want. Surrender, adversely, denotes one not in control, you can’t quit as you no longer have a say or vote in the matter; you have consigned your vote, say, and will. Countless people are “committed” to their girlfriend or boyfriend and suggest that, because of their commitment, they don’t need to marry. However, God doesn’t call people in relationship with Himself to commit, but to surrender.
Since human marriages are a reflection of our relationship with Christ, we too are to surrender ourselves to our spouse. This way, there’s no out because you aren’t controlling the relationship, God is and/or your spouse. Commitments are broken at will every day because the one committed controls how long they stay. When both the husband and wife surrender to each other, there is an unbreakable force; yet in today’s marriages, both want to do nothing more than commit so that, if they eventually want out, they can leave.
When we say marital vows, most miss the fact that this is supposed to be a form of surrender, a giving yourself to the other; two becoming one (both are surrendered into one new creation). Because people miss this, too many are committed for a season but, eventually, they check out be it with literal divorce or emotionally though remaining legally married. In living together unmarried, one inadvertently surrenders themselves to a person without covenant and that can only lead to a disaster. This is why people who are living together having taken on each other’s bills, kids, property, etc. feel trapped though they’re actually free to leave. Surrender means crucifying self; it means to lay down your life for another. We all need to stop surrendering ourselves to one without covenant because, without covenant, there is no protection and all the lines of what is right and wrong are blurred leaving everyone confused and imprisoned.
To reiterate, God doesn’t call anyone to happiness, but holiness just as He doesn’t call us to commit, but to surrender. Surrender causes us to become lost in Christ. Surrender causes us to become lost in our spouse. Surrender takes your focus off personal happiness (selfishness) and diverts it toward holiness (selflessness). Keeping this in mind, it will assist you in the quest for the correct union of marriage preordained by God. Instead of asking, “Will this make me happy?” always ask yourself, “Can I surrender to him or her? Should I surrender to him or her? Can I utterly subject myself to him or her and be in right standing with God?” These questions can literally save you from entering an unholy relationship of fornication, adultery or unholy marriage and even save you from exiting a correct marriage gone sour through divorce.
Commitment and happiness = self-focus and personal control
Surrender and holiness = God-focus and control abandonment
Prayer of Purity: Father, may I be self-controlled as Jesus was when He walked in human flesh. As I seek purity, reveal to me the weaknesses of my flesh that I will flee evil instead of deceiving myself into thinking that I have strength I do not possess. Lead me into the path of righteousness that I will not cast my foot upon a stone and stumble and fall. I choose today to crucify my fleshly man and receive Holy Spirit to take His rightful position as the ruler of my heart. I repent of all impure activity in my past and receive your forgiveness. I choose to abstain from all sexual impurity. Thank You, Jesus, for paving the way of holiness. Amen.
Chapter 5: Common Law “Marriage” part I
And those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:8-13).
Two Become One:
For anyone who reasons, “If I become one with someone through sexual intercourse and we are considered as married, what’s the purpose of marriage? I don’t need a certificate to validate my relationship. In the sight of God, we’re already married,” I direct them to Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman. In John 4:17-19, we read: “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, “I have no husband;” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’”
There are a couple of items that need to be addressed. One, Jesus said that she stated correctly ‘I have no husband’ yet she had five husbands prior to her current common-law husband. If she is five times divorced and Jesus made it known that she didn’t have a husband, she is cleared of still being married post-divorce. Secondly, though she was entering into sexual relations with the one not her husband, Jesus did not consider that as validation of marriage in God’s sight. Her granted divorces were honored by God as no longer married and equally, her common-law husband wasn’t a husband at all.
We see continually that marriage is the place of covenant; the only place that God can and will honor sexual relations between a man and a woman. Sexual intercourse is to be kept holy as God intended. It is not for us to use as a tool to alleviate tension, validate a romantic relationship, or abuse in any capacity. Sex outside of marriage is a sin and extremely dangerous, much like a toddler with a butcher knife or loaded gun.
The next question asked a lot among followers of The Way (Christ) is, “What is appropriate conduct in dating?” Let’s look at the next section of Bible passages:
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:1-5, NKJV)
The phrase “to touch a woman” is an idiom referring to “sexual relations.” Apto is the Greek word Paul uses for “to touch.” It has the sense of touch, cling, take hold of; to kindle as in “to kindle a fire.” It can mean any form of physical touch from light caress to actual sexual intercourse.
Paul continues with the word “nevertheless” which connects all that he is saying. Dating is a western practice that isn’t found anywhere in the Bible. This would lead me to believe that dating as we know it in modern western society is invalid. With Paul’s apt “nevertheless,” he instructs men and women to marry and then (as in post-marriage vows) conduct yourselves in any form of touch that is holy in the sight of God.
Many argue that there are numerous things not mentioned in the Bible yet that does not constitute then as sin and that is true for many things such as celebrating birthdays or things of that nature. However, with dating, there are Scriptures that specifically speak to relations between a man and woman that would directly negate the form of dating for which is common today. If “dating” simply meant spending quality time together getting to know one another, that would be acceptable, but all the excessive touching between unmarried couples is indeed sin.
Paul continues to instruct the married couple to not abstain from sex. Within marriage, the man and woman are no longer their own, they belong to each other. We can conclude from this one section of verses alone that touching within the confines of dating is not permitted. We all know that few, if anyone, will uphold God’s way of thinking, sad as the fact is. If you must date, keep your body parts, all of them, to yourself since the more two touch, the more they “burn” and are tempted to forget God and act in the flesh (literally and metaphorically), and will possibly lead to a marriage or some form of improper conduct that God never designed or ordained.
Living together, having sex before marriage, merging households without marriage – these are merely common occurrences in the modern-day Babylon in which we live. We’ve set such a low precedence that no one, including Christians, seems to know right from wrong in any given situation, especially in the arena of romantic relationships.
As I’m writing this, I am currently involved with attempting to help two men out of their unholy unions with women not their wives. Both men feel so trapped that they struggle to see a way out. They’re all miserable because none of the four entered their relationships while in right standing with God; Yeshua was not consulted in the least. These men, because they’re living together in sin with their girlfriends, have wedged themselves into a role of father to their girlfriends’ children and husband to women not their wives. These four have basically been playing marriage all the while having no marital covenant – a recipe for disaster!
One fellow and his live-in girlfriend are both married to estranged spouses. He refused to get out of the relationship when it was suggested and, because he hesitated to do what was holy and helpful for everyone, he eventually became aggressive as they both would badger one another mentally, emotionally and physically. As a result, now he’s in jail. If only he’d been obedient to God so as to remove himself from an adulterous relationship, he’d not be in jail. He tried so hard to force something to work that couldn’t and it ended in a worse way than necessary. This guy was too worried about her kids because he was their only support that he missed God’s plan altogether.
Because of his emotional and financial ties to her children, he felt as though he couldn’t leave. So, he remained in an unhealthy, unholy, unhappy relationship and it ended more poorly than if he had just said, “This isn’t working. It isn’t right in God’s sight. We need to separate.” Fear became a factor; afraid of hurting her, hurting her kids, leaving them abandoned, etc. When fear is in play, wisdom cannot prevail. When fear is in action, God’s voice cannot be clearly heard or obliged. Because of placing himself in a situation that was against God, fear became the lead which causes nothing less than chaos and confusion.
The other gentleman has children and his girlfriend has a child; together they’ve lived for many years. He is acting as father to her child and she is acting as mother to his children. Now he’s trying to get his life aligned with Yeshua and feels stuck just like the other guy. He doesn’t hate her but he doesn’t love her. They can’t divorce because they’re not legally married and he feels trapped in his own home. He illegally positioned himself to become something (husband, father) he never was. They are “common law” married but, in the sight of God, they’re simply living illegally due to fornication and lack of covenant. He too is fearful of what will happen when and if he breaks the relationship as she and her child have nowhere to go.
My suggestion to them both would be to align themselves with God and, in so doing, pull the plug on the very unhealthy relationship, stop having sex, stop living together and recalibrate from there. Fear is a terrible thing but always comes into action when lives are not aligned with the God who has already overcome fear. Imagine if they both began to walk in surrender to Christ. They would no longer worry about the outcome, but only that they are living a holy lifestyle in accordance to God’s commands. By recalibrating their thinking from an earthly, fleshly perspective into a heavenly, godly one, all fears would calm and they would have faith to do what is correct trusting that Yahweh will work things out for all involved.
Those who live in common-law relationships miserable and sometimes volatile are setting a very low bar of life for their kids. They currently worry that the kids will be hurt if they split, but I say that they’ll be hurt worse in the long run if they don’t make an immediate change. Doesn’t everyone want their children to grow in a home where the parent or parents are at peace, joyful, and walking in accordance to Christ’s will? Living together unmarried will always, in time, lead to misery. The only exception is when the couple repents, aligns with Christ and then moves forward.
Chapter 3: Understanding Covenant, part II
Understanding We’ve Already Died:
Judgment was the result of the sin of one man (Romans 5:15-19). This judgment came to all men. Judgment is upon all flesh whether you are “good people” or bad in the eyes of the world or self. It took only one sin to defile all. But, praise God, since it only took one man to bring condemnation, it took only one act of righteousness through One Man for all to be justified! One act of disobedience equals condemnation for all. One act of pure obedience equals justification to all who receive.
Although we have no choice in being born into condemnation, we must choose to receive justification. In other words, your biological mother could not choose for you at natural birth to be born into righteousness. It is a conscious act that has to come from the individual. You must seek it. It is always available, but still you must accept and receive it of our own free will. Since you were naturally born into condemnation, you now must be born (a separate birth) into supernatural justification and sanctification.
Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, brought into the earthly realm the Blood Covenant; it is a better covenant than the covenant made to Abraham. The awesome thing is that you get the better covenant plus all the promises given to Abraham and his descendants. God has provided more than you can ever think or imagine. You must seek death in order for His promises to be revealed and to be accessible.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:2-3, NAS).”
As an aside, I love what this Scripture reads: “God did.” What the Law could not accomplish, what man could not accomplish, God did! He did not leave you without hope in your condemned state. He fulfilled willingly what could not be fulfilled through ordinary man.
The Blessed Covenant:
“‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,’ He then says, ‘And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin (Hebrews 10:16-18, NAS).”
“For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15, NAS).”
“Since a death has taken place,” stated in Hebrews 9, you are to take up the cross (death) with Christ; the One who made the covenant already gave His life. If you are a member of the Body of Christ and do not die to the flesh regularly, know that you are just running around aimlessly quoting Scripture to no avail. You are going through motions that are meaningless to God because they are of the flesh. Anything you do that is not Holy Spirit instructed is as wood, hay and stubble to God – worthless from and eternal Kingdom, standard.
You must care for your physical body because it is the temple of the Living God. However, you must be emptied of the sinful nature so that Holy Spirit may freely move through you and also that you may be free, with Him and in Him. It is for your benefit as well as the Kingdom of God.
“It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise who are regarded as descendants,” reads Romans 9:8. The Scribes and Pharisees claimed to be “descendants” because they were in the physical bloodline of Abraham. This Scripture (and those along with it) states that the covenant of the Son comes through faith in Christ. The flesh has no covenant with God. It is our spirit that receives Christ through faith. All who enter into covenant with the Father are true descendants of Abraham and have access to all the promises given to him and through him.
The Seal of Promise:
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13, NAS).”
“Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12, NAS).”
“To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6, (NAS).”
Holy Spirit is the Seal of Promise. He is the mark of God. Without Holy Spirit brought to life by the flesh having been put to death, how will God know you? How will the demons know you? How will man know you? Two lives cannot reside in one body. The flesh of man is perpetually at war with the Spirit of God. Death to the worldly way of thinking and doing, the lusts of the flesh, brings us into covenant relationship with the Father, your Husband. It brings you into access to all of the blessings of the covenant but disobedience breaks covenant protection. This is why He calls you to die daily; He wants you to inherit all that is His and He has given instruction how to attain it. He withholds nothing from us; it is we who withhold His hand.
Prayer: Father, I release myself to You totally and completely without reservation. Show me how to die daily to the fleshly nature in which I was originally born and how to allow Your Holy Spirit full access to all of me. Make me mindful that I am an heir to the Promise through Your Spirit and not through external actions of my flesh. I thank You, Jesus, that by Your stripes, I am healed and by Your wounds, I have been transferred from death unto light. I bless You, Almighty, that You did not leave me abandoned, but adopted me as a rightful heir to the Kingdom of God. Amen.
If there’s one “skill” I have honed having a chronically ill child, it’s patience. Patience, as many know, is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. My entire adult life, I’ve functioned in two speeds: fast and faster. I made quick decisions in everything; procrastination is not in my vocabulary. This can be an asset but, also a liability depending upon the situation. With a child who is perpetually ill, there is no such thing as “instantaneous”. There’s waiting on getting an appointment with specialists, waiting on meds to kick in, waiting on doctors to decide the next move, waiting in a lobby to be seen by doctors who are running behind (sometimes hours), and so on.
In this, I have learned (by force, in a manner of speaking) that patience is an invaluable asset in the Kingdom of God and, in turn, my life. Although, there are times when going fast can be good because we need to think on our feet, it can cause a stream of destruction by refusing to slow down long enough so as to properly evaluate the end result of our momentary actions. Patience comes from pause and pauses are very good. Pauses allow us to properly assess what is happening and what needs to occur next if, that is, we are wise enough to stop whining through the halt.
Impatience has proven itself deadly or, at the very least, tumultuous. Abraham birthed his own enemy through Ishmael. The prodigal son received his fortunes immediately but, then lost everything until he humbled himself. Judas received his fortune by selling out Jesus and his end was quite horrible. Eve’s impatience for more caused the death of mankind; on and on the stories go. The impatience of my youth caused me to marry a vile man; the repercussions took two decades to subside. On the flip side, Joseph, because of his intense patience, became ruler over all of Egypt, second only the Pharaoh. Patience, once Abraham surrendered to God’s timing, birthed many nations in his old age through Isaac.
My point is this: there is good in every obstacle if only we look to God. “There are no problems, only possibilities and opportunities”, I heard back in the 90’s from a wise man. I must admit, I initially thought the man was loony but, it began a new quest to look at things differently. Fast forward twenty-five or so years: I could easily murmur and complain about how difficult this all has been with Sophia or, I can choose to look to God so as to recognize good which has come about through the intense difficulties we have faced. Patience allows us or, rather, me, to see with Kingdom vision instead of the here-and-now.
I am forever changed for all this and I know, with great confidence, it will (in time) change Sophia for the better. There will be people with whom she can relate whereas someone else may not. This will cause her to be a game-changer in the lives of those who are otherwise hopeless and helpless. It will make her far more compassionate and relatable than someone who can only assume how they would feel or respond in a particular trial. Patience in allowing ourselves to endure something with grace and growth instead of attempting with futility to “get out of jail free quickly” develops endurance, perseverance and victory.
Watchman Nee (my favorite author and man of God) said (and I paraphrase) God’s people try too hard to pray themselves out of tribulation when, all the while, God is purposing to train us through it. Getting out to quickly actually hurts us because we soon will have to start over in another trial so we may eventually learn what we need. God’s will is not necessarily to experience “healing” (in whatever capacity) instantly because we will miss its purpose. In this thinking, my friend was correct: There are no problems, only opportunities and possibilities. Are you looking for your possibility and opportunity?
Chapter 9: Why Worry, part II
Circumstances are Irrelevant
“He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries (Psalm 112:7-8, NAS).”
Your circumstances will no longer have effect on your walk with Christ. Your circumstances will no longer make you or break you. Your circumstances will no longer dictate how you conduct yourself. Once you realize in your heart and mind that,
- His love is unfailing and His eye is on you always;
- He has defeated the enemy;
- everything the evil one does against you for evil, God has already turned around for your good;
- the world is condemned and has no power over you;
- the evil one has been overthrown and is acting on borrowed time;
- you are more than a conqueror
- Yahweh is a friend that sticks closer than a brother
– you will begin your life of victory, strength, power, and love in Jesus!
Once I identified with Christ and related to Him on a personal level, I was able to come to a place that, when adversity comes, I literally laugh. As in Psalm 112 verses 7-8, I have no fear of bad news and neither should you. I know immediately that Satan cannot succeed against me or my family. I laugh even through tears knowing that whatever the situation, it has already worked in my favor. I could write a book merely on the blessings of God turning things around for my favor! Let’s stop giving Satan a foothold by worrying about everything that appears bad. Begin to praise His holy name that it, whatever “it” is, has already become a benefit to you and not a liability. Deny that old Adamic fleshly nature that Christ overcame on the cross.
You are your own worst enemy when you do not fully know or understand who God has made you through the blood and the water. Peter refers to those in Christ as “aliens and strangers” because your origin has changed from the earthly to heavenly. Christ was a stranger on Earth, and, since He is your life, you too are a stranger. Do not act like the earthy man as through you are of this world.
Prayer: My Father, Husband and faithful Friend, I want to identify with You. I want to relate to You as You identify and relate to me, a mere human. As You chose to live as a man on Earth just to be able to identify with my plight and then die for me that I may live with You, I give my life to You. I hide myself in Thee, O Lord, so that all I know of my identity is that of Jesus Himself. Selah.
The Real Fight, part II
Pulling Down Imaginations and Strongholds:
According to II Corinthians 10:3-4, we have authority through the blood to pull down imaginations and strongholds that arise within you. This means to “take hold” of them and forcibly remove them before they cause irreparable damage. Everything begins in the mind and, if the mind is spiritually weak and contaminated, your actions will follow suit. Before you go into any battle for someone or something, you must first have yourself clean. Here’s the breakdown of the instruction of II Corinthians 10:3-4:
Imaginations: have you ever let your mind wander into some out of whack place? It could be imagining having an affair, stealing from your company, lying to get out of something, and so on. Imaginations that are not led by Christ lead people away from God, not toward God. You are not to allow your mind to wander. Take control over it. You are to operate with the sound mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). In purity, imaginations are what allow you to have visions from God and see them through to fruition. Those visions bring hope to the believer and salvation to the unbeliever.
Strongholds: anything that has a grip on you that would hinder you from being all God created you to be. A stronghold can be holding on to the past, bitterness, anger, greed, jealousy, addictions, or countless other things that seem stronger than Christ in you. When you are led by the Spirit, you will want to pull them down to keep them from oppressing you.
Pulling Down: it is not as much praying as it is commanding those things that hinder you to leave. Commanding things to leave is part of the authority God gave you over your own person. When things try to get in my head, I speak out loud so that demonic forces coming against me can hear, “I command you, in the name of Jesus, to be loosed from your assignment over me (name what it is).” Then I begin to replace them with whatever of God is the opposite. If impatience, replace it with the patience of Christ; if anger, peace; if hatred, love; if sorrow and depression, joy; anxiety, calm; if impurity, purity.
The mind is the home front of all battles; the real battle begins there. Keeping your person clean is imperative. “Pulling down” thoughts, ideas and images of the world that keep us bound in heaviness is our responsibility to keeping an easy yoke and light burden.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying imaginations and every high thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame (II Corinthians 10:3-4, NAS).”
This has everything to do with pulling down imaginations, strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself above the name of Christ. Your mind needs to be transformed because the thoughts of the flesh are corrupt and full of perversion. Your mind, in its natural state, is a cesspool of garbage keeping you weak and unable to tap into the fullness of God’s might and power. He would not instruct you to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” if the mind wasn’t a snare and easy prey for the evil one.
When you realize you are seated in heavenly places with Christ, in Christ, you will think His thoughts. You will begin to see clearly as He sees. You will comprehend God vindicates those who are His own and extends rest for the weary. God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound mind.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:2-3, 14, NAS).”
It’s been 7 ½ weeks since I last wrote because Sophia has been very ill. Shortly after the April 4th blog, she was admitted into the hospital 6 days; it is 2 hours away making the struggle a bit more intense. Test after test, lots of pain for Sophia and many trips back and forth to her specialists (also 2 hours away), they ruled out leukemia and Crohn’s disease, to which I am eternally grateful. Notwithstanding, we’re awaiting other tests to figure out, not only what it isn’t, but what it is. We go to her endocrinologist next week to explore other issues.
In the midst of it all, I must admit, I became wearier than ever before, spirit, mind and body. So much so that, on one occasion when my dad called and said “There are a lot of people praying for her”, the thought crossed through my mind, “for whatever good that’ll do”. I was shocked that even entered my mind, truly. I am a person of faith, nay, great faith. Christ is my life through and through and I make no bones about it. Regardless, that vile thought of faithlessness flitted right in and right back out. At that moment, I realized just how out of spiritual sync I had become. There are times in this life which, left unattended, have the power to utterly crush us. Watching your child in pain 24/7 years on end is one of those times. However, when I heard those words in my own mind, it called me to take notice of my spiritual condition.
Upon further investigation, I found I had been excessively agitated, frustrated and altogether ill at ease all the while begging God, pleading to Him to heal my child. At that moment, I became aware of the ponderance of the situation. I am well aware that, when someone is begging God for anything, they have either lost sight of the nature of God or they never grasped it at all. I was the former. It was then I positioned myself to repent, recalibrate my relationship with Christ and move forward in power and confidence in His purpose.
Our God, the Great I AM, is loving, kind, longsuffering, forgiving and merciful, among many other astounding characteristics. As His child, His bride, His ambassador, I know without question I never have to beg. I am to function in obedience which lends itself to His authority so as to utilize His power in any situation. If when I am not seeing things alter immediately while spiritually sound, I can rest in His ultimate plan. Before the foundation of the Earth, God devised a perfect plan for my life, Sophia’s life, and the life of every human ever to enter the Earth. I trust that plan. I believe in the greater heavenly good no matter how things feel or appear in the moment.
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
II Corinthians 5:7: We walk by faith, not by sight…
Romans 5:3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Chapter 5b: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh
“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…(Philippians 3:3, NAS).”
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Ephesians 2:3, NAS).”
Definition of Circumcision: removal of the foreskin or prepuce of the male genital organ
In the natural, circumcision is a customary, religious practice of being set apart from other people groups by removing a layer of skin not required for life. It is removed as a symbol of purity. One is born with it but is not necessary to sustain life, much like the appendix or gallbladder. Spiritually, God calls His people to be “set aside” through circumcision. We’re all born with a fleshly, sinful nature, but it must be cut away so as to be set aside unto God. It has everything to do with characteristics and predispositions with which we are all born. To say, “I was born this way” as if to excuse sin or bad behavior is invalid before God. We’re all born with characteristics, flaws and temptations that, once in Christ, must be abdicated to God through spiritual circumcision. For that matter, we’re all born little babies, but we do not remain in such a form.
To be circumcised in Christ means you live only unto Christ and you willingly cut away that which is displeasing to the King. It is a matter of surrendering everything. “Put no confidence in the flesh” Paul says, by definition, the flesh is defiled. The fleshly nature of mankind is a heavy yoke no one can bear very long. It is condemned and can breed only corruption, no exemptions. There is no exclusive club comprised of people who are born into righteousness. We are all born into the nature of the world with our minds corrupt from birth. There are natural weaknesses that don’t need to be kept and controlled; they need to be forfeited altogether for the cause of Christ.
A baby or young child may be innocent from blatant sin, but a child naturally knows how to manipulate with crying, whining, begging, nagging and things of the like. It comes naturally figuring out quickly how to get what it wants. That isn’t innocence, that’s the sin nature at work without even realizing what’s happening.
It is crucial you and I understand we are all born into the sin nature of Adam. There is no good person good enough that God would look upon them and say, “Okay, you, you and you are exempt from resigning the Adamic nature because I like your style!” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God (Matthew 19:16; Romans 7:18).” True circumcision is spiritual and it is a matter of cutting away that which divides you from intimacy with God.
All God’s people should desire and pray that “the natural will become unnatural and the supernatural of God become natural.” Translation: you personally should be so attuned to and led by Holy Spirit that acting worldly becomes unnatural, and operating supernaturally, as God, becomes everyday life. In this condition, whatever unholy characteristics are present with which we are born, they are brought into submission to the Holy One so that He will reign in their stead.
Chapter Five: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh, part I
“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27, NAS).”
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1, NAS).”
Definition of Abdicate: renounces one’s throne. Synonyms: disown, renounce, give up, refuse, relinquish, repudiate, abandon, turn one’s back on, wash one’s hands of, forgo, waive, abjure
I love this word “abdicate” because it is so in line with the meaning of “deny self”, “die to self”, “take up your cross”, “surrender”, “living sacrifice” and other expressions of ridding our person of the nature of the flesh. We, mankind, have made our flesh our throne from which we rule and no one can tell us what to do – not even God.
We worship self by following our heart when we should deny the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” No possible hope can be found in the heart of a man separate from the heart of Jehovah. This is why it is a matter of life and death that we disown the throne we have made of ourselves and abdicate to the King of kings. Do you remember the definition of “surrender” in chapter three? It is to “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” The throne of self is the enemy of the Throne of God and must submit.
Since Christ is our only hope, it makes sense that one would have to concede unto the One who can save those who are lost. We must deny ourselves if we are to expect anything of the Lord, especially strength. It’s all too easy for the flesh to appear strong when there are no real struggles afoot but, when things begin to go awry, we can’t help but acknowledge the glaring weakness of the flesh.
Paul, a mighty warrior for the Kingdom gospel, said he “made his body a slave”. This is because he understood full well how askew the flesh of man is, no matter the man, no matter how closely that man walks with the Lord. In fact, it was because of his close relationship with the Lord that he understood the intensely sinful nature of mankind. He went on to say that he made his body a slave so that “I myself will not be disqualified”. Many a person of God has fallen away due to the fleshly nature they refused to abandon, all the while preaching salvation to others.
We read in Mark 8 that, for those who want to save their life, they will lose it and vice versa. We cannot rightly attempt to hold to this life and somehow force it into morality so as to please God. The flesh must be acknowledged and rendered as dead since it already is. This is taking up our cross – it is death to self. The flesh will never be transformed into the image of God; therefore, it cannot be allowed to thrive even when we believe it to be “under control.”
If Jesus had to give up His life due to the nature of the flesh, this tells us the flesh is defiled beyond restoration. Christ did not give up His life that we may have ours; He gave up His life that we may have His. We are to take on His life into our mortal shell. We try too hard as “Christians” to will our flesh into submission or, in other words, we try to keep it controlled, much like a pet Rattlesnake. It is impossible to control the uncontrollable long-term. It must be extinguished; it must be 100% subjected to the holiness of Almighty God. This is the only possible way to become self-controlled – subjected and surrendered to Christ’s life.
You will read this in all my writings because it is all throughout God’s Word. The Bible is clear. The flesh being forced into morality is not the solution. It is weak and we must stop pretending it is strong enough to allow us to overcome our circumstances. To get to the root, flesh is not only weak but altogether defiled and dead in the sight of God; it is irreversibly cursed. It can never produce enough strength or power to aid you in a torrential downpour of life.
Chapter Three: Gaining a New Perspective, part I
“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous (Psalm 146:8, NAS).”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18, NAS).”
Definition of Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
Definition of Surrender: cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. Synonyms: forsake, deny, stand down, resign, disclaim, relinquish, forgo, cede, abandon, concede, yield, submit, relent, renounce, abdicate, transfer
Graham Cooke said, “Obstacles are a part of life. There is often no way to avoid them. However, there is a way to change our perspective so they can be used to our advantage.” Everything we do hinges on our perspective of what’s happening to us, for us, against us and around us. It is common knowledge that, with every action, there is a reaction. How we respond to things around us is always based on what we perceive is happening, be it good or bad.
For example, when my first husband left me with a note on the coffee table, I perceived it as the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. I was raised that Christians do not divorce, no matter what. Even though he had cheated, lied, mocked, neglected, shunned, and altogether broke our covenant vows in every conceivable way, I deemed his departure as a negative. I cried, and cried and cried and cried some more. I begged him to come home and be the man he was supposed to be. I willingly forgave him and was willing to put it all behind us.
When he did not comply, I began tail-spinning into a dark, sad, lonely, angry, desperate place for the better part of seven years, to which I refer as my “seven years of rebellion”. I slept with men not my husband, cussed like a sailor, I spoke harsh words to a long-time friend, and couldn’t stop pretending I was fine. Because I couldn’t see the grace of God causing him to leave, I couldn’t properly respond. My eyes were blinded and I blamed everyone except the culprit: me.
Yes, he did horrible, despicable things but, had I initially sought the face of God, I wouldn’t have married him. Looking back, the signs were evident. I simply refused to acknowledge them. If I could have perceived God’s voice prior to marriage, the marriage would not have happened; hence I would not have experienced undue pain and suffering. It is only when we seek God’s vision in each situation of life that we are able to see as He sees so as to respond according to the Spirit instead of according to the flesh.
Once I returned to and resigned my whole life to Christ in 2000, I began a new, fresh journey with Christ as I had never known or experienced. I began to see that, even though I had made a huge mess of my life due to poor decisions, God’s promise to “turn all things for good for those who love Him” was for me personally. Instead of trying in my own strength to “pick up the pieces,” I was fully able to leave all the pieces behind me and allow Christ to make a whole new me. The old pieces were not required and certainly me having to “pick up” anything of the old was not necessary.
Understanding this, my decisions, little by little, began to morph into something new, something altogether other-worldly. My discernment sharpened and continues to do so today. Every time I need to make a decision and I don’t readily know what to do, I rest in Christ and wait. I allow Him to show me what to do when the time comes.
In the worst circumstances, in the weakest places of life, before you do anything, ask God to grant you His vision, His perspective, and His will so as to go forward in His strength. A changed perspective will change the course of your life because it will change how you respond to everything. When you surrender your fleshly, natural, limited vision to the Holy One, you’ll be amazed at how darkness will be turned to light!
When All My Strength Has Failed
Alexys V. Wolf