“LET THIS MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: BUT MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, and took upon Him the form of a SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became OBEDIENT unto death, even the death of the cross.” How often have we read through this portion of scripture? So many discussions have been had around these passages, which I also have felt blessed to take part in. Yet, recently, it has been hitting me as a most sobering challenge. The mind the Lord is speaking of here is no doubt the mind of Christ. Verse 5 begins this statement with, LET this mind… which ought to inform us, of a surety, that this mind will not work unless we LET it. The mind of Christ as described here is totally foreign to the natural mind of man. The truth is that they are vehemently opposed to one another. Every believer has a hard time coming to grips with this truth as they grow in the Lord. We often end up fighting against the mind of Christ without even knowing it. The reason for this is seen in that our soul often lives in the realm of human reasoning. There is no greater opponent to faith in Christ. I have heard it said that the opposite of faith is sight. I believe that this is so, because it is what we see that causes us to reason, and wars against what is not seen. So, then, our reasoning is often at war with the Word of the Lord. Oftentimes when I listen to other believers speak, I can hear them arguing with the mind of Christ. We all have walked in this realm of unbelief from time to time. I have recently seen that this denial of the faith which we proclaim needs to be repented of. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. How many times have we heard people judge the degree of one’s faith in Christ by whether they get healed or not, or whether one is wealthy or poor? Such judgments are not the plumbline with which the Lord measures one’s faith. I’ve known many believers who are wealthy and prosper in the natural, as well as many who are poor in this world’s standards, yet I’ve seen both with a very similar problem. SELFISH PRIDE! A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses, or of the lack of them, for that matter. All such judgments and comparisons are of the flesh, and war in the carnal mind against the mind of Christ. The problem we all have in common is one that we would like to ignore. It is one that causes one man to fall in love with one thing in life, and another to fall in love with something completely different. One man may like to build up a bigger construction company, and another may like to build a larger church. The only difference, perhaps, being that the one justifies his efforts by saying that He is working for the Lord, and the other may use the excuse of provision for his family’s future. Down either (of these), or for that matter, any other road, there is the desire of self-satisfaction.
In this era of so much talk about grace, to painstakingly examine the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus to avoid falling for cheap grace is commendable. The grace for which Jesus Christ died to bring to mankind, when embraced guides gently to the fulfillment of the law of the spirit of life James 4:17. This grace is powerful, merciful, forgiving, and full of love and truth. It teaches us to DENY and FORSAKE evil ways and HELPS us to WALK in accordance with God’s righteousness that is imputed to us Titus 2:11-12 & Rom 5:17.
The Wheat and Weed must of necessity grow together but Wheat will remain Wheat and Weed cannot become Wheat. Those that hear the voice of the spirit in the pages of scriptures and obey the Lord’s voice and those who do not hear, cannot agree as they do not see and get the same instruction though they GROW together. The reapers (God’s Angels) must be left to take care of that complex matter at the appropriate time ordained by God.
If hearing God’s voice consistently fails to activate grace to obey and do his command John 10:4 & 27, we better question ourselves in the light of the parable of the WHEAT and WEED in Matt13:24-30. The scripture tells us that; it’s God that helps us to will and to DO his good pleasure Phil 2:13 & Rom 10:17. It is imperative that we spend time studying the bible which holds the scriptures (God’s infallible words Ps 12:6) and particularly the book of Romans.
It is important to note that men like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Paul, Peter, the early church (ecclesia) and all who have ever walked with God had personal encounter with him. They heard his voice, learnt his voice and obeyed the command of his voice John 10:27. Those who are just following the voice of man and the letter of the law alone never get the unction to DO his will. They end up with the stranger and are deceived John 10:5 and 2Cor 3:6.
Paul, clarifies this by saying, it’s ONLY those that are lead by the Spirit of God that are the sons of God Rom 8:14. Hearing God activates grace in our lives that enables us to obey him. This is not to say that we obey him once we hear his voice but an emphasis that his voice carries more than sufficient grace to lead us to obey him if we truly are his and love him. The following scriptures confirm what the word or voice of God does to those who hear it.
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me Ps 119:93.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you John 15:3.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful… Heb 4:12.
Our response to the effect of God’s word should be to love Him. And the admonition from Jesus is, “if ye love me, keep my commandments” John14:15.
The book of Romans is one of those books in the bible that most powerfully challenges us to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit that lives in us (his temple); that Christ’s life might flow out of us enabling us to please God, praise and worship him acceptably. The result is that we become a blessing to all peoples while reconciling the lost to God through the gospel alone and for the course of Christ and their well being.
This season like all other times calls for us to set aside our many fine books that talk about God and study the bible thoroughly with open and sincere heart because in it is life John 5:39. Joshua 1:8 and 2 Tim 2:15, shows that the reason for studying is for us to first learn and obey God within the context of what we read. Then as He presents opportunity for us, we share accurately his very words and not our fine ideas 2 Tim 2:15.
Given the multiplicity of teachers and their books these days, the danger of listening to them more than personally studying the bible and hearing God is so high. Our personal study of scriptures should far outweigh the time we spend listening to others and reading good books about God Deut 17:19.
Please note that my emphasis is on more of personal study and not that we should stop reading carefully selected books and listening to the ministry of teaching that God himself has set in the body of Christ along with other ministries to bring the unity of the faith among the saints of God till we all come to the full measure of the stature of Christ.
I am not against books.
It has helped some to become millionaires and their claims, is that they have invested it into spreading the gospel. Let’s praise God anyhow. But no book(s) are needed to support the bible rather, all the books that has been written and yet to be written, need the bible to support them. On this premise, it will be unwise to say we need those books to aid us to understand the bible. This belief certainly has and will open more doors for heresy (teachings originating from the human mind and anti Christ spirits) that is already ravaging the community of faith.
We are saved by God’s power (grace) and walk godly only by his power (grace). But, as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name John 1:12. So when we accept Jesus Christ, what comes into us is Power (grace).
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace John 1:16. So, grace can be received in varying measure Eph 4:13.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing John 15:5. Let’s note “apart from me” that is the power or grace 1Cor 1:24.
To disdain grace is to disregard Christ. Misusing grace for a cloak to defend our weaknesses or sin is to say Christ does encourage us to disobey the father. It’s pretty serious I will say.
God is not ashamed about our weaknesses but challenges us to depend on his grace that we may through it be made strong. He is not frightened off by our sin(s) but abounds more of his grace to us that we may overcome them to the praise of his holy name Heb12:1, 1 John 1:9 & Rev2:5.
God’s sovereignty is more than complex for human mind. It’s only our regenerated spirit that can handle it. Paul explaining this complex issue of God’s sovereignty simply went back to Exodus 33:19 as quoted in Rom 9:15. He further nailed it home in Rom 9:16.
So God’s sovereignty does not concern us Rom 9:20. It is for his exclusive use and not ours. We can refer to it but cannot attempt to use it for ourselves in any way. Our call is to depend on God’s grace which he has given and willing to give more if we are willing to receive it.
I am always challenged in new ways to learn that; to whom more grace is given, more obedience is required; more of loving God and every others human being but especially fellow believers. Simply put consistent increase and steadfastness in the fruit of the spirit is to be seen not preached 1Cor 2:4.
The bitter-sweet about grace is that it only increases as the need arises.
Needs like, when we choose to fulfill God’s purpose through our calling, increase in sin around us or attacking us, persecution, suffering, depression, distress, sickness, lack, loneliness, demonic attacks, bereavement, failure, disappointment, false accusations, imprisonment, childlessness, reproach etc., Remaining faithful, Persevering and trusting the Lord in the face of all that, yields multiplication of God’s grace and increase the fruit of the spirit in our lives 2 Cor12:10, James1:3 & John 15:5.
Peter’s conclusion is that we will never fall if we depend and use the grace of God in us (2 Pet 1:10). And if we fall even seven times (completely), we will rise up 1 John 2:1 & Prov 24:16. This is sign of a WHEAT. It’s the Lord’s own plant. It cannot continue in sin because its nature hates sin though sin may sometimes enjoy short lived win(s) Rom 7:21-25. Anyone who is not distressed when they have sinned and therefore runs to God is not a participant of God’s grace at all. God’s grace is so sweet and inviting that anyone who ever gets a taste of it, will rather give up their life than lose it. It’s like the precious pearl that a man finds and gives up all he has in exchange for it Heb 4:16, Ps 34:8 & Ps 63:3.
Paul’s Apostolic warning is reverberating for the twenty first century followers of Christ; see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God;…. Heb 12:15.
The question is why is it reverberating?
The following will surely include in the answer.
(a) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come 2 Tim 3:1. Perilous means dangerously difficult times.
(b) Many have failed to obtain the grace of God therefore root of bitterness has sprang up and many are defiled. Prayer and fasting cannot stop it. Offends come because of lack of grace and the scriptures says clearly offends will surely come. The point is this; we ALL need increase of God’s grace to escape the coming onslaught. Praise God….. Praise God! His grace is more than sufficient to those that find it. For those who find it, there remains a rest for them in God’s kingdom Heb 4:1 and 9.
Before anyone gets too righteous, let each man examine his heart and call upon God to examine us if bitterness is anywhere near our heart before it takes its ugly root 1Cor 10:12 & Ps 139:23-24. Judgment starts in God’s temple (our hearts). If you judge yourself, you will not be judged 1Cor 11:31. He that judges himself repents often before the Lord and enjoys clear conscience which God values much.
The grace of God works through the fear of the Lord which produce wisdom. No wonder our Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace and wisdom. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise Ps 51:17. For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite Isa 57:15.
Paul the Apostle in Heb 6:9 gave a profane exhortation as a master builder to cushion a real danger that result from despising the grace of God. We must latch onto that word of encouragement without losing site of Heb 6:4-8 that necessitated Heb 6:9. In fact, verses 4-8 should make us persevere on the grace of God with all of our heart individually and collectively as saints of the most High God. Galatians 5:4 further amplifies Heb 6:6.The fact that someone who has once enjoyed God’s grace can fall away from grace is all the more reason to take it seriously, treasure it and use it for our own good and the good of others.
Our privilege in God is incomprehensible. This unfathomable love makes us want to shout the Lord’s praise hysterically and become even more undignified than this as a song writer puts it.
May the Lord deliver us from self approval, secret love from our friends and cause a revival of his fear in our hearts. And may grace be multiplied to the body of Christ at this time that the royal priesthood may be obedient to the Faith and bring praise, honour and glory to the lord’s name in all the earth 1 Peter 2:9. Amen.