The Essence of Godliness

grapes

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I grew up with the desire to be “godly.”  What I thought that word meant was a focus on my performance, my actions, how I lived.

I wanted to be “godly” because I wanted to “be someone” to God, to others, to myself.  My identity was in being a “good person” or being “godly.”  (My false identity.)

If you had asked me, I would have said something like, “Godliness comes from God.”

In actuality, I lived that godliness was something I did for God.

What I have come to learn in recent years is that godliness comes from God.

In fact, I, in myself, am incapable of being “godly.”

It is the Presence of God, His Holy Spirit, in me that produces true righteousness.

The true essence of “godliness” is a God-filled life.  That’s it, in a “nut-shell.”

The more I am in Christ and He in me, the more I will be “godly.”

How does this happen?  How do I have “more” of Christ in me?  How am I more in Him?

This is how we abide in Him: (everything we do comes from Him).

John 15:1-5

The True Vine

15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

1 John 2:6

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 3:6

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Scripture tells us how He dwells within us:

John 14:16

16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

1 John 2:27

27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will[a] abide in Him.

1 John 2:14

14 I have written to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
    Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
    And you have overcome the wicked one.

What an amazing truth this is!  We can abide in Him, and He abides within us.

If we desire to live a godly life, let’s remember that it is not anything we do for God.  It’s what we do from God, or more accurately, what He does in us.

The Motivation

 

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In yesterday’s devotional thought, I was reading about the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Their story is the following record in Scripture:

Acts 5:1-10

Lying to the Holy Spirit

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”

She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

This is what my devotional book, Men & Women Of The Bible said in regards to these two people:

Almost any group will include those who want to belong without the trouble of real commitment.  The early Christian church had its share of those who failed to count the cost.  Ananias and Sapphira preferred to appear committed rather than to be genuine in their faith.  They were under the mistaken notion that appearances were just as good as the real thing, but cheaper.  Caught in the act of dishonest giving, they lost everything.

When he confronted Ananias, Peter made the problem very clear.  Ananias and his wife were not obliged to give to the church.  That wasn’t the problem.  Ananias’ sin came when he desired to gain prestige by making others think he had given the entire amount of the property sale when he had only given part of the money.

What powerful and convicting words!  Are we more concerned about appearances, or are we committed to the God who sees everything, knows everything, and who desires us — all of us?

Another powerful point made in the devotional book, Men & Women Of The Bible said in regards to this situation:

Among those he intended to deceive was God.

…It’s often tempting to bend the truth, but have you ever thought about who you’re really trying to deceive?  How often would we stop twisting the truth if we truly and fearfully realized that beyond those people we may fool is a God we cannot deceive?

Wow!  Let me re-state that quote again…

“Beyond those people we may fool is a God we cannot deceive.”

God, purify our hearts.  We come before you, knowing that we are so easily deceived — deceived by the lies and deceived by our own fleshly desires.  Right now, we come before you, acknowledging the sinfulness and deception of our own hearts and acknowledging the Superior Excellence of You!  We ask you to reveal any ways within us that are not aligned with your will and ways.  We ask you to soften our hearts towards you and to bring us into repentance before you so that you might restore us into a closer relationship with You.  Knowing that you are a good God and a loving God, we want you above all else — above the shallowness and decay of our own desires.  Change our desires so that it is You we desire above all else!

What Does “Fear of God” Mean?

Scanner Fear 3

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In Scripture, there are dozens – more like hundreds – of verses on “fearing” God.

When my husband and I were recently discussing this topic of “fearing” God, he was saying, “People should fear God.”  My response was, “If the only response this fear produces is to run from God rather than submit to God, it is pointless.  It’s a sinful fear that produces nothing good.  If though people fear God correctly, they will repent and turn to God.  That is the only kind of fear that is good.  In other words, not all fears of God are good.” (BTW, we both agree on this.)

Let me explain in more detail…

Is all “fear of God” correct or good?

What does it mean to “fear God”?

In the beginning of time, we see when Adam and Eve first “feared” God and what was the cause and result of that fear.

Genesis 3:6-10

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Here we see one type of “fear” of God.  This is what I would call “sinful fear.”  This kind of fear causes us to recognize the power of God, but instead of yielding to it, we run from it.

When confronted with the righteousness and power of God, we have a response to make.  We either repent and submit ourselves to God, or we reject Him/rebel and run from Him.

There are many verses that talk about the right type of “fear” of God.  Perhaps, this is better described as such overwhelming respect/awe that we are humbled and surrender our own wills to Him.

Deuteronomy 10:12

The Essence of the Law

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Psalm 89:7

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
And to be held in reverence by all those around Him

The wrong kind of fear trembles at the power of God, still clings to its own self-preservation and will, and runs from or opposes the will of God.

The following verses describe the wrong kind of fear that the world has:

Philippians 2:10

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

The world will “bow” before God but not in reverence/submission.  (At the confrontation of His Power, there is no physical strength left to stand in His Presence.)

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, unbelieving,[a] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Psalm 67:7

God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

The world will “fear” God but not to submit to Him.

James 2:19

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

The demons “fear” God.  They fear His power but not in the “right” sense — that which leads them to submit or to repent.

To simplify this, godly “fear” leads us to repentance.  Sinful “fear” causes us to run, hide, rebel, just like we saw Adam and Eve do.

I believe that sinful fear is inter-connected with pride.  Rather than repenting, we run from God, which means we are relying on ourselves.

I believe that self-reliance is the definition of pride.  It is independence from God, which is sin.  See my earlier blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/the-simplicty-about-sin.

God had shown me earlier that rebellion comes from distrust.  God then posed the question to me: “From where does distrust come?”

Distrust can come from wounds, but it can also come from learning to rely on ourselves (self-reliance) which is pride.

This is the key thought:

Self-reliance is the flesh’s sinful response to lies about God as a result of the hurts we have experienced. 

We all experience wounds in this world — some to a greater extent than others.  It is how we respond to those wounds that changes everything!

There is one more aspect in regards to the “fear of God” that we need to discuss.  It’s the concept of consequences.

In the past, what I thought was “fearing God” was really more about fearing the consequences of my sins.

When I was walking more in fear of my consequences, I would confess quite regularly, but my motivations were fear-based.  I was “obeying” to the extent that I wanted to avoid the consequences and was terrified of them.

When I wrongfully fear my consequences, what am I in essence believing?

I am believing that I have gone too far or made too big of a mistake for God to redeem them.

The truth is so long a I am truly repentant and have submitted my new set of circumstances to God, He can redeem even them.

The fear of consequences motivates the more “fleshly-minded” Christian.  The “spiritual” or God-filled man is motivated by relationship — his/her relationship with God.

When I fear my consequences more than I fear God, my consequences themselves can become a “god” in my life.  They can become “larger” than God in my heart.  This becomes obvious when the fear of my consequences leads me to fear them more than believing God is in control of them.

When I truly repent and submit myself to God, He can redeem even the most horrific consequences and use them to bring good.  (See Rom. 8:28.)

Nothing is beyond the reach of God.

God is not mastered by anyone or anything.  Satan nor us can “put one over” on God.

He is Sovereign!

 

How Understanding Our Position Secures Our Victory

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As Christians, we have this amazing opportunity to walk in victory and freedom — in Christ!  So often though, we do the opposite.  Why is that?

I believe it’s because we don’t understand our position in Christ.  We lose perspective, and we begin to falter.

The truth is quite simple.

We are overcomers because He overcame!

Our position is in Christ, and as such, we inherit what He has! 

Jesus said the disciples should get excited that their names were registered in heaven, because that meant the grounds of their authority were secured through God’s throne — His kingdom — and that’s why the power of hell could not prevail against them.

— Jack Hayford

We can speak with “authority” so long as we are speaking His words.

We can walk in confidence, which means in faith, because He is completely trustworthy.

The following verses are some great words of encouragement, reminding us of who we are in Him and what we have in Him:

Ephesians 1:14

14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:18

18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Colossians 1:12

12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Hebrews 1:4

having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 9:15

15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

1 Peter 1:3-4

A Heavenly Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Let’s walk in the victory Christ won for us and in faith because Faithful is He who called us!

The Simplicty About Sin…

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This past Saturday, I was pondering some truths I had read in Scripture, dialoguing with the Lord, and then He gave me this thought…

It was so “simple” and yet so profound in its impact…

Anything independent from God is sin. 

That means any time our wills are not aligned with God’s or simply put, submitted to God, we are in sin.

Understanding this simple truth is changing the way I pray and is changing the way I view my own sin.

It “emblazons” my sin before my eyes so that I no longer can justify or minimize it.

When I understand that I am sinning when I am not aligned with God’s will in ALL AREAS, I realize that I have a decision to make: I either respond to God’s conviction with contrition/repentance, or I rebel and reject His ways and reap the consequences of my own actions.

Thinking about this simple truth means I have been doing a lot of confessing lately — not prompted by fear or pride — but prompted from my own desire to walk in freedom and for greater communication in my relationship with the Lord. 

I don’t want hindered communication in my relationship with the Lord.

Sin hinders communication.  It produces “soul noise” that “drowns out” the voice of God.

Repentance reopens those channels, “unplugs” my ears, and removes the “blockades” in my spiritual life.

True repentance produces unprecedented peace and joy. 

Understanding the profound truth that my will needs to be aligned with God’s will in order to walk in truth, life, freedom, and righteousness means that I now pray the following prayer:

Lord, may your will be done in such and such a situation…”

“Lord, change my will to be yours in such and such a matter…”

So simple and yet so life-changing!

It does not matter that I want certain things.  Unless what I want is in alignment with what God wants for me at that time or in that way, to proceed ahead would be sin.

Yes!  I have been praying a lot of prayers, asking God to change my will in many matters and asking His will to be accomplished in many situations.  It is so exciting and amazing to be a part of His work in the lives of others and to be receptive and responsive to His leading!

May 2016 be a year of amazing revival in my life, my home, my family, and yours as well!

From Where Did Evil Come?

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I am not a philosopher neither do I have all the answers.  There are some questions though that are important enough to find the answers.

I recently had a discussion with a friend that prompted me to ask some deep questions.

Her question was, “From where did evil come?”

God reminded me that He knows all the answers so I asked Him the question.

I believe this is the answer He gave me.

He made the angels, including Lucifer, as highly intelligent beings with special abilities.  See Scripture for definitions.

Matthew 24:31

31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Psalm 91:11

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

2 Thessalonians 1:7

and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Hebrews 1:7New International Version (NIV)

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”[a]

Hebrews 1:14

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

2 Peter 2:4

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment;

Jude 6

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

The angels appear to have been given a measure of “free will”, in other words the ability to choose to obey or rebel.  In II Pet. 2:4, it says God did not spare the angels because they sinned.  Sin is willful disobedience, meaning there’s a will involved.

Lucifer and the other angels (demons) who followed him were created just like the good angels.  Then the day came when they disobeyed.  Scripture makes it clear that it was Lucifer’s pride that caused him to rebel against God.  It was the sin of pride and rebellion that led to his demise.

Isaiah 14:11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,
along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
and worms cover you.
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

Luke 10: 18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

In the beginning when God created Adam & Eve, God called it good.  It is obvious that they were made in a “perfect” or sinless state.  They had the ability to sin as time revealed, but their original created state was sinless in the sense that it was a “perfect slate” or untested state.  They were “innocent.”
It is obvious that Adam and Eve were also given a free will as they had the ability to make choices — both good and bad.  God punished or rewarded them according to their choices.

God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment.  The angels were also in a perfect environment.

The question then is, “How did they sin if there was no original sin and if they were in a perfect environment?”  Where’s the source of that sin?

Here’s the profound truth!

The answer to this question really stems from understanding from where good and evil come.  In other words, it’s not our environments that determine who we are or the choices we will make.

The only one who is truly good and perfect and “wills” independently to be that way from His very nature is God.

We only are sanctified through God/in Him — in His Son.

It’s our “new man” which is redeemed/created in Christ Jesus that is truly good and wills to obey God.

In other words, Adam and Eve and the angels prior to the Fall didn’t have Jesus’ nature within.  They were simply humans and angels with an untested nature that was only “clean” because they hadn’t been tested yet.

“Free will” gave opportunity not only to respond to God’s gift of salvation, to be remade into new creations — into the very nature of Jesus — but also gave us the opportunity to rebel.

Love always gives a choice so God gave us a choice.  That’s why Scripture says, “Choose you this day…  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… To as many as received Him…  Accept…”  Each of those words describe a choice.

It’s interesting too that our very souls are composed of a mind, will, and emotions.  A will means we have a choice — we “willingly” make choices.

Pride is the ultimate rebellion against God, and Satan did just that.

It’s our pride that leads us so often into sin, into distrusting God and relying on ourselves.

It was pride that caused Lucifer to rebel, and it was pride that caused Eve to desire to have the fruit from the one tree that she was told she could not have.  The implication was that she thought she deserved that fruit.

The most profound truth in this discussion though perhaps is to understand that our environments do not keep us from sinning.

It wasn’t the perfect earth and “clean slates” that would keep Adam and Eve and Lucifer from sinning.  It was only God Himself.  It was only complete reliance on Him that would keep sin at “bay.”

God, Himself, is the only answer/antidote to sin — not an innocent state, not a perfect environment.  Sin, therefore, is anything apart from God — independent from Him.

Some individuals have tried to argue that God created some people to sin, to reject Him.  This though is contrary to Scripture when we see many verses that tell us God is not the Source of evil.  God is righteous and holy, which means there is no sin within Him.   This means evil comes apart from Him.

Sin came with a free will.  A “free will” implies the freedom to make a willful choice.  This means we can choose to submit to God, in response to His initiation and direction.  It also means we can reject His voice of truth.

Sin, itself, is one of the best proofs that there is such a thing as “free will.”

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2 Corinthians 6:6

in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;

James 1:13-14

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 1but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

1 Peter 4:2

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

2 Peter 3:3

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

We all have the capacity within us to respond to God’s call.  He has initiated by “sewing the seed of truth” to us all.  The question is, “How will we respond to Him?”  He planted the seed; what will the “soil” of your soul do with it?