Living in Grace


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 (Amplified Bible is used throughout, unless otherwise noted.)

When Christ died on the cross for us and rose from the dead, He did it to set us free from the chains of sin and bring us back to the Father.   Many in the church don’t understand this freedom.  We continue to walk in Old Covenant ways and cause many to be put under laws similar to that Old Covenant.  I want to show you what was required under the Old Covenant and how impossible it was to keep these laws.  Then we will see the power of Grace.  How it is life changing, it is freedom, it is power and it is available to your now.

God’s grace works in our hearts to overcome anything that the enemy throws at us.  Grace becomes the land we live in; a land where grace is working in us to live for God.  The world cannot shake us from that place of safety and comfort.  As you read through this teaching, I pray you come to understand how powerful and wonderful this grace is.  Now let us look at what was required by the Old Covenant.

 Old Covenant

 Exodus 29:36-39

36 You shall offer every day a bull as a sin offering for atonement. And you shall cleanse the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. 37 Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and sanctify it [set it apart for God]; and the altar shall be most holy; whoever or whatever touches the altar must be holy (set apart for God’s service). 38 Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old shall be offered day by day continually. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb in the evening;

The Old Covenant required two sacrifices a day for the people’s sins. It stated that sacrifices were to be a part of the daily life of the Israelites.  Payment for sin required the giving of a life and the shedding of blood.

First, some thoughts from the Holman Bible Dictionary on the concepts of sin in the Old Covenant.

*Chapter one through seven of Leviticus gives the most detailed description of Israel’s sacrificial system.  There were five types of sacrifice: a burnt offering (offerings were made in the morning, evenings, and on special days), the grain offering, peace offering, the sin offering (this offering dealt with sin committed unintentionally), and the guilt offering. The one brining the offering was to lay a hand upon the animal so as to identify that the animal was taking the person’s place (symbolically transferring his guilt to the animal).  The one who made this sacrifice did so to atone for some sin and to restore the relationship with God.  The sacrifices and offerings were a physical expression of their inward devotion to God. 

Concepts of Sin in the Old Testament

*God established the law as a standard of righteousness.  Any violation of this standard is defined as sin (Deuteronomy 6:24-25).  Another concept of sin in the Old Testament is a breach of the covenant.   God made a covenant with the nation Israel; they were bound by this covenant as a people (Exodus 19; Joshua 24).  Any breach of this covenant was viewed as sin (Deuteronomy 29:19-21).

 *The Old Testament also pictures sin as a violation of the righteous nature of God.  As the righteous and Holy God, He sets forth as a criterion for His people, a righteousness like His own (Leviticus 11:45).  Any deviation from God’s own righteousness is viewed as sin.

 Concept of sin in the New Testament

 *The New Testament perspective of sin is much like the Old Testament.  The most notable advancement in the New Testament view of sin is the fact that sin is defined against the backdrop of Jesus as the standard for righteousness.  In the New Testament, sin also is viewed as a lack of fellowship with God.

 *Jesus taught that sin is a condition of the heart.  He traced sin directly to inner motives stating that the sinful thought leading to the overt act is the real sin.  The outward deed is actually the fruit of sin (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28; 15:18-20).

 *The New Testament interprets sin as unbelief.  Unbelief is the resistance of the truth of God revealed by the Spirit of God and produces moral and spiritual blindness.  The New Testament further pictures sin as being revealed by the law of Moses.  The law is not bad, but humanity simply does not have the ability to keep the law.  Sinful acts may be directed against another person, but ultimately every sin is against God.  Perfect in righteousness, God cannot tolerate that which violates His righteous character.   Therefore, sin creates a barrier between God and mankind.

*( Holman Bible Dictionary)

After reading the Holman Bible Dictionary definition of sin, we understand that within our own abilities, we can never do anything to be righteous before God.

Hebrews 7:19 For the Law never made anything perfect–but instead a better hope is introduced through which we [now] come close to God.

 God knew we could not keep the law but He had to show us that we would fail on our own so we could see without any doubt we needed a savior.  If we try to live by the law we will always fail.

 Breaking of the covenant

 Leviticus 26:15-18

15 And if you spurn and despise My statutes, and if your soul despises and rejects My ordinances, so that you will not do all My commandments, but break My covenant, 16 I will do this: I will appoint over you [sudden] terror (trembling, trouble), even consumption and fever that consume and waste the eyes and make the [physical] life pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I [the Lord] will set My face against you and you shall be defeated and slain before your enemies; they who hate you shall rule over you; you shall flee when no one pursues you. 18 And if in spite of all this you still will not listen and be obedient to Me, then I will chastise and discipline you seven times more for your sins.

God told the Israelites what would happen if they broke His covenant.  It meant disaster for them; incurable diseases and fevers that would make them go blind and cause their life to waste away. When they planted crops, they would not harvest them, because their enemies would conquer them and eat what they had grown.  God would turn against them, so that they would be defeated and their enemies would rule over them. The Israelites would be so terrified that they would run when no one was chasing them. After all that happened to them and still they did not obey God, He would increase their punishment seven times.  Punishment and judgment were the results for not keeping the covenant.

Here are some examples of what happened to the Israelites when they did not keep the Old Covenant:

1)    Moses came down from mountain to discover the people were worshipping false gods.

Exodus 32:26-28

26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Whoever is on the Lord’s side, let him come to me. And all the Levites [the priestly tribe] gathered together to him. 27 And he said to them, Thus says the Lord God of Israel, Every man put his sword on his side and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. 28 And the sons of Levi did accord-ing to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about 3000 men.

3000 men were killed by the sword because they chose not to follow God.

2)    Two sons of Aaron were killed by the fire from the altar of God for offering false fire which God had not commanded. 

Leviticus 10:1, 2

1 AND NADAB and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered strange and unholy fire before the Lord, as He had not commanded them. 2 And there came forth fire from before the Lord and killed them, and they died before the Lord.

Aaron’s two sons were killed before the altar because they chose to offer sacrifices of their own design and not by the command of God.  These were priests who knew the law governing offerings and died because of their pride.

3)    Three men rebelled against Moses.

Numbers 16:19-33

19 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against Moses and Aaron before the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation. 20 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. 22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin and will You be angry with all the congregation? 23 And the Lord said to Moses, 24 Say to the congregation, Get away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 25 Then Moses rose up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he said to the congregation, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins. 27 So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood in the door of their tents with their wives, and their sons, and their little ones. 28 And Moses said, By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I do not act of my own accord: 29 If these men die the common death of all men or if [only] what happens to everyone happens to them, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord causes a new thing [to happen], and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol (the place of the dead), then you shall understand that these men have provoked (spurned, despised) the Lord! 31 As soon as he stopped speaking, the ground under the offenders split apart 32 And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and [Korah and] all [his] men and all their possessions.33 They and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol (the place of the dead); and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly.

 When the three men rebelled against the leader that God had appointed, God destroyed them along with their whole families.  They spoke against Moses but their words were against God Himself.  The Word says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1Samuel 15:23).  This statement is so strong because rebellion is against the God who created us.  And further, like witchcraft, rebellion infects the innocent and leads them into common destruction.

 The Keeping of the Law

 James 2:10 For whosoever keeps the Law [as a] whole but stumbles and offends in one [single instance] has become guilty of [breaking] all of it.

**By the law men are taught their inability to yield complete obedience to God, that thereby they may become convinced of their need of a Savior (Rom. 2:23; Heb 2:2; 9:15)

** (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary) 

 James tells us, if you have broken one of the laws you were guilty of breaking all of them.  No one could keep the law.  The Old Covenant shows us how impossible it is to please and live for God on our own.  It revealed how sin destroys our lives and the punishment that came because of sin. The Old Covenant gave us a clear picture how much we needed a savior.  We needed someone to pay the price; a perfect sacrifice offered once and for all.  Christ became our way back to the Father.

Sounds hopeless.  So let’s bring hope back, by revealing what the truth is.

 New Covenant – A Better Covenant

 In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded to kill all (men, women, children, and sometimes even animals) when they moved into a new land.  The inhabitants practiced so much evil in the land that if they were allowed to live among the Israelites, they would pull them away from God and into the same wickedness.  We see the power of sin in the Old Testament.  But, the New Testament focused on the power of righteousness.  Jesus became sin so we could become the righteousness of God in Him (2Corinthians 5:21).

 Luke 9:52-56

52 And He sent messengers before Him; and they reached and entered a Samaritan village to make [things] ready for Him; 53 But [the people] would not welcome or receive or accept Him, because His face was [set as if He was] going to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John observed this, they said, Lord, do You wish us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did? [II Kings 1:9-16.] 55 But He turned and rebuked and severely censured them. He said, You do not know of what sort of spirit you are, 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them [from the penalty of eternal death]. And they journeyed on to another village.

Here we see the difference between the Old and the New Covenants.  Elijah ministered in a different time than the new dispensation Jesus was ushering in. The disciples were being challenged to think in a new way for a new time.  It is a time for grace and mercy.  That’s the time we are in now.  It is no longer the time to speak judgment and punishment on people, cities, or nations.  It’s time to speak God’s grace and mercy; to see God’s favor over them to prepare them to enter the kingdom.  Paul declared it is God’s goodness that leads men to repentance now (Romans 2:4), not the fear of punishment.

 The New Covenant called for grace and mercy.

 Hebrews 9:11-18

11 But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come. [Then] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with [human] hands, that is, not a part of this material creation, 12 He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us). 13 For if [the mere] sprinkling of unholy and defiled persons with blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a burnt heifer is sufficient for the purification of the body, 14 How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our conscien-ces from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God? 15 [Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inherit-ance–since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the [old] first agreement. 16 For where there is a [last] will and testament involved, the death of the one who made it must be established, 17 For a will and testament is valid and takes effect only at death, since it has no force or legal power as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 So even the [old] first covenant (God’s will) was not inaugurated and ratified and put in force without the shedding of blood.

 Through the shedding of the blood of Christ, our redemption was made complete.  When we accept Christ as Savior, we are completely and fully restored back to the Father.  Through this one sacrifice, all mankind; past, present and future, were set free from the penalty that must be met for sin.  When Christ died and shed His blood it put an end to the requirements of the Old Covenant and established a perfect way to the Father.  It ended the Old Covenant and enforces the New Covenant for God’s children.  This is God’s grace for all who will receive it by faith in His Son’s perfect sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:14-20

14 For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy. 15 And also the Holy Spirit adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]. For having said, 16 This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), 17 He then goes on to say, And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 20 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh.

 We are made holy, consecrated, completely cleansed and perfected by what Christ did for us.  When God shows us darkness in our hearts in the light of His Word, we see the darkness and know it is wrong to keep it.  This understanding comes because God has placed his laws (His ways of grace) in us.  But don’t misunderstand.  God has not placed the Old Testament laws on our hearts.  Those laws were given to show us we are incapable of keeping them.  The laws He places in our hearts are laws of love.  Instead of being compelled by the fear of punishment to obey an external set of laws, we are compelled by love (John 13:34) to protect our relationship with God and with one another.  No matter what we face there is always a sufficient answer in God’s love which releases His grace to help in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for ev-ery need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

 Colossians 1:29 For this I labor [unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.

 With God’s help, we can overcome this world and all that comes against us.  We are able to go to the Holy of Holies, the throne of God, and receive that help because the way has been made clear by Christ’s redeeming work.

 Understanding Your Freedom

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him.

When Christ came, He fulfilled the law by paying the price and setting us free from the law.  Because of what Christ has done, we who have received Christ are now walking in God’s wonderful grace and mercy upon our lives.

 James 1:12-16

12 Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. 16 Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.

 As we are dead to sin, the appeal of doing wrong loses its power over us.  Our desire becomes to please our heavenly Father.  There may be times when we are tempted and fall into sin.  This happens because there are areas in our lives where darkness still exists.  As these areas come to the surface, God will shed light for us to release them to Him.  God will help us deal with the secret things in our hearts so He can fully have our hearts and lives.  He wants us to be fully able to walk in the life of grace that Christ has given to us.

 Romans 6:14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].

Sin no longer has to have dominion or control over your life.  Christ came to set you free from sin.  When you walk in grace you can rule over sin to the point where sin becomes the exception in our lives and not the norm. This is only pos-sible while we stand in grace.  We run into problems as we place ourselves und-er the law where there is no power to resist sin, and we fail.  When that happens; just repent, accept his forgiveness and move back under grace (1 John 1:9).

Romans 8:1, 2

1 THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.

1 John 3:19-21

19 By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence, 20 Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]. 21 And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God,

So many times we place guilt or shame upon ourselves.  God does not find us guilty anymore because Jesus has paid the full penalty.  We were made for His glory so shame has no place in us.  The longer you walk in condemnation, the more you lose your trust in God.  It builds a wall between you and your Creator.  This is what the enemy wants.  He is the one who speaks condemnation to you to rob you of hope.  Stop listening to that lie before it takes hold of your heart.  Don’t walk in condemnation, guilt, or shame.  Repent – throw it off – receive forgiveness.  Don’t allow the devil to speak condemnation to you.  Stand your ground and rebuke him.

The Spirit of God convicts you of sin (John 16:8).  What sin?  The sin of not trusting in Jesus (John 16:9).  But He leads you in the hope of full restoration through repentance.  This repentance is the repentance of turning away from hopelessness and turning toward your Savior who delivers you from whatever the devil has done.  Hopelessness reveals the devil’s work.  Hope is always the proof of the Spirit’s work.

Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

 Romans 6:6, 7

6 We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. 7 For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].

Romans 6 says we are dead to sin because we died on the cross with Christ.  If we died on the cross then we are dead men and the power of sin no longer has hold on us.  A dead man cannot be affected by anything.   Yet we live in Christ, free from sin, and we are now righteous in our Father’s eyes.  This is the truth that must become reality in our hearts.

 New creation

 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

Every believer is a new creation when Christ comes into his heart.  This new creation exists because the old man of sin has died and the new man is raised in Christ.  Old things from the past have been buried with Christ.  We do not need to live in our past hurts. They will destroy us. We must let them go with the help of a loving Father.  If the enemy brings them up, you tell him that the old man is dead and buried.  “I am not that person anymore. I will not let that dead man walk again.”  Then turn to the God Who loves you and accepts you right now.

 1 John 5:18 We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliber-ately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence with-in him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him].

Because we are born of God, we have His love in our hearts and our desire is to please Him, so sin has lost its hold on our lives.  We want to do what is right and now, by His grace, we can.  God’s ability is working in us to help us make the right choices.  We are now able to say, “No!!” to sin, and “Yes!” to the Holy Spirit.

 Titus 2:11, 12 (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

 This is what God’s grace gives us power to do; “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”  Self-control is a goal everyone strives for in the power of their flesh.  But it is achieved, not by the power of our wills, but as a natural result of life lived under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ.  It is as natural as a strawberry turning red because it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not human effort.  This is grace.  And when we fail:

1 John 1:9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteous-ness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

 If we fall into sin, as we confess it to Him, He forgives and releases us to walk in freedom again.  Free from the control of sin.  He forgives us every time we come to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].

 We are righteous because of what Christ has done for us.  This is God’s word about us.

 How to Live in the Land of Grace

 1.     Baptized Into Christ  

 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13 (NKJV)

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

 Ephesians 2:5, 6 (NKJV)

5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

 At the moment of salvation the Spirit of God baptizes us into the body of Christ.  We are not talking about water baptism here, but a baptism into Christ.  The power of the Spirit of God sets us free from the old man at that moment.  We die to sin and Holy Spirit raises us up together with Christ in the power of God as a new creation.  All this takes place when we ask Jesus into our hearts.

Romans 6:1-4

1 WHAT SHALL we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? 2 Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? 3 Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.

 We are buried with Christ and raised with Him in newness of life.  Water baptism demonstrates this reality.  But water baptism does more.  The act of baptism is more than just a symbol of what Jesus did for us.  When we follow Christ’s example by being baptized, there is an anointing that comes upon our lives to walk away from the pull of this world.  Just as salvation baptizes us into the body of believers (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13); water baptism activates the grace of God in us to enter into the reality of the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus as we relate to the world.  It is the power of God enabling us to cut the ties to this world.  It carries an anointing to change our lives.

 2.     Access into Grace

 Romans 5:2 Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

 Romans 5:17 For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

 Grace is God’s unmerited favor and His ability working in my life to do the things I cannot do.  This grace works in us whenever we trust God in faith.  It is over flowing from the throne of God to us, so that we can overcome everything in this world and all that the enemy may throw at us.  His grace has the power to change us and help us stand against anything the enemy can do.  Notice that we stand firmly in that grace, it is at our feet keeping us from being moved and it continues to flow from God to us.  By faith we can stand in this grace and not be moved out of it!

3.     The New Commandment: Love your neighbor as Christ loves  you

 James 2:8 If indeed you [really] fulfill the royal Law in accordance with the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, you do well.

 We are told to love our neighbor.  Everyone that God created is our neighbor and deserving of our love because He does not wish that any should perish but that all should come to the saving grace of Jesus (1Timothy 2:4).  Our Father loves them and wants them to come to His saving grace.  God tells us not only to love our neighbor but to love our own selves in the same way.  For you to love who you are, is to love someone God created for His glory and for fellowship with Him.  Yet, notice that this is still law.

Under the Old Covenant the instruction was that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  But notice in reading further in James that after he says “If you fulfill the royal law, . . .,  you do well.  But if you then fail at another point, you are guilty of all.”  Why does he say this?  Because this is still part of the Ten Commandments.  The strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).  We remain hopeless in sin while trying to fulfill the royal law of love.

So Jesus gave us a higher law and then added His grace and righteousness to fulfill it.

John 13:34 (NKJV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

 This is the New Commandment.  It is possible and actually natural for us to fulfill this law because we are new creations with His law built into our hearts according to the promise (Hebrews 8:10-12).  God’s Spirit joined to our spirits is the power inside us to do what we cannot do; say, “No!” to sin and say, ‘Yes!” to Him.

Titus 2:11, 12

11For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind.

    12It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in this present world,

This is the grace of God that trains us in the natural operation of the New Covenant.  We no longer need the Old Covenant law to control our sinful passions.  That law only arouses them and leaves us condemned every time.  The new man knows the love of God for him and is able to love others with that same love.  What is this, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Galatians 5:16-18, 22, 23 (NKJV)

16I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, good-ness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

 Those who are led by the Spirit do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, but instead the fruit of the Spirit includes ‘self-control.’  This self-control is not produced by the flesh or will-power to obey the law.  It is entirely dependent upon the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  Holy Spirit not only sets us free from the law of sin and death, but He also activates the law of the life of Christ within us.  The law of His love is the law of life.  This new law works naturally within us because we are a new creation with His DNA.  If we try to make it work, it becomes an external law and we end up in bondage to sin.  But as we rest in Christ, His Spirit releases His life and love through us to one another.

4.     Reconciliation -not counting trespasses against them

 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19

18 But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]. 19 It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).

So many ask the question, “What is my ministry”? We have the ministry of reconciliation; to forgive people and bring them to God.  If we are truly to walk as Jesus did, then we must walk in forgiveness and grace and not judgment and punishment for those who walk in the ways of the world.  We must offer grace and mercy to the lost so they will understand the love of God and be won into the Kingdom of God.  Speaking judgment and punishment does not win the lost, but the goodness of God brings people to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Matthew 18:21, 22

21 Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him andlet it go? [As many as] up to seven times? 22 Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!

John 20:23 [Now having received the Holy Spirit, and beingled and directed by Him] if you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.

 Throughout the New Testament God tells us to forgive people. This is a main theme of the New Testament.  This verse speaks about unforgiveness being retained if we hold on to it.  Some of these have not accepted Christ into their hearts so they are not free from the law of sin and death.  The law of sowing and reaping will also work against them (Job 4:8) because there is no one standing in the gap crying out for mercy on their behalf (Ezekiel 22:30). We have been given all power and authority over the earth.   We have the power to release them from the effect of sin on their land.  The church today does not understand what spirit they walk in when they hold people’s sin against them.  We are not in the time of judgment and punishment, but in the time of grace and mercy.  When we see the sin people or nations are walking in, we need to cry out for mercy, so the people or the nation can come to Christ.  That’s why we are here.

 Luke 9:53, 56

53 But [the people] would not welcome or receive or accept Him, because His face was [set as if He was] going to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John observed this, they said, Lord, do You wish us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did ? [II Kings 1:9-16.]  55 But He turned and rebuked and severely censured them. He said, You do not know of what sort of spirit you are, 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them [from the penalty of eternal death]. And they journeyed on to another village.

 5.     Renewing your mind

 Philippians 4:8 For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

 Ephesians 4:23 And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],

 Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. 4 or the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, 5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

 Paul tells us to take every thought captive that speaks up against the knowledge of God.  If those thoughts enter our mind, by His grace we are able to stop them at the door and throw them out.  We control what comes into our minds and sets up housekeeping.  That’s why Paul is telling us in Philippians to think on good thoughts.  Those negative thoughts will take control and establish strongholds in our minds.  They will lead us away from our God and from trust in Him.  The battle ground is the mind and you have the weapons to win this battle.  Renew your mind daily.  Stop those negative thoughts from taking hold and think, breath and live for God.  Think and live according to His word.

6.     Declare out of your mouth

 Ephesians 6:19 And [pray] also for me, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel),

 Hebrews 4:12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

 Job 22:28 You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] shall shine upon your ways.

 The power to decree a thing is meant to bring about God’s Will on the earth.  You speak His truth out of your mouth.  As your mind and heart hear these words, they begin to settle in your heart.  As you meditate further on God and His word and continue to speak it out, His truth becomes your reality.  The power of speaking the Word of God changes you.  God has given you His grace, His power working in you, for this very purpose.  By faith, speak what His word says and what He speaks into your heart and you will fully enter His land of grace where we will live and move and have our being.


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