Atlanta Veneers and Implants

OUR IDENTITY CRISIS (Continued)

Romans chapter eight is the definitive chapter describing what we inherit as Christ’s disciples.

Romans 8 1-39 reads, 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh (sinful nature), God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh (sinful nature) but according to the Spirit. 5 Those who live according to the flesh (sinful nature) have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the flesh (sinful nature) cannot please God. 9 You, however, are controlled not by the flesh (sinful nature) but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the flesh (sinful nature), to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh (sinful nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Now that is some inheritance I did not earn or deserve. Talk about a loving agape Father.  But here is a big problem for all of us. Even though we have been given these wonderful gifts including the gift of the Holy Spirit to defeat Satan we still have free will. Just because we have been given absolute authority to defeat Satan does not mean all will use it to win. Why do we overlook the “if, may and the might” in so many of the passages in the Bible? We totally underestimate that we live in a fallen world controlled by Satan and his evil spirits. At the same time, we underestimate the power given to us by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to defeat Satan and claim our true birthright here on earth. That was almost a deadly combination for me. We must agape love enough to live in the spirit and not be seduced by Satan to live in our past that was controlled by our sinful desires. To succeed we must trust in, rely on and adhere to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit supernatural /superspiritual powers to learn how to truly agape. We must understand that we are ongoing second to second battle with Satan and his evil spirits for our spiritual survival. Satan will try to use our very own freewill against us. That is why we need to know our enemy better. In warfare the enemy will always give out misinformation. Japan was in peace talks the morning they attacked Pearl Harbor. God, through His grace and the redemption that came by Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit with our new identity. The Holy Spirit empowers us to trust in, rely on and adhere to Christ (believe) and the absolute power to defeat Satan here on earth.

 

These many verses cause a huge Christian paradox. Even though scripture states that my old flesh (NIV sinful nature) was put to death (crucified with Christ on the cross) and that I should be able to stop sinning, I continue to sin. Does that old saying, “habits are hard to die,” come to mind? Again there is the issue of our free will that God promised never to take away. How about the fact we live in a fallen world. Even scripture states he is the great deceiver. I submit we need to look closely at how Satan caused Adam and Eve to sin. Satan just planted a seed of doubt; “did God really say you cannot eat this fruit” and Eve stated “yes God did say I would die if I ate the fruit from the tree of Good and Evil”  then Satan said “no you will not surely die but you will become as powerful as God.”  She accepted his lies as her own and you know the rest of the story.  Lets not forget that they lived in Eden and walked and talked with God every evening. If Satan was so successful with Adam and Eve why should we think he would not use the same tactic on us. So my question to all is how can we expect to be able to be obedient living on this fallen world where Satan is the Prince if Adam and Eve could not? Satan fills us with his lies in order to hide from us the fact that we are offered a new spiritual identity with supernatural superspiritual powers that even Adam and Eve did not have. Again the Bible states numerous times we will continue to do battle with Satan after we are Christ’s disciples (reborn) but offers us many ways to protect ourselves if we agape love enough to be obedient.

Ephesians 6:11-12 reads “11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the ruler, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”

If the reason we sin is because there is still something evil inside us why would scripture tell us to put body armor on to keep it out? Why would it say our struggle is not against flesh and blood? It is becoming more apparent just how powerful our adversary is.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 reads, “3.For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

1Peter 5:8 reads, “8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

John 10:10 reads, “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

 

Again we must never underestimate our enemy. Why should we surprised to see Satan try to distort or hide completely the true meaning of scripture to achieve his desired outcome. Satan has no problem pointing out the shortcoming of the original twelve Apostles. If they feared for their lives when the storm came (which Satan most likely caused) why should you expect not to fear? If one would betray Jesus and Peter would deny knowing Him why should we expect anything different of ourselves? Satan will continue to remind us that they did wait at his tomb knowing that Christ told them He would return in just three days. So why should we expect to be faithful if the Apostles were not? These men were chosen and taught by Christ himself. They witnessed his many miracles. Should we really be surprised that Satan would plant the thought that we cannot expect to do any better.  What Satan is describing about the Apostles is fact. But what he will hide from us is the fact there is a Biblical explanation as to why. They like most in the OT they were not yet convicted by the Holy Spirit. It was only after Christ ascended into Heaven that He gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. So comparing us as Christ’s disciples to the Apostles before the Pentecost is Biblically incorrect. What Satan will not tell that once they possessed the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to completely agape (love) and trust in, rely on and adhere to (believe) in Christ to the point all but one died as martyrs for their faith. How many times have you heard ”We all fall short of the glory of God”? Would it surprise you that Paul is describing who we were before being saved and not who we are as disciple’s of Christ. I have even heard Pastors quote that scripture and with any explanation just move forward with their sermon. Is this a wake up call where all our self doubt and fear comes from? It is not from God or Jesus Christ. 2 Tim 1:7 reads, “For God did not give us the spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, of love and self–discipline”. There is a reason why “fear not” is told to us over three hundred times in the Bible. Why would God give up his only Son just to see us have no choice but to continue to be slaves to sin? When you think about it that way it does not make much sense, but I am here to confess that is exactly what Satan had me believing.

 

If we live under mercy and grace without accepting or acknowledging the gift of Holy Spirit how can we expect to be any different then the Apostles before the Pentecost? Many years ago, Bruce Hogarth stated it perfectly on a weekend retreat “Saving grace that does not change you will not save your soul”. I have a question for everyone; to illustrate how we sometimes still do not understand all the gifts we receive as Christ’s disciples. Imagine a piece of graph paper and the bottom of the paper represents the 0% righteousness, the top of the paper represents 100% righteousness in God’s eyes. Please think for a moment, what percentage would God view Mother Theresa and what percentage would God view you? Take your time; do you have an answer yet? Mother Teresa was a trick question because we cannot judge her only God. I submit to you, scripture states you are 100%. That is true for all repentant sinners that have accepted all that was promised including Christ’s righteousness as our own. So if God views me already spiritual perfected and I am sitting at the right hand of my brother Jesus Christ who happens to be sitting next to my Heavenly Father right now why should I think differently? We are all given an opportunity to enter a new righteous (agape) relationship with God for all who have faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  I know now that Satan had stolen my God given identity most of my adult life. No more will I let Satan diminish the value of God’s, Christ’s and the Holy Spirit’s gifts. Our new Covenant with God and Jesus Christ freely gives us the Holy Spirit when we repent and ask for mercy and grace. So when Christ states in Luke 1-37, “For nothing is impossible for God” I believe just that. I no longer put limits on God’s power. If I truly believe in Jesus Christ, I cannot allow Satan to hide or distort the truth.

 

Satan’s had many other lies that kept me in the flesh without ever realizing it. He had me believing that just being temped was sinning. So if we are not expected to stop sinning here on earth no reason not to go ahead and indulge the worldly desire (unforgiveness, lust, pride, envy etc.). It has already been stated that Christ the man was tempted and stayed sinless because of the power of the Holy Spirit. If we have been given the same authority as Christ the man why should we not be able to defeat Satan here on earth?

 

James1:2 reads,  2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.“ 

James1:13-15, 13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

 

Another lie was convincing me my sins were minor non-consequential actions that are easily overlooked by God. I believe this happens in part because, as I did, we compare ours sins to others. My sin is minor in comparison to others, so God can overlook mine. I know when you write it down it sounds crazy, but is that not what we do? My sins are not as bad as those mass murders or pedophiles or real adulters. Can you imagine anyone saying I am only human, that is why I cannot stop having sex with little boys or little girls or I am a hit man for the mob but it is just my job, I am basically a God loving person?  We would want to go home and take a shower. Satan wins when we grade sin and do not realize that all sin is a transgression against our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Does that give you a better understanding of why there are so many hidden strongholds in all of us? God and Jesus Christ paid a very dear price to set us free and give us the power to overcome Satan. We must believe the OT and NT books are the word of God, written with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Everything in it is true and the truth will set you free.

John 8:31-32 reads,“31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

 

So when Christ says take up the cross, this path to eternal life is not without suffering, is this not a huge part of the conflict of disowning this world for that of the gift of the spiritual. This is made even harder because we live in a fallen natural world controlled by Satan. We are deceived by Satan to place more value on what we have in the natural and less value in what we have been offered by the Spiritual. It is hard for me to accept the fact it has taken me so long to discern this simple but deadly human (Satan) trap. Thank you God for being so loving and patient.

 

If the Bible so clearly describes Satan’s battle plan, why are our, Priest, Ministers and Pastors so silent on the subject? Do they really think Christ’s disciples are not under attack? If they agree we are under attack 24/7 do they think there are no negative consequences if Satan is winning?  I am convicted the Holy Spirit would not have taken up so much of the Bible to detail who, what and how we would be attacked if it was not important. But sometimes we forget that the same enemy had the audacity to tempt Christ. It is interesting to note that Satan attacked Christ by questioning His identity so I feel I am in good company. Scriptures also tell us we have a greater power within than is in the outside world. We most never forget that just like Christ the man we have authority over Satan and all his evil spirits.

 

Luke 10:19 reads, “19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

 

You say to me, “That’s great,” but you have not answered why we find ourselves still not able to stop sinning. I am convicted it is because we do not know our true identity or fully comprehend the gifts we have been given. My flesh (sinful nature) is not what causes me to sin because that is dead. We sin now because we let our guard down and allow Satan to plant his thoughts of doubt, unforgiveness, pride, fear, hatred, lust and envy, just to name a few, into our minds. We accept them as ours because we did not have our minds on things of the spirit, or have God’s armor on and did not take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as instructed. Then Satan and his evil spirits just sit back and watch the consequence of their dirty deeds. So you say, “What is the difference if at the end of the day I am still sinning?” It is huge. If my sinful nature is still alive, or had no authority or free will then I have no choice but to obey Satan leaving me lost forever and his slave for eternity. Being one of Christ’s disciples, we have a choice and the power not to fall into Satan’s traps. Knowing our true identity allows us to defeat Satan by being able to discern which thoughts are truly ours or God’s and which ones are really Satan’s. Scripture clearly teaches us the consequences both physically and spiritually if we continue to allow Satan’s thoughts to be believed as our own.

 

When we make a statement like, “Well, I am only human, therefore I cannot stop sinning,” Satan has already convinced us that we are not new spiritual beings and do not have power over him. Our sinful “old corruptible seed” is somehow still our only way. That is simply not Biblically correct. God allows us to choose our path.  Believe in our new identity and walk in the Spirit (our new incorruptible seed) and have eternal life or walk in the flesh (our corruptible seed, the natural world) and die. Scripture explains that we still possess free will and we have not become robots to God. Imagine if you could put a computer chip in your children that would force them to obey all your wishes. Now that your children had no choice but to obey all of your rules, would you consider your children, loving, trusting, appreciating or admiring you more? God is only glorified when He sees us use our God given gifts and free will to obey because we agape (sacrificial devotional love) Them.

 

While reading this there’s a good chance you’re thinking, “Ed, are you saying you are sinless?” The answer is no. There is only one sinless human and that is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Have I completely stopped sinning the answer is also no. Satan is however finding me a much harder target. But that does not mean I am not tempted or some would call it struggling with Satan every second of every day. I am in the word and becoming more aware of how he is going to attack me and exposing more and more of Satan’s lies (strongholds) in my life. If scripture states I am given the power to defeat Satan here on earth, my goal has to be to win by exposing all Satan’s strongholds and stop sinning here on earth. It is a matter of trusting in, relying on and adhering to my new identity and to do what is expected as a disciple of Christ’s. Is that not what Paul stated in Romans 8: 12-14, “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation but it is not to the flesh (sinful nature), to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh (sinful nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” In King James Version instead of “have on obligation” it says, “we are a debtor”. Being a debtor in those time would have serious life threatening possibilities if you did not pay your debts off. I have to confess that in my past, I accepted all of Satan’s lies and on judgment day would have realized how easily I was fooled. Again you see I accepted Satan’s lies as truth. I thought I was saved because I believed in one God and acknowledging Christ as my Savior. The whole concept of Godly sorrow which brings repentance, Christ being my Lord and I being His servant was not understood. There was no reason to even think I was in a war with Satan. It is only after being convicted by the Holy Spirit did I start to feel the glorious message in scripture and how much had been hidden and or misunderstood. I now realize how much Satan played a role of keeping me from the truth. How confident should we be about defeating an enemy when we do not know who or what or how we are going to be attacked no less what power we have at my disposal to defeat them? 

Here an example of just how lost I was. I would have stated that if anyone ever hurt my family or friends I would seek justice.  Quoting from the Bible “eye for an eye tooth for a tooth” some how made it righteous. Most of the men I knew agreed with me. Why should we not seek justice? My justice would have included physical pain or putting them to death. Even if it never got past my mind the simple truth is that it goes against everything that Jesus Christ in our new covenant taught us to do. I clearly see now, that thought of justice (really revenge) was planted by Satan.  Without even realizing it, I allowed Satan to replace my spiritual identity with my natural identity. Being in the word it has become much easier to just discern what sin is. I am not sure I gave; unforgiveness, pride, fear, anger, bitterness, envy, jealousy hatred, lust and revenge just to name a few their just concern. How or why should I stop doing something if I am not aware it is even wrong? If you had asked me was I a murder I would have stated “absolutely not” But then I read, 1 John 3:15, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him”. You know I kind of really did dislike some people and if being truly honest yes I really did hate some people. So yes I was a murder. Now if I take the time to list all my past sins this paper would make “War and Peace” look like a short read in comparison. James 4:17 reads, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sin”. Therefore looking back now I see there was really no true repentance on my part. No real Godly sorrow or real commitment to turn away from sin. Repentance for me now comes with, awareness that I have offended and grieved my Heavenly Father and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am also no longer complacent about not allowing the Holy Spirit to keep me in this glorious agape relationship. Satan’s veils continue to be removed and seeing more clearly the standard to which I am to live my life here on earth. Being Christ’s servant comes now as a consequence of my agape relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Everything about this fallen world wants us to continue to identify with our old self.  Remember scripture states clearly we are on this world, but we are not of this world.

 

1John 2:15-17 reads,“15 Do not love the world or anything in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

James 4:4 reads,“4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

 

Some of you might think I am over reacting about the issue of sinning.  Satan had me believing there were no negative consequences for Christ’s disciples. I was already saved and nothing could or would stop me from going to Heaven. God would just continue to overlook those little transgressions. Look what the Bible exposes about if we do not demolish strongholds (stop sinning). Something that Satan wants to keep hidden.

 

Luke 11:24-26 reads,24When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."

 

That verse now gives me so much insight to what happened in my life. No wonder Satan wants to convince us that it just natural that we continue to sin. I am becoming aware how truly significant just one little sin (giving the guy the number one sign that just cut me off in traffic) really is. Would this be like inviting a friend over to dinner that you know is not always truthful. When he shows up, you find out he has invited several of this friends to come to dinner also. Only after the evening goes very badly you realize that you allowed pedophiles, rapists and murders into your home. All those little sins (easily overlooked I thought) was giving permission for Satan to bring seven worse ones back. No wonder I was lost for so long. Do the math if one can bring seven and they in return can bring seven. I know now we are going to be tempted by (struggle with) Satan through our mind 24/7 but we have been given absolute power to defeat Satan and all his evil demons by God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. If we do not close all of Satan’s strongholds (door points, sinning) we give Satan permission to steal the truth from our hearts and make us nonbelievers.  This one scripture alone should make us realize the need to stop sinning period. Why is this not being taught to us? Satan is the only one who benefits from us not understanding the truth.

I will repeat when I sin now it is not just some haphazard event. First I forget who I am in Christ and underestimated the influence of living in a fallen world where Satan is the Prince. An example would be like wondering off the security of base camp on the African plains to see a beautiful sunset. If this analogy to be more accurate the guide’s son gave this life saving my family and me a week earlier. I continue to be more and more complacent were I am and without realizing it a pack of lions are surrounding me just waiting to devour me. Is this not what happens to us when we become complacent to God’s advice about our spiritual warfare we are in and stop wearing His armor on all the time, stop having my minds on things of the Spirit and stopped taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Andy Stanley gives real example when warns to never gives council to a person having martial problems of the opposite sex. He warned that many an affair started with good intensions. He suggested not driving in a car with a woman alone that is not your wife. How many men got hooked on porn after visiting just one site on his computer? How many times do we feel justified not to forgive someone who harmed you or your family? How about the excuse spouses hear all to often, I watch sports or play sports all weekend long because it relaxes me from the stress of my job. We would never expect to hear “I deserve it to be all about me and I do not care how it affects my family”. But really is that not what is really going on? You know the list is endless. So when I move away from abiding in Christ and devalue Their gifts I create a very dangerous environment where now Satan’s thoughts are accepted as my own or worse from God the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. I then react to these thoughts and I sin. Finding myself sliding down a very slippery slope of shame, which moves me, further away from the cross and Their agape love. Which leads to more sin and more shame. Yes at my funeral it would said how sad that Ed got eaten by those loins. You would ask, how could such a thing happen to him? He must have had an incompetent guide or just has a case of bad luck. Can Paul make it any clearer; we are at war with a very powerful adversary. We have been given, freedom from the law and authority over sin. But we must use our free will combined with the power of the Holy Spirit to stay in this loving agape relationship.  Paul states very clearly we are slaves to the one we obey. So anytime we as Christ’s disciple’s resort back to trying to obey the law using our minds or willpower (any human efforts) or value our worldly possessions we fail and fall back to being Satan’s slave. I am convicted that Satan wants us to believe that our natural efforts will secure our salvation. Just go to Church more, read more books about the Bible, go to more Bible studies, become a Deacon or Pastor, make more to do good lists and list can go on and on. Our assurance for our salvation only comes from our agape (spiritual) relationship with God through complete submission, total trust in, reliance on and adherence to, His son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our true motivation behind our deeds will be how God judges us. Professing your faith is not the same as processing your faith. Telling the guide I understood the importance of what he was telling me is quite different then trusting, relying and adhering to his instructions. Does that sound strangely familiar?  I feel it cannot be overstated obeying the law and doing all those good things comes as a consequence of that spiritual agape loving relationship not a requirement to have that relationship. Because my identity was changed I now can be obedient to all of God’s Commandments. Not to earn the gift of salvation, but because my heart wants to glorify Jesus and my Papa God. All my good works and obedience now comes from the heart.                                                                                                         Galatians 5:16 reads, “16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (sinful nature). 17 For the flesh (sinful nature) desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh (sinful nature). They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”                                                                                                                        2 Corinthians 5:21 reads, “21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

  

You do not have to go far into the Lord’s Prayer to read “Your Kingdom will be done, here on Earth as it is in heaven.” Let us not forget God through Christ has made us heirs to their Kingdom.

Galatians 3:29 reads, “29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” 

Galatians 4:7 reads, “7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Esphesians1:18-19, reads, “18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might”

 

Should we let Satan and his evil spirits steal our inheritance away? I wish the Bible said the road to Heaven is broad and many find it. It states just the opposite, the road to Heaven is narrow and many try but only a few find it. Did the many that did not make ever think they were saved? Were they once saved and lost their salvation? What did the few do that the many did not? Hopefully that is a wake up call for us all.

 

When my Dad was disappointed with my behavior the killer statement would be, “Did you forget who you are?” He never stated that he stopped loving me or hoping the best for me. It was that I disappointed/grieved him. My Dad without telling me was teaching me one of life’s greatest lessons; that it was my behavior that was unacceptable, not me. Thank you, Dad, for being such a great teacher. Bruce Hogarth, a great friend and spiritual brother, does a weekend retreats explaining in detail how we accept what he calls “our shamed based identity”. He explains if there is this great void in our spiritual identity we as humans will fill it with all sorts of crap. A very technical term for really bad stuff like: pride, unforgiveness, bitterness, self-loathing (not handsome or pretty enough, or smart enough), all sorts of addiction (gluttony, work, drugs including alcohol, porn, sports just to name a few). Most of my adult life I knew people like that but never thought it pertained to me. Then one day I looked into the mirror and said that is me! No wonder our human and spiritual self-image is in the toilet. I can now have a glimpse of how I must have grieved God by believing in Satan’s lies and forgetting who I really am. My prayer is that those reading this paper will have the same conviction and help them to stay on the narrow road. For God and Christ to sacrifice so much to have saved this once wretched man, how can I not glorify and agape Them with all my mind, heart and soul? It is my new identity that allows me to understand the true meaning of agape, complete sacrificial devotional love. It is out of this love from the heart, that I obey His commandments and do my best to glorify Him in every thing I think, say or do every second of every day.

If the Lord Jesus Christ tells us in John 14:12, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things then these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father”. With scripture like this we should be on a spiritual high. Looking back now it is hard to believe that I accepted Satan’s lies for most of my adult life that put limits to what God could achieve through me. I heard the words “with God all things are possible” all my life, but it just did not sink into my head until my heart was changed. I love the simplicity of Pastor Andy Stanley stating that, if he has a choice, he going to believe and trust in the Man that died was resurrected and ascended into Heaven. The best way for me honor and glorify God is to do everything in my power to be with Him. This arrangement benefits me more then God but should I expect anything different from my all loving and forgiving God. 

 

I hope this will help start you on discovering your true identity or just reinforce what you already knew to be true. I now understand that when I maintain my new identity as the center of my being (staying connected to the vine) I will bear much good fruit. Not because I have to but as a direct consequence of accepting my new identity and glorious righteous relationship with my Papa God and Brother and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How much better will we be able to Glorify and Agape God when we believe and accept our true inheritance? But that is a subject for another paper. Be still for a second; open your heart, mind and soul do you hear God and Christ saying, “Do not forget who you are.”

Lets all pray for better understanding just how personal our salvation is to our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It was an abstract thought for the longest time. As a Catholic I did not even think of it that much. Now not a day goes by that the realization that Christ, who was completely without sin and totally righteous, took my rightly deserving place and died for me so that I would not have to.  The full impact of being asked to sacrifice one of my own children to save a complete stranger would be more then my heart could bear. How much harder would it be if I knew he was in the natural a career criminal? Would it be so much easier if I we could take their place instead one of my children? God has waited a long time for me to say I understand Luke 14.  I love Him greater and more completely then my family or my life.

I can tell you today that the feeling of bitterness, pride, unforgiveness and hatred in my heart has been replaced with a wonderful feeling of love, joy and peace. I find myself responding in agape love not reacting like Satan would have me. We have been given absolute free will to choose walking with the flesh, which leads to death or the Spirit with leads to everlasting life. Christ stated in John 15:5-8, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me he can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you, This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

I am convicted that 1 John 4:8 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love is the cornerstone of our faith.  Since God and Jesus Christ “are love” my fruit will also be “agape love”.                                                                                                                      1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”                                                                                                                                 Gal. 5:5, reads, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through Love”.   Romans 13:10 “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” God does not want Religion. He gives all repentant sinners the ability to have an Agape relationship with Him for all that trust in, rely on and adhere to His Son Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful that God’s love for all his children is about our outcome and will never quit. Please God, allow the Holy Spirit to convict everyone reading this paper to understand his or her new true identity.  Thanks be to God and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Let us all be the mustard seeds for our Faith. I hope my walk may help you with yours. I know just writing this down has helped me with mine. Heaven or Hell hangs on whether we truly understand the gift of our salvation. When we preach the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission (Mathew 28:18-20) we sometimes might have to use words.

Please write back and stay in touch. When two or more are gathered we are having Church. Feel free to pass this teaching to anybody that you think it would help.

 

Much Agape

 

Your Brother in Christ,

 

Ed   

        

e-mail   edtrizzino@hotmail.com