The Law of Sin and Death

August 18, 2015

Judges 21:25
In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

The Law of Sin and Death

The state that we see Israel in, in the book of Judges is the same state that we could see a lot of us as Christians in. We have the promise and the inheritance and we have the Word of God, but we haven’t embraced our King. Just as the Israelites could be God’s chosen people by name, it didn’t mean they were His people in their heart. They became apostate, doing whatever seemed good to them, while ignoring who God had called them to be. Isn’t that the way many in the Christian world have become. They have become apostate because they live and do what is right in their own eyes and justification rather than according to the will and calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I am not writing this to bring condemnation, but to make us aware of which law we are living under in this state of mind. Before Christ, we were living under the law of sin and death. It was a law of the commandments whereby sin abounded because of the weakness of the flesh to live and keep it. Under that law we stood condemned because we were lawless and law breakers. Even in our best efforts we were not able to find reconciliation and intimate relationship with Papa because our sin stood to condemn us. Because sin would ultimately rule us, God had to send judgement to correct us and bring us back to repentance. There we would cry out under our judgement and God in His mercy would send a judge to bring us back to Himself where we would remain briefly before repeating the cycle again.
Now, we have a King and His name is Jesus. He is not only the King, but the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. In His realm of authority and dominion He has called us out of the old law of sin and death, because the crucifixion of His divine life nailed that old law of condemnation to the cross. When we come to Him in faith we must recognize that is where our old selfish sinful nature and man has been identified; with Him on that cross. We also died to that former way of doing, “whatever seemed right in our own eyes.” As He raised us up by faith into His life we come under a new law, because we have entered and become citizens and partakers of a new kingdom. The laws of this kingdom don’t operate like the former one. Here there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. “In Christ” speaks to a state of being in our spirit man that is manifested through our physical being.
We find this in Romans 8. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the 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, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The key to living in this realm and kingdom is living by faith out of the law of the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. A line of demarcation has been drawn that you live under one law or the other, but you can’t live under both.
Jesus says you can’t serve two masters in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the old world order that falls under the law of sin and death.
The question then really becomes, “What law are we living under?”
Romans 8 goes on to define what it is to live in the law of the Spirit of life and what the differences are. “Those who live according to the 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. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9You, however, are controlled not by the 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. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And 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.
12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For 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.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now 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.”
The Word doesn’t say we don’t still struggle with the inclinations toward our former sinful nature, but it has become a matter of new identity, allegiance and citizenship. If you move to the United States from a foreign country and decide to become a US citizen then you have changed your identity, allegiance and citizenship. You must renounce the old to embrace the new. If the United States is at war with your former country, who are you going to fight for and stand with? Where is your identity and allegiance? You may feel the soul ties that want to draw you back to the former feelings you had for your country and countrymen, but now you have to cut them off, because it is no longer who you are. You can no longer go between countries and have your allegiance divided or you will be considered a traitor. You can no longer live under the former laws and traditions of the old country and still be a US citizen. They don’t work in this new country. You no longer have to live under tyranny, but you can live in freedom, but freedom isn’t freedom if it brings you again under the bondage of sin. “13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. You see it is the Spirit that now indwells you that is the power in you to overcome who you used to be. As we learn to live in obedience and faithfulness to Him we are led by Him. It is living under His banner and direction that we become the sons of God.
If we are still doing whatever is right in our eyes we are missing what it is to live under the higher law. It is only under this law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that we live and abide in the life of God and we come to experience the intimacy of relationship with Him. God has given us the choice to be sons or slaves. Where is our true identity, allegiance and citizenship, in the law of sin and death or the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? Your identity is who you are, not what you call yourself.

Blessings,
#kent

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Appeasing or Pleasing

July 30, 2015

Appeasing or Pleasing

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
I think that I may not be so different than many others who earnestly love God, want to have an intimate relationship with Him, but are often tempted to make compromises to please the flesh rather than to please God. I was meditating this morning on how much appease and please sound alike only they are different. If we examine our hearts we will probably find that there are many times we actually try to appease the Lord, rather than please Him.
“So what’s the difference?” you might ask.
I’m glad you asked that question. The dictionary defines appease as, “To pacify or attempt to pacify (an enemy) by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle.”
Now we don’t think of God as our enemy, but He is the enemy of our flesh and when we are trying to appease God that is usually where we are operating from. Romans 8:5-8 tells us, “Those who live according to the 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. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” When we get out of faith and into the flesh then we begin operating out of a mindset that wants to appease God rather than please Him. We want God to wink at our sin and to let us slide. We want the favor and blessing of God, but on our terms. Maybe we start to bargain with God. “God, if you will just let me do that, or have this or grant me that, then I’ll do this.” Maybe we give more and try to do good things. Usually we are not only trying to appease God, but our conscience as well. It is not that we want to forsake God or not serve Him and believe in Him anymore. It is not that we want to displease Him, it is just that we want our way more than we want His way. What we don’t want to acknowledge and submit too is, that it is always our ways that lead us away from His. It is our ways that separate and break fellowship with Him and it is our ways, the natural mind, that hinders us from God’s highest and His best for us.
Like King Saul of the Old Testament we become headstrong about doing things our way rather than God’s way. Listen as Saul attempts to appease God rather than please Him. 1 Samuel 15:13-26 says, “When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD ? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”
Whenever we compromise what God has instructed by doing it our way rather than His, we only are deceiving ourselves and leading ourselves to heartache and misery. Hebrews 10:5-10 says in contrast, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’ ” 8First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Father is now asking the same of us. He doesn’t any longer want our burnt offering and sacrifices, our concessions and appeasement. He wants our lives, our obedience and our faith to trust and walk with Him wherever it is that He chooses to lead us. We can no longer seek to appease our Lord; we must walk in the faith and obedience that pleases Him.
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)

Blessings,
#kent

Losing my Head

June 24, 2015

Losing my Head

Philippians 4:12-13
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

As I was praying this morning my thoughts went back to my childhood where I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents on their farm in Oklahoma. I remember times when my grandmother would get a chicken that she was going to prepare for a meal. She would put its head under a metal bar, step on it and pull its head off. I’m sorry if that is a little gruesome and graphic for some. The thing that was coming to me is that after the chicken’s head was removed I saw them do things that I never saw them do in everyday life. They might just flop around, but I saw some of them fly distances that I had never seen a chicken fly before. How could they do that without a head? I know, involuntary reflexes and such. The thing that struck me is that if they could do that in death, why did they never do it in life? The only time a chicken would leave the ground normally is if it was being pursued and took flight out of fear.
I believe what the Lord was showing me is that our greatest limitation is between our two ears. We grow up saying, doing and being what everyone else around us does. Think of the disciples. Here were twelve very ordinary men. I imagine not all of them were the sharpest pencils in the drawer, but they all did one thing, they left all to follow this man Jesus. As they followed, communed and lived with this man they observed someone who was not like all of the other chickens in the hen house. They observed someone who thought differently, acted differently and did things they had never imagined anyone could do. It was a process over time where the normal way they used to view their world changed. They begin to see and understand their world from a heavenly and kingdom perspective rather than an earthly one. After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus they received power from on High when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. Now Jesus was physically gone. They had lost their earthly head and a new mentality had to kick in. The mind of Christ had now come within them for them to carry on the work of the Kingdom with power and authority. They began to speak under the anointing of the Spirit and would see thousands respond and come to Christ. They had miracles happening as they extended their wings in faith. In some cases people were even raised from the dead. These ordinary men were doing exploits that rattled the religious order of the barnyard. The religious leadership thought that they had rid the hen house of this One that upset the natural order of things. He was obviously out of the pecking order. Now there were more of these people doing the same kind of things while proclaiming this Jesus as the Christ and the Messiah, not only in word, but also with signs and wonders.
What we have to realize is that when we accepted Christ as our Savior we became identified with His death on that cross. In effect, out head got pulled off. We are no longer like every other chicken in the barnyard. The great news is that we didn’t just lose our head, we put on the headship of Christ in the process. We lost our mind that we might have His. Like the disciples before us we have began a process of changed thinking. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” It goes on to say ‘don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought.’ It is never this earthen vessel that is great; it is what fills it.
What fills you my friend is what gives you the power and abilities to do what you have never done before. It gives you the ability to rise to heights that in the natural mind you never thought possible.
There are wings of faith in God’s Word that must be stretched and exercised. We have had them all along; we just have never really used them. God has given us the ability to be extraordinary people and maybe not in the way the world views as extraordinary. We have the power within us now to be different, something more. That more may not be as the world views greatness, but it will be seen in the power of an obedient life yielded to Christ and available for His power to manifest through in the ways that please Him and further His Kingdom. Have you lost your head and put on His?

Greetings,
#kent

Faith

January 30, 2013

Hebrews 12:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith

Faith taps the aquifers of heaven’s blessings.
It is the light switch which illuminates the spirit,
It is the spiritual eyes seeing what natural ones can not.
It is the belief that supercedes the reason.
It is what brings promises into reality.
It is the confidence that only trust can bring.
It has the strength to stand when others give up.
Even our faith is a gift from God, lest we should boast
Through it we perceive, know and receive Spirit Life.

Hope stands ready to receive all that faith brings.

Blessings,
kent

Where my faith leads me, I will follow

1Timothy 6:10-12
10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Most of us are aware that faith is paramount and essential to our walk and relationship with God. Without faith we know that it impossible to please God, for it takes faith to believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We often hear teachings that instruct us that through faith we can obtain all things if we only believe. Perhaps what some of us miss is that faith doesn’t stand alone, it has other key components that work with it if is truly godliness we seek. In our scripture today we see that misdirected faith can lead us to much grief. Here we are instructed not only to pursue faith, but righteousness, godliness, love, endurance and gentleness. We may remember from Galatians 5:22-23 that all of these are attributes and fruit of the Spirit.
Our faith can take us in many directions, but are all of them the will and purpose of God in our lives? How do we know? Faith has a motive. Some of us can listen to teachings on prosperity, health and wealth and all we really hear is God wants to give me all that I want and desire. Yes, God does desire to bless you, but more than that He desires that our hearts are in the right place in the blessing. Our scripture today speaks of the love of money as the root of evil. More than many of us realize our faith can be motivated by covetousness cloaked in religious apparel. If our motivation is wrong then faith won’t lead us where we need to go and we won’t produce the fruit of the Spirit. After speaking to us of the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5 goes on in verses 24-26 to talk to us about motivation, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
It is really the love of God in us that should motivate our faith. Galatians 5:6 tells us, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availed any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Often we wonder why our faith doesn’t seem to work. What is our true motive behind our faith? Love has to be the motivation for our faith to work; otherwise it can’t produce the life and works of God. James 4:3 says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.” What is the underlying motive of our faith today, is it really to please and walk with God or ultimately to better ourselves. Is it the love of God or the love of self that compels us? Faith can work from each one, but they will not lead us down the same road or produce the same results. To follow God you indeed need faith, but you also need the heart and love of God for your faith to operate out of. Then you will walk by the Spirit for the purpose of pleasing and honoring the Lord and not to fulfill the lust of the flesh. When we are truly walking in the unselfish love of God, then we will see our faith be more effectual and accomplishing the will and purpose of God through our lives. Our faith will lead us in the way of righteousness, godliness, love, endurance and gentleness; these, in turn will become the motivating forces in our life and our faith.

Blessings,
kent

Acceptable Sacrifice

January 16, 2013

Genesis 4:1-7
Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Acceptable Sacrifice

Your external efforts to please God will never do,
He has already given the sacrifice that is acceptable for you.
Christ has paid the price and is the acceptable sacrifice.
Faith in Him alone can save you and give you eternal life.
Christ in you, now lives through you, to do the works above.
Not outwardly, but inwardly are you transformed into His love.
Kent Stuck

Have you ever meditated on why God favored Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s? Here are just a few insights.
First of all man was created on the 6th day, the same day as the beast of the field. What separated man and beast?
Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In Genesis 2:7 it says, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
We see that man, not animals, was made in the image of God and in His likeness for the purpose of having dominion over the earth and His creation. We also see that, unlike the beast and other animals, God breathed His own breath, the breath of life, into man. Because in John 4, Jesus tells us that God is Spirit, we can conclude that it wasn’t just an outward appearance that made Adam in the image of God, it was the spirit formed within him that gave him the capacity and ability to be in the image and likeness of God and through that spirit, being conformed to the likeness of God, he would have dominion over the earth.
Man was created then in a place between God and beast, heaven and earth. In that place he was given a choice, a free will to choose which nature he would live out of; that which was formed from the earth or that which was breathed in Him by the breath of God, the Spirit. In the original state of Adam we have a picture of what it was like to live out of the Spirit and in communion and right relationship with God. After the fall we see the genealogy of fallen man, beginning with Cain and Abel. In those two brothers we see the beginning of these two natures beginning to manifest.
We posed the question earlier, “Why did God favor Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s?” There are types and shadow here that that give us those answers. Cain’s sacrifice came from the earth and were the efforts of his own works and hands. How many people try to please God with their works and efforts to do good only to find that this is not what is acceptable to God.
Hebrews 9:22 tells us, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Cain’s sacrifice was not a redemptive sacrifice offered in faith. There was no shedding of blood and so it was unacceptable to the Father.
Abel, took the first fruits of his flock. He followed godly principles for an acceptable offering. He shed their blood by sacrificing them in faith. He brought God his first and his best, not his common and ordinary. He offered the fat of these upon the altar, which speaks to those non-essential indulgences of our flesh and that which is in excess to our need, along with the abundance and excess that we can offer back to God. His heart and his pursuit was to please God in faith and obedience.
Cain’s offering was not accepted of God and Cain’s reaction revealed the true nature of his heart. God gives us a choice to choose what is good and acceptable, because our other choice leaves sin crouching at our door and if we open the door to it as Cain did, it can only lead to sin and death.
Life confronts us with two natures and two paths. One leads to life and peace and the other to sin and death. One is lived out of own efforts and choices and the other is lived out of righteousness, obedience and faith through the power of the Spirit of God which we invite, through choice, to live in us and through us. Even if we have made the wrong choice and headed down the wrong path, God would still tells us, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” We are given the opportunity to repent and turn from our wicked ways, but if not, sin is crouching at the door.
We know the outcome, that Cain slew Abel. The flesh will always persecute the Spirit and even as they crucified Jesus, His blood cries out with forgiveness and not vengeance, with mercy that is greater than justice. His desire is to redeem us all back to Him. He beseeches us to choose the life of the Spirit that He originally breathed into us and in that choice we will know Life.

Blessings,
kent

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