Tag Archive: Actions



“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

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Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, is is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

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Only from God’s infinite graciousness, and our Faith in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection, are we saved. There is no work, nor deed, we can do of our own accord to make us worthy of the gift. Contained within this gift is the gift of salvation, and thereby a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. This gift is offered freely and we shouldn’t look to making ourselves worthy of the gift, but rather realize that the gift has already been offered and the choice is ours to either accept or deny it.

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Yet, we struggle at times, striving to be worthy of the gift, and in essence, belittling the gift offered. It is, to use unworthy human terminology, the greatest of all charitable and merciful gifts. For the gift of life to the dead has the ability to transform lives in amazing ways and it raises us up unto life. Furthermore, it shows how dead we were in sin, and how alive we are in Christ.

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(see my note concerning Romans 6:23, “On The Justice and The Gift”)

The amazing thing is this gift has already been offered to all. Anyone can accept this gift without some worldly action or deed, which testifies to the amazing glory and mercy of God. We are all equally worthless in terms of our ability to able to well up a spring of life within ourselves due to our actions. Rather, our eternal worth is found in the Lord. Thus, let us not boast of our actions and victories, for they, in and of themselves, have no ability to procure the gift. Rather, boast in the Lord, who has offered the gift, to those unworthy, and to all manner of the multitude of sinners and disobedient, due strictly to His great love and mercy for all His creation. May He be forever praised. Amen.

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“‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed.'” -1 Peter 2:24

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"Christ on The Cross With Three Angels," by Albrecht Durer. sketch, c. 1525

Though I try not to look at Scripture in a purely aesthetic context, I am a nerd and there are times, or rather verses, where I feel almost overcome by its beauty. This verse is no different. Eons before the arrival of Shakespeare, the apostle Peter recounts something worthy of the “Hamlet” author, by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5). As Shakespeare liked to utilize compare/contrast and antithesis in his poems and plays, Peter and Isaiah do similarly with the phrases, “die to sins and live for righteousness,” and, “by His wounds you have been healed.”

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The antithesis represented by the words, “die,” “live,” “wounds,” and, “healed,” emphasize what Christ endured on our behalf, and for what cause. Christ was mocked, flogged, crowned with thorns, and crucified, in order that, by Him, we may be crowned by His glory and receive the gift of eternal life, returning the glory to its rightful place. In our salvation, we praise and glorify our savior, who bore incredible suffering for the likes of sinful, grotesque and undeserving man, that by His love, we may dwell with Him inside eternity. No praise seems worthy, for His glory far outweighs what we can offer. Yet, we strive to perfect our praise, love, and adoration in our hearts, spirits, minds and actions, for this is what God desires, commands and more than deserves. May our praises upon the alter of humility be a pleasant aroma unto our Lord and God whose glory and grace far outweigh what we could ever hope to offer.

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"Deposition," by Albrecht Durer. engraving, c. 1512


2 Corinthians 7:8-10, “For even if I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it—even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a little while. 9Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.”

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There is, of course, much discussion concerning the “letter” or “epistle” referred to by the apostle Paul in verse 8. There are at least five theories concerning the biblical etymology and development of the books known today as 1 and 2 Corinthians. These theories are discussed in the NIV Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible. The NIV Study Bible tells us:

“Some think Paul here refers either to 1 Corinthians or to 2 Corinthians 10-13, but more likely he refers to a letter now lost that he wrote shortly after his ‘painful visit.’” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

This “painful visit” is mentioned by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:

2 Corinthians 2:1, “So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.”

Philip E. Hughes continues:

“This former visit could not have been the one he made to Corinth at the time when the church there was founded in response to the preaching of the gospel. Therefore he must have paid a second visit, which is confirmed by [2 Corinthians] 12:14; [2 Corinthians] 13:1.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

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These aforementioned verses read:

2 Corinthians 12:14, “Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.”

2 Corinthians 13:1, “This will be my third visit to you. ‘Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”

Paul, therefore, is stating that his visit to the Corinthians is to be his third. His first visit was apparently the founding of the church at Corinth itself, so we have a “missing” second visit. Concerning this the NIV Study Bible says:

“The second visit probably took place between the writing of 1 and 2 Corinthians, though some hold that it occurred before 1 Corinthians was written.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

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So, we can already see that there is some disagreement in when these lost letters of Paul were written, how many there were, and if indeed the letters in some way corresponded to the visits themselves. The Life Application Study Bible takes another stance on the issue.

“’That severe letter’ refers to the third letter (now lost) that Paul had written to the Corinthians. Apparently it had caused the people to begin to change.”Life Application Study Bible

“Paul visited Corinth on his second missionary journey and founded a church there. He later wrote several letters to the believers in Corinth, two of which are included in the Bible. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is lost.”Life Application Study Bible

The Life Application Study Bible cites that this lost letter is referenced in a passage in 1 Corinthians 5:

1 Corinthians 5:9-11, “When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.”

The Life Application Study Bible continues to explain:

“[Paul’s] second letter to them is our book of 1 Corinthians, his third letter is lost.”Life Application Study Bible

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The Life Application Study Bible cites that this additional lost letter is referenced in a passage in 2 Corinthians chapters 2 and 7:

2 Corinthians 2:6-9, “Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. 7Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 9I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions.”

2 Corinthians 7:12, “My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us.”

The Life Application Study Bible states:

“[Paul’s] fourth letter is our book of 2 Corinthians. Second Corinthians was written less than a year after 1 Corinthians.” –Life Application Study Bible

“Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to deal with divisions in the church. When his advice was not taken and their problems weren’t solved, Paul visited Corinth a second time. That visit was painful for both Paul and for the church [2 Corinthians 2:1]. He then planned a third visit but delayed it and wrote 2 Corinthians instead. After writing 2 Corinthians, Paul visited Corinth once more.” –Life Application Study Bible

Despite what one may conclude about the letters to the Corinthians and the existence or, rather, non-existence of missing letters, it is apparent that when one comes to Christ we feel sorrowful for our sin, of that which was manifest in both the old creation and the new. Sorrow can imply that we feel remorse for wronging someone, God, man, or even self, and this sorrow becomes known and abundant once our eyes are opened by Christ. For in that moment we, in our hearts, know how we were supposed to act if we were indeed obedient in the Lord. Yet, it is because of this disobedience that Christ had to be nailed unto the cross, that we may have forgiveness of our trespasses. Once this is made clear, Godly sorrow envelopes us, but for the purposes of repentance, rather than a means to drive us into despair. This is where sorrow of the world leads, despair, hopelessness and eventually death. Not of the body, for everyone goes through that, rather the death of the spirit. The true death where there is no hope.

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Despair has several like traits, but in my own personal observation, it seems to multiply burden and with an overwhelming feeling of sorrow, this makes hope in one’s life crumble into dust. In this position many slip down the well-worn worldly path towards self-destruction and/or become allied with the enemy. There is an ecclesiastical meaninglessness to life, which makes one focus on the Lord, and there is a worldly meaninglessness that makes one focus upon the self. In regards to the latter, they seek not to protect the self, but rather engage in actions of carnal gratification which eat at a person from the inside out, until they are just a shell of what they might have been, tragically spending all effort in chasing after material rather than the eternal.

Christians, of course, are not granted a lifetime without hardship when coming to the cross. In fact, there are many throughout history, also in contemporary times, that have experienced greater hardship due to their suffering which is directly related in the sharing of the message of reconciliation, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Great persecution and martyrdom still occurs to this day, despite the gospel of “tolerance,” the world supposedly subscribes to. More on current examples of martyrdom and persecution, check out, “The Voice of The Martyrs” site.

Yet, there is a vast difference between the hardship of those in the world, and the hardships of those who belong to Jesus Christ. It’s not found in the nature of the hardship, but rather in the response. The world under hardship lacks hope, while those in Christ have it in abundance and there are several ways our hope is apparent.

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With Christ we have the hope in Him that He cares about us and our daily lives, and indeed this is truth. We pray that He will strengthen us, lift us out of such snares and the painful circumstance we may find ourselves in and put us back on our feet. Furthermore, we know that when we pass from this world, the problems that confront and confound us here, will cease to be on the other side of eternity, where we will truly live.

Godly joy stems from these things which are some of the cornerstones of the faith and experienced in all Christians, as well as the faith and love that the Spirit instills and perfects within us. Yet, Christians are not immune from breaking away from this hope and grace to chase joy and happiness in the pleasures of the flesh. I myself am guilty of this very thing.

Besides being apart from Christ, one of the problems with this strategy is that you will never come to a place of fulfillment. In fact, you may desire more and more, chasing after “new” experiences, but never realizing how similar those experiences are. Eventually you come to a point where you gain exactly the opposite of what you were looking for: despair. Trying to choke out the feeling of despair by worldly means brings one to the point of calamity, and it is only by Jesus Christ that one can be pulled back from the edge of the precipice.

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True joy is found with Christ Jesus, who offers it freely to those who follow Him. Christ went through that feeling of despair as He was beaten and executed that we wouldn’t have to. Christ offers us a way back from the tomb of despair, that our lives may have meaning, and in that we may have joy.

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2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (LITV)

This verse seems to imply that when we come to Christ and are found in Him, our old self dies and we are ‘born again’ as a new creation, a creation that will last for eternity once our body perishes from physicality. These are profound truths and this verse deserves, much like the other verses in the Bible, some proper reflection and a closer look. 2 Corinthians 5:17 further states what Christ accomplished when He died upon the cross in regards to who we are in Him. The death of the old self is one of the fundamental truths behind the Christian faith. When we believe upon Jesus Christ the old self dies and we are “born again” as a new creation. This new creation lives in us now, but will be transfigured upon our death and resurrection. This new creation, not only lives in this reality, but now lives in the surpassing reality, that is eternity. Our deeds and actions now affect both, producing current fruits, and presently unknown riches inside that reality which lies beyond our current Euclidean understanding.

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The verse starts out with the word, “Therefore,” in the NIV and HCSB, among others. “Therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. In this and other examples where the word “therefore” is included, that which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” Thus, we need to ask ourselves the question, “To which statements within 2 Corinthians or elsewhere is Paul referring?” I believe the answer lies a few verses prior in 2 Corinthians 5.

2 Corinthians 5:14-16, “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluation others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now!”

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There are several premises and statements here which Paul uses to draw his conclusion, stated in the remainder of 2 Corinthians 5:17. These are as follows:

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

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“If” is a word that implies a hypothetical, stating that conditions must be met for the consequent to be evidenced. “If” introduces the condition that one must be in Christ for the consequent, stated in the conclusion of the verse, to be made plain. Just what does it mean to be in Christ? Ephesians 1 gives us the answer.

Ephesians 1:13, “And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

David K. Lowery tells us the Agent by which this transformation occurs:

“This new creation is brought about by the Holy Spirit, the Agent of regeneration and the Giver of divine birth.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Life Application Study Bible concurs with Lowery:

“The Holy Spirit gives [Christians] new life, and they are not the same anymore.” –Life Application Study Bible

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So, to be in Christ is to have believed the word of truth, that is the gospel of salvation revealed by Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which one receives when believing this glorious gospel. Included in this is a faith and a obedience to the commandments of the Lord, Whom we love and worship, and who we place in His rightful place, an exalted position as the Lord over our lives.

Philip E. Hughes in the NIV Study Bible parrots this point.

“[Being in Christ refers to us being] united with Christ through faith in Him and commitment to Him.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

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A ‘new creation’ by necessity refers unto some old state, or state of being. The old state is referred to by the Scriptures to have ‘passed away,’ by and through the grace of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the presence of the Great Counselor, the Holy Spirit. ‘Passed away,’ seems to reference the death of something, and indeed Paul tells us we share in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, upon whom our old nature was placed and condemned to death, so that when Jesus was raised by the manifest glory of the Father, we too were raised where we may put on this new nature as an advanced, state-of-the-art garment, clean without stain or blemish. Galatians tells us:

Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In addition, Romans chapter 6 declares:

Romans 6:4-6, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been unified with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

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Paul is attempting to use reason to show that this old self has truly died and has been replaced by something new and far more glorious. Paul was a masterful apologeticist and offered many proofs throughout the Scriptures to us, and also to those present with Paul in times past, those he was witnessing to and even to the apostles themselves. Case in point:

Acts 9:20-22, “And immediately [Saul] began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is indeed the Son of God!’ All who heard him were amazed. ‘Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?’ they asked. ‘And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?’ Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.”

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How is Paul’s argument constructed? Paul’s argument is constructed by the premises stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14-16. These statements represent the ‘new creation.’ Being the case, then, they are referenced as axioms which should be represented within the body of believers. Thereby, through their negation we should see, or get a description, of the old nature, or non-believers, those not in Christ. Let us refresh our memory by stating these axioms once more.

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

Now, if we take these axioms and negate them, the old nature should become apparent. I have numbered these for easy reference, thus 1 in the following list will correspond to the negation of 1 in the former.

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  1. Love of self, pleasure and material or the physical controlled and motivated us.

  2. Christ may have died, but for no great divine purpose.

  3. We must indulge in life and do whatever pleases us at any particular moment, for this is the only means to have a rich and fulfilling life.

  4. It is the self and the love of the self which motivates and compels us.

  5. To live for someone else is an absurdity, unless it in some way mutually and reciprocally benefits the self.

  6. Christ may have died, but He was not divine and there has never been nor there will be any resurrection from the dead, for death is final.

  7. The viewpoint of man is limited to the material and what can be experienced by the senses.

  8. Christ was most certainly a mere man, if He existed at all.

This sounds quite familiar doesn’t it? These necessary negations may have been evident in our lives at one time, or with the examination of the world, we see that it is very much applicable to the secular community at large. Furthermore, it follows the philosophical doctrines of materialism, post-modernism and existentialism so prevalent in the world today. However, some may find that at least a couple may apply to their lives right now.

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It is important that if any of these aforementioned statements apply, still, to our lives, that we spend much time in prayer and examining the self and the state of nature as it applies to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I assure you, friends, that this is convicting for me for I have failed in following the statutes of our Lord Jesus Christ to an extreme degree. So if one is feeling convicted by these words, I join him or her in company that desperately needs the power of the Lord made manifest in our lives. May it be so both by the Lord’s discipline and grace.

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John Gill echoes this message by stating the necessity of “newness” within professed Christians.

“Whoever is in the kingdom or church of Christ, who professes himself to be a Christian, ought to be a new creature.” –John Gill

Paul, himself, by the grace of our Lord, was in a unique position to be able to juxtapose the old nature with the new creation. As David K. Lowery states:

“No one was more able to reflect on that transformation than Paul who switched from a persecutor of Christ to a proclaimer of Christ.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

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We can definitively see a vast opposition between the old nature and this new creation. The degree of this ‘newness’ through and by the Spirit cannot be overemphasized. Usually when we consider something to be new, it is not to a full extent, that is lingering vestiges of the old may remain, which become simply “covered up” by the new, but in Christ the old is referenced as being completely destroyed in order to make room for the full revelation of what is new, so that it may become apparent in us. The Life Application Study Bible has some profound things to add concerning this.

“We are not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated—we are re-created (new creations), living in vital union with Christ. At conversion we do not merely turn over a new leaf; we begin a new life under a new Master.”Life Application Study Bible

“While this newness is true individually, Paul is saying much more. Not only are believers changed from within, but a whole new order of creative energy began with Christ. There is a new covenant, a new perspective, a new body, a new church. All creation is being renewed.”Life Application Study Bible

“This is not a superficial change that will be quickly superseded by another novelty. This is an entirely new order of all creation under Christ’s authority. It requires a new way of looking at all people and all of creation.” –Life Application Study Bible

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This insight provided by the Life Application Study Bible is echoed by the literal translations of the Scripture, such as the LITV concerning 2 Corinthians 5:17.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

John Gill, too, points out that there is a vital extraordinary distinction to this “newness,” or being of a new creation, which trumps our normal conceptions of what we may consider to be new.

“[A new creation] is applied by the apostle to converted persons; and designs not an outward reformation of life and manners, but an inward principle of grace, which is a creature, a creation work, and so not man’s but God’s’; and in which man is purely passive, as he was in His first creation; and this is a new creature, or new man, in opposition to, and distinction from the old man, the corruption of nature; and because it is something anew implanted in the soul, which never was there before; it is not a working upon, and an improvement of the old principles of nature, but an implantation of new principles of grace and holiness; here is a new heart, and a new spirit, and in them new light and life, new affections and desires, new delights and joys; here are new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, new feet to walk, and new hands to work and act with: old things are passed away: the old course of living, the old way of serving God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; the old legal righteousness, old companions and acquaintance are dropped; and all external things, as riches, honours, learning, knowledge, former sentiments of religion are relinquished: behold, all things are become new.” –John Gill

Due to the fact that we are a new creation, and have a place within the new creation, let us, therefore, strive to have absolutely no association with the old self, for the new creation is diametrically opposed to the old self. The old is contradictory to the new creation, as the new creation stands in opposition with our old nature. Let us, therefore, put on the nature of Christ and do away with the old garments of Adam. As Christ tells us in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 9:16-17, “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

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“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” -Matthew 7:16

PhotobucketAs we travel along the busy thoroughfare we call life, we form many ideas and opinions of those we encounter along the way. A popular response from people when they suspect our opinion, or when we offer a rebuke of their sin is, “Don’t you judge me!” Usually, this is not so much to do with those who offer the conviction, as it has to do with the person who feels they are being judged. When we rebuke someone due to their lifestyle or actions in accordance with the Lord’s urging, it’s never comfortable. We should know this from experience.

Now the scriptures also tell us that we should not judge, so the reconciliation between what is proper and what isn’t takes some discernment through a relationship with the Lord. For instance, we shouldn’t judge on an issue we ourselves are indulging in, lest we become hypocrites. The word hypocrite I feel is immensely overused. Understand that we can convict and hold each other accountable while still struggling, for we all are sinners and in such contexts not only should the truth be shared, but also our own shortcomings in a particular area, whatever that may be. These urgings, through the Lord produce accountability and victory. If we gain a victory through Christ, convict others, and later stumble, this isn’t hypocrisy, though we by sinning are certainly in error. Hypocrisy is when one willfully engages in their iniquity, not holding themselves to a particular standard, but at the same time, holding others to it and judging them due to that same error evident in their own life.

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Of course we need to judge, for if we didn’t how would we know a good situation from a bad one, or a person that will forward our lives and faith in Christ as opposed to hindering it? It’s apparent that when applied as an absolute, even our judicial system would collapse in that we couldn’t hold each other responsible for their actions, nor would there be such a thing as guilty or innocent in a court of law. We need that discernment, to know when it is appropriate, lest we fall more often and find ourselves in a place where we could very justly be cut down and thrown into the fire, or even lead others to such a place.

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Although this verse talks explicitly about false prophets, we can implicitly find plenty of truth concerning how we must view others in general, in order that our walk with the Lord may be protected. Men, and women, are masters of deception. It’s unfortunate, and although we want to sometimes trust everyone, especially when a person evokes the name of Christ, the previous verse, Matthew 7:15, makes it abundantly clear that all that claim Christ, don’t necessarily belong to Him.

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False Prophet Manasseh Jordan, who along with his father, E. Bernard Jordan, not only claim him to be a prophet of God, but God Himself.

How do we recognize them and protect ourselves? Jesus tells us that we should look to the fruit that people produce. Not just those wolves who claim the name of Christ, or even have a lofty position in the Body of Christ, but this can apply to anyone.

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Sunday and Monday, I didn’t post due to a exciting day I had at church and a couple days in which I was in close fellowship with great friends and those in Christ. I wrote the first part of this article and attended afterward, for a time, a conference at a local church. I also got hands laid on me and got a few prophecies revealed to me as to the direction my life is going in Christ. Yet, as exciting as it was, I also found myself somewhat skeptical of the abilities in the Spirit, which some professed, by mere action, to have been granted.

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I was plagued by the question of whether or not I was in the right by being skeptical of such things? Was I being too judgmental. In all honesty and simplicity, I trust in the Lord, but I don’t trust in man. Now, as I begin to finish this article, and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me at the time of these prophetic occurrences, I realized that just a half-hour prior that the Lord had already answered the question I would later pose to myself. I was informed by a person very dear in my life that supposedly this happens quite a lot to me, and I, of course, praise the Lord for his timely response concerning my constant questioning.

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By the verse, and indeed those surrounding it, in correlation with the questions that were raised in my heart, it is apparent that skepticism concerning the gifts of the Spirit and those who profess to have acquired them, is both a good thing and a bad thing. In one sense it protects us, and in another it may hinder us. Personally, I believe that within my life time I have had the skepticism affect me in both aforementioned ways and I have stumbled and engaged both extremes of the spectrum.

PhotobucketOften times our skepticism is due to our lack of experience in experiencing something someone else testifies to encountering. Even if we witness it and we haven’t experienced those particular manifestations, those who have, or those it is evident in, can seem strange or to an extent, crazy. Therefore, we may come to the false conclusion that it is faulty or feigned. Though such a conclusion can sometimes be correct, other times it can seriously detain us from learning or experiencing something, especially when concerning our walk with the Lord. In fact, we see many who are so skeptical that the mere idea of God and experiencing Him, is so silly that they consider it some form of mental illness. The fact is, perfectly sane and brilliant people experience God all the time, but due to the skeptics unwillingness to accept God, it’s improbable they will experience God in a life changing way, for they are already surrounded by Him, but fail to recognize because of the hardening of their hearts and skepticism (among other things).

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Yet, on the other hand, those who are completely non-skeptical run the danger of being led astray by falsehood in the name of Christ. This, too, I have experienced. In my example, God and His interaction with us, and even my salvation, was determined by an emotional response. That is, when one has an emotional response to God, this alone determines God’s presence, His power, and to what degree we experience Him. Some will also say without such a response, one ceases to be saved. Not only do some say this, but you begin to say it in yourself, and you equate God and your salvation with that emotional response. Having an emotional response concerning the truth of the Lord and His sacrifice is blessed, but seeking an emotional response in and of itself to experience God is not, for though we may fool ourselves, it is not based on God.

We are emotional creatures, but our relationship with God isn’t determined by emotion. There are times your heart swells and there are times where you feel God is absent, but the latter is never the case. God is always there, through all emotions or none at all. I myself have yelled at God, cried to Him, and laughed in His company. Yet, there have been times where I didn’t “feel” anything. When I was ensnared by this particular brand of  falsehood, I produced the emotional response of my own accord and spoke for the Lord without His urging, but fooled myself that it was indeed from Him. There lies the danger.
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If one has fooled themselves or been fooled that a relationship with God is a strict emotional one, then they will chase after that emotion, looking to that emotion rather than the Lord Himself. To worship an emotion is idolatry, and before you know it, your worship may forgo the Lord altogether. Don’t misunderstand, there are times when emotion is included, absolutely! Yet, there are also times the Lord tests us by pulling away. Is faith really faith if you need that emotional response? It’s much easier to be obedient in emotion, but can you follow the Lord without it? This is a test we are all put through at times. As our relationship with our earthly parents attests, we eventually need to go out from under their wing and live according to our own devices to make it in the world. In the same way our Heavenly Father may pull back in order to see how we do, and if our faith can withstand the test, that we may be ambassadors for the Kingdom.

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When one relies on emotion, it is more based in self than God. Emotion can fool you, and we have the ability to fool ourselves into an emotion. I pray, dear reader, that the Lord may utilize it for His glory in you, but keep it too from ensnaring you. This all being said, how do we know if we are in danger? This answer isn’t a simple one and requires God’s urging and truth to be given unto our hearts.

Do not be fooled by the self, for even the positive good intentions in your life can have a negative effect and hinder you. Be wary of this always. Look to motive in yourself and in others for insight on whether your or others are in danger. Do not let your skepticism steal your joy in the Lord. God does amazing things everyday and such things He wants us to rejoice in. So, keep in The Word that you may be discerning when falsehood is manifest in someone. If it doesn’t follow The Word, then it cannot be of God, because God cannot contradict Himself.
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In order to determine the fruit one bears, one must have fellowship. We can see a gorgeous piece of fruit from afar, but looks can be deceiving. We have no way of knowing whether or not, by viewing at a distance, if that fruit, say, contains a worm, or is sour or bitter. Thus, it comes down to a discernment through God, Prayer, the Word, and an intimate knowledge, through relationships, of those who claim and are in Christ. There are those who have been tragically led astray that will come upon your doorstep one day and make it seem as if you are of like spiritual faith, but that’s a means to ensnare. If you were to  get to know them you’d find their Christ and yours to not be one in the same. One should not assume on mere superficial appearances, but get to know one another. We have been called to develop relationships, so let us do so that we may gain trust in one another in like faith, mutually encourage each other, and protect one another from the skepticism that steals joy and promotes falsehood.

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Again, do not let your skepticism steal your joy, for whoever you encounter and however the Lord is present in them, realize that they are mere men. Yet, God manifests himself in a variety of ways. Be open to this as well and never let your skepticism hinder you from growing with the Lord, or leading someone to Christ. We all have our comfort zone. Understand that discomfort can come both from the enemy and your preconceived notions. We all like the churches we feel most comfortable in, but this may only hinder you from doing God’s work and growing in the Lord. Don’t put limits on God. Be skeptical of man, but never in God. Look to the scriptures, pray, and get to know your brothers and sister in Christ, that you may know to a full degree the fruits of their Christian labors.

A friend of mine told me that skepticism is based in fear. He can’t be more right. Yet, at times, fear can keep us from being caught up in something that may be ungodly, despite its appearance. If there is good fruit, if by friendship and communion, you find them to be trustworthy, if they follow the same Word, then do not let your doubt steal your joy, for gifts are presented to some, but not to others. Never through your skepticism come to the point that just because it’s different or uncomfortable, on that alone, draw the conclusion that it isn’t from God. Again, never be skeptical of God, but be wary of man, who even in the name of God can distort His eternal Name.

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“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in he Spirit.” -1 Peter 3:18

Though we all suffer for our sins due to the discipline of God, realize its also an inevitable outcome of sin, that is suffering. Sin brings about suffering in many ways, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, which is manifest in our lives and actions, separating us further from God, our lives entangled in a hedge of sin and impeded by willful iniquity.

To which of us has not experienced such things or indulged in the worship of the self. Yet, it is to those like us Christ came to save, and though He was just, He choose to take the just punishment for the unjust, which He accomplished by allowing Himself to be nailed unto a tree, and becoming subservient unto physical death despite His divine nature. This action of pure love was followed by a earthquake and darkness when that part of the trinity gave Himself over to death. There was bound to be some momentous physical manifestation of the event if Christ who was who He said He was. These manifestations are not only recorded in the Bible, but also in independent sources as well.

"Crucifixion," by Georges Rouault. oil on canvas, c. 1937

His purpose was to offer all men and all manner of sinners to become reconciled to God. Make no mistake, you, as an individual, we’re clearly in the mind of God, even as Christ laid and bled upon the cross. Christ became obedient to the rules of man, and physicality, when he was covered with a shroud by mourners and placed in a dark cave.

Yet, his ascension and resurrection was planned since from the beginning and the stone was rolled away, so that though He was put to death, in the same way, by faith upon Him, we too can die to the flesh everyday while we reside in this age where we continue to strive to look past the pure physical and unto Him. Amen.


“In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” -Romans 1:27

by Kevin Tuma

Paul, in the previous verse, mentions women first as being perpetrators of grotesque sexual sin, presumably with animals, and then tells of men having relations with other men. This emphasizes the lengths of debauchery that was going on in Rome and elsewhere in Paul’s time, and, indeed, it is still with us today.

By use of the term, “likewise,” or, “in the same way” in verse 27, it indicates to us that men lusting after another man is near on par with the woman’s sexual deviance and sin against nature. Due to these sins they reserved in themselves the due penalty for their error as the scripture tells us.

In today’s society there is a push for the church to become more liberal or progressive. Some have, tragically, fallen prey to this and I know of at least one Episcopalian church that features a homosexual minister.

Numerous homosexuals tell us the bible says nothing about their actions being wrong, but in reality that viewpoint is so difficult to provide biblical evidence for that its shocking that idea is so prevalent.

Does this mean homosexuals are void of coming to Christ for repentance and forgiveness? No, they are offered salvation just as everyone, but their attempt to change doctrine has nothing to do with rationality, but rather they want all areas of life to condone and adhere to their lifestyle choices, even if its God. It is especially interesting when one considers the topic of homosexuality, for those who have, through faith, repented of homosexuality are then viciously assaulted in word and action by the homosexual community. This is a common trait in liberalism, that society should bend to accept a persons actions which make them comfortable and anyone who disagrees should be attacked mercilessly. Often in such liberalistic thinking, it is void of any rational contemplation, but rather based on emotion and the desire to alleviate the responsibility behind one’s actions.

I obviously don’t know the philosophical ideals of every Christian or liberal in the world, so my next statement should be taken as a generality. It seems reasonable to conclude that most liberals who demand tolerance, but at the same time conformity by those who disagree with their particular school of thought, indeed would consider themselves atheists. The odd thing about this is that extreme liberalism has such a hold in the world, but yet is made up of relatively few people. In fact, a Gallup poll in 2007 suggested that atheism represented only 4 percent of the American public, which supposedly, according to author Paul Copan, is the exact same percentage when a similar poll was taken in 1944. He states in his book, “Is God a Moral Monster?” –

“Rumors of God’s death have been greatly exaggerated. And when we look at the non-Western world, people are becoming Christians in record numbers. The Christian faith is the fastest-growing movement around, often accompanied by signs and wonders.”

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If this is the case, then how do we account for liberalism’s prominence in the world? Perhaps, if Gallup and Copan are correct, it may be that the liberal community has been playing a game of chess for some time, by strategically placing liberal individuals in places like politics, media and universities. It could also mean that Christians have been somewhat silent when it comes to refuting such liberal world views. It seems there is a hesitance about getting on the bad side of the liberal community due to their propensity for anger, public insults, and quarreling. Christians should realize one general truth about those angry liberals, which may play a part in our aversion in debate. Again, Copan says:

“True, they (liberals) effectively utilize a combination of emotion and verbal rhetoric, but they aren’t known for logically carrying thoughts through from beginning to end. Their arguments against God’s existence aren’t intellectually rigorous – although they want to give that impression. Yes, they’ll raise some important questions concerning, for example, the problem of evil, but again, their arguments are a collage of rhetorical barbs that don’t really form a coherent argument. I’ve observed that while these men do have expertise in certain fields (biology and evolutionary theory in the case of Dawkins and Dennett), they turn out to be fairly disappointing when arguing against God’s existence or Christian doctrine.”

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Paul Copan

We followers of Christ are called to love even the most detestable, for we know at one time, we lived under sin and the Law, and due to our vile sin, God’s wrath. Thus, we need to remind people that just because we disagree with someone’s actions, that it in no way necessarily leads or equates to hate. If they have this view, which honestly they may have no matter what, it severely hinders our ability to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is something we need to point out, as is commonly said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Remember that when someone responds to you in anger, its usually because you have won the argument. Intelligent debate doesn’t need to get nasty. It’s incredibly silly and against all logic and intelligence that Christians and even Christ are referred to as haters, just because of a disagreement or clashing viewpoint. Its based on ignorance of what the Bible actually tells us, and how it tells us to act. Imagine if all disagreements were treated in such a way? Would we have anyone? Would we even have Christ?

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