Tag Archive: Holy Spirit



Galatians 3:23-25, “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”

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Paul declares that the law, which revealed our inability to be in complete compliance with the law and/or God’s nature, was added so that mankind may see their need for Christ. The law was the birth pains, through which the wonderful promise made known to Abraham became manifest and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, through whom we, in faith, become righteous before God. There is a paradoxical nature within the law concerning both it’s goodness, it being from God and representing holiness, and while at the same time being a burden unto man, for the law condemns and in the law itself, there is no hope, for all have violated the law.

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Furthermore, the strict obedience to the law, can in fact break the law. Again, this is rather paradoxical, but we can reconcile these seemingly contradicting aspects, not by the law, or through man, but rather in Christ. Some, like the Pharisees, held the law to such a strict standard, that they idolized the law above faith in God, thus breaking the law, of which they claimed obedience. It is possible to worship the law itself and forgetting about the conditions of faith that are proclaimed all throughout the scripture. This is not to say that obedience to the law is bad, for this same law is now upon our hearts, but rather by faith, the law becomes represented through our relationship with Jesus. We do not develop obedience in the law and then acquire faith, it has been designed and purposed by God that it be the other way around. This is implicit in the law, but man lost focus as he put his faith in the commands rather than the author.

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Realize we still run the same danger today. When we approach the word of God, we need to approach it in and through our relationship with the Spirit, otherwise the Living Word, loses that necessary condition of faith. This is a lesson I need to consistently keep in the forefront of my mind when approaching the Word of God. I study the word, but I have come to understand that the Bible itself can’t save you anymore than the law provided salvation. There are numerous atheists and deists who know the Bible better than some Christians do. Thus, we find that what is contained in the word is a path to Christ, but if we look at the words alone, we are missing the point.

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I myself love studying the word, but I also love extrapolating the philosophical points behind the Scriptures. As I have stated before, the enemy and the self, can take even the best intentions and askew them. Thereby, there was a time when I saw that my study of the Scripture wasn’t as God has intended. We are to not seek the philosophical points behind the Scriptures, but rather seek God and we should direct our hearts to developing a deeper relationship with Hm. We shall not forget this, for to do so, we are the same as those who study the law, and forego God. We should let the Spirit speak to us through the word, for our study is not study alone, but rather communion with our Lord, and we need to pray and be open unto this while we approach the Word of God.

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Likewise, man forgot this aspect when they approached the law. They strove to be in compliance with the law, and forgot about the faith represented in the law. All the great men and women within the Old Testament understood this point, that the law reflected our noncompliance, and thus they were brought to faith and reliance on God and His promises, rather than just to the law itself, which again trespasses against the law, for it can idolize the law in a sinful manner.

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So in Christ, we have a new revelation of faith that we can rest our reliance on. This was purposed from the beginning that the reconciliation between the law and faith, along with justification, would rest on Jesus Christ. Since man mistook the law and did not come to God in faith, He has now revealed a more present object upon which our foundations of faith are built, His Son. In addition, the law showed our great need of the deliverance that God had promised prior to Abraham, and this was purposed to draw men unto the promise by faith. Now, by the new covenant, the promise has been fulfilled and we eagerly await those promises from God that are still yet to come.

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Galatians 3:16-17, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

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In a previous entry I discussed the righteousness of Abraham, which he was granted by God because of His faith. This was not only due to his belief in God, but his faith that God’s promises were steadfast. In addition, I discussed the “offspring,” promised and made known to Abraham. This offspring was to be a singular person, and through Him the world would be offered the reconciliation unto God. Here, in Galatians, Paul presents the argument of the singular seed that was to come by and through Abraham’s bloodline. As profound as this is, Paul goes further, dipping a bit into history to reveal the true nature of the covenants.

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Within the philosophical and theological boundaries of the Christian “religion,” we tend to separate the covenants of Moses and Jesus, and break the Bible down, in a general sense, into both the Old and New Testaments. Man loves to put things and ideas into categories or groups, that by their division, they may be easily sorted and understood. Concerning the division of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the old and new covenant, I conclude there is nothing specifically wrong with this. However, one stumbling block does arise that I have witnessed, but this is the fault of man. It usually concerns those new in the faith or exploring it. It doesn’t seem too uncommon for those whom Christ is calling to be curious about the differentiation between the God of the Old Testament and the New, rather than looking at it as a complete revelation from and of God.

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We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact everyone, that the Scriptures represent a singular narrative that explicitly shows God and reveals He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why the wrath shown in the Old Testament? Paul gives us a clear answer:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . . .” -1 Corinthians 10:11

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So am I saying its wrong to refer to old and new? Not at all! In fact, the Lord Himself declared prior to Christ that a new thing was being done, and a new covenant will be established with Israel. The Book of Jeremiah says in Chapter 31, Verse 31:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.'”

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Yet, if it was shared with Abraham, what is it that makes it new? Simply, it is new in human, temporal terms. It is not as if man, who is subservient to God, caught God unaware and He had to hatch a new plan to save man. Rather, God’s plan was destined from the beginning. God, let it be known that it is a new covenant, because this is truly what it is in the context of time. Time has no bearing on God, for God controls time, and since time is under God’s belt, to God it is already finished. If anyone believes differently, then one cannot believe in the omniscience of God, for God would be subservient to time. Furthermore, if He is subservient to time, He could not be God, and our faith would be meaningless, for by and out of God came Christ. Yet, to God, it is time that has no meaning. The breadth of its meaninglessness is shown by eternity. We usually think of eternity as it corresponds to time, that time will stretch forever, but in actuality, eternity is a place where time doesn’t exist. The extent of the meaninglessness of time to God is made clear in 2 Peter 3:8:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

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Therefore, according to time, which we all are subservient, the law came before, and Christ after, and in temporal terms it is new, or more recent. Yet, that’s not all, by this new covenant it gave the law unto the hearts of man, and revealed God unto the world, so that no man or woman is without excuse. Yet, God did promise the new covenant unto Jeremiah and Abraham, and because He refers to it as “new” to Jeremiah, we see that though the promise was made known, and though the revelation of Christ to come preexisted some 430 years prior to the Law, it doesn’t negate the temporal relativity of the coming of Christ and the Spirit. In addition, as Paul says, the two don’t cancel each other out, but instead, they compliment each other to such perfection, they become united and fulfilled in Christ.

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It is not necessarily disrespectful or wrong to conclude that the two covenants, outside time, represent one great covenant, where man can be saved through faith, as Abraham was. This, I would argue, when approaching this issue in human linguistics, that the covenants represent old and new revelations, through which God’s attributes and power were proclaimed to man. First, His nature, commandments, and wrath. Secondly, His grace, love, and peace.

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The plan of God was singular, but we can differentiate between the covenants, because of what they revealed to man and by the manifestations of God. Under the old covenant, God spoke through the prophets, yet in the new, God came to earth, became man, taught to a multitude, was crucified, and rose again. By this, man does not need to turn to a prophet to know God, but now, His Son and Sprit dwell within our hearts, upon which the law is now written.

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed us to the message of reconciliation.” -Romans 5:17-19

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The Holy Bible should not be considered some mere book, that one reads once through, or even a few times, and that is all that is required. It is the Word of God and it may speak to us through a single verse in many different ways. This being the case, there is no such thing as too much repetition within the Holy Writ. We must consistently read and study, letting the Lord speak to us all the while, in order that through and by it, we may overcome the burdens or challenges that my arise within our lives. In addition, the memorization of Scripture, assists us to overcome the temptation of sin, which so easily entangles.

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When we look at the temptation of Christ as he wandered through the wilderness, we find that our Lord answered the temptations from Satan with Scripture. Whenever Satan attempted other tactics, they were shot down in a similar fashion. This should be a lesson unto us. Often times the Lord guides us to Scripture, prior to, or preceding, a particular temptation in our lives.

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Though I have wrote on this particular verse before, I do not question where the Lord is leading me in His word, and with every verse I ponder over it, and more importantly, I pray that it would remain in remembrance. In addition, I pray that the Lord would illuminate the Scripture for me, that it may be yielded as a weapon against darkness if and when the time should come.

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When a person comes to Christ, it is easier to believe that our past sins are forgiven, rather than those which are committed under grace. However, the glorious message of reconciliation shows us that even our current and future sins can be covered under this same grace. Concerning this truth, being a new creation, we are renewed day by day. Though we may have backslid yesterday, today is a new day in which our sins, by Christ, may not be counted against us, in the sight of the Almighty. Christ, along with the Spirit that dwells within us, shows that God is committed to His promise of reconciliation for all those covered in Christ blood. Given this, we should be committed to this message that others may be reconciled unto God.

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If we confess with our mouth that, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we become born again and are created anew. We are given a new Spirit by Christ, and our old selves pass away. This is only possible through Christ, who paid our debt when He took our sins upon Himself at Calvary, justifying us from our trespasses. Therefore, when we die in body, we will be given a new one, clean and free of decay, as Christ has. This is all due to the glory manifest at the cross, that in our faith in the Son, it may be credited to us as righteousness.

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“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” -Romans 6:14-15

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Once a subject comes to the Lord, and evil’s grasp over a person begins to weaken, the enemy reaches into his well worn bag of tricks to pullout a biggie. Those who come to the cross know that they are forgiven for their sins, and the newly created, not yet having moved onto solid food (Hebrews 5:11-14), may be approached with the temptation that Christ’s blood, which grants righteousness through faith, gives one freedom in sin. God’s perfect word addresses this very thing. Yet, even as I mentioned , that this is a common temptation when first coming to the Lord and knowing only the elementary truths, it can, in fact, afflict even those who have moved onto a more mature diet.

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As Romans 6:15 urges us not to sin while we are covered with grace, The Book of Hebrews reiterates the danger of using Christ’s blood as an excuse for iniquity:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” -Hebrews 10:26-27

In Exodus 34:7, there are three kinds of sin that are mentioned. There are those sins, which result from the habitual acts and thoughts of the human nature, more or less, because of our “natural” faulty faculties, by which we fall short of the Glory of God. For instance, catching ourselves cursing at someone in traffic. I will refer to these sins as a “breach.” Though I may give these kinds of sin different terms, this is strictly for the purposes of differentiation, and by no means necessarily reflect how the Lord may judge these sins, which is not for me to say. These are just general categories that seem to be implicit in Scripture.

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The second category, and addressed throughout this entry, is iniquity. Iniquity is willful sin in the sight of God. The willful sins are of greater consequence. We know this, not only because of the dangers represented through God’s word, but as those who have engaged in willful sin under grace (as I have) should be able to testify, the conviction by the Spirit concerning such sin weighs more heavily than does the conviction of a breach.

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Thirdly, and yet first in terms of severity, is “transgression,” or willful rebellion. To rebel against the ways of God, is to rebel against the nature of God, and in such sin there is no forgiveness, for there is no repentance. True repentance is not merely the asking for the forgiveness of sin, but turning and walking away from it.

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The similarities of the last two examples reside in the fact that they are both willful. Yet, in the case of transgression, it is a willful rebellion against God. Between iniquity and rebellion there is a subtle difference, in which the degree of the rebellion is emphasized. In iniquity, while one does certainly rebel in the very act of the willful sin, and in fact all sin is disobedience, the rebellion in the heart may not be to the degree of transgression. The latter is often strove for in a permanent sense, that the transgressor is not willing to give all to God, or even allow God to work in that area of sin.

As with some breaches, iniquity too can be habitual by nature. This is usually due to our indulgences in that sin, either prior to coming to Christ, or those times when people fall away and rebel willingly, as I too am guilty of. So for such people like myself, where is the hope? Does it exist for those like me who, by my own admission, have rebelled and fallen away (more than once) having both iniquity and transgression represented in my life? It is somewhat distressing personally to read verses like the one contained in Hebrews. Is there any hope if one is guilty of iniquity?

By the grace of God, I am here to tell you, absolutely! There is still hope, for as I stated earlier, in regards to the convictions of the Spirit, which are manifest when those sins that reside in the scope of iniquity are committed, the conviction is a lot, “heavier.” By the mere conviction alone, we see the Holy Spirit still communicating with us and weighing a burden of conviction upon our hearts. Taking this into account, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is, “a guarantee of what is to come,” (2 Corinthians 1:22) we know by the Word itself we may still be under grace.

Yet, let us not undermine the danger in such intentional sin and disobedience. As with Samson, the Lord eventually left him, and as the Scriptures tell us, he was not even aware that this was the case, which is the biggest tragedy. Thus, when iniquity becomes so prevalent in our lives, we may not know when we have moved from under grace to under wrath. To which point this occurs is not for me to say, nor would I, lest by doing so I may cause a stumbling block for others, for man has a tendency to push the limits of what is right, edging as close as he can before crossing the ethical boundaries he perceives, or that which have been set by the Lord. This kind of knowledge is reserved for the Lord and is between the Lord and the trespasser. The fact is, with a willful progression and steadfastness in iniquity, Hebrews suggest that by engaging in this with abandon, there is no sacrifice to cover the sin!

However, even to those who have at one time in their life, “trampled on the blood of Christ,” or fallen away, you have hope abounding! This is because of our gracious, merciful God, to whom belongs all the glory! Even Samson, though the Lord left him, at his end called on the Lord, and by doing so, God gave him the strength to destroy the temple. In addition, as the parable of the prodigal son testifies, there is much rejoicing in heaven when a former son, or daughter, returns to the Lord. In fact, more so than that of the righteous.

Our Lord is gracious and loving, but He warns us sternly not to take advantage of the grace He has offered us. It has been wrought with the blood, pain, suffering and humiliation experienced by His one and only Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Shall we choose to hammer the nails deeper into Christ by continuing to sin, knowing full well what Christ endured on our behalf?

The three types of sin brought up earlier can be recovered by grace with a repentant humble heart. Yet, man in his imperfection still continues to sin, but Christ’s blood has both covered the sins of the past, and of the future. The warning is powerful, as it should be, for as some will testify, including myself, with the indulgence of iniquity you by your own accord have departed from under the cleansing blood of Christ. If this is the case, and I pray it isn’t, then you may find yourself much like Samson, with the Lord leaving you and you being unaware. Woe to the man or woman who in such a state is perishing.


“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

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In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

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Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

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It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

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Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

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The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

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“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” -2 Corinthians 4:16

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This verse is one that I personally need to repeat to myself daily. When one first comes to Christ and is covered by grace, it is often easier to accept it offers the nullification of the sins of the past than it is to understand that this very same grace covers the sins of the future. Now, I am not one who likes to consistently blame our sins on Satan directly, for to do so negates our own responsibility in sight of the Lord. Furthermore, since we are offered forgiveness in Christ, it testifies to our role in accepting and following the temptations or tricks of Satan.

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Before one comes to Christ, Satan’s deceptions center around keeping man from accepting God or coming to Him. Yet, after we are covered by grace, it seems that Satan reaches into a entirely different bag of tricks altogether. One of his favorite tools is one of condemnation for believers.

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"Lucifer in Hell," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1861 (From Dante's "Divine Comedy," Canto 34 of "Inferno")

As I have mentioned before, Satan hasn’t created anything. He merely takes God’s purpose, His great deeds, and twists, manipulates or perverts them, offering them unto man in a way God hadn’t intended. Our responsibility is apparent when we choose to follow either truth, or the lies of darkness.

As Christians, Satan may now attack us in ways that belittle Christ’s sacrifice and/or our relationship with the Lord. When we come to Jesus and are baptized in His blood, we begin to gain a conviction of sin through the Spirit and we may feel guilty or sorrowful for our disobedience in sight of God. Yet, the enemy tries to twist this conviction into condemnation, again making a mockery of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

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"The Darkness at The Crucifixion," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1866

I am no stranger to this lie, and I remain quite convinced it is a common trick used by the enemy that Christians need to be aware of and refute using scripture. This is a verse the Lord led me too early on after my conversion and one that has allowed me to overcome the stumbling block of such condemnation. This is the very same condemnation Christ took upon Himself and freed me of and it is disrespectful to the Lord to say that what He did wasn’t good enough for me, when everything about the message of reconciliation says otherwise.

Yet, let us remember that we are not given a divine “get out of jail free card,” to continue sinning. For to rely on grace as an excuse to continue sinning is to trample on the blood of Christ and take advantage of God’s Son to indulge in your own evil desires. This is disrespectful and evil as well, and I urge all Christians to not fall into that trap. The grace of God is not a pass for sin, but an opportunity to fight against it. Sin still has the ability to easily entangle, that’s why the conviction of the Spirit is so important, not to condemn, but to warn or identify that area in your life that remains a stronghold.

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Give thanks that God does not want you to take on these strongholds alone. It is important that one press on, ignore the taunts from the enemy, work on your relationship with the Lord, and pray He would mold your heart and guide you into victory. If God demanded perfection in man, then Christ wouldn’t have came. What He does demand however, is your love, faith, trust and loyalty.

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Do not lose heart if you slip and fall, for Christ’s grace is sufficient for you, just as it was for Paul. As a river’s water is renewed day by day, Christ, the River of Life, will renew your water day after day, hour after hour, and moment by moment. Though our bodies age, decay and become marred by mud, sweat and blood, the internal self is not bound to such a sentence. Rather we can develop that side of ourselves which is unseen, and gain a richer relationship and understanding of our Savior.

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Do not let conviction of sin, and even guilt, turn into condemnation, which is closely followed by despair, for this leads to death. Rather rejoice, not in your sin, but instead that the Lord by His Spirit is convicting you of it, and is therefore with you, and realize that if He couldn’t cover your sin, you wouldn’t have been granted the Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, in the first place.

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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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“Now it is God who made us for this very purpose, and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” -2 Corinthians 5:5


One of the most frequently asked or pondered questions when contemplating our existence is, “Why am I here?” Our reason for existing in this realm is to love God freely of our own will and volition, that through Christ Jesus we may come to the Father and dwell with Him inside eternity. Our purpose doesn’t stop there however, for we have been given the great commission, to try and “persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11) of the realities and the gospel of reconciliation offered by our Lord Jesus Christ.

To do this effectively, we must have a spring of love overflowing with in our hearts, for not only our Lord, but all man and the condition of their souls in the eyes of God. We are ambassadors for the Lord, so others may come to Him and share in His glory within eternity.

The aforementioned verse also declares that we have assurance in this promise and our place in it by being endowed with the Holy Spirit. It is by His presence that one can take full confidence in their salvation, which is a necessary condition for our involvement in the Great Commission. Christ Himself calls us into this Holy service.


“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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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” -Hebrews 12:1

Verse one begins one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture, Hebrews Chapter 12. Despite the subject matter of discipline and judgement, which can have the tendency to make people cringe, especially while they live in sin, it is one of the most beautiful passages in all the bible. Of course, that’s a personal conclusion and not made from any independent study. It could have something to do with the fact that this chapter is the one that led me to the Lord. Thus, it has a deep personal significance for me.

Nobody knows without a doubt who wrote Hebrews, for the writer does not identify himself. Though it was accredited to Paul in the past, he seems an unlikely candidate, due to the style of writing differing from his. For instance, Paul identifies himself in his letters, but Hebrews is void of any such attribution. Yet, there are a couple candidates, and it appears that whoever the writer of Hebrews was, was indeed a close friend of Paul’s. Verse one suggests this by presenting the allegory of an athlete, which Paul was a frequent user of. Paul’s metaphors found in his other books and the allegory used by Hebrews’ author are so similar, it seems logical that the writer knew Paul intimately. Scholars have narrowed authorship down to two possibilities, Apollos or Barnabas. Whoever it was, they wrote a book equal to that of Paul and of vast importance for any Christian. Not only does Chapter 12 remain one of my favorite sections of scripture, Hebrews remains my favorite book outside the gospels. I recommend it to anyone engaged in an in depth bible study.

"St. Jerome in His Study," by Albrecht Duerer. engraving c. 1514

Verse one brings to mind the familiar image of an athlete. The cloud of witnesses, refers to great holy men of the past who gave all for their love of the Lord. Their faith led them to obedience and by that obedience, the Lord’s will became known on earth. These witnesses prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ so that by and through Him we may be reconciled unto God.

Sir Isaac Newton and earlier John of Salisbury brought into the common lexicon the phrase, “standing on the shoulders of giants.” What is meant by this is that progress is made by carrying on those things pioneered by what and who has came before. It is no different in Christianity. The Kingdom of God is not meant to be stagnant, but rather to be forwarded by those who belong to Christ Jesus. Thus, because we are made aware of this by the Spirit and the Word, we are called to remove those hindrances and stumbling blocks that prevent us from doing our part in moving the Kingdom forward.

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Christ opened up the Kingdom to and for us that we may be admitted by faith rather than by works and He being human for a season, can readily identify with man, for He was tempted by sin as we all are, yet remained in perfect obedience to the Father. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say He must have been tempted beyond all men, due to Satan’s awareness of His true nature.

We have a merciful God who doesn’t just reside in the heavens, but became man, and experienced all the grotesqueness of sin. At the same time He underwent the struggle we all encounter, but was victorious. Amazing as it is, we have a God who knows what it’s like to fight against sin and thus verses that hint at how easily sin overtakes us are not infrequent in the scripture. This should give us hope and we should praise God for this, that He can identify with even the most lowly of us.

Again, the athlete allegory is mentioned at the close of the verse. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Christians aren’t called to just skate by going to church just on Sunday’s and Easter, but to take an active role in the mission God has set out for them. This requires effort and perseverance, for it will not always be easy, for sometimes we will be ahead and other times behind. Yet, we are called to keep our eyes on the goal, and the prize that we will receive when we cross that finish line.

In life, we often convince ourselves that we have to run from something, like a bad circumstance or sin, but we rarely tell ourselves that we need to run towards something. In life, you are always running towards something. Don’t focus on what you are running from, for when running a race, a participant is discouraged from looking back, lest they slow down and stumble. Keep you eyes forward along the track that the Lord has set out for you and the magnificent finish line that marks the end, for it is there we will gather with Christ and all the other racers in the glorious winners circle that is promised to those who run and finish the race.

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