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Watch That Pendulum!

Watch that Pendulum!

The Bible teaches that swinging from legalism into freedom can be dangerous!
It can be as blinding as walking from a dark room into the mid-day sun. Our eyes need time to adjust to the change. Any move calls for caution as we adapt and get our balance in the new environment. Jesus warned His disciples to beware of this trap in these words:


Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Matthew 26:41.


We have been redeemed from the curse of the Law and set free to walk in the freedom of the New Covenant of Grace. This is good news! Now What? Are there guidelines, or do we set our own rules?


We must walk carefully as we find our balance according to "It is written." Scripture is clear that we are under no obligation to the Sinai Law. We are free. That is true! But, what exactly does that freedom mean to us? The arguments (still used by our somewhat estranged brethren) in favor of the Sinai Law, are based on texts such as 1 John 3:4.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.


This is usually buttressed by other texts such as Romans 3:20, which says:
Through the law we become conscious of sin.


Their conclusion? The Law must still be in effect, or we would not know what sin is and without it everyone would be released to do whatever seemed right in his own eyes. Law and sin compliment one another, they argue, because 1 John 1: 8 (this was written to Christians), says the following:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.


According to this deductive reasoning, we are all sinners, and if so, then it only stands to reason that we broke some law. Therefore the Sinai Law must still be in effect, they claim. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?


The Crack of Dawns Appears.


I know people who saw their way out from under slavery to the old law of limitations, grasped the freedom offered, and then jumped to the conclusion that because the Sinai Law was no longer binding on Christians, they were free to do whatever pleased them. In this, they ignore the nature and privileges granted us under the higher "law of the Spirit" that is now our guide. Romans 8:2.


"Whatever you do in the body will in no way effect the destiny of your soul," they said.
"Since we are saved by faith alone, just do what you think is best at the time, and if you have miscalculated do not worry about it, because everything is under the blood."


The trail of damaged lives they leave in their wake is sad to behold. Is this kind of witness compatible with "The New and Living Way?" Have we been set free to sail life's sea with no guide or compass? Now that we understand we are not under the Sinai Law, where do we stand? Do Christians still have sins to overcome? If so, what constitutes sin today? Romans 14:23 puts the definition of what constitutes sin under the New Covenant, in a nutshell.
For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin (Amp).


The Day Breaks


The new birth is only the beginning of the new life. Now you need to mature!
By responding to the invitation of the Holy Spirit, you emerged from the darkness of your earthy cocoon into a world of unlimited potential, both physically and spiritually. To your surprise, you seemed to have plugged into a new source of power that you had never experienced. The Bible describes that as a river of living water that begins to flow out from one's innermost being.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. John 7:38.


The primary purpose of this divine flow is to cleanse and mature the newcomer to the kingdom of God. Although you sense a new dynamic within your soul, you soon realize that you are still earth-bound, and you are still surrounded by the same people and by the same challenges. The world around you has not changed. You now view things differently, but everything and everyone around you has not yet joined you in this new dimension. You can now relate to life from a new perspective, but why does the world now seem so strange? You ponder the meaning of your new relationship with the King of the universe. Do I still have any responsibility in this new relationship, and if so, what is it? Let's take king Saul and king David as examples.


Both men were called by God. Both were anointed by God to serve as kings in Israel. Both men sinned and displeased God. David committed adultery and committed 2nd degree murder. In a time of stress, Saul chose to consult the occult instead of waiting on the Lord. When confronted with their sins, Saul made excuses for his disobedience, while David acknowledged his sin and looked for renewal by the Holy Spirit. He prayed,
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You. Psalm 51:11-13 (Amp).


Every time David slipped, he repented and was forgiven. He lived a New Covenant life in the Old Covenant era. Saul died a sinner. Why were Rahab the harlot, and Samson who committed suicide, both included among the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter eleven, while both Saul and Solomon were left out? How, after denying his Lord with cursing, did Peter regain his right standing with God? Then later, after again succumbing to a double standard (Galatians 2:11-14) how was Peter restored to full apostleship? Acknowledgment of sin as sin, and repentance are essential, lest our sensitivity to hearing God's Spirit is dulled and we find ourselves wondering why we no longer hear from Him.


With the new birth, a river of living water is released to flow into and through the life of the newborn. What is the purpose of this life-giving water flowing from the throne of God?
1. To cleanse the new babe-in-Christ from worldly contamination that he may mature and,
2. To make him an effective witness in a confused world.
Once you've turned your back on the old life in favor of life in the Spirit, an unlimited potential has opened up before you. From now on,
sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Rom. 6:14.


In this context, what exactly does Romans 6: 11 mean in practical terms, when it says,
...count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus?


This passage tells us that you no longer need be a slave to the old carnal nature!


As every Christian knows, after you experienced the new birth, and your spirit was brought to life by action of God's Holy Spirit, you soon discovered that your body, your mind, your damaged emotions, some of your old addictions and ingrained bad habits may still be there. What has the new birth done for you? It has put into your hands the power with which to control and defeat those old enemies.


Trust Him and let yourself be loved.


Why hasn't the new birth catapulted you into sudden and total victory over these internal foes?
Remember: God does not do control. He does love! What, then, is your key to Victory? Let yourself be loved! God's grace does not ask you to conquer these vises alone. Turn them over to Jesus anticipating victory, and then Rest! When you see yourself as the new creation that you are in Christ, you must also see yourself as already freed from the stranglehold that sin once had over you. Christ did not die to accommodate your sin. He died to set you free! Rather than pray for victory, begin to thank God that Jesus has already set you free. This is faith in action. Faith precedes and confirms the victory.


Since we are released from,
The ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone (2 Cor. 3:7),
what remains to be overcome? It is all the acts of the sinful nature that you must be willing to give up. These are just as deadly as any sins covered in the Law given to Israel!
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19-21.


Take a close look at the above sins and note the ones that were not included in the 10 commandments. Yet, according to Paul, those who continue to practice those things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Weren't those things automatically placed "under the blood?" Does redemption excuse sin, or does it provide the means of overcoming sin?
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left. Hebrews 10:26.


Awareness of sin after a fresh conviction by the Holy Spirit requires a fresh repentance, or turning around. 1 John 1:9. Victory usually comes after you thank God for it! This is faith in action.


We might as well face it. Even though the carnal nature would love to continue splashing around in what is known as "sloppy Agape," God is not fooled by polished exteriors. If we are to participate in God's kingdom, we must submit to a thorough house cleaning. God wants to transform our old house into a temple fit for His Spirit. This is what is meant in Philippians 2:12,
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.


Into the Sunlight!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:7.


How do we put these last two quotations together? The good news is that we are not left to overcome these internal giants alone. God has not only given us the tools with which to overcome them, but He sent His Holy Spirit to coach us in using them effectively. In the meantime, as the work progresses, you are safely resting in your Savior's care.
No power on earth can pluck you out of His hand. John 10:28,29.


Does this mean that you are now immune to the consequences of deliberate rebellion on your part? That concept is known as the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15) who taught that what you do in the flesh will in no way affect the destiny of your soul. They actually thought that because of His offer of righteousness by faith, God had committed Himself to accommodate the very wickedness Jesus died to eradicate. Read Galatians 6:7,8 in both the NIV and the Amplified.


God Guarantees your Salvation.
You are the only person in all creation who still has the authority to negate God's plan of salvation for your soul. God has not removed your power of choice or turned you into a robot. However, for all who remain committed, life is guaranteed. So long as you are alive, God will never give up on you. Is salvation a gift or isn't it? Yes it is! The Lord simply says, "My son, give me your heart." Proverbs 23:26. The Christian life will always be a work in progress. How sincerely do you want that life?


The story is told of a novice to the priesthood who went to the bishop for counsel. His first question was: How can I be certain of God's calling on my life? The old bishop walked with the young man to the water trough where horses quenched their thirst.


"Bend over and tell me what you see in the water," he told the young man. As the novice bent over to look into the water, the old man grabbed his head, shoved it under the water and held it there until the young man was almost limp. Then the bishop pulled his head out of the water and gave him a few minutes to catch his breath. When he was able to speak again, the novice angrily asked his mentor why he tried to drown him. The old man looked him in the eyes and asked:


"When your face was under the water, what did you desire more than anything in all the world?"


"Air" gasped the young man.


"Well," said to old bishop, "When you desire God's presence in your life as much as you wanted air, then you will hear His voice directing your life."


God has not left us to fend for ourselves. All the tools needed for transforming our old life, or house, into a temple fit for our Lord to dwell in, are listed in Ephesians 6:10-18. In addition, His Holy Spirit is always available to teach us how to use those weapons in spiritual warfare.


Jesus gave us two keys by which we may gain access to His armory and activate those weapons. He did not tell us to pray for these keys, because He has already presented them to us. He released them to us 2000 years ago! Why should we continue asking Him for something that is already ours? Let's accept and utilize them with thanksgiving!


Key #1. Peace in your innermost being.
Peace I leave with you; my [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives give I to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid - stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. John 14:27 (Amp).


This peace can be very real, especially when the world seems to be caving in around you. Over one year ago, a storm that threatened to consume us, broke in upon our family. There was no visible way out of the situation, or around it nor through it. I was totally helpless. In fact any move I could have made would only have made the situation worse. I was trapped!


I remember looking up to the Lord at the height of the crisis and saying, "Lord Jesus, thank you for the peace you have made available to me. If ever I needed it, I surely do need it now. I accept it into my heart at this moment with thanksgiving. Your kind of peace is what I need, and I thank You for it. It is mine today. I am at peace, Lord. Thank you for this wonderful gift."


Outwardly nothing seemed to have changed, but something happened on the inside. I recall telling Dorothy that I was experiencing a warm calming influence in the pit of my stomach. Instead of being full of knots, a beautiful peace seemed to be emanating from my inner being.
I could almost hear that "still small voice" whispering:
"Peace be still. I'm in charge. Everything is OK. Just trust me and wait upon Me."


In a few weeks, the storm blew over and ceased just as suddenly as it had erupted. The threatened disaster was resolved in the Spirit realm. We witnessed it in the physical. We still marvel at how we often needlessly endure worry and anguish when we could be enjoying God's gift of peace all along.


Key #2. Cease from your labor and REST!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.


This is the second key to unlocking the armory containing all the other weapons needed for spiritual warfare. To open your safety deposit box in the bank, two keys are needed: yours, and one held by the bank. In this case, Christ has put both keys in your hands. You hold both keys! This is also the essence of the true Sabbath Rest. When your soul finds rest in a situation where outwardly there is no rest, you have entered into God's rest and your life of faith is on target! This is "THE NEW AND LIVING WAY!" Hebrews 10:20.
It is NEW, because the newborn believer is a new creature with a new way to navigate in this world. It is LIVING, because the powerful, living Holy Spirit is within us, emanating NEW LIFE, wisdom and strengthening resolve for every-day decisions.


As with the key called "Peace," this one has also been delivered to us. Jesus did not tell us to pray or strive for these keys. He said He made them available when He spoke, 2000 years ago! All we have to do to activate them is to recognize that He has already given them to us, accept them by faith, thank Him for His gift, and then anticipate His guidance! The results are guaranteed by His Word. In His time, and in His way, we will reap the reward of faith in what He has promised. Remember, there is a vast difference between merely waiting for the promised fulfillment, and waiting on the Lord.


Keep your eyes on the goal and you will notice the pendulum of temptation swinging with shorter and less frequent strokes! Paul identifies the walk toward this goal in Philippians chapter three. We quote verses 13 and 14:
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Paul was in no way doubting his ultimate victory as he maneuvered his way through the gauntlet of life. He was simply stating the fact that the race was not yet over, and he must remain diligent. Keep your eye on the goal as you press on, was his caution. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by the allurements of sin! Our final victory is guaranteed, not by our ability to stand, but by Christ who has pledged Himself lift us up every time we fall. Yes, like the Prodigal son, we may stray and for a time, even turn away from the Father, but let us pray that our life is not cut short while we are still away from our Father's house, feeding on husks in the pigpen. I love Paul's faith expressed in 2 Timothy 1:12 (Amp).
...Still I am not ashamed, for I know - I perceive, have knowledge of and am acquainted with Him - Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him], until that day.


These passages leave no doubt that Paul was speaking of confidence in both his personal victory as well as in the success of the ministry God had given him.


Yes, the old life is desperately in need of an extreme re-building, inside and outside. God's purpose is to transform your carnal house into a holy temple fit for the King. To accomplish this humanly impossible task, God sent His Spirit to supervise the entire operation. All He asks is that we allow Him entrance into every room of the old house. As He shines His light into our inner being, we will discover things that will shock us. He will allow for no secret closets where we may hide our pet habits or addictions of the past. He is either Master of all, or He is not master at all. All the law of the Spirit is fulfilled in us when He is Lord! Let yourself be loved!


Samuel Pestes

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