Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Part II Finally, Walking in Freedom

Part II Finally, Walking in Freedom

Chapter 7 Our Grace and Faith of God

I started writing this book in 1996, right after being restored by God from a brutal relapse. I have actually tried to finish writing this book at least a half a dozen times, but the drugs and alcohol persistently kept getting in the way. That’s right, every time I began to clean my life up by repenting and surrendering to God, I would write a little more about my walk with God, until I allowed the magnetic affect of my old flesh to pull me backwards.

As I have already mentioned in the previous chapters, I would constantly fall into the same ridiculous pattern of failure every time. My stubbornness and foolishness caused me to get entangled by my simple weakness, which would then develop into a serious stronghold. As usual, when my life turned into total despair, I would cry out to God for him to rescue me.

As soon as my chastisements were over he would give me another chance, whereby I would do good for a short while until I repeated the same cyclical behavior all over again. I would develop a prideful, arrogant attitude, based on superficial emotions and slowly drift away again. This cycle repeated itself for decades until God’s painful chastisements broke the back of my foolishness.

I failed so many times that I gave up trying to finish this book, but God had a different plan for my life. I couldn’t finish writing my testimony about how God set me free from the bondage of addiction, until I was actually set free from the bondage of addiction. How could I lie and deceive the reading?

Everything you are about to read in the coming chapters I literally practice myself, as if my life depends on it, because it does. This time I can not afford to fail. By the power and grace of God, I have finally learned what true freedom really is and the cost of keeping it. In part two of this book, I will discuss everything that I have learned, and continue to learn, that has finally set me free from the bondage of death, addictions and continuous habitual failure.

So what makes this time different?

There are many things different in my life that have played a role in my spiritual freedom, but the key to “true freedom” comes from living in the Spirit of God’s grace and power, in the present moment of each new day, while constantly surrendering, depending and trusting in him for everything by faith. But this is much easier said than done. In this chapter I will clarify and emphasize how essential God’s grace is and how crucial it is to have the right kind of faith, as well as discuss the missing elements of strong faith, which are essential for spiritual victory.

Let me start by elaborating on the essence of Grace and Faith. It is very important that we establish a strong foundation from which we can develop our relationship with the living God. There are so many deceptions in the world. That’s why Jesus said, “the way of the world is broad and leads to destruction, but the way to life is very narrow and few will find it.” (Matt. 7:13) We must accept, believe and follow the basic fundamental truths of “True Christianity” if we are going to find the narrow path to life and have a real relationship with God.

Understanding Grace and Faith:

Grace and Faith are the keys to eternal life and every problem that we will face in this world. (Eph. 2:8-10) Everything comes to us byway of grace and faith. Freedom from the bondage of sin, salvation from death, being transformed into new creatures in Christ, partaking in God’s Holy Spirit and inheriting the Kingdom of God, overcoming all our weakness and walking holy, are all free gifts and experiences though the grace of God which we must have faith for.

God has created and predestined us before the foundation of the world to inherit eternal life and be a part of his Kingdom. He loved us even while we were still sinners and granted us the privilege of salvation through his Son. There is nothing that we did to deserve it. That is what the “Grace” of God is all about: A FREE GIFT, which no man can earn.

We may never fully understand God’s grace and love, but all we need to do is trust and believe. That’s the way God has established everything to work since the beginning of time. Grace is a free gift that we receive when we believe, but even our ability to have faith comes from God. That shows you the depths of Grace.

Not only does God’s grace demonstrate his love towards us, but it limits any man from being able to save himself. Since it is only God who can forgive and cleanse us from unrighteousness, no man will be able to boast about his own good deeds. (Eph. 2:8-10) There will be no one who is proud in Heaven. It is by his grace alone that he has chosen the weak and the humble to reveal his plan of salvation to and he will reject the prideful who try to enter heaven based on their good works. (Luke 13:26)

It is by God’s grace that we can partake in the Kingdom of God’s family and overcome all our weaknesses as his holy children.
Salvation is a free gift to all those who believe in the SON OF GOD. Jesus came into the world to reveal God to us and teach us his ways. We must fully understand the “Message of Christ” and what his work on the “CROSS” is all about. The essence of “The Gospel of Jesus” pertains to the work of Jesus on the “Cross.”

The Cross of Jesus

What is the cross all about? This essence of our faith is knowing and believing in the work of Christ on the Cross. Many people wear a cross around their necks who have no faith in Jesus at all. They have no idea what it really means. The cross is the single most significant holy symbol in the world. God has chosen that particular symbol to communicate his message to the world.

Christ’s death on the cross demonstrates God’s love towards us. He loves us so much that he chose to suffer and died on the cross, shed his blood, to pay the price for all our sins. He took all the wrath and condemnation that was due to us upon himself, when he died and went to Hades, the prison for lost souls.

The cross also reminds us of the divinity of Christ, since he proved that he was God when he rose from the grave. Only God can raise himself from the grave. Jesus said I am the truth, the way and the LIFE. No one can get to Heaven except by him. (John 14:6) So when we see the cross we also think of the eternal life that is promised to all those who believe in the name of Jesus.

The cross signifies the reconciliation between God and man, whereby Christ is the bridge that reconnects man back into the favor of God. We see that God comes down to man and then lifts man up to himself and he turns our wrong into his righteousness.

Christ, through his work on the cross, became the entrance way to eternal life and happiness. No man can enter into Heaven unless he has the Son of God living inside him. The “cross of Christ” is man’s only hope and God’s final offer, whereby mankind can be saved from death and Hell. The cross is what God has done for us, which we could not do for ourselves. All we have to do is believe.

Do we have “True Faith?”

The only way to please God is by faith, but what kind of faith? (Heb. 11:6) If we do not build our relationship with God based on the right kind of faith then we will fail. Too many people fall away from God because of an unstable and faulty beginning. There are more counterfeit Christian than real ones, so we need to verify that we are following the truth and not being deceived. If anyone denies the fundamental principles of Christ and his work on the cross, they are NOT our brothers. So what is it exactly that we believe in again? Let us re-examine our faith closely.

Faith: Test yourself

Before we can walk in freedom, victory and the promises of God, we must truly have a real relationship with God based on the proper faith in Christ. The Bible tells us to examine ourselves to be sure that we are in the right faith. Test yourself to see whether you are of the “true Faith.” (2 Cor. 13:5) Answer a few questions with me.

1. Do we know who Christ really is?
Answer for the true Christian: The only true and living God, the highest God almighty, God in human form and the only begotten Son of God. Jesus is the only way, the only truth and eternal life that’s available for mankind. He is our God, Lord and Savior and besides him there is no other.

Many cults and counterfeit religions deny that Jesus is the ONLY begotten Son of God. They claim he is one of many sons and that we can all be like Christ one day. This is a lie from Hell. Jesus is the only one who is equal with God. We are created creatures through the Son for his good pleasures. Don’t be deceived.

2. Do we make an honest effort to obey the teachings of Christ?
Answer: Yes, we strive diligently to live holy lives byway of daily self examination, confession and repentance. Our lives are examples of love and holiness. When we are weak and make a mistake we eventually confess it and repent from it, so that we can remain in his Spirit at all times. Our attitude is that we hate sin and refuse to allow it to control us. We depend on God’s power to overcome all our weaknesses because we can not do it on our own.

3. Do we understand the Gospel of Christ and his work on the cross?
Answer: Yes, Jesus and his work on the cross is the only way to be saved. Jesus came into the world to reveal God to mankind and to suffer and die for our sins. Then he proved himself through his resurrection from the grave. All we have to do is confess our faith in Jesus and follow his teachings.

If anyone denies these fundamental principles then they are not a “true Christian.” However, if we have passed this test, then we can be confident that our faith is true and God lives inside us. All we have to do is remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus and we will overcome this world. Our faith is the key to living in spiritual victory, but it can be challenging to live only by faith.

We must live by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) This simply means that we must live according to the knowledge and Word of God and not according to the circumstances of life. The problems and circumstances of this world are visible and they tend to cause us to fear, worry and fall away from God. But the spirit and power of God are invisible and require faith. We must continue to trust and believe on God to meet all our needs, even if all we see is defeat.

No matter what we see and feel in this world, we must keep our faith strong in God, even unto death. The Devil will try to get us to live by what we see in this world, but we must find a way to overcome that temptation. Everything we need, all the heavenly treasures of love, mercy, hope, promises, strength and power are freely given to us by the grace of God through our faith. By Faith we have access to God’s power, a guarantee of eternal life, all his knowledge, wisdom and understanding, where by we can overcome this world and every problem, obstacle and conflict that we face.; but the enemy will try to get us to “LOOK” at our problems and cause us to doubt, just like he did to Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Col. 2:3, Rev. 20:14, Gen. 3)

Now that we understand grace and faith better, it is crucial that we clarify a few problems with some of the fundamental teachings of Christianity. Besides not being warned that the initial feelings of bliss will eventually wear off and a terrible time of testing is imminent, there are two other important elements to the Gospel of Christ that are sadly downplayed or completely omitted. Next, I will discuss the missing elements of strong faith, which are the facts that God has set us free from the bondage of sin and he has given us his Spirit which has regenerated us into brand new creatures in Christ: we are “Born Again.”

Freedom from the bondage of sin:

The first essential truth that is often overlooked when teaching the basic principles of our faith is the powerful reality that we have been set free from the bondage of sin. Before we put our faith in Christ and received his Holy Spirit, we were slaves to sin and no matter how hard we tried we could not be righteous unto God. It is impossible to please God based on our own human efforts. There’s absolutely NOTHING we can do that will get us to Heaven, it is impossible.

Some think that they are good people and do good things, but God says that all of our righteous acts are as filthy rags to him. No one is righteous, not one. That’s the WHOLE POINT the work of Christ on the cross and the Gospel of Salvation. He came to destroy the works of the devil and set us free from the bondage and slavery of sin and death. Now the things that we do for God can be acceptable and pleasing unto him, because we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus the very instant that we put our faith in him. (1 John 3:1-8, Is. 64:6)

Christ has literally broken the power of sin which ruled over our lives. When Christ became the final sacrificial offering of God and pardoned all the sins of mankind, the power of sin was immediately broken off those who have faith. This is an essential teaching that we must understand, believe and apply to our lives if we are going to experience the power, freedom and victory that is promised to the “sons of God. Some people have a very hard time grasping this teaching for some reason, while others believe it with ease. (1 John 3)

But I still see my sins?

The lie of Satan has been working since the beginning. Satan is clever at getting us to focus on the wrong things. The world system of sin and death is based on and operates through sensual and perceptual stimuli, not spiritual truth. We can see this principle at work when we study what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden. She was tempted by her eyes to “Look” at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of faithfully abiding in the TRUTH of God’s Word. Satan used what she could “see” to trick her into believing a lie.

God’s children must learn to overcome and deny the sensual path of life and pursue the difficult and narrow path of faith. Those who live by their physical senses will be trapped by the lusts of this world, because they are relying on what they see and feel to dictate what they will believe.

It is easier to live by what we see than to live by faith alone; by observing a thing rather than simply believing in it. We want to see something first, before we believe it. This becomes a serious problem for those who follow Christ, since God requires us to believe his word without having to see it. He commands us to live by faith, before we actually see anything happen. That is why it is very difficult for many people to believe and accept the teaching that we can stop sinning and live holy unto God. It requires strong faith to grasp, trust and attempt to follow this truth, especially when all we “see” is our weaknesses and failures.

The enemy has figured out, since the Garden of Eden, how easy it is to mislead and redirect our attention. He deceives us today with his same clever tricks because they have been so effective. By reasoning with us he is able to deceive and cause us to take our eyes off the Word of God and to “look” at the tree.

Eve was told by God that she would die if she ate from the tree and was required to “believe” God’s Word, but Satan caused her to “look” and focus on the tree. She “saw” how attractive and pleasing the tree was and she ate from it. She relied on what she “saw” and “felt” and completely disregarded her “faith” in God’s Word. She traded her faith for perceptual knowledge. (Gen. 3)

The same thing happens to us today when we “Look” at our weaknesses and sins. Because we are immature and make many mistakes, Satan tells us that we will always be sinful wicked people. He points our attention to what we “feel and see,” which are the many failures and mistakes that we make. As long as he can cause us to focus on our inabilities and weaknesses, we will never change. He can keep us in the illusion of bondage, even though we have been set free. Satan is a liar and he doesn’t want us to know or believe in the Word of God.

True Faith is a faith that obeys the teachings of God, even when we can’t see what God’s purposes might be. Once we learn the truth of God’s teachings we must put our faith in it, or we will remain in bondage to ignorance our whole lives. Some people will hear the truth, but they will refuse to believe it. Stubbornness and rebellion keep many of us from being set free. Doubt and unbelief can chain us to our addictions, sicknesses and death, with no hope of ever changing. This is the number one problem why so many people will never experience a permanent change in their lives.

If we do not believe that Christ has the power to set us free than what does it mean to be a Christian? The whole point to the Message of Christ is to set us free from sin and death and to reconcile us back to God. The truth is that we have been set free from sin and God now lives inside every “True Believer.” We are no longer slaves to our weaknesses and failures, even though that is all we “see” sometimes.

No matter how strong our addictions or how bad our weaknesses are, God has the power to destroy our old ways and build us into brand new people, if we allow him to transform us. If I have to force myself to believe this then I will, because it is the truth. The more I believe and follow this truth, the more I “see” it working in my life. Now, I am beginning to “see” my “faith” transform my life.

If you are having trouble believing some of the teachings of God, then it is crucial that you seek God’s wisdom and understanding. Ask him to reveal and teach you his truth. Remember the man in Mark 9:23-24. He asked Jesus, “Help me with my unbelief.” If we do not find a way to overcome the deceptions of Satan, then we will continue to stumble backwards and be entangled by all our old wicked desires and self-destructive patterns. Faith in the Word of God is the only way to permanently overcome the bondage of spiritual darkness, which every person is born into and will remain until they are set free by the truth of God.

No one is perfect:

I know that the spiritual enemy is trying to confuse and manipulate the minds of some of you on this teaching. I have been there, so please pay attention to my next few words. I can hear some of you saying this now, “So you think you’re perfect, huh?” Don’t get me wrong, I still sin and make plenty of mistakes. I am not perfect in my actions, yet, but I must believe that God is leading me in that direction by his power, Spirit and grace.

I have to trust and follow what God says and not rely on what I am seeing with my eyes, which is my sins. I have to believe in God and press towards his truth or I will fall back again. I can not afford to slip backwards again. I have tried everything else, to no avail, so what do I have to lose. This time, I am going to try and put my faith in what the Word of God says. I don’t have anymore options. I am sick and tired of wasting my life and failing.

Again, if you are having serious trouble with this teaching, please pray for wisdom and read these passages from the Bible. Seek God’s power to understand this very essential truth or you will remain trapped in darkness your whole life. (Romans chapters 6-8, and 1 John chapter 3) Jesus commanded us to be perfect like God. (Matt. 5:48)

I am not saying that we can be perfect without God, because no man can be perfect on his own. Only God can give a man the power to overcome all his weaknesses and it will take many years of faithful obedience to manifest this level of maturity. I am far from achieving this goal, but I believe it is possible. I am even starting to finally “see” the evidence of a changed person when I look in the mirror.

When you meet a real Christian, you will see a witness for God, someone who is following the teachings of God. I am a true Christian. The old person that I used to be is being put to death everyday, as I surrender and follow the Spirit of God. My changed life is a testimony of the power of God. I have been transformed, and still being transformed, into a new creature. I have been given a brand new identity in Christ. Every “True Christian” understands that we are being “transformed daily” by the power of God. We will eventually “Be Perfected” in Christ, if we faithfully continue to allow God to transform us over the years.

We are “New Creatures”

The second essential truth that is casually left out when teaching basic doctrine to new believers is the fact that God instantly gives us the deposit of his Holy Spirit when we first believe in Christ. By faith we have been made into new creatures in his Son. The mystery of being “Born Again” is at work by the power of God. (2 Cor. 5:17) Our faith not only sets us free from the bondage of sin, but also gives us a new identity in Christ. This is the “New Birth” experience and promise of God. We must learn who we are and start to live accordingly.

Many followers of Christ suffer from an identity crisis. They don’t know who they really are in Christ. Once again, the Devil had deceived many into believing a lie. He has convinced many of us that we’re the same old people that we’ve always been. He doesn’t want us to know that we are now the children of the living God. If he can cause us to “Look” at our old weaknesses and “see” all our mistakes, he will be able to convince us that we haven’t changed. He wants us to doubt God’s Word and believe his lie, just like in the Garden of Eden. Once again, we have to STOP living by SIGHT and START living by FAITH in God’s Word.

The whole point to being set free from the bondage of sin is so that we can be transformed into new creatures of righteousness. We become a holy temple of the living God. For those who have faith, God has washed us clean and given us his Holy Spirit as a witness within our hearts. We have his testimony and the presence of the living God now dwells in us. We are now adopted into the family of God and called the “sons of God” and the Devil wants to kill steal and destroy your faith in this truth. (1 John 3)

This is a new concept for many people, due to the fact that countless millions are improperly taught the Gospel of Christ from the beginning. If you are having trouble with this concept, once again, seek God to help your faith grow. This essential truth is a key to partaking in the Spirit and Power of God.

If we fail to grasp this reality, it is impossible to overcome this dark world and walk in the freedom of God. We will always fail to overcome our weaknesses and continue to live in the bondage of this dark world. We will not properly function in the power and authority of God, which is rightfully ours. We are heirs to the kingdom of God and as his children we must overcome all our weaknesses and the Devil’s deceptive traps, but we must first learn to live according to whom God has created us to be in Christ.

Old Man vs. New Man

Here is where many of us get tripped up. Even though we are “New Creatures” in Christ and have been adopted into the Kingdom of God, we still must “work” at crucifying the “old person” that we used to be. God wants us to participate in his holiness and cooperate with his efforts. We must put forth the effort to “Walk Worthy” of our calling and we are instructed to pick up our own personal cross, deny ourselves and follow Christ everyday. We are responsible to grow in the knowledge and power of God and live like his children, so let us grow in faith. (Luke 9:23, 2 Peter 1:4, Col. 1:23)

Keep in mind that we are, both, New creatures in Christ and “still being transformed” at the same time. We must believe in God’s teachings and work towards following them, so that we can eventually overcome “ALL” our weaknesses and be “completely transformed” by the power of God.

The freedom, victory and transformation in our lives is only made possible through faith in the teachings of God. We can overcome the “old man” that we used to be and live like the “new man” which God has created us to be, as long as we have Christ living in us and obey his teachings. We can not do anything without him, but through our persistent and diligent efforts, which the grace of God has given us, we must continue to do our best to live like “the sons of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 3:5-10, Gal. 6:16)

Easier to obey:

As our faith continues to increase, it become easier to accept and believe the deeper teachings of God. Once we have learned that we are set free from the bondage of sin and have been given new identities, suddenly it is easier to believe that we can overcome all our weakness and sins. When we mix our faith with God’s word, the impossible starts to become possible. Before we know it, we will begin to “see” the evidence of a transformed life when we look in the mirror.

Evidence of the New man: New Personality Traits

Those who are truly “Born of God” don’t need much convincing that they are “new creatures in Christ.” We suddenly have new godly desires that we never had before. The things we used to like have become less attractive as we find ourselves loving the things of God more and more. Our actions, thoughts and words are changing in a very noticeable way. It is obvious that God is transforming our lives.

When we submit to God and allow him to work in and through us, we will experience more freedom from sin and victory in our lives. However, we must faithfully and diligently seek his ways and cooperate with his Spirit everyday in order to maintain this new life we have. That is our calling.

We are submissive to God:

God supplies us with everything we have and he is the source of every good thing. Even though we are “the sons of God,“ we can do nothing without Christ. We only have God’s power and authority because he gave it to us. Any attempt to have power or authority outside of God, is nothing more than our attempt to be our own god. We must always be submissive to the supremacy of God. We must remain humble and never allow pride to rule in our hearts. We are nothing more that the branches on a tree and God is the root. (John 15:5-6)

In conclusion, it is only by the grace of God and our faith in his word that we can experience salvation. Once we have established a solid foundation, based on the proper teachings of Christ, then we can truly increase in the Kingdom of God and overcome all the challenges of this world. When we learn to apply our God given rights as the children of the most high God we will not allow Satan to deceive us into believing his lies. Next, I will discuss the importance of living in the moment of “today” as we grow in the knowledge and power of GOD.

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