Tag Archives: Identity

Are Those Joined to Jesus “Prone” to sin? “Prone” to Wander?

Prone: Predisposed. Likely to or liable to suffer from, do, or experience something, typically something regrettable or unwelcome. (Google)

Sin: To fall shy of the perfect and complete; to act apart from the original union, holiness and glory God created us to dwell in with Him.

Worship lyrics, spiritual teaching, preaching…I frequently hear a theme within these, in somewhat varied presentations, that we are prone to sin, prone to wander away from the Lord. I understand the sentiment. It seems humble…admitting our need for God.

Yet, is this proneness to sin and wander theme doctrinally and biblically sound truth for new covenant believers in Jesus? Or a misguided trope that weakens the conscience of believers and causes a sense of vulnerability to sin and a falling away?

Let’s look at just a few verses.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Weust version For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf and instead of them, and was raised.

So that, as for us, from this particular time onward, not even one individual do we know as judged upon the basis of human standard. Even though we [Paul in his unsaved state] have known Christ as judged by human standard, yet now no longer do we know Him as such. So that, assuming that anyone is in Christ, he is a creation new in quality. The antiquated, out-of-date things [which do not belong to the new life in Christ Jesus] have passed away. Behold, all things have become new in quality.

This scripture reveals that our whole person is radically changed when we join ourselves to Jesus, the Christ. Our nature becomes new, the old ways have died, and like dead, injured flesh, has been cut, and cast away.

When we have only partial understanding about being unified with Jesus, we may think because we are tempted, or because we still have old habits, that we have a dual nature. I’m convinced this skewed belief is what keeps many from walking as new beings.

Many people think Romans chapter seven explains that we have a dual nature, but Paul is truly talking there about his old nature, not the new. This is why reading on to Romans 8-the redemptive chapter- is so necessary.

For instance, if in receiving Jesus Christ we continued in an old nature, Christ’s work is, at least partially, in vain. Or, if we were given a new nature, but retained the old nature as well (dual nature), then we would live in limbo-sinning one time, and standing strong resisting sin another. Though this may seem to be our experience, and a dual nature is often taught as being true, it is not accurate either.

If we believe, after joining ourselves to Christ that our whole nature hasn’t changed, then we will likely believe that we have no power over sin, that we can’t help but sin, that it’s normal to sin, and expect to sin. This belief acts as type of self-fulfilling prophecy, by which we might then fall into a cycle of false profession, and confession of habitual sins.

The old nature is prone to sin; the new nature is not.

Are we still able to sin? Unfortunately-yes. I’m not proposing we are all completely sinless, but that we will sin less. Just as Adam & Eve were created pure, and good, and had ability to choose, we also have this ability (power) to choose now, to sin, or not sin, having died to sin and being raised again as a new being. Reborn or born again.

Our new and present reality is greater than what Adam and Eve knew, having been made living souls of and in the earth; the new birth conjoins us to Jesus, the life giving spirit, and seats us with Him above all things. (See 1Corinthians 15:45, Ephesians 2:4-10.)

Paul shares the antithesis to a cycle of sin in Romans 8.

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit, that of the life in Christ Jesus, freed you once for all from the law of the sinful nature and of death. For that which is an impossibility for the law, because it was weak through the sinful nature, God having sent His Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the sinful nature, in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be brought to completion in us who, not as dominated by the sinful nature are ordering our behavior but as dominated by the Spirit.

In Jesus, we have been given a new nature in place of the old. This means we are no longer “sinners.” It is no longer our nature to sin. We have been transformed into a new identity- partaking of the very nature of God Himself. We are living, Being, in the dominion and power of the Holy Spirit, our own spirit made right(eous). If this is true, why does sin still seem to be a problem? And why do so many struggle greatly with sin patterns?

Most of us have yet to grasp the full reality of the work of Jesus and what it literally means to us and our transformation. This realization is continuously unfolding in our understanding.

We are called to renew our mind (restructure our thinking) to the truth of what Jesus has done for us and the righteousness, holiness and justification He’s placed us into by our faith in Him. By agreeing with Him, about ourselves, our mind, beliefs and ways begin to change into His likeness; as the image in a mirror. When Christ is fully formed in us, we look like Him. Like twins.

Romans 6:18+ And having been set free once for all from the sinful nature, you were constituted slaves to righteousness…But now, having been set free from the sinful nature and having been made bondslaves of God, you are having your fruit resulting in holiness, and the consummation, life eternal.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, meekness, self-control. Against such things as these there is no law. And they who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the evil nature with its dispositions and cravings once for all. In view of the fact that we are being sustained in spiritual life by the Spirit, by means of the Spirit let us go on ordering our conduct.

2 Corinthians 3: 12-18 Now, as for us, we all, with uncovered face, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are having our outward expressions changed into the same image from one degree of glory to another according as this change of expression proceeds from the Lord, the Spirit, this outward expression coming from and being truly representative of our Lord.

Examining these verses and many verses like them, we see that though it’s true we were once prone to sin, weakness, rage, lust, deceit etc., in the old nature, but we are now new and prone to righteousness via our new nature-God’s nature! Our spirit DNA that was fallen, has be upgraded, once we join in union with Jesus. We become one–one spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17.

What then, happens when we do sin?

Romans 8:27 Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.

What does this mean?

Jesus (and through his blood and body) is continuously active, present on our behalf, intervening to make us continually clean and righteous before Him. And, the Holy Spirit of God, makes us conscious of righteousness and holiness, drawing us to that mindfulness.

Hebrews 10:21-23…and having a Priest, a Great One, over the house of God, let us keep on drawing near with a genuinely true heart in full assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having had our body washed with pure water.

1 John 1:7 But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as He himself is in the light, things in common and thus fellowship we [the believer and God] are having with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.

1 John 2:1 My little children [born-ones, bairns], these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin. And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One.

In truth, He is focussing on our new nature now; whether we are being corrected or celebrated, He is drawing attention to our new nature, not the old (it’s dead). Since His focus is on the new, our’s ought to be too. God is not stuck in sin consciousness and neither should we be. We are to be love, righteousness, and holiness focused. What we focus on amplifies and expands.

It it also necessary to understand, that if we say and believe we are unified with Jesus, then our overall actions will become a proof of this union. We will not want to do the things that seemed natural when we lived in an old nature. We will desire and delight to live out of our new nature.

Though for a time, while we are growing up out of our newborn birth, the old nature may still seem familiar, yet, eventually the more intimate we grow with God, and the more we renew our minds to the truth, the old will seem foreign and unusual, so that IF we sin (not when), we will want to change our stance immediately and turn back to moving out of our new nature, which affects peace and joy.

Gods grace empowers us to say, “No,”to sin (Titus 2:12). People who keep on deliberately living the same old way as before, have not understood the reality of joining to Jesus.

John 14:20-21 In that day you shall know experientially that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. He who has my commandments and habitually keeps them, that one is he who is loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love. And he who is loving me thus, shall be loved with this same kind of love by my Father, and I shall love him with a divine and self-sacrificial love, and I shall disclose myself to him.

1 John 2:6 He who is constantly saying that he as a habit of life is living in close fellowship with dependence upon Him is morally obligated just as that One conducted himself, also himself in the manner spoken of to be conducting himself.

This action isn’t gritting our teeth, in self effort and reliance. The Holy Spirit, our helper, partners with us and compels our hearts and minds to act and Be in our new nature. In time, experientially as well as literally, it doesn’t become second nature to us, but First nature.

1Corinthians 2:9-12 But as for us, not the spirit of the world system did we receive but the Spirit who is of God in order that we might come to know the things which by God have been in grace bestowed upon us, which things also we put into words, not in words taught by human philosophy but in words taught by the Spirit, fitly joining together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-taught words.

Romans 8:26+ But if that which we do not see, we hope for, through patience we expectantly wait for it. And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings.

Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints. And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose.

By examining the inspired scriptures we can be assured that we no longer have a sin nature, nor a dual nature if we have been joined to God. The old died and was cut away. Upon our union of spirit and new birth (reborn/born again) and have a new nature, the nature of God.

We are also given the Holy Spirit who teaches and empowers us how to live out of it, and to reject past sinful ways. If we do sin, we can come to Him, dialogue about how we and others have been effected, and know that He faithfully cleanses us, including our conscience.

Go on out there with Godfidence! You are Prone to the persuasion of God’s Spirit and your new nature in Christ Jesus, not to sin or wandering. Check out the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, and 1rst 2nd & 3rd books of John for more clarity. Study it out and see for yourself.

*If you stumbled on this post, and have not made your peace and union with God, through Jesus Christ, the invitation to do so is open for every single person. He’s waiting to make you new- into a son, daughter, new being- just reach out to him from your heart. He hears and He rushes to you.

Please let me know if you’ve made this choice and/or if you feel you need further understanding or help: connect at liifetree12@gmail.com

Unmarked photos–Photo credits to Panoramio.com and mzayat.com respectively.

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Prophetic word: Losing your Song

I gave this word at my local church assembly this last Sunday, but it is an evergreen type of word, as various people in different places and seasons will experience this type of thing. Feel free to share it so others may receive comfort and encouragement.

Some people, through their experience, have not been singing as they have before, but there is more to this- it is a stratagem to try to steal your song.

Joy brings a song, but sorrow can stifle it or occlude it’s sound in your heart and mind.

(Sorrow can be a place for your song too, for grieving and healing, as long as we don’t let go of our song or lose it there)

Your song of worship is a crucial factor of your experience & connectedness with God. It comes out of our joy of Him, of our victories and belief. It’s also what we offer Him in response and gratitude.

Your song is a part of you, like an essence or matter.

David van Koevering (who made the first digital synth/piano keyboard), & his colleagues discovered that if they took a person’s DNA pattern and put it digitally into the keyboard it played a beautiful song. Each person’s DNA plays a unique and beautiful song.

You don’t just have a song,

You are a song.

I’ve read some various word studies of scripture, and a number of people concluded & interpreted Genesis 1, when God began to speak,

Let there be…” that He actually sang it.

We see this concept again in Zephaniah 3 17, that He sings over us. The song of the Lord resonates in our very molecules as He sings over us with rejoicing. (And He dances -spins or whirls around us singing, more precisely)

Without your song to the Lord, a vital part of you goes into in stasis-you can feel the difference, though not always recognize right away, that it’s your song that’s missing.

If you feel you’ve lost your song, then go into that place with Him- your devotions, prayer closet, etc, and listen until you hear Him singing it back to you. Worship helps bring your song back.

Others, may we guard our hearts with diligence, keep the heart fires of our song well tended, and sing a new song.

SSA: Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing Part 1

I’m a bit behind on posting; a new semester has begun with the subject matter of Senior Counseling; Women’s Studies & Feminism; and Human Sexuality. The latter two courses especially have got me thinking–those along with some conversations I’ve had over time with “church people” about confusing feelings and what they often identify as lust, particularly as related to authority figures or leaders. Given those conversations, it’s evident sexuality has become (or always has been) a topic too important to remain completely private within the church or elsewhere.

Now is as good a time as any to move past our blushes, bring it into the open, and do a miniseries on this topic. To start it off, I’ve asked my friend John Spencer to guest post. I  appreciate and thank him for his transparency and courage as he shares his experiences and perspective. I hope you will too. While readers may or may not agree, I  ask that we respect his journey and beliefs. Our hope is by bringing some of these issues to light, that some might benefit. Here’s John.

**Content warning: this will be an honest account of some of my sexual struggles during my life and may not be appropriate for minors nor for those of a sensitive nature**

I never felt affirmed as a man.  I felt that I was a disappointment to my father and didn’t measure up.  My father-in-law also didn’t see me as a man and whilst I remember joking in my wedding speech that “it’s not so much losing a daughter but gaining a womanly-bloke” the truth is I didn’t feel like a “proper” man.  Getting married didn’t fix that.  Nor did becoming a father.  I felt the constant need for approval of a father-figure that I never received growing up.

During my early marriage I acted out by looking at pornographic images of women. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it.  I used to take out my anger on my wife.  Often as a defensive mechanism because if she got too close she would expose who I really was and I didn’t want that.  So I’d make out that it was her fault. However, whilst early exposure to pornography and subsequent masturbation had hardwired my brain to women, the yearning for manly approval grew and became more sexual.

I started fantasizing about kissing certain men when I was talking to them.  I needed to feel loved and wanted by these men.  But I knew that this was wrong too*.  And I hated myself for it.  I tried to suppress it but it kept coming back.  Just like the way I projected my self-loathing onto my wife due to my pornographic addiction, I projected my self-loathing about my same-sex attraction onto gays.  I would see homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and loathe them in my heart.

Some will interject now and say “you need to accept these desires as natural and reject this outdated religious bigotry”.  However, to quote CS Lewis:
“He (Satan) always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse.  You see why of course?  He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.  But do not let us be fooled.  We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both ‘errors’.”

Instead of denying my desires or just accepting and acting on them, I expressed them to Jesus.

I honestly told Him about my struggles.  As I admitted the truth, I brought these desires into the light and that was when the transformation began.  He opened my eyes to the fact that it was only men in authority that I wanted to kiss.  It was because of my feeling so unmanly, so unworthy, so useless that was the root of my desire to be accepted and loved by authority figures.

Jesus has all authority (Mt 28:18), he is above every power and authority (Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-10) and he loves me (Jn 15:9,12).  As I have been receiving the approval of the ultimate authority I have become more whole.  As I have drunk deep of Christ’s masculinity I have become more manly.  As I have received the Father’s love and approval my desires for men have simply faded away.  I have become complete and whole in Him who is my all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

GK Chesterton said “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. God has made us creatures of desire and Jesus is the “desire of the nations” (Hag 2:7) – the only one who can truly satisfy our longings whether they be same sex attraction, pornography addiction, paedophilia, food, smoking or simply the desire to be famous or rich. No finite thing can satisfy our longing for the infinite. Stop drinking out of broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and return to the source of living water (Jn 4:13-14).

* It’s not the purpose of this article to defend the traditional Christian view of homosexuality.  Others have done that adequately elsewhere.  Any plain sense reading of passages such as Rom 1:26-27 and a correct understanding of hermeneutics will support this.  However, we mustn’t get pushed into the false dichotomy of if I don’t agree I must hate gays.

John Spencer is a child of God, a husband and a father of six children (four on earth and two in heaven). He writes about his journey into wholeness and how parents can communicate a godly vision of sexuality to their children at godlysexuality.org.

NOTE from LifeTree: all comments are moderated but please, do add to the conversation, even anonymously. Discussion helps others come out of hiding and heal.  John was kind enough to revise his original article which you can find here:

https://godlysexualityblog.com/2016/06/17/an-alternative-ending-to-the-orlando-shooting/

Gold Dust, Wonder, and Healing

Gold dust, Wonder & Healing

The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!  Lamentations 4:2

I saw him glance at me out of the corner of his eye when I passed by; as I returned the look he glanced away. I perceived he “knew something” about me in that moment. He had “the look” people have when they get a word of knowledge (a supernatural insight or knowledge about a person that couldn’t otherwise be known).
Looking ahead I searched for my friend who had invited me. I hadn’t been sure I would come, but curiosity and maybe even indignant rebellion against  intimidation and bad memories rose up in me. So I went. But with a mixed jumble of ambivalence.
This was the church I’d grown up in, that had been home. It was also the church of my suffering and shame.

Bittersweet

Coming back again was challenging; even though I had grown so much, it was difficult crossing the threshold through the doors, and greeting the old saints and new people as I passed by.

I didn’t know much about the guest speaker either, only that my friend seemed excited and she was leading worship, so heck ya, that was reason enough.
The service closed with an invitation for prayer and to receive from God. I was so eager to “get some” that I jumped up before most of the people who regularly attended there and inadvertently half stepped on the gal’s foot I had to cross over to get out of the pew.

The microphone was left on so everyone heard what was said, but it didn’t matter because whatever men can be to one another, God had been more than faithful to me… I trusted Him. And I couldn’t have imagined what was about to occur.

“Put your hands out.” I did as he said thinking he’d take my hands to pray. “Turn them palms up.” I did. Curious.

“Do you see that little bit of gold on your hands?” My eyes flicked to my palms and back again, searching his face uncertainly. Did he mean my gold wedding band? That little bit of gold?

I looked at him intently. He looked back just so.  I looked at my hands again.

Then he began to tell of my pain and shame I had experienced through the religiosity of the leaders and some of saints there, more than once, past and still fairly recent. He began to speak of the value I had, of the wealth and worth God placed in me, of identity and honor.

I looked again at my hands-I could see faint sparkles on both palms where I hadn’t seen anything moments before. I drank in all that was being spoken, a bit dazzled that Dad would choose to redeem the damning experiences and my self worth in this manner.



Wonderstruck, I returned to my seat to soak it in and listen for God to expound on what He’d just done. The lady whose foot I’d stepped on grabbed my closest hand and pressed it to her cheek, eyes closed,  a raptured look on her face. Then she released it and quickly apologized. I smiled and assured her I understood completely! This was not something any of us had experienced, and only few had even heard of.

There was this one niggling nagging thing though. I had worn a glittering gold powder on my cheeks that night and I knew I had touched my face with my palms. So… was it makeup on my hands or real glory and gold dust from heavenly realms?  It bothered me because I’m a truth seeker. Just give me the truth- beautiful, plain, raw or ugly-just don’t lie or trick me. Here lay an opportunity both men and devils seek-the kind that lead to faith or disbelief.

I didn’t want to doubt, or have this blessing fade from my mind as it would from my hands, so I whispered to Father, “You know I just want truth- is this gold dust or makeup? At tomorrow night’s meeting, I’ll wear powder that’s matte, no hint of sparkle anywhere, and if this is really gold dust, would you do it again Dad? Let my palms be misted with gold again tomorrow night.”
I made extra sure to wear matte make up and washed my hands doubly well. No trace of sparkle anywhere-checked and double checked. Standing in the worship time I glanced at my hands. Nothing. Disappointment edged closer, looking for a little place to call home again. Hope deferred had too often visited my heart.

A little bit later I looked again and my heart leapt! My palms glinted and twinkled just as they had the night before. Gold dust! Every word that had been spoken to me the previous night was established even deeper. Words of worth, words of love, faith and hope.

What is better,  is time and time again Dad has affirmed me with love and honor where men and women have maimed, blamed, or shamed. He knows who we really are, and He loves to tell us.

I’ve read somewhere that man was originally made of gold particles, rather than dust; gold dust, if you will. I’ve done word searches and haven’t found that exact interpretation; it appears to render as clay. A wonderful thing about clay is it’s re-moldable. If it becomes marred, it can be refashioned by the potter’s hands, even remade into more noble vessel for honorable use.

Whether the material He used was common clay or gold dust, everything Dad touches turns to Gold and He declares several times in His love letter to man kind that we are precious, worth more than gold, and He has promised every testing will bring out the gold in us.

If you’ve been marred in identity and purpose, know that Dad sees the value in you, He fashioned you in His heart before He knit your soul and spirit to your body in the womb. Whatever your life experiences, your life is of great worth. He will reveal the truth of this to you again and again. Jesus came because you have value, you are priceless to him. And given your “yes” He will renew  your whole being-spirit, soul, and body. Transfiguration is awaiting you…

Turns out, we are fashioned with gold…

http://www.gold-traders.co.uk/gold-information/how-much-gold-is-found-in-the-human-body.asp

And on an interesting side note: Until very recent times gold was used as a heart remedy, … Homeopathic doctors still use it in this manner in high dilutions and regard it as a remedy for depressive or suicidal conditions: a ‘total eclipse of the heart’. Its distribution within the human organism reaches its highest concentration in the region of the heart. Gold is used by doctors to diagnose heart problems. As the highest concentrations of gold in the human body occur around the heart, a radio-isotope of gold has been developed (the Au-195 isotope), which can give an image of the blood-containing structures within the heart, a process called ‘heart-imaging’. Gold gives a heart image! In Britain this new technology has been developed in St. Bartholomew’s hospital, London. One expert described the gold used in this way as ‘a very convenient medium for rapid assessment of changes in cardiac function’ (3,4). ~Nick Kollerstrom
Image credits to Pinterest and Megapixel