Lesson 9 Spiritual Warfare

 

Lesson
9
 

 Spiritual Warfare – Part 1 “Knowing Your Enemy”

Until now our lessons have dealt with the sin problem and God’s response or remedy for man’s lost condition. We learned of His unconditional love for mankind, and how that love drove Him to the cross to be the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. Next we learned about the process designed by God whereby fallen man could become a new creature in Christ, created after God in righteousness and true holiness. In our last lesson, “Getting to Know Him”, we learned about the purpose of our calling – i.e. being followers or disciples of Christ, and the necessity of consistent and fervent prayer.

In today’s lesson we are going to explore the fact that God and His followers have spiritual enemies whose ultimate goal is to destroy the work of God by causing His followers to fall away through the deceitfulness of sin and a spirit of unbelief.  The primary enemy of all good is Satan, also called the devil, prince of this world, God of this world, prince of the power of the air, serpent, dragon, enemy,etc.

 Satan:  Strongs H7853 – an opponent, adversary.

Devil: Strongs G1228 – a traducer (false accuser, slanderer)

 

Scriptures referring to the enemy of our souls:

1Jn 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.*

2Co 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

 

Eph 6:10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 2 For we  wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

 The Actual Existence of Satan 

Scripture testifies that Satan does indeed exist. We see him in the earliest chapters of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, all the way to the latest chapters of the last book, Revelation. He is mentioned in seven books of the Old Testament. In the New Testament nineteen books refer to Satan, with all of the writers represented in those books.  Furthermore, Jesus speaks of Satan no less than twenty-five different times.

Mat 4:10-11  Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

1Pe 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

 Luk 4:3  And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

 Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 

 

Examples of Satan’s Influence on Man’s Bodies, Thoughts and Actions

 1Ch 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

 Luk 22:3  Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.

 Joh 13:2  And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.     

Act 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 

Luk 22:31  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Luk 13:16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

What Is the Function of Demons? 

We must turn then to the Bible which, because it is God’s word on the subject, and is authoritative and beyond contradiction. God knows all about these beings because He originally created them and then witnessed firsthand as they rebelled against Him and fell from their state of holiness. He is also aware of all their activities–past, present and future.

Actually we find that the biblical information on the function of demons is limited. As we have noted, demons are hardly referred to at all in the Old Testament. We see them much more in the Gospels as Jesus in His ministry confronts and casts them out of people who are controlled by them. As we continue into the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, however, once again the available information isn’t very abundant, though there are still a few references to demonic activity.  For now let us understand that the limited nature of such information might give us a clue as to what God’s attitude is toward our interest in such things. Perhaps God doesn’t want us to be overly preoccupied with demons and demonic activity.  (In Part 2 of this lesson we will study God’s weapon systems that He has designed for our defensive strategies).

So, then, what demons are up to might be summed up as:  serving and assisting Satan in his opposition to God and in the destruction of man whom God loves. This summary statement lets us know that no matter what else, the ultimate goal of demons is to thwart God’s purposes and to hurt people.  

Beyond that, the scriptures do attest to the fact that Satan and his demonic hosts appear to be very well organized.  Paul used certain words to describe the hierarchy of spirit beings and that the context determined whether he was speaking of God’s angels or Satan’s. One such passage which is clearly speaking of the devil’s evil organization is Ephesians 6:10-12:

Eph 6:10-12  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The late Brother Billy Cole, mentor of Brother Doug Klinedinst, once preached a message about his encounter with highly organized demonic activity during a crusade in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. According to Brother Cole, there appeared to be definite geographical zones of demonic leadership throughout the city of Rio.  He also spoke of several aggressive demonic attacks on his group of ministers while he was there. 

Much more could be discussed on the activities and strategies of the powers of darkness, but as Paul said:

2Co 2:10-11 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 

Although it is important to know the enemy and understand how he operates, our primary focus should be on using the resources God has provided for our spiritual well being and protection; and next week we will be covering Part 2 of this lesson, “The Weapons of Our Warfare”.

 

 

Lesson 8 Getting to Know Him

 

Lesson
8

 

 Getting To Know Him

 In our last lesson, “Our identity Crisis” we learned some things about making a commitment to the new being that we became through our new birth 

Eph 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

We learned that the best way to renew our minds and experience spiritual  transformation is by knowing, thinking, and speaking who we are in Christ!

In our new identity as a child of God, we should seek daily every opportunity to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.

But, just as important as it is to understand who we are in Christ, we also need to understand the purpose of our calling; we are called to be followers of Christ, and to perform His will:

Col 1:10-13 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

 

Before we go any farther in this lesson, we need to understand something clearly – many people professing to be Christians seem to have a distorted picture of what it means to be a Christian in this great land of ours. It almost seems like they think they’re the ones in charge of their lives and God is just there to give them a hand if they need Him.To many, God is like a genie in a bottle whose sole purpose is to faithfully grant their wishes on command!  How radically has modern man departed from God’s actual purposes for their lives!

For example, let’s take a look at:

1Cor 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

When we were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we relinquished all ownership rights to do as we see fit with these bodies.  Before our conversion, we were the slaves of Satan, but through the redemption process, Jesus paid the price of His precious blood to release us from Satan’s ownership and we became the purchased property of Jesus.  

 In other words, we can’t relegate the Lord Jesus Christ to some far corner of our life – He is our life!  And He is Lord of our life!

 In order to be an effective servant or disciple of Christ, we must discipline ourselves

     Luk 9:23  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

 Throughout the Roman Empire the cross meant one thing – an instrument of death!

Jesus is clearly telling all who have been called to follow Him something that Paul understood very well: 

  • Gal 5:24-25 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 
  • 2Co 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.           
  • 2Ti 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  

In a future lesson we’ll be talking about spiritual warfare which is why Paul uses the idea of Christians as soldiers. God’s army, like any other, requires a good system of transmitting and receiving orders and requests for Godly and angelic assistance, etc. Our primary focus should be to receive and to execute God’s will as He reveals it to us, which brings us to one of the most vital of all the Christian disciplines:

  Prayer- the Vital Link

First of all, prayer is not some kind of legalistic drudgery that we must go through and endure in order to ease our conscience; it is designed by God to be a joyful experience that lifts us up above the rat race of our daily lives, and seats us in heavenly places with our Lord and Savior.

 I’m persuaded that if we are to be the kind of disciples God needs to further His kingdom, we must gain a deeper understanding of what prayer is and what can happen when people take up the challenge to give ourselves to prayer and fasting the way the early church did. Somehow we have to re-arrange our priorities, just as we give God our tithes before we pay anything else, we need to budget our time alone with God in our closet of prayer before doing anything else!

 

 How faith and prayer work hand in hand

Some Christians seem to think that faith, as it is related to prayer, is like a tool we use to obtain the results we desire from God.  They seem to think that if they can somehow operate this tool in just the right way it will produce answers. What happens with this approach is that it tends to put more emphasis on the ability of the one doing the praying than it does on the goodness and generosity of God who gives us our requests in loving response to our joyful trust and grateful assurance that He will indeed give us what we ask of Him.  

Seeking Inspiration and Motivation to Improve our Prayer Life

I highly recommend reading the inspirational writings of great men of prayer like Edward McKendree Bounds (1835-1913).  This amazing prayer warrior had a daily routine of arising at 4:00 a.m. and praying for at least 3 hours before he would even begin to involve himself in any other activities.

It’s easy for us to think of men of God like E. M. Bounds as some sort of spiritual supermen that we could never be like, and then lapse right back into our comfort zone without even making the effort.

I want to share a passage from Bounds’ Book, The Weapon of Prayer, Chapter 9 – I found this very convicting and motivating! 

“Prayer is the language of a man burdened with a sense of need. It is the voice of the beggar, conscious of his poverty, asking of another the things he needs. It is not only the language of lack, but of felt lack, of lack consciously realized. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” means not only that the fact of poverty of spirit brings the blessing, but also that poverty of spirit is realized, known and acknowledged. Prayer is the language of those who need something – something which they, themselves, cannot supply but which God has promised them, and for which they ask. In the end, “poor praying and prayerlessness amount to the same thing, for poor praying proceeds from a lack of the sense of need, while prayerlessness has its origin in the same soil. Not to pray is not only to declare there is nothing needed, but to admit to a non-realization of that need. This is what aggravates the sin of prayerlessness. It represents an attempt at instituting an independence of God, a self-sufficient ruling of God out of the life. It is a declaration made to God that we do not need Him, and hence do not pray to Him.” This is the state in which the Holy Spirit, in His messages to the Seven Churches in Asia, found the Laodicean Church and “the Laodicean state” has come to stand for one in which God is ruled out, expelled from the life, put out of the pulpit. The entire condemnation of this Church is summed up in one expression: “Because thou sayest, I have need of nothing,” the most alarming state into which a person, or church or preacher can come. Trusting in its riches, in its social position, in things outward and material, the Church at Laodicea omitted God, leaving Him out of their church plans and church work, and declared, by their acts and by their omission of prayer, “I have need of nothing.” No wonder the self-satisfied declaration brought forth its sentence of punishment – “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, will spue thee out of my mouth.” The idea conveyed is that such a backslidden state of heart is as repulsive to God as an emetic is to the human stomach, and as the stomach expels that which is objectionable, so Almighty God threatens to “spue out of His mouth” these people who were in such a religious condition so repulsive to Him. All of it was traceable to a prayerless state of heart, for no one can read this word of the Spirit to this Laodicean Church and not see that the very core of their sin was prayerlessness. —E.M. Bounds, “The Weapon of Prayer.”

 

I have also included for you to read the following at your leisure:

 

Paraphrases of E.M. Bounds Sayings

 

Accomplishing God’s work in this world has two basic principles—God’s unlimited ability to give, and man’s ability to ask.  Since the thing that triggers God’s giving is our ability to ask, it follows that man’s failure to pray will set a limit to God’s plan.  But God’s ability to do and to give has never failed and cannot fail; but man’s ability to ask can fail, and often does.

Therefore the slow progress that is being made toward the realization of a world won for Christ lies entirely with man’s limited asking!

You can put this saying up on a banner over our sanctuary and never take it down: That God does hear and answer prayer. God has always heard and answered prayer. God will forever hear and answer prayer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He changes not. As he has always answered prayer, so will he ever continue to do so.

God’s Word does not say, “Call unto me, and you will thereby be trained into the happy art of knowing how to be denied.  Ask, and you will learn sweet patience by getting nothing.”  Far from it; but it is definite, clear and positive: “Ask, and it shall be given unto you.”

The Bible is filled with examples of miracles being performed in answer to the desperate cries of desperate people:

Hannah, was barren, and desiring a man child, went to the house of prayer, and prayed until she could barely move her lips and Eli thought she was drunken.  But later she testified, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me the petition which I asked of him.”

We are overwhelmed by so many materialistic daily activities, and at best we try to squeeze God in somewhere between orange juice and brushing our teeth.

“To pray is the greatest thing we can do: and to do it well there must be calmness, time, and deliberation; we must learn anew the worth of prayer, enter anew the school of prayer. There is nothing which it takes more time to learn. And if we would learn the wondrous art, we must not give a fragment here and there but we must demand and hold with iron grasp the best hours of the day for God and prayer, or there will be no praying worth the name.

The church and the world greatly need saints who can bridge this wide gap between the praying done and the small number of answers received. Saints are needed whose faith is bold enough and sufficiently far-reaching to put God to the test. The cry comes even now out of heaven to the people of the present-day church, as it sounded forth in the days of Malachi: “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts.” God is waiting to be put to the test by his people in prayer. He delights in being put to the test on his promises. It is his highest pleasure to answer prayer to prove the reliability of his promises. Nothing worthy of God nor of great value to men will be accomplished till this is done.”

 

 

Lesson 7 Our Identity Crisis

 

 What is an Identity Crisis?

Theorist Erik Erikson coined the term identity crisis and believed that it was one of the most important conflicts people face in their development. According to Erikson, an identity crisis is a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself. Erikson described identity as “a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness and continuity of some shared world image.”

According to James Marcia and his colleagues, the balance between identity and confusion lies in making a commitment to an identity.

Identity Statuses

 ·       Identity achievement occurs when an individual has gone through an exploration of different identities and made a commitment to one.

 ·    Moratorium is the status of a person who is actively involved in exploring different identities, but has not made a commitment.

 ·    Foreclosure status is when a person has made a commitment without attempting
identity exploration.

Researchers have found that those who have made a strong commitment to an identity tend to be happier and healthier than those who have not. Perhaps you were in the midst of an identity crisis before you experienced the New Birth experience and were simply trying to become a better person. Well now that you have been born again, you have become a lot more than just a better human being – you have become a new creature and God wants you to make a radically new commitment to changing your primary identity – or who you really are! Paul explains how to make the identity shift from the old to the new: 

Eph 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

If we look back over the period of time that we have been a Christian, I believe that – if we are honest with ourselves – we will all agree that the biggest problems we have experienced in living for God have been directly related to our unwillingness to make a clean break with our old nature and making a firm commitment to walk in the way of our new life in Christ by putting on the new man. 

Let’s read what Paul has to say about the importance of choosing the right identity:

Rom 8:12-18 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him,
that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

How do we mortify or put to death the deeds of the body?

Rom 6:11-13 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, butalive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members  as instruments of righteousness unto God. 

1Co 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 How do we nourish and develop our new nature?

 Col 3:1-10 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  

 Notice that many of the scriptures we’ve read are in the form of commandments:

 

Seek those things which are above.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Put to death… any form of ungodliness or worldliness in your lives.

Put on the new man.

Put off the old man.

Let not sin reign in your mortal body.

Put off such things as: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language,
lying.

 

Since God never commands us to do anything that His grace doesn’t enable us to perform as we walk by faith, just do whatever He tells you!

 Practice Walking in a Christ-like manner bearing the fruit of the Spirit:

 Gal 5:22-25  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The best way to renew our minds and experience spiritual transformation
is by knowing, thinking and speaking who we are in Christ!

 In our new identity as a child of God, we should seek daily every opportunity to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.

Both our personal and corporate identities in Christ are crucial to our success as a church body. The apostle Paul tells us how we should interact as a body of new creatures/ Christians:

Col 3:16-17  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

 Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

 Act 2:42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

 

Good advice from Apostle Paul:

 1Th 5:11-23 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 16  Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  • Our doctrine is Apostolic
  • Our experience is Pentecostal
  • Our Lifestyle is Holiness

 WHO I AM IN CHRIST

 

I am a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).

I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).

I am a partaker of His divine nature (II Peter 1:3-4).

I am an ambassador for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20).

I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation, a peculiar people
(I Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:21).

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (I Corinthians  6:19).

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom  (Colossians 1: 13).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Colossians 2:12;
Ephesians 2:6).

 

 

 

Lesson 6 Sanctification

 

Lesson
6

 Sanctification

 In Lesson 5 we learned that when we were buried with Jesus in baptism in His name, our relationship to Adam was broken and our death to sin became an accomplished reality from God’s perspective. It is a spiritual fact that sin will no longer have dominion over us, and since we have a spiritual union with Christ we become partakers of His death to sin. That’s why Paul said in Col 3:3-4: 

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

There are positive and negative consequences depending upon our choices after we obey the gospel message: 

Rom 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Rom 8:12-13 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 

 

Sanctification Defined

Sanctification has both a negative and positive aspect. Negatively it is separation from evil, and positively it is consecration to God and His holy character. It might be said that sanctification is the “growing emancipation from all evil, and a growing enrichment in all good.” It should be self evident that In order to be made holy we must receive the Spirit of holiness through the New Birth experience. 

Lev 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: 

1Pe 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 

When we repent of our sins and are born of the water and the Spirit as we studied in Lesson 4, “The Promised Seed of Abraham”, we become new creatures in Christ. We are a new species we are still Homo sapiens in the flesh, but, the new birth produces something radically different than the “old man”, having a completely new set of instincts and moral values. 

Paul explains it like this: 

2Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

Paul says we need to remove our “old nature” and put on the new one: 

Eph 4:22-24  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

 

Sanctification
is both a completed action and an ongoing process

Our sanctification is both positional and progressive. The Scripture speaks of us
as having been sanctified in the past
and even calls us saints (holy ones):

1Co 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

 1Co 6:11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 

Heb 10:10  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Christ is said to have become our sanctification (I Corinthians 1:30): 

1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

When we placed our faith in Him we were sanctified, or set apart to Him, and from those who do not believe (Acts 26:18). Sanctification, like justification, is not a work of human merit, but comes by faith in God.

Act 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The Agent of Sanctification

What is the relationship between the activity of the Spirit and the activity of man in developing sanctification? Is sanctification received purely by faith, or is their human effort involved? The Scripture indicates that both grace and effort work together in sanctification. It is neither entirely passive nor entirely active,but both active and passive.

Jason Dulle expresses how the cooperative efforts of God and man work together:

The Scripture is clear that sanctification is something we receive from God. The church is being sanctified by Jesus Christ so that He can present it to Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:26-27). It is the God of peace that sanctifies us (I Thessalonians 5:23), and by His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living godly and sober lives (Titus 2:14). It is Christ which works in us that which pleases Him (Hebrews 13:20-21; See also II Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; II Thessalonians 2:13; Colossians 1:21). Paul told the Romans that they were to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. “Transformed” is a present passive, indicating that this was an action they were to passively receive, not one in which they were to actively pursue. Yet in the previous verse they were beseeched to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice in holiness (Romans 12:1), and a few verse later were enjoined to hate evil and cling to that which is good (Romans 12:9). Believers are instructed to mortify the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13), and to yield ourselves to God in righteousness (Romans 6:13). These two Biblical perspectives are not contradictory, but rather complimentary. God puts the desire to live right within man, and gives Him the ability to do so, but man must act upon God’s inner working to make it effective.”

Is Perfection Possible?

There is much debate among Bible scholars regarding the idea of perfection in sanctification. There are many “perfection” scriptures:

1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 

Eph 4: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

However, when the “perfection” Scriptures are understood in their context it can be seen that absolute moral perfection is not the intended meaning. The Greek teleios, translated as “perfect,” refers to and end, completion, or maturity, not absolute perfection. When Jesus said for us to be perfect, He was not referring to moral perfection, but spiritual maturity. Romans 3:23 teaches us that not only have all sinned, but that all (including saints) fall short of God’s glory. “Fall short,” – The idea is that every human being continually falls short of God’s glory. This does not mean that we continually sin, but that none of us ever match up to God’s perfect standards. Our only hope is to stand in Christ’s perfect sanctification. We must conclude that the goal of the Christian life is spiritual maturity in this life, and moral perfection in the next. Although moral perfection is something to which we strive by the grace of God, we shall never attain sinless perfection in this life.

The Relationship of Justification and Sanctification in the Life of the Believer

Now that we have in, this series, discussed both the doctrine of justification and sanctification, how do the two correlate with one another? What is the relationship between the two? God’s grace and sanctification are both necessary for a healthy Christian life. These two components can be understood as dependence and discipline, or reliance and effort. We depend on God’s grace for our justification and sanctification, yet we also work together with God, exerting personal effort to accomplish the goal of sanctification. God’s grace is not only God’s unmerited favor towards us in justification, but it also actually gives us the ability whereby we are able to perform His will (Romans 12:3; I Corinthians 3:10; 15:10; Galatians 2:8; I Peter 4:10-11). God enables us to work, but He does not do the work for us. Justifying faith is passive, but sanctifying faith is active, working together with God’s grace. God does not make our effort unnecessary, but rather makes it effective.

 

 

 

 

Lesson 5 Baptism In Jesus Name (What Actually Happens?)

 

 

Baptism in Jesus Name

(What Actually
Happens?)

It is one thing to be declared righteous, but God requires that a spiritual transformation take place in our human spirits. This is what Jesus was declaring to Nicodemus In John chapter 3: Joh 3:5-7 Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Joh 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

There are several passages of scripture that speak about the new Birth:

Tit 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

1Co 10:1-2 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  (Spirit and water)

Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1Co 6:11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified* in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

James 2:7 (HCSB)  Don’t they blaspheme the noble name that was pronounced over you at your baptism?

*Just as Abraham was justified initially by faith when he believed God’s voice, and also when he obeyed God’s voice – so we are justified initially by believing the gospel, and it can also be said that we are justified when we obey the gospel through the new birth experience.

The divine plan from eternity was to make a way for this infinitely pure and Holy God to be united with rebellious and sinful human beings – and since we weren’t fit in our fallen condition to come to Him, He devised a way to come to us by means of a mediator and savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who is none other than Jehovah God Himself – the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us for 33 ½ years. Jesus became the connecting link between the Creator and His creatures.

Thus, Jesus explained to Thomas that we could only come to God by way of the man Christ Jesus:  

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

 In order to come to the Father, we first have to be united with Christ.

 Our Union with Christ

As we studied in Lesson 3 – Justification by Faith – after we are justified, we must also be regenerated or born again:

“Our union with Christ is not a mere external, legal union which brings about a change of our position before God, but it is also a spiritual union with Christ which is internal and vital. Christ not only works from without, being separate from us, but works spiritually from within. Our position in Christ is an external pronouncement, but the union extends beyond this to include an internal reality. He is in us and we are in Him. According to Paul our spirit is joined with His Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17). It is an interpenetration of spirits. We not only stand positionally in His righteousness and grace, but we actually partake of it through our spiritual union with Him. Just as the vine gives all things necessary to life to the branches (John 15:1-6), so Christ is our source for of every spiritual blessing and eternal life. Because of our union with Him we have the same life, united in such a way as if the same blood ran through both our veins. Our spiritual life flows from His. Apart from our connection to Him we cannot bear spiritual fruit, nor can we have life. But by virtue of our spiritual connection with His person and work, whatever can be said of Christ can be said of us.” — Jason Dulle

How Do We become United with Christ?

“Whereas Romans 5:12-21 speaks of our positional union with Christ in regards to the condemnation of the law and our justification, Romans 6-8 speaks of a spiritual union with Christ’s person which goes beyond a forensic status and positional union; it is an organic union. Most passages which speak of the union mention it in passing without much explanation as to its meaning or significance. Romans 6-8 peaks more of the nature and practical results of our spiritual union with Christ than any other Biblical passage, and therefore will receive special attention, examining the key points of this passage.”  — Jason Dulle

What Happens When We Are United with Christ?

Rom 6:1-14 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into de ath: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

When we are born into Christ we legally become one with Christ in God’s sight, partaking of Christ’s obedience. Just as Adam’s sin is charged to us without us having actually committed it in the flesh, so Christ’s righteousness is as much ours as had we performed it ourselves. It is as though we were the ones who died on the cross. God sees the believer in Christ’s merit, not our own merit. This is so eloquently stated in 2 Cor 5:21 where Paul said, “For he made him  [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus takes our sin upon Himself even though He did not commit the sin, while we take His righteousness upon ourselves even though we did not perform it.

 Reckon (Consider) Yourselves Dead to Sin Our death to sin became an accomplished reality when we were baptized into Christ. Just as we have died with Christ, we also know that we will be raised from the dead to live with Him forevermore (6:8-9). Since Christ’s resurrection means that death does not have dominion over Him (He died once to sin), we also, by virtue of our union with Him in His death and resurrection, are to consider ourselves dead to sin (6:9-11a). We die to the ruling power of sin in our lives through our union with Christ. Because sin and death cannot rule over Christ, neither can they rule over us. The great truth that Paul was emphasizing was that what Christ did, we did. We were not the ones who died or were resurrected, but by virtue of our union with Christ God considers us to have performed what Christ performed. To illustrate this notice that Paul said in verse ten that Christ died to sin, and in verses six through eight he said that we died to sin through Christ. Because Christ died, we died.

Our New Relationship

The great truth of being in Christ is that our relationship to Adam has been broken, and God has established in us a new relationship with Christ, in which and by which we relate to God. We no longer stand before God in Adam’s guilt, condemnation, and death, but in Christ’s obedience, righteousness, and life. We no longer have God’s wrath directed toward us, but rather we stand in Christ’s person, in Christ’s stead. He met the demands of justice on our behalf, and gave us of His righteousness. We have put on Christ by being baptized into Him (Galatians 3:27), and thus stand before God as though we were Christ Himself. It is a whole new way of relating to God that has been fully secured on our behalf by Christ. All that we have spiritually is dependent on Christ’s work on our behalf, and our relationship to Christ. We do nothing but believe that it is true, and act accordingly. We are now saved and accepted by God because of our position in Christ; because of Christ’s work, and not our own. 

Closing Words

Our love and gratitude for God and what He did for us through Christ Jesus should motivate us to walk in the Spirit and not obey the lusts of the flesh!

 

 

 

Lesson 4 The Promised Seed of Abraham

 

Lesson 4

 The Promised Seed of Abraham

In our last lesson on Justification by Faith, we learned from Paul’s letter to the Romans that both Jews and Gentiles have sinned and come short of the glory of God and can only be justified through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Today we are going to track God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from Genesis to Acts and beyond.

 We who believe are called the children of Abraham

Gal 3:6-9 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Let’s look at verse 8 more closely and notice that the promise made by God to Abraham is called the gospel. Now let’s go back to Gen 22 and read what Abraham did to cause God to make the promise:

Gen 22:16-18  And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Furthermore, we saw in Lesson 3 that Abraham was justified initially by simply believing God, but the gospel message that brings the blessing of salvation to all nations couldn’t be preached until Abraham obeyed God by being willing to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise.

Heb 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Years after preaching the promise to Abraham, God preached the identical promise/gospel to Isaac and to Jacob:

Gen 26:4   And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and ill give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed(Isaac)

Gen 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Jacob)

Paul explains that the “seed” or “offspring” that God was referring to was actually Christ Jesus who was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob according to the flesh.  

Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Paul had much to say about the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and explains that the promise was prophetically speaking of the promise of the Spirit. He also clearly shows us that the children of promise are not the natural  descendants of Abraham, but the spiritual children of Abraham.  

Rom 4:13‑16 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the Righteousness of faith. {14} For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: {15} Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. {16} therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not  to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith  of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 

Rom 9:7‑8 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. {8} That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.    

Gal 3:13‑14 {13} Christ hath redeemed us from  the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: {14} That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus  Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 

What did Jesus Himself have to say about the promise? 

Luke 24:44‑49 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. {45} Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, {46} And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead  the third day: {47} And that repentance and  remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning  at Jerusalem. {48} And ye are witnesses of these things. {49} And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Luke, the inspired writer of the book of Acts explains what the Promise of the Father is and of the power it would bring.  

Acts 1:1‑5 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all  that  Jesus began both to do and teach, {2} Until the day in which he was  taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments  unto the apostles whom he had chosen: {3} To whom also he showed  himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: {4} And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. {5} For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The prophetic words of Jesus in Luke 24:49, that the disciples would be “endued with power from on high”, are fulfilled on the day of Pentecost:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all  with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where  they were sitting. {3} And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of  fire, and it sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the  Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1‑4)

It is also interesting to compare the words of Jesus in Luke  24:47 with Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.

Verse 47: “And that repentance and remission  of sins  should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning  at  Jerusalem

Jesus prophetically says what would be preached and where it would begin being preached

Peter in his inspired sermon to the Jews on the day of Pentecost explains what must be done to fulfill God’s plan for the spiritual restoration of fallen man.  In fulfillment of Jesus’ words, Peter preached repentance and remission of sins.  We also learn from Peter that remission of sins is accomplished by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (“In His name”). Peter’s subsequent reference to the “gift of the Holy Ghost” corresponds to Jesus words, “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you”. In other words, the “Promise of the father” is the same as “the gift of the Holy Ghost”. In Acts 2:39, Peter refers to the gift of the Holy Ghost as “The Promise”. Also note that this message was first preached at Jerusalem, just as Jesus said it would be.

Acts 2:38‑39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. {39} For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many  as the Lord our God shall call.

In order to receive the Holy Ghost our faith must produce obedience:

Acts 5:32 And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

In the following accounts the first Gentiles are saved. These passages should be closely studied by every sincere person who is seeking to know the truth about the true plan of salvation. There is no reason to believe that God’s requirements for becoming a part of his Church will change anywhere between the birthday of the Church, Pentecost, and the day that we are all caught up to be with Jesus forever!

Acts 10:43‑48 to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. {44} While Peter yet  spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which  heard the  word. {45} And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also  was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. {46} For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, {47} Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? {48} And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Acts 11:13‑17 And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which  stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call  for Simon, whose surname is Peter; {14} Who shall tell thee words, whereby  thou  and all thy house shall be saved. {15} And as I began to speak, the  Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. {16} Then remembered I the word  of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed  baptized  with water;  but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. {17} Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Acts 19:1‑6 records yet another incident of disciples being born of the water and the Spirit as Jesus told Nicodemus

Acts 19:1‑6 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, {2} He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much  as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. {3} And he said unto  them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. {4} Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which  should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. {5} When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. {6} And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

 

I Cor 12:13 clearly reveals the fact that the norm for becoming part of the Body of Christ, the Church, is by being baptized into it!

1 Cor 12:13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into the Spirit.

Note the interchangeable use of Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ in the following:  

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

In the last two lessons we have seen how we are initially justified by our faith in the Gospel, but, like Abraham’s supreme act of obedience showed his initial faith to be genuine, so we also validate the justification that we received by believing the gospel – by obeying it.  This is accomplished through repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and receiving the Spirit of Christ, which is the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Next week – Lesson 5 “Baptism in Jesus’ Name”

 

 

Justification By Faith-How And When Does It Happen?

 

Lesson
3

 Justification
by Faith – How and When Does It Happen?

 

In our first 2 lessons we learned that all of us are born with Adam’s sin nature, and have an overpowering tendency to do what is contrary to God’s will; but God in His infinite grace and mercy has provided a way that His wrath can be appeased and we can be reconciled to Him. That way is through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the atonement or payment for sins. It is through faith in Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice, that we can be declared in right standing with Him. 

Rom 5:21 God  made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him  we would become the righteousness of God. (NET) 

Whereas, each of us came into this world in a state of condemnation caused by the disobedience of Adam, and passed on to the entire human race- this lesson will explore the source,  the grounds , and the means by which we receive a justified status in the eyes of God. 

 Biblical Justification Defined

 In Romans 4 Paul uses the term impute (d/th) – Greek logizomai eleven times in connection with righteousness. This Greek word is an accounting term which refers to the crediting of something to an account. It means to consider, to count towards, or to credit to one’s account. The believer has God’s righteousness credited to his account by means of his faith in the gospel message, and thus is considered to be in a right relationship to God’s law. Paul’s emphasis on the fact that righteousness is imputed – not imparted when we are justified disproves the claims of some theologians who teach that we are made righteous, as opposed to being declared righteous in the eyes of God when we are initially justified. In other words we are righteous as far as standing with God is concerned, but we aren’t necessarily righteous as far as our “works” are concerned. There is no change in our nature. God doesn’t eradicate our sin nature when He declares us righteous. —Dulle

What are the primary benefits of our Justification?

When we are considered righteous by God, He restores communication between us and Him; the communication that we were barred from while lost in sin.

Rom 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 The grace that we receive after being justified is not only God’s unmerited favor towards man, but it is also the ability that God gives us to live for Him. (1 Cor 15:10; Philippians 2:13) One of the things that grace does for us is that it allows us to live holy before God (Titus 2:11-14). grace gives us the ability to live above sin, not indulge in it!   

1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 

Php 2:12-13  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (This is an example of grace at work in us). 

Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the lorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

The Basis and Means of Justification

“Romans 3:19-31 (KJV) is the most definitive passage on this subject. Here it will be seen that the source of our justification is God’s grace; the grounds of our justification is Christ’s sacrificial death; and we receive justification by means of faith.” (Jason Dulle).

Rom 3:19-31 (KJV) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation* through faith in his blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the orbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

 *λαστριον (Jilasthrion) It refers specifically to the “mercy seat,” i.e., the covering of the ark where the blood was sprinkled in the OT ritual on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

The following scriptures illustrate the fact that our justification required the grace, the blood, and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 Rom 3:24 (KJV) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Rom 5:9(KJV) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Rom 4:25(KJV) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

 1 Cor 15:17-18 (NET) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. 18 Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.

Next we must understand what faith is if we are ever going to comprehend what it means to be justified by faith. The word translated “faith” is the Greek word pistis. This word means to trust, or rely upon something/someone. In our case we rely on, and trust in God for every aspect of our lives, especially our salvation. This eliminates the idea that we are saved by a mere confession that we believe in Jesus and that He died for our sins. To believe in Jesus to completely rely on Him for our salvation.  It is a lifetime of walking with Jesustrusting Him for our salvation everyday. It has to do with our commitment to Jesus. To be justified by faith, then, means that God considers us to be righteous when we place our complete trust in Jesus’ work on our behalf at Calvary, and continue to walk by the same faith that justified us when we first truly believed the gospel message.  Some denominations have the mistaken belief that our initial act of faith does more than justify us – they believe that this initial act of faith ushers us into the New Birth experience. Actually, Justification precedes regeneration, but must be followed by regeneration. The Bible clearly teaches that It is not enough to be pronounced right with God, but we must also be transformed by Him through regeneration i.e. the New Birth experience.  Even though we receive justification when we first believe, we continue to enjoy the merits of it throughout our entire lifelong walk of faith.  

Hebrews 11 is called “the faith chapter’ because it describes a great cloud of witnesses who by faith, and as a result of their faith, continued to obediently perform  acts of righteousness, in many cases even offering their lives as martyrs for the cause of Christ.

Jason Dulle says: It must not be conceived that God justifies us because of our faith in Him. He justifies us by means of our faith. The former teaches that faith is a work of man that God rewards. “Justifying faith does not do anything, but passively accepts what Christ has done for us. We are not justified on account of our faith, but by means of our faith. To believe in the former is to make faith the grounds of our justification, rather than Christ and His atoning work at Calvary.”

Scriptural
Examples of How and When Justification Initially Occurs

For this part of our study we will consult the apostle Paul and his writings on the subject of justification by faith, and also see what we can learn by closely following his use of Abraham and his experiences, especially in reference to Abraham’s faith and obedience throughout his life.

Justification in the Abrahamic Covenant

 At this juncture one might question at what point does a person first become justified? To answer this question let’s read what Paul has to say about it using Father Abraham’s experiences as our example: 

Rom 4:3-11 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 

Rom 4:18-25 who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 9 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

In other words, Abraham was initially justified, or put in right standing with God simply by believing what God told him, with no accompanying acts of obedience.

There were three significant events in Abram/Abraham’s life that we as Christians can use as examples for understanding the process of salvation: He received his initial justification when he first believed. (Gen 15). [And that justification would remain valid as long as he continued to believe]. God established a covenant with Abram/Abraham that was sealed by circumcision. (Gen 17). [This was to establish a people or nation, and a land].    Abraham displays his willingness to obey God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac. (Gen 22)

 Let’s look at the passage in Genesis
where Abram was justified:

Gen 15:1-6 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Two chapters later, in Gen chapter 17, the LORD appeared to Abram, changed his name to Abraham and established a covenant with him that required Abraham and every one of his descendants to be circumcised; anyone who refused to do so would be cut off from his people because they had broken the covenant.

 God’s covenant with Abraham – the beginning of the Jewish nation: 

Gen 17:1-10 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect 2 and I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 

Abraham displays his willingness to obey God’s command to sacrifice Isaac:

 Gen 22:2  “And he (God) said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” 

 Heb 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

 COMMENT: Just as God provided a substitute to die in Isaac’s place, so Jesus, the Lamb of God became our substitutionary sacrifice.

 When and why did God “preach the gospel unto Abraham”? 

Gal 3:6 -9 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

After Abraham passed the supreme test of being willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, God said, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen 22:18).  

      Gal 3:16  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 

Gen 22:15-18  And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (This is when God preached the gospel to Abraham).

The scriptures are clear that God didn’t “preach the gospel” unto Abraham until He obeyed God and was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. Notice: God didn’t swear that he would make Abraham the ancestor of His son Jesus, the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of all men, until Abraham passed the test of being willing to offer his son in obedience to God!

 How does all this apply to us as Christians? 

Just as Abraham was willing to obey God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, his child of promise, on the altar, so we as Christians must be willing to obey the gospel (death, burial, resurrection) and crucify our fleshly nature by being buried with Jesus in baptism.  (a symbol of death from whence God was able to raise us up, in a figure).

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Col 2:11-12  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Dear reader: I sincerely hope that this study of the biblical concept of justification by faith.will bless and enlighten you in your christian journey. 

I would also like to acknowledge Jason Dulle from whom I have learned much . His blog site can be found at Theosophical Ruminations

Donald W. Eames