A Letter From Christ
Weve been accepting Gods promise of wisdom as weve begun each of these studies. This time, lets open our Bibles to His special promise concerning the Holy Spirit:
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13
We may ask for this gift in prayer and thank God immediately for receiving it, because the gift is ours. He promised!
Its good weve been promised the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is at work, we receive the promise of a new nature that is available to us through His power making us participants in the divine nature. (See 2 Peter 1:3,4) Another powerful promise affirms:
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:13
A few verses later, in that same chapter, we find Christ firmly telling us we should be asking for a lot more than we have been. Heres what He is anxious to give us:
"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:23,24
Joy is one of the results of having Gods Spirit, according to Galatians 5:22. So when we ask the Father for the Holy Spirit in Jesus name, and we receive this gift, joy will result.
Remember when we accepted the promise of 1 John 1:9, that God would forgive us and cleanse us because of Jesus death, if we would confess our sins? An additional promise states that, even if we dont want to be forgiven, or arent really sorry or repentant, God leads us to take our very first step toward him:
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that Gods kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4
But What If We Aren't Asking?
But what if we arent asking for these love gifts?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
We didnt ask Him to die; we didnt even know we needed that kind of help. His love for us is really amazing! When we are disobedient and distrustful, He gives us so much love that were drawn to repentance. Then we ask, and He forgives.
Connected To Life
God, the Son, who was with God, the Father, came down to this earth and became a man---Emmanuel---God with us. We human beings had become separated from God by our disloyalty, distrust, disobedience---our sin. Wed cut ourselves off from Him, the source of life. So He restored the full gift of life both here and eternally by connecting Himself with us and, through Himself, linking us to the Father. This was the gift of atonement and reconciliation.
For if, when we were Gods enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:10,11
Again, joy---a rejoicing in God---is promised.
There is a gift in that promise, the gift of making us one again with God. Its an absolutely free gift offering undeserved favor with the One who is Judge of the whole universe. Such undeserved favor is called grace in the Scriptures; it is powerful and available for each person to receive.
Romans 5:12 tells of one man who brought sin into the world. Verses 15-17 tell of another Man who gave the gift of grace, of "oneness" between God and man. In those verses we find that, through His grace, we are judged "not guilty" (justified). Gods powerful promise covers the guilt and sin of our past with Christs life---giving purity.
It Happens Every Time
Christ continues to give that gift, making it available every time our old nature acts up and we think or act distrustfully or disobediently. Each time we act in these ways He pours out His loving kindness, His grace by His Spirit, in response to our need. Heres the powerful promise:
Because of the Lords great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22,23
God wants us to be one with Himself; thats what atonement means. Christs sacrifice restored to us "at-one-ment" with God. We are judged "not guilty" because of Jesus sacrifice for us.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished---he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies the man who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:25,26
God Writes A Letter
As He writes on our forgiven and cleansed hearts, God is ready to give us a new spirit of Divine love. On our hearts, he writes love to God and to our neighbor. As this happens, we realize that "Thou shalt love God" or "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" are not commands. Those words become assurances of a new nature that is created when the love of God fills a person by His Spirit. Its a message written by Christ for all to see.
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3
That promise is an assurance that when God works within, His message no longer is on tablets of stone. Instead, it is transferred by His Spirit directly to us---on our minds, our emotions, our "human hearts".
What message is it? What did Moses speak of earlier as being written by God on tablets of stone?
At that time the Lord said to me, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden chest. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the chest."
So I made the ark out of acacia wood and chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. The Lord wrote on these tablets what he had written before, the Ten Commandments he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. Deuteronomy 10:1-4
He Wanted Us To Know
God wanted us to be clear about just what life "at one" with Him is like. He wanted us to understand what it is that separates us from Him, and brings death. He wanted us to know for sure when we are disobeying and distrusting Him, and when we are living His love. So He gave humanity a gift: a set of powerful promises, a law. The ten commandment law provides a word picture of Divine nature in human terms.
Read it aloud to yourself, considering each commandment as a promise. Notice that He says we will behave like this. That is because with Him, we will.
So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Romans 7:12
He wrote His law on stone, and that law is what is written in us by His Spirit. Read thoughtfully, again, what God wrote on stone; remembering that this what we receive in our hearts when we accept His gift of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Corinthians 3:3).
The Ten Commandments
the Divine Nature in Human Terms.
(Exodus 20:2-17, New KJV)
|I.||"You shall have no other gods before Me."|
"You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
|III.||"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."|
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor you stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
|V.||"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."|
|VI.||"You shall not murder."|
|VII.||"You shall not commit adultery."|
|VIII.||"You shall not steal."|
|IX.||"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."|
"You shall not covet your neighbors house, you shall not covet your neighbors wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbors."
Because God is love, His Spirit within us is a promise of a new nature that will mean we will live differently even now. Understanding the present time in which we live, God tells us it is time to wake up, if we have been asleep about all this:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather , clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Romans 13:8-13
Only that love that is poured on us by His Spirit could enable us to fulfill these lawful commands.
This was Jesus loving purpose when He said we should ask for His Spirit. He wants us to obey His law. He wants us to be loving toward Him and one another. By the gift of His life blood, He is able to declare us righteous, not guilty of the sins we confess which have been a part of our old nature. As we do this, the promise is ours:
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in Gods sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Romans 2:13
God spoke the ten commandments. He wrote them on stone. Jesus fully lived them Himself. Now He sends His Spirit to live them in us. He gives us a powerful promise, if well let other people know about all this:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-19
He Doesn't Expect Us To Do It Alone!
In case you dont feel ready to "teach" or are afraid youre not really willing to "practice" or obey as you feel you should, here is another powerful promise:
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
God works in us, and makes us willing. It is the same God, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised the Father would send, if we simply ask. You can ask for His Spirit now and expect Him to work in you. More and more your desires and actions will come into harmony with His loving law.
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