The battle for righteousness is largely a battle to correct the proper operation of the human spirit, soul, and body. The word that is translated as soul is also translated as mind, heart, and life. At death, the soul/mind and spirit leave the body. The brain is a physical entity. The brain works with chemical processes that obey chemical laws that can be examined by science. There is no science to examine the material attributes for such things as conscience, intelligence, will, intent, rational capacity, reason, and self-control. There is not even a rational story that accounts for these things in the materialistic paradigm. When you are born again, your spirit is joined to the Spirit of God and enjoys a high level of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We were designed to be connected in this way, worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. The Holy Spirit was meant to rule over the human spirit. The human spirit was meant to rule over the human mind and the human mind was meant to rule over the human body. This rulership was distorted and turned upside-down at the fall of man. Now, this is being set right. We were created to be whelmed with the Holy Spirit--infused and totally engulfed with power from on high. The human mind or soul does not function correctly without the Holy Spirit. It is in a stupor without this anointing. Without the Anointing of God, the human mind is reprobate. It is depraved, just as Romans 1 indicates. Even intelligent and well-spoken people are stupid if they don't have the anointing on them. Persons who can speak persuasively and convincingly without the anointing are dangerous to others and to themselves. When you have the anointing upon you, your mind is sharp. When the day comes that we have no impedances to the flow of the Holy Spirit in our minds, our minds will be free and totally renewed. This battle is largely for the mind. Jesus and John the Baptist both taught repentance. The Greek word for repentance, met-an-o-eh'-o, means to have a new mind or to change your mind. We can be transfigured by the renewing of our minds. (Rom 12:1-2) This happens through the law of sowing and reaping.
Righteousness is closely tied to seeing things as they really are. We all need to discern and see the Body of Christ. We see all the gifts, ministries, offices, and orders of the Church. We also can discern and recognize the false. It is closely tied to listening to God's voice rather than other voices. Reality is truth. That which is unreal is a lie. Lies bind us. Truth sets us free. This is the difference between that originates in our own imaginations and that revelation that comes from God. If we don't see reality, we live in a lie. The three areas we need to see are the Body of Christ, those who are not saved, and the creation. If we do not discern the reality of the Body of Christ, we will only know our brother and sister after the flesh. If we do not see ourselves as a member of the Body of Christ without any purpose or fulfillment outside of the Body of Christ, then we will only see our own flesh and walk in the way of the flesh. If we do not see the unsaved with the same compassion as Jesus sees them, then any interaction we have with them will be hollow and hypocritical. If we do not see the reality of the creation, we will wander into various kinds of covetousness, and we will respond to suffering and the challenges of life in a fleshly way.
When you get angry with a fellow believer, do you see their flesh or their ministry (the Christ in them)? Suppose it is your spouse or your offspring. Suppose it is a member of your local assembly. Suppose it is another Christian you have dealings with. When you get angry, it is because you see their flesh rather than who they are in Christ. You were deceived because you saw them as being the flesh. (2Cor 5:16) They have the flesh, but they are not the flesh. They are the ministry--Christ in them. That is reality. Because of this lie, you slipped into anger. If you believed the lie and would not listen to the Spirit, you continued to step across the line, perhaps speaking to yourself other lies about this person. A dandelion may grow up in your lawn and you see it just ready to go to seed. At the moment you see it, it is white, and you can't do a thing about the fact that it is there. It is there because of a seed planted in the past. That is like slipping into sin. Slipping happens so fast that you cannot stop it. However, when you step across and continue to speak to yourself or others in a way that does not discern the Body of Christ, then it is as if you grabbed this dandelion full of seeds and shook it to plant all the weed seeds in your lawn. This actually moves you from holiness to worldliness. You are a little less mature afterwards. Fortunately, if you confess your sin, God is faithful and just to forgive your sin.
To have Christ in us fully and us fully in Christ is complete fulfillment. We know that to have Christ in us, we had to be born again, not in our own way--but God's way. We have Christ in us, but we also have the old nature, the flesh in us. In the same way, we cannot be "in Christ' in our own way. God has a way, and we must do it His way. To be in Christ is to be in the Kingdom. The fleshly and worldly ways cannot co-exist with the Kingdom ways.
Human attempts at righteousness, obedience, or following God's ways are futile unless the obedience is the result of Christ in us and us in Christ. Whatever is not of faith is sin. We need to rest from our own works. (Heb 4:10) God does the work. Our own works are useless. (1Cor 3:11-15, Isaiah 64:6)
The works of which God speaks are real. He who does righteousness is righteous. (1John 3:7) There was a time when I thought that grace was somehow in conflict with works. Now, I have realized that the word, grace, means free gift. And righteousness is a free gift to us. (Rom 5:5:16, 18-21) God does the work in us. (Rom 5:3-4) We need to yield to Him. (Rom 6:13) Even our yielding is by the power of the Spirit. (Isaiah 10:27) When we try to do the work, we just frustrate the grace (free gift) of God's righteousness, which He wants to do through us. (Gal 2:21) So, we are set free from sin. (Rom 6:14) And we are set free to do righteousness, yet not us, but God. (1Cor 15:10) We need to wait for God to move in us and then yield to Him. (Gal 5:1-5) So often, we inject our self-nature into God's process. God's process for righteousness is by grace, and grace is through faith. (Eph 2:8-10)
(some caveats about hearing God's Voice)
God has a process for righteousness and He is always the first mover in the process. We can't even seek God unless God draws us. (John 6:44-45) God speaks. He speaks through Scripture. When God speaks to us and we hear it, faith comes. (Rom 10:17) But we must wait for a word from God. We can't generate or work up this word. God gives a word in season. God speaks through His people, through the gifts of the Spirit. (1Cor 12:2-3) God speaks through dreams and visions. (Num 12:6-9) God speaks through His creation. (Psa 19:2) We can refuse to hear, but we cannot generate God's voice. We must wait.
When faith comes, it gives us access to God's grace. (Rom 5:2) It is grace that does the work in us. (1Cor 15:10) We must, however, yield ourselves to His grace. (Rom 6:13)
We may have never realized just how very strait (constricted) (Luke 13:24) and narrow (Matt 7:14) that way of righteousness is. It is very narrow and constricted. If God didn't tell us to think it, say it or do it, then it is sin. It is missing the mark. If God did tell us to do it and we get our flesh involved at all, to the extent that we get our flesh involved, it is sin. Whatever thought, word, or deed that is not of faith is sin, plain and simple. (Rom 14:23)
Discerning the Body of Christ is righteousness. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth to a holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22) We are stones in the temple (Church) of which God is speaking here. (1Pet 2:5) This Church is Christ the Body. If you are in the Body of Christ, you are in Christ. There is that which is Christ (the Body) and that which is not Christ (the Body). That which is not the Church is the world. The two are in conflict and cannot be reconciled. We have things in our lives that are Christ and things that have to go that are not Christ. (Eph 4:23)
Jesus prayed that we "all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." (John 17:21) He went on to pray that we may be one, even as Jesus and the Father are one, Jesus in us and the Father in Jesus, so that we may be made perfect (totally complete) in one. We have a pretty good understanding of what it is to have Jesus in us. We know He dwells in unity with our spirits. We can see plainly that we need to have Christ in us. And we need to have Him fully formed in us. (Gal 4:19) What does Jesus mean by: "they also may be one in us." How can we be one in Jesus Christ and the Father? We desire to be found in Him. (Phil 3:9) We press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (verse 14) We are to grow up into Christ. (Eph 4:15) We are sanctified in Christ Jesus. (1Cor 1:2) We pray that we don't remain babes in Christ. (1Cor 3:1) If we die, we join the dead in Christ. (1Cor 15:18) All these groups can be in Christ. We can clearly see that we are to have Christ increasingly in us and we are to be increasingly in Him. We cannot do this, but God can do it in us. The completeness of this redemption is beyond our ability to comprehend.
Every member of the Body of Christ is a ministry and has a ministry. The ministry is not the person after the flesh, but it is the Christ in the person. To reject a member of the Body of Christ is to reject Christ. When there is division in the Church, the members are obeying their own fleshly nature rather than Christ. It is sin to fail to discern the Body of Christ. (1Cor 11:29) Some say that they are in God's will, but they follow a man, an organization, a personality. Some even say they following Christ and will obey no one who has been set by God to oversee the Church. They are not discerning the ministries and offices that God has set in the Church. (1Cor 1:12) No one can follow Christ without discerning Him in His Body.
When you do see Him, then you become like Him. (1 John 3:2) When you see Him in your brother's and sister's ministry and office, then you go from glory to glory. (2Cor 3:18) Then, you can let your light shine before men and they will see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matt 5:16) You can only see Him by grace through faith as described already. It is Christ in you Who does the seeing. As you yield over time, your spiritual vision gets better. (Heb 5:13-14)
You look into the royal law of liberty, and you see reality. (James 2:8) You see the Kingdom of God. (James 1:23) When you see yourself, what do you see? You need to see reality. In reality, you are a new creature, created in righteousness. (1Cor 5:17) Do you think that the Christ in you can sin? Of course not. (1 John 3:9) Jesus is that spiritual man. (1John 3:5) Jesus is the ministry within you, and He does not sin, but your flesh does not see Christ nor does it know Him. (1John 3:6) Your flesh is of the devil and cannot do righteousness ever. (1John 3:8) The flesh is not born again and cannot be reformed, and we must die to the flesh. (1John 3:9, Rom 8:13) So make no provision for the flesh. (Rom 13:14)
If we see ourselves in the royal law of liberty, we realize that we are joined to our brother and sister in Christ, that we are part of the same person. We know that we have no meaning or purpose outside the Body of Christ. If I had a machine that would keep my finger alive outside of my body and I separated my finger from my body, that finger would not have a purpose. That is how we are without the Body. When we see reality, we realize that we have no purpose if we are in disorder or not functioning properly in the exact ministry to which we were called. That would be as if I were able to connect my finger to my forehead. It would not only look strange, but it would be useless. This type of uselessness can develop in Christian lives. This is what happens when there are disorders in a local assembly. It happens when a member tries to emulate someone else's gift, ministry, or office. There are many false prophets and false apostles who lay hands on people and prophesy lies over them, making them useless to the Body of Christ through their lying spirits. When the Church is divided and separated from those who have been called as the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:19-22), they are like a part of the Body, perhaps and arm or a leg, consisting of many members, who have been cut off from the headship and the covering that exist in the true Body of Christ.
Here, we may have to deal with the lies of the ungodly counselors. In the New Age religions and in the Positive Mental Attitude counselors, there is a teaching about self-talk. They teach their adherents to speak to themselves in positive terms. "I feel great!" "I am the best at what I do!" This does plant seeds into the garden of the heart, but these sayings are not by the Spirit of God. To hear God's voice, we must listen to God. When we generate our own voices or speak a vision out of our own hearts we try to do the work of God by the human spirit. We can lean to be a hypocrite this way, but we cannot come into the manifestation of the sons of God. It is the planting of counterfeit weed seeds that look a lot like the real thing but are fake. These ways are more similar to magic and witchcraft than to the functioning of the Body of Christ. The flesh cannot be reformed. It must die. The Christ must be built to the fullness. This is done by preparing the soil and planting seed from God.
We may wonder why, if we have been crucified with Christ, the flesh has any influence on us at all. It seems that crucifixion is a slow death. The self, fleshly nature, is on the cross to be sure. It is fighting for its very life. It is deceitful beyond measure and is motivated by self-preservation. It will continue to try to deceive us until it is totally dead. Before we were born again, we had no choice but to do the will of Satan. We were free from the righteousness of God and slaves of Satan. No person who is not born again can do righteousness. They can do works that look like righteousness, but they are hypocritical works. They can only be self-righteous. The only righteousness that is real is that righteousness that God does through us by His Grace, which is through His faith.
When we are born again, we should know that we are two people. We have Christ in us. He has become our true identity. We also have the fleshly nature, the old Adam. He has to die. There is not middle-point of agreement between these two separate entities. When the flesh tempts us, that is not us tempting ourselves. We no longer identify or make provision for the flesh. That is the enemy of our souls that is tempting us.
When you are tempted, you may slip across into sin. (Eph 4:26) Temper, lust, covetousness, or disrespect may involuntarily spring forth. (1John 1:10) You may slip, but you do not need to step across into willful sin, sowing evil seed in your heart and the heart of others. The tongue may step across by saying what should not be said. Have you had that happen? When your tongue does this, it is able to lead your whole body into sin. (James 3:2,5-9) When your natural mind tries to lead you into sin, you must not listen to it but turn instead to God. Look into the royal law of liberty and remember who you are. Discern that you are a member of the Body of Christ. In reality, you have no identity outside of that Body. Identify with the Christ in you, not your flesh. (Rom 7:16-20) You do not need to step across in willful disobedience to God. (Heb. 10:26-27) If we see ourselves and others after the flesh, then we will be led by the flesh into sin. (2Cor 5:16) Should we step across into willful sin, we have suffered loss and must confess our sin before Jesus, and He forgives our sin. (1 John 1:9) When we feel bitterness well up, it is from evil seed that was previously planted. (Heb 12:15) Look into the royal law and remember that this is the flesh trying to direct you. (James 2:8) You owe the flesh nothing. (Rom 8:12) The Spirit gives life. (James 8:13) You are not the flesh but the inner spiritual man. (Rom 8:9, Eph 3:16) Turn away from the flesh and look to Jesus. (Heb 2:9) Let the Holy Spirit flood into your heart. (Rom 1:4) Let the love of God be shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost. (Rom 5:5) Don't try to use the natural mind to control your temper for the flesh profits nothing. (John 6:63) The ministry, the Christ, within you will deliver you. (2Tim 1:9) Listen for His voice and reject the voice of your flesh. (Heb 4:6-11)
For those who cannot be submissive to God's faith and grace, God allows them to go into a lesser calling than to be part of the firstfruits company and take part in the first resurrection. (Rom 8:23, Rev 20:5-6) Perhaps they join an organization that does not follow God's pattern. Perhaps they just break fellowship with all believers. God is always seeking to bless, and He will continue to bless them. Though they might be building with wood, hay, and stubble, yet they will still be saved. It's just that their human-generated works will all be burned up. (1Cor 3:9-15)
Unity is righteousness. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting [total equipping] of the saints [Christians], for the work of the ministry [service], for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [mature or complete] man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:" (Eph 4:11-13) God has provided a way that we can be equipped for our place of ministry in the Body of Christ. Being so equipped, we can build up the entire Body of Christ. This building up leads to a unity, and such an amazing unity it is.
This function of the Body of Christ in ministry has nothing to do with entertainment or stimulation of the intellect. There are many skilled communicators devoid of the Spirit or operating in man-made forms, rituals, and orders. The Temple must be built according to the pattern. Some poor lost soul thought that rock music could be used for ministry. Another thought that human emotion was the Holy Spirit. These are all substitutes for the Holy Anointing Oil, the Holy Spirit. True ministry is the flow of that Anointing from member to member. The ministry is from the Christ in one member to the Christ in the other. It assembles the Body together.
This is God's process, and it does not happen by human effort. We cannot strain to yield. We must let God do the work in us. When we fail, we get up and walk again. When our brother or sister misses the target, we help them to get up and walk again. We restore them. If one walks away from God, we look to God for how to bring them back, but we only do that which He sends us to do. Whatever is not of faith is sin. The only thing that we can bring to this process is submission, and even our submission is a gift of God.
Those who have tried to set up their own kingdoms have failed because they went out from the Body of Christ. They went out from those ministries who were established by God. Some have even tried to call themselves or others to be apostles to try to simulate a scriptural order, and they have failed. The word, apostle, means: one sent, sent by God. Only God could have re-established this order to the Church. Only by re-establishing this order of apostles could God restore the office of local elders and deacons in all the local churches. "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" Without this foundation, the Body of Christ, the Church, the Holy Temple, can only experience a small measure of the glory that God has for her. The members of the Body would only be able to experience a small measure of what it is to be in Christ.
God's Church is both the method by which the saints will enter in to manifestation of the sons of God, and it also IS the manifestation of the sons of God. (1Cor 12:7, Rom 8:18-23) God's Church is both the method by which the saints will enter in to the Kingdom of God, and it also IS the Kingdom of God. (Eph 3:10, Mark 9:1-7, Matthew 10:7, Luke 11:20) The Kingdom of God exists wherever King Jesus is reigning and His people are in obedient submission. (Luke 17:21)This Church is the Sabbath rest. (Eph 2:6) We rest from our own works--a good thing since our righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isa 64:4-9) God does the work. We cannot establish our own righteousness. (Romans 10:3) The Church is the New Jerusalem and it is Zion. (Heb 12:22) The heart of man has the capability of resisting the leading of God into the pattern of the Church as it is clearly laid out in Scripture. (Heb 8:5) On the other hand, the heart of man must learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in all things. (1Tim 4:8)
Last updated: Jan, 2014
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