I have to give props to my family and friends for listening to me over and over again …letting my mind go in all directions through out God’s word with a topic and giving me feedback. This has taken me weeks to process. I say this because this may take you time to process or you might just say I have known this all along but I didn’t know how to explain it.
It all started with a friend texting me giving me a scripture and saying if you don’t have some major revelation about this…..and so it began. Not with that particular scripture but about behavior, about words, about many things. For some reason I have not been able to set this aside. I think it is because I am getting down to the nitty gritty of a core belief within me and how I choose to see God and live. Let’s look at that tree again:
My roots are planted in the soil of “Living Water”, Who is Jesus. He feeds me. He is my life and He has chosen to live in me through His Holy Spirit. This is a fact I rest in. When I rest in this fact everything flows out of me in peace, wholeness. I have peace in the midst of my storms or the midst of clear skies. There is an opposite belief system that believes Christ is with you and there to help you only when you have been obedient to Him. This is the core belief system of: “if I then God”. This belief system is opposite of the “God has done it all for me/Christ in Me belief”. When we believe we must keep God happy with us to keep him near you then being “with Christ” becomes dependent on your behavior alone. This same thinking was being taught in Colosse all those years ago. Here is a brief synopsis of the reason why Paul wrote the letter to Colosse from the “New Spirit Filled Life Bible”:
“Colossians was written by Paul during his first imprisonment. “Epaphras solicited his (Paul) help in dealing with false teaching that threatened the church at Colosse. This heresy was apparently a syncretism of Greek philosophy, Jewish legalism and mysticism. The error resembles an early form of Gnosticism, which taught that Jesus was not fully God and fully man, but merely one of the semi divine beings that bridged the chasm between God and the world….Enlightened believers however, achieve spiritual fullness through special knowledge and rigorous self-discipline.“
When we begin to feel we must perform for God we begin to work for our own salvation, to please God, to keep God loving us and not punishing us just like the Israelites did when they lived under the law. Under the Old Covenant the Jews were expected to hold up their part of the bargain. Their behavior was supposed to be exemplary and yet it wasn’t. Neither is ours. The law can not make people act right. Here in Romans 7:14-8:7, Paul explains:
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
Paul is letting us know something important here. “The requirement for the law (Christ’s being sent as an offering for sin) has been fulfilled in us (through Christ), who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Holy Spirit).” It is important to note what flesh means. Here is a direct quote taken from biblehub.com:
4651 sárks properly, flesh (“carnal”), merely of human origin or empowerment.
[4561/sárks (“flesh”) is not always evil in Scripture. Indeed, it is used positively in relation to sexual intercourse in marriage (Eph 5:31) – as well as for the sinless human body of Jesus (Jn 1:14; 1 Jn 4:2,3). Indeed, flesh (what is physical) is necessary for the body to live out the faith the Lord works in (Gal 2:20).]
4561 (sarks) is generally negative, referring to making decisions (actions) according to self – i.e. done apart from faith (independent from God’s inworking). Thus what is “of the flesh (carnal)” is by definition displeasing to the Lord – even things that seem “respectable!” In short, flesh generally relates to unaided human effort, i.e. decisions (actions) that originate from self or are empowered by self. This is carnal (“of the flesh“) and proceeds out of the untouched(unchanged) part of us – i.e. what is not transformed by God.
Even respectable things we do apart from faith (belief, trust) is fleshly. I walked with Christ for many years relying on laws and rules to follow to make sure I pleased God. I was taught and thought my “good behavior” is what would please God; but it isn’t. Here is how Romans 8:8 finishes the sentence above after the comma:
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Those that are existing in “human empowerment” cannot meet the expectation of God. We, in our humanity, can not please God. I tried for years to please God with Christ. I believed He was in me but I thought I had to somehow of my own accord behave a certain way to make God love me still, to make sure God didn’t turn away from me in disgust, to make sure He would be happy and well pleased with me. Now, I understand Christ is IN me and it is His working, not mine, that meets God’s expectation. That no matter what I do “wrong or right” or what I don’t do “right or wrong” God still loves me, doesn’t turn away from me, is well pleased with me because I simply have accepted His free gift through His Son and have been given His Holy Spirit to come in me. God condemned sin on His own Son so that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled for me. We make it all about behavior and yes behavior or better yet–choices are important. They make an impact on your life and others lives. Let’s go back to the book of Colossians. The people there had false teachers come in and tell them that Christ no longer met their needs. These teachers were saying Jesus was not Divinity coming to earth. The entirety of Jesus coming to earth was to take care of what Adam did thousands of years ago. If He wasn’t Divine then….we still must do this on our own. We must find a way to God ourselves. We must make ourselves holy and be good enough. This way of thinking is directly opposite of Christ. Remember I wrote Spirit of ??? and how walking in our own empowerment is directly opposing Christ and what He came to do and did. Paul makes a statement that he will boast about his weaknesses; because God’s power is perfected in us when we are weak (2 Corinthians 9-11). I do not see much honesty or weakness (without strength) being paraded around in the church (especially from leaders) lately because I don’t believe they believe His GRACE is sufficient. This is where we live from the inside out knowing we “all fall short of the glory of God”. With honesty would come so much freedom as we rely on His Strength. See the world believes they must hide who they are and choices they have made so they can “look better” to the world. I see this still in the church too. We are not to conform to the world, we will get to the rest of this scripture in a moment. What happens though in the church is judgment of the outside of the cup, just like the world. We look at people and if they are not doing what we are doing or acting how we think they should be acting then we assume their heart or their inside isn’t “good” or won’t make it to heaven or they don’t have Jesus. This is judging by the worlds eye and not the Spirits. We are also told by Paul in his second letter to Corinth, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (5:16-17). Let’s break this down a little:
‘Because we have been awakened by Christ we no longer look and see no one according to unaided human effort; even though we have realized Christ by way of unaided human effort, yet now/presently we no longer realize Him in this way. Which means if anyone is in the condition in which Christ operates from the inside he is new, fresh (not found exactly like this before) creature of Divine work; the ancient/original/primitive has been rendered void; see with the mind (spiritually see or perceive) the transitioning from one condition to another new/fresh one.’
Again back to Colossians, Paul began the first two Chapters of his letter to Colosse by making it clear Who Jesus is and all that He had done for the whole world for all time. He left off in Chapter 2 with this statement and question:
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of MEN? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of NO VALUE against the indulgence of the flesh.” 2:20-23
Our own works will not change us. Our human nature is to try to fix ourselves and we all have areas of fear in ourselves which just simply means it isn’t an area we have faith yet. Remember God starts us all with a little faith as small as a mustard seed and then He grows that faith, working things out in us and for us. This happens when we rest in what He has done and not on what we are or are not doing: Because we are transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). We are changed after we spend time with the Lover of our Soul meeting at the kissing ground between bride and Bridegroom causing a new development; a renewal, achieved by God’s power within the mind (God-given capacity of each person to think(reason); mental capacity to exercise reflective thinking. For the believer, the mind (3563 (noús)) is the organ of receiving God’s thoughts, through faith.). This is absolutely amazing and exactly what He does for each and every believer.
In Christ we are a brand new, a never seen before creation of Divine Work. Emphasis on Divine. Paul is telling the Colossians how these false teachers think we, in our flesh, need to try to deal with things because Christ didn’t. Many in the church today are teaching these same philosophies. This is worldly thinking not heavenly thinking. With worldly thinking when we read Colossians 3 and 4 we think, “Oh, we had better behave right otherwise God is not going to be pleased with us.” But we have now dispensed of that thought and understand that God is truly pleased when we do not rely on our own empowerment. With this fresh perspective you will see that much of what Paul was talking about to Colosse was the same thing he had been writing in his other letters.
Digging into the Greek from the words found in Colossians 3:1-13::
- “Therefore put to death” really means: “Regard as dead” It is not you putting to death your old self; but you believing or regarding your old self is dead because of Jesus Christ’s actions.
- ”Put off” means: “Established away from a place” Christ established the away from place where your old self is dead. He made a way for a new creation.
- “Anger” violent emotion, actions emerging out of strong impulses, expressed passion. This word can also describe God; but when it is describing God it is directed towards sin and has no sin. I believe when a believer gets angry towards sin it is the Holy Spirit within us.
- ”Spite” underlying principle of evil (inherent evil) which is present, even if not outwardly expressed.
- ”Blasphemy” Slow to call out was is truly good or what is truly bad, switches right for wrong, truth of God for a lie.
- “Do not lie to one another” This is living from the inside out. Not being afraid in a safe place to be real and honest about what is going on inside of you. To be able to process and be loved right where you are at. This is the Body of Christ. That we won’t be judged by our behavior but will be listened to and loved through the process of coming to terms with what has happened to us in life.
- ”Renewed in the knowledge according to the image of Him who created us” This is beautiful because it means we are going from glory to glory. We are now a new creation created by the ONLY ONE that can create something from nothing, God. This is a belief not a decision to change our behavior. The belief comes first and the change happens with the Father, the only one who can create something out of nothing.
- “Put on” is also a beautiful word. It literally means sinking into a garment which was not there before. Sinking is such a better word because it is without effort. You simply relax and sink. AMAZING!
- ”Heart” this is the seat of our feelings, where decisions are made from and where the Holy Spirit dwells.
- ”Kindness” DIVINE kindness.
- ”Humility” INSIDE OUT virtue, comparing ourselves to DIVINE Jesus and NOT OTHERS. Humble opinion of ourselves. We all fall short of the glory of God.
- ”Meekness” DIVINE origin of power with gentle force (wise as a serpent gentle as a dove)
- ”Long suffering” DIVINE regulated patience only the Lord produces.
The church has done a great disservice to people as they have stood and doled out the message “good behavior” and “bad behavior” for years upon years. Making it about behavior instead of faith. It has gotten so suffocating that we have droves of youth who don’t want to be there because, I believe, they feel they can never live up to the conditions that the church is teaching that they say God requires. This is a sad state and is the very form of syncretism of Greek philosophy, Jewish legalism and mysticism that Paul was trying to speak against. The self imposed religion, false humility and neglect of the body which are from the commandments and doctrines of men is what I believe is chasing people away from God. Instead we should be teaching the truth:
‘Regard your old self as dead for Christ has put away those things that were part of your sin nature. Live from the inside out (honesty). You are renewed in the knowledge according to the image of Christ, sink into this new amazing garment which contains: divine kindness, divine humility, divine power with gentle force and divine regulated patience made just for your heart.’
This is where we find rest and live in Christ. Heavenly thinking says God the Father sent His only Beloved Son to be the propitiation for all of our sin. He offered His Life in our place. His Son did all the work so we could have a relationship with God inside us. He did all the work so we wouldn’t have to. Have you ever heard it said: Don’t taste, Don’t touch, Don’t do this or do that, Have you prayed enough, Are you prayed up, these appear wise and good on the outside. God though is truly much more interested on the inside metamorphosis (transformation) by His Divine Hand. But, why are we to regard ourselves as a new creation and why is He interested in our insides? The answers follow in each of these scriptures (in order: 2 Cor 5:18 and Romans 12:2 with added understanding from the Greek):
“God, the One, restored us to Himself by Christ (the Anointed One) and gave (because of His exchange) the Spirit empowered service which is guided by faith to make known the Restoration to Favor-How the Anointed One exchanged His Righteousness for our guilt.”
“Resulting in demonstrating by you what is the good and preferred and end goal of God’s will. “ The word end goal translated as perfect in most texts is best illustrated by a pirate’s telescope. The pirate’s telescope,as it is pulled out, gives a better and clearer picture. God sees His sending His Son as His perfect end result for our reconciliation to Him.
It is not about our behavior but about our belief, God’s desire and end goal was to and is to restore humanity to Him. We have this treasure in earthen vessels; so the credit will go to Him. Maybe the church needs to present the unconditional love our Heavenly Father has for the world instead of worldly wisdom that says we must perform and meet these requirements for God to love us. I believe what people are really searching for is unconditional love and the only place that will be perfectly found is with their Heavenly Father. Faith, hope and love but the greatest is LOVE. When the church presents the truth instead of worldly wisdom droves of people will want to hear this Good News…YES THERE IS SOMEONE WHO LOVES YOU UNCONDITIONALLY and He wants such a close relationship with you He comes to live in you FOREVER. This truth of unconditional love transforms and renews. Remember the outside doesn’t make us holy; Who is in us makes us holy. ⭐