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Holy Spirit – Life and Death

Holy Spirit – Life and Death

I’ve been looking at the principles found in the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is in Luke 15:11-32. Today, I want to talk about one last truth found in this story.

The father is speaking to the older brother, trying to get him to rejoice over the son’s return. He makes a statement that should speak to us as believers.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Luke 15:32 NIV

According to the father, the younger son’s return was a change from death to life. That’s the same with us when we’re saved.

Your flesh cannot fellowship with God. Your spirit, because you’re now in Christ, can live in relationship with God.

We’ve seen from Paul’s writings in Romans, that the flesh can never please God. The apostle continues with this thought. However, even though I normally use the NIV, for this verse I believe that the NKJV is the more accurate translation.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Romans 8:9 NKJV

This verse simply states that everyone can access the Spirit of Christ if they’re saved. It’s not a special level of achievement only attained by a few highly spiritual people. If you are His, then you have the Spirit of Christ.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10 NIV

Here’s a statement of fact. There are two results of having the Spirit of Christ within you. The first is that if Christ is in you, then your body is dead through sin. Secondly, if Christ is in you, then your spirit is alive through righteousness.

What does Paul mean by saying that your spirit is alive? Furthermore, what does it mean to be spiritually dead? This is a concept that many people have no understanding of.

Remember back to the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam, He said that if you eat of this tree, you will surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17) Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yet their bodies didn’t stop working at that point.

That’s because in God’s terminology, death is the loss of fellowship with Him. It has nothing to do with the condition of your body.

Because of sin, communication ceases between Adam and the Lord. Humanity lost the relationship that they were created for.

The fact is, I’m going to live eternally somewhere, so death doesn’t mean my body stops working. That’s why the parable of the Prodigal Son is such a good picture of this truth.

The younger of the two sons took his inheritance and left home. Father and son were no longer able to have fellowship. When the son came to his senses, he returned home. We can see the attitude of God in the response of the father.

“This brother of yours was dead and is alive again.”

That’s how it works in our lives when we come to Christ. Even though your spirit existed before salvation, it couldn’t commune with God. That’s why believers now need to learn to communicate with God.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11 NIV

Every Christian has the Spirit of Christ living in them. Because of that fact, communication and fellowship with God is now possible. This means that the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead in us, and He will give life to our dying flesh.

That’s the bottom line. It’s the Spirit that works on our flesh, not the mind and will-power.

Question: Why is it better to rely on the Holy Spirit rather than will-power?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2022 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Prodigal Sons

The Prodigal Sons

I’ve been posting about the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke’s Gospel. What most people don’t realize, is there are actually two prodigals in this story. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

Luke 15:11-32 shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19 NIV

He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. In his young, formative years, he hated having to be told what to do. As a result, when he felt he was ready, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

But what you don’t often hear, is that the older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”

Luke 15:25-28a NIV

The older brother was incensed that the father would throw a party in honor of the younger brother’s return. He refused to be a part of the celebration. So, the father went to him. He wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to rejoice.

“But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’”
Luke 15:29 NIV

Did you hear him?

“All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons to whom he could one day entrust all of his possessions.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal. You’ll get frustrated trying to keep a set of rules you can never hope to live up to.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7 NIV

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2022 in Legalism, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Running God

The Running God

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been blogging about the parable of the Prodigal Son. We saw how he left home to get away from the rules. Now he realizes the mistake he’s made, and he wants to return home.

He even has a speech prepared.

“‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:18-20a NIV

This is the attitude of humility. We need to approach God wanting to do whatever it takes to live a life pleasing to Him. This prodigal didn’t really understand the heart of his father.

It’s much like us. We don’t fully understand the heart of God. We can’t even come close to grasping the love He has for each one of us.

Have you ever felt like God was mad at you because of some sin? Maybe you’ve been keeping away from the Lord or His people because you’re ashamed of something you’ve done. That’s not the way to go.

In this parable, the son distanced himself from his father. But then, when he hit rock bottom, he decided it was better to go home, no matter what the consequences were.

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20b

Most people agree that Jesus was telling this parable about His Heavenly Father. To review, the young man in question, took an early inheritance and blew it all on wild living. He ended up in poverty and became a servant who was feeding hogs.

Finally, he came to his senses and thought about what life was like in his father’s house. Even the servants were eating better than he was at that moment.

The young man decided to humble himself and return home. He had spent his inheritance and was now willing to simply be a one of his father’s hired servants.

He then made the long journey home. What would he find there? What would be the response of the father he had so humiliated by his leaving?

How would we write the story? A father standing, arms folded, with a stern “I told you so” written across his face. Would he listen in silence to the young man’s plea, only to say, “We’ll see how you act over the next few months.” Maybe there would be outright rejection.

We always seem to project these natural, human, responses onto our loving Father God. I’m so glad that He doesn’t treat us the way we treat each other. I’m even more thankful that He doesn’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

This young man started into his prepared speech.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

Luke 15:21-23 NIV

Because of the work Christ has done, all I need to do is start heading in His direction. It’s at that point that He runs to be with me. There’s no condemnation, no probation, and no judging. He only brings acceptance and forgiveness with Him.

Maybe you’ve done some things that you think are hard to forgive. Maybe you’ve been a long time away from God. It doesn’t matter. Return to the Lord and He’ll run to you. You can be restored in an instant because of the love of the Father.

Trust Him. He’s the God who runs.

Question: How have you experienced the love and acceptance of God the Father?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2022 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Ex-Prodigal Son

The Ex-Prodigal Son

In my last post, I started looking at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how a legalistic mindset can drive new believers to give up on their Christian walk.

At some point, we begin to realize that trying to live for the Lord on our own terms doesn’t work. The things of the world lose their appeal. We begin to long for the blessing of God.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:17-20 NIV

I want you to notice something important here. This young man misses the blessings of the father’s house. But, at the same time he still has the slave mentality.

We have to realize that thinking like a slave is a symptom of a childish mindset. Paul makes that clear in his writings.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:1 NIV

That’s a part of our spiritual growth. We all have to go through the “slave” stage. That’s when we learn the basics of growing in Christ.

Somebody disciples us in the foundational principles. They tell us we need to read the Scriptures and pray daily. We must meet together with other believers for teaching and fellowship. We need to realign our finances through the giving of tithes and offerings.

To a new believer, this seems like a list of rules. As we grow in Christ, however, we find that these disciplines actually free us to serve God at the highest level. We put the childish slave mentality behind us and begin to operate like a mature son or daughter.

Here’s an example. When I was young teen, living with my parents, one of my chores was to put out the trash each week. I did it because I was told to do it and there would be consequences if I didn’t.

I’m 65 years old now. I still put out the trash each week. Why? Because that’s what a mature person does. I want my house clean, even though there will be no punishment if I fail to do it.

That’s how we should progress in our walk with the Lord. Those things that seemed like rules at the start, should become a vital part of our mature Christian experience.

This seems to be the hardest part of our walk with God. For some reason we want to hang on to the rules of childhood.

I’m talking about the “if…then” mentality. “If I tithe, then God will bless my finances.” “If I encourage someone, then I will be encouraged.”

Think about it. That’s how we treat children. “If you clean your room, then I’ll take you out for ice cream.”

Maturity thinks in a whole new way. We understand that under the New Covenant, I receive the blessing of God simply because I’m His child and I trust Him. On the other hand, I do those things that I know to do simply because I love the Father and I want to please Him.

This is a truth that Paul had to forcefully proclaim to the Galatian church. They were very quickly falling into legalism.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Galatians 3:2-3 NIV

We must always remember that we’re walking according to the spirit. Serving Christ is not a matter of following a bunch of rules (observing the law). It’s about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and walking in harmony with that calling.

Question: How do you break the “rules mentality” in following Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You a Prodigal?

I’ve been posting about our sonship in Christ from the book of Galatians.  Paul makes it clear that this is our primary relationship with the Father.  He is looking for mature sons to represent His kingdom on earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7

One of the best illustrations that I’ve found to describe what the Lord is looking for comes from Christ Himself.  He sums up this truth in what we call the story of the Prodigal Son.

In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-52) there are actually two prodigals.  Both sons disappointed the father.  If I can understand the problem that’s put forth, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father.  Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong.  Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

The Scripture shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father.  After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19

He’d lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant.  As a result, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

The older brother had the same view of his father.  But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life.  It all came out when the younger brother returned and the father wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to celebrate.

But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’
Luke 15:29

Did you hear him?  “All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves.  Nothing was further from the truth.  The father was looking for faithful sons who he could entrust all of his possessions to.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord.  How do you see yourself?  Do you think that God wants you for a slave?  If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly.  Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave.  He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ.  To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth.  The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who’ll live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You a Prodigal Son?

DonkeyIn Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-52) there are actually two prodigals. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

The Scripture shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19

He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. As a result, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

The older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned and the father wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to celebrate.

But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’
Luke 15:29

Did you hear him?

“All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons who he could entrust all of his possessions to.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Legalism, Sonship

 

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