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Righteousness Brings Healing (Repost)

Righteousness Brings Healing (Repost)

Over the next couple of weeks or so I’ll be on vacation. While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important. Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already. If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

A number of years ago, I wrote a series on divine healing. In that series, I said that God wants to remove all sin; and sickness is a part of that package. To see that series, click here.

When God removes something, He always replaces it with something else. What’s the opposite of sin?

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

It’s clear from Scripture that the opposite of sin is righteousness. You can read all of Romans, chapters 5-6, and see how God replaced sin with His righteousness.

The fact is that I can’t be righteous on my own – it has to be a work of God’s power.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

On the cross, Christ became sin so that we might become righteousness. This is a divine truth, but how does it apply to healing? If you can grasp this it will set you free.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24

This recaps everything that we’ve been saying. Sickness is a manifestation of the sin nature. In the same way that sickness is a part of the sin package, healing is a part of our righteousness.

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Malachi 4:2

I’ve heard this verse preached in the past. Usually the preacher or teacher will transform the word sun into the word son and speak about the Son of God. Christ is the Healer, but there’s more to it than that.

In order to really lay hold of what the prophet is saying in this verse, we must understand the ancient Hebrew mindset. Think about what it looks like when the sun rises on a new day. Maybe there’s a small cloud or two in the sky.

As the light of the sun breaks forth, you see the rays of light emanating from the sun and reaching to the earth. We call these the rays of the sun or sunbeams. The ancient Israelites didn’t use this terminology. They called these rays the wings of the sun.

The prophet Malachi saw a day when the Messiah would usher in God’s righteousness. He saw it rising like the sun in all of its glory. But he saw something else that should make us rejoice.

Emanating from that righteousness, like the rays of the sun, was healing for all who came into its light. What an incredible truth to lay hold of! Healing emanates from righteousness.

Just as sickness is a part of the sin package, healing is a part of the righteousness that Christ purchased for us. Healing is not something that God decides to do or not do on a case by case basis. It was provided once and for all at the cross.

The church needs a fresh revelation of Christ the Healer. When that happens, His righteousness will bring the healing we seek.

Question: What else has Christ provided through His righteousness?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2021 in Faith, Healing, Power of God

 

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Life Patterns

Life Patterns

Have you ever bought furniture that you’ve had to assemble by yourself? I have and I even enjoy it a little.

But, I know people who hate putting things together. They say that they can never understand the directions.

The fact is that all of these things come with detailed instructions. If you can understand them AND if you follow them – step by step – you’ll end up with a beautiful piece of furniture.

I’ve also known people who ignore the instructions. They go right to work assembling things based upon the picture on the box. More often than not they end up in trouble.

So why am I talking about furniture? Because it actually has a lot to do with our Christian walk.

As we continue our study through the book of Romans, Paul is reviewing his teaching on the walk of righteousness. He wants us to know that to get the right results, we need to do it God’s way. That’s the only way to a life that’s well-pleasing to the Lord.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Paul tells his readers in this letter not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world. In many instances, life is all about conforming to a pattern. The world has a pattern of living.

There are socially accepted ways of putting your life together. As we grow and mature, we learn and incorporate these patterns into our lives. At some point we’re seen as an accepted member of the culture we’re a part of.

The challenge arises when we come to Christ. When Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior, we enter a new Kingdom. We are now part of a new culture; a new society. There must, therefore, be a new pattern to shape our lives around.

The unfortunate thing is that many believers try to serve Christ while living according to this world’s pattern. When that happens, we have a life where we see the promises God holds out to us. Yet, we never seem to lay hold of the realities. It’s a very frustrating way to live.

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:13

It all has to do with our teaching. In the modern church we tend to do more teaching on doctrines than on patterns of living. What we end up with are believers who know the teachings of Christ and the apostles, yet never experience the true culture of Christ.

That’s why Paul deals with the practicalities of the Christian life. In the first eight chapters, he tells us how to live according to the spirit. He also shows us why it’s so important to live that way.

In this chapter he’s preparing to show us what this kind of life looks like. The problem is that many believers try to do what Paul talks about in this section, without first building the pattern of a spiritual walk. That only bring frustration and failure.

We need the spiritual transformation process if we’re going to see God’s will accomplished in us. As I’ve said before, prayer in the spirit has a huge role to play in renewing and transforming our thinking.

Question: What do you think are the differences between the pattern of the world and the pattern of Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2021 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Who’s in Control?

Who’s in Control?

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s showing the differences between a law of righteousness, and that which comes by faith.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”

Romans 10:5

When it comes to trying to live righteously by keeping the law, the Bible is very clear. The person who does these things will live in them. It’s all about living in the law. James told us that if you keep it all, and miss it on one point, you’ve blown the whole thing (James 2:10).

How does the righteousness by faith describe itself?

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

Romans 10:6-8

Paul starts with what this righteousness doesn’t say. You really need to understand the Greek to get the full scope of what’s being said here.

The first thing we see is that true righteousness is a matter of the heart. What’s your heart saying? There are two parts. Your heart either wants to bring Christ down, or bring Christ up. What does that mean?

Actually, the two Greek words used for bring down and bring up are technical sailing terms. Bring down literally means to moor a ship in the harbor. Bring up means to launch a ship on its voyage.

The bottom line – It’s all about who’s in control. Too often believers act like they’re in control of the Lord. They tell Him to come or go according to their good pleasure. That’s not the God I serve.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Yes, He calls me His friend. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this is still His universe, His plan, His agenda, and His church. I’m the one who needs to get in line with what the Lord desires.

Too often we try to put God into our own little box. We think we have Him all figured out. We know what the Lord should and shouldn’t do. We know who Christ should love, and who He should pour out judgment on.

When we live like that, we’re headed toward frustration. God breaks out of the box every time. Then, we end up looking foolish.

Instead, Paul talks about what true righteousness actually says. This is what the verse says if you take out all of the “don’ts”.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “…The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

“It” is the righteousness by faith. Scripture makes it clear that the rhema word is near you – in your heart and in your mouth. He also calls it the rhema of faith. Remember that rhema speaks of the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

We know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That’s why we must spend quality time with God – praying in the spirit.

As I do that, He puts His rhema in my heart, and then it overflows from my mouth at the right time. The modern church has yet to learn to use this powerful weapon. The early church used it to turn the world upside down.

The rhema of God is a necessity. We can’t fulfill God’s plan without it.

Question: How has God’s rhema Word changed your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Zeal is not Enough

Zeal is not Enough

In our journey through the book of Romans, we now find ourselves in chapter 10. Paul is continuing to explain the place of Israel in God’s plan. However, a lot of what he says can be applied to us. He’s speaking out against self-righteousness.

He starts chapter 10 with a brief summary of what he’s been saying.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2

Here we get a look into Paul’s heart for Israel. Paul’s greatest prayer is for Israel’s salvation. That’s an important statement. The assumption is that they’re not saved. They have no spiritual exemption simply because they’re the physical seed of Abraham.

We need to take that to heart. Our children are not saved simply because they grew up in church. There are some who call themselves “Christian” merely due to the fact that they attended Sunday School throughout their childhood.

That’s not enough. Every individual has to choose to serve Jesus Christ for themselves. I’m a prime example.

I grew up in a Christian home. I was a third generation Italian Pentecostal. From my earliest recollection, I never missed church on a Sunday. My parents even took us to church when we were on vacation!

I knew all the Bible stories. I memorized all the verses I was given. I never rebelled against church. But, that wasn’t enough – I was still not saved.

There came a day when I had to make the decision for myself to serve Jesus Christ. In July of 1966 I was sent to a Christian summer camp. It was called Camp Woodhaven in West Boylston, Massachusetts.

They would have a service every night and a prayer meeting directly after it. We were in the boy’s bunkhouse. I was kneeling next to my bed. My counselor came over to me and asked if I had ever made Jesus the Lord of my life.

He then explained to me God’s plan for salvation. He tailored it to my level. That’s when I said “Yes” to Jesus Christ and my counselor led me in a prayer that forever changed my life.

Even before that day, I was zealous for God. But, as Paul says in the above verse, zeal for God is not enough. I had to know and agree to God’s plan for my life.

That’s also how it is for the Jewish people. They need to recognize and follow God’s truth. What is it that they need to recognize?

Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Romans 10:3-4

They needed to come to an understanding of God’s righteousness. It’s a righteousness that’s by faith in Him. They zealously sought to stand in their own righteousness. While at the same time refusing to put themselves under God’s righteousness.

Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking. The second verse literally says that Christ is the end of the line for the law. The law stops with Christ – He’s the focal point of everything in the Old Testament.

Think of it as a train ride. All who believe get off at this station. The station is righteousness by faith in the finished work of Christ. But, there are some who refuse to leave the train. Among them are the Jews, and some who call themselves Christians.

That’s why we need to constantly be on guard against self-righteous legalism in our lives. It can destroy our walk with God. We need to be aware of God’s work in us – the only way to true righteousness.

Question: How did you choose to follow Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, The Gospel

 

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Pursuing By Faith

Pursuing By Faith

Going through Romans, Paul has been talking about the place of Israel in the plan of God. He has been using Old Testament prophecies to explain it.

It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

Romans 9:29

Here Paul quotes another prophecy from Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9). This verse tells us that Israel is not totally gone. There remains a seed. This seed was protected by God. And, from what I can see through history, they remain protected.

So in talking about the Jewish people, they have a special place in God’s heart and in Paul’s as well.

However, their salvation is the same as ours. It can only be through faith in Christ. Right now, their calling and ours is the same. We are called to salvation in Christ, then, we submit to the Holy Spirit to as He brings us to mature sonship.

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.

Romans 9:30-31

Now Paul summarizes what he said so far. The Gentiles did not pursue righteousness, yet, when given the chance, they eagerly seized and possessed it. But what kind of righteousness is it? It’s a righteousness that has its origin in faith.

Israel, on the other hand, pursued a law of righteousness, yet never arrived at it. The Gentiles grabbed righteousness as it was springing out of their faith. But, if you chase it by law, you can never catch it.

Here’s the reason…

Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:32-33

Their righteousness was not coming from faith. They were pursuing as if it could spring up from their works.

This is also a problem many Christians have. We expect the blessings of God to spring from our works. If I just try harder, then God will notice my efforts and reward them.

That’s what tripped them and it trips us as well. It’s what Paul refers to as the stumbling stone.

In Paul’s quote of Isaiah, he actually uses two verses (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16) The first gives us an interesting word picture. He literally says that it’s a stone of stumbling and a rock of trapping.

The picture of a trap is of a bent tree with a rope trap. The rock holds the tree down until the trap is sprung.

The second verse deals with a perfect foundation stone. I believe that Paul put these two Old Testament verses together by the Holy Spirit. He’s actually giving us three choices.

It could be a little rock that causes you to trip and fall, making you embarrassed. Or, it could be a large rock that traps you and you’re hanging upside down, again embarrassed. Finally, it could be a foundation stone that you stand on, secure, and never put to shame.

The real question before us is; what is he talking about? It’s all about pursuing a righteousness that originates in faith. That’s the only way to please God.

Any other way brings shame and disappointment. When I try to please God with my own efforts, I end up frustrated and without hope. I have to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in my life.

Question: How have you tried to serve God in your own strength?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

In my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we’ve been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We’re placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We’ve also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes when we fail to understand that there’s a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It’s the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk. That’s what Paul is dealing with throughout the book of Romans. This is why I feel the importance of understanding this book.

It’s because of this that I had to clarify the concepts of adoption, sonship, spiritual position, and daily walk. Knowing these foundational issues are crucial as we go forward with the Apostle Paul’s teaching.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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A Testimony of God’s Work

A Testimony of God’s Work

As we continue through the book of Romans, I’ve been talking about the spiritual walk. As we pray in the spirit, we’re affecting the natural. We looked at a few verses that tell us that it’s through the spirit that we overcome the flesh.

There are those who spend their entire lifetime trying to master the fruit of the spirit by their own strength and will power. I’ve found that those who are able to do this are easy to spot. The older they get, the deeper the frown etched on their faces.

They’re quick to tell you how hard it is to stay committed to the Lord. Doing this work on your own is very detrimental to your joy and I don’t recommend it for long periods of time.

Another observation actually had me upset at God for a long time until I understood what was really going on in the spiritual realm. The problem is that sometimes we have an experience in God and try to explain it based upon our observances instead of searching the Word. I’m thinking specifically about my grandparents, who were the first in our family to receive Christ.

Back when they first immigrated to America from Italy, they were rough, unlearned people. At that point, an evangelist came from Chicago to Boston to bring the Gospel to the Italian community. That’s when my grandparents heard the Good News and submitted their hearts to Christ. The church I grew up in was the Italian Pentecostal Church that grew from that evangelist’s work.

Growing up, I heard all the stories of how God moved in those days. I heard about the power, the healings, and the miracles. I learned all about the righteous lives that these “old folks” lived. Their conversion became legendary.

“If we would only live like they did…”

This is why I was upset at God. I was told that when they were saved, they were really saved. Their lives were changed instantly. There was suddenly no more profanity, stealing, or fits of rage. They began walking in love, joy, peace and the rest of the gifts.

I knew my grandparents well enough to know that what was said about their lifestyle was true. They lived close to God. They loved like Jesus did. They evangelized everyone they met.

That’s what upset me. I felt that I had been short changed in my salvation experience. I wanted to know why I was still wrestling with my sin. Why did their lives change so radically, and mine seemed to be a never ending process?

What I was taught about this did little to help me. I was told that God just works differently in different people. Some people He cleans up in an instant and in others the Lord takes His time. I just resigned myself to the belief that I was one of those that would take a long time to see the changes occur in my life. All this, because we based our theology on observation rather than the Word of God.

Here’s what actually happened to my grandparents, based on what we’ve just learned from the Scripture. When they heard the Good News of the Savior, they submitted to His Lordship in faith. They were saved and immediately baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of their prayer language.

Then they began to attend meetings on almost every day of the week. Some of these were services and some were prayer meetings. Here’s the key. No matter what kind of meeting it was, they always spent hours praying in the spirit.

I know from watching her, that my grandmother prayed hours a day. By observation, people saw that when someone was saved and baptized in the Spirit, their life changed. It seemed to be instantaneous.

But looking back, I can see through the filter of the Scriptures, what really changed their lives was that they spent hours a week praying in the Holy Spirit. There was not one particular work of holiness – it was the ongoing process of putting to death the misdeeds of the body through prayer in the spirit.

Then, over the course of time, the prayer meetings stopped being attended by the next generation. Instead of using the power of the Spirit, they learned to serve God using will power alone. Holiness became a thing of the past, “the stuff of legends”.

We just looked back and said, “Those old Italians knew how to serve God.” What they learned was that power was only accessed in that secret place of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. This is how we must receive the power as well. To the extent that we worship God in His language, at His level, we will experience His power.

At one point the Lord impressed us to start having a prayer meeting only for prayer in the spirit. We met for one hour a week to pray in our heavenly language. During that time I observed that people who spent even moderate amounts of time praying in the spirit started to change at an incredible rate.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…
Romans 8:6

The good news is that you don’t have to know how it works for it to affect you. But, you do have to walk in it for the effects to be realized. Don’t just use the gift of the heavenly language as a once in a while plaything. It’s the access key to the release of the power of God in your life. You should use this gift daily. If you choose to do this, your life will never be the same.

Question: How have you seen the effects of praying in the spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Planting in the Spirit

Planting in the Spirit

I’ve been taking a few posts to talk about setting our minds on the things of the spirit. Paul told us that was the key to overcoming the desires of the flesh.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

I ended the last post by showing that our New Covenant ministry brings life and righteousness. That is, if we minister this life-giving covenant correctly. How exactly does it bring bring about God’s righteousness in us?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

It comes by spending intimate time with the Holy Spirit. It’s by the Spirit that we’re transformed. That’s the point I’ve been consistently trying to make. Our strength and will-power have nothing to do with it.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Galatians 5:16-18

Don’t turn this around like so many self-righteous believers do.

“If you can stop gratifying the flesh, you will be walking in the spirit.”

Absolutely not!!! The Pharisees were not anywhere near walking in the spirit. Yet, they had an almost perfect track record in regards to outward sin.

Legalism is not the answer. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount don’t change you. It’s living by the spirit that brings righteousness.

According to this verse, if you “spirit-walk” you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. What is this spirit-walk? Obviously it doesn’t involve my flesh or my mind.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:14

Do you really hear what this verse says? When my spirit prays, my mind bears no fruit. And, for sure, my flesh bears no fruit.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

The Bible is clear; you reap what you sow. Actually, the original Greek does not have the words, please, in it. It tells us that if you sow to your flesh, you reap destruction from your flesh.

If, on the other hand, you sow to your spirit, you reap eternal, perpetual life.

How do I reap perpetual life? By sowing into my spirit. I believe that’s talking about prayer in the spirit. It’s my spirit praying and bringing me into God’s presence. That’s how I sow into my spirit.

This is made abundantly clear if you read Galatians 5:19-23. In that passage you can clearly see the difference between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. I believe that prayer in the spirit is the key to seeing this fruit in our lives.

Question: How much of the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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It Starts in the Mind

It Starts in the Mind

We’re continuing our study through Romans. Paul is explaining how to apply the victory God’s given us over the flesh. Following a set of rules is not enough.

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

Once again Paul repeats the fact that the law was powerless because it was weak through the flesh. Now for the Good News. The Son of God came resembling sinful flesh. Christ may have looked like a normal human being, but His flesh had no sin nature.

By His life, the Lord pronounced a sentence against sin in the flesh. He did this for a reason. So that the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled, completed in us. So, is this righteousness totally completed in all of us? Not exactly.

Paul qualifies it by saying that righteousness is only fully completed in those who don’t walk after the flesh, but who walk after the spirit.

We need to understand that Paul isn’t talking about the position of righteousness here. Anyone in Christ is righteous in the eyes of God. Many people are confused over this point. This position of righteousness gives us total access into God’s presence.

There is, however, another level to righteousness. That’s the walk of righteousness. This is what Paul is referring to.

He tells us that we can’t attain to a fully completed walk of righteousness by working with the flesh. Trying to follow a set of rules – right and wrong, good and evil. This doesn’t work.

The only road to victory is by cultivating our spiritual walk. This includes things like prayer in the spirit and renewing the inner man. The fact is, that if you cultivate the spirit walk, God will never hold you accountable for the written law.

Paul goes on to explain further.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

Simply put, if you’re all about concentrating on the flesh, then your life is flesh driven. If, on the other hand, you direct your mind toward the spirit, you’re cultivating a spiritual walk.

So, in essence, it all starts with the mind. This is the key and I want to go into this in more detail. But, to do so we need to understand how the Apostle Paul viewed himself.

As I’ve said before, many people erroneously think that Paul was always falling into sin. They base that on some of the things he said in chapter 7. They miss the fact that he was merely speaking from a baby Christian’s perspective.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Paul definitely sees himself as a spiritual adult. To get there, he had to progress like anyone else. That means he had to go through infant-hood, childhood, and adolescence.

There are no free rides in the body of Christ. Paul is perfectly suited to show us the road to maturity. He actually writes about it in many of his letters. In my next post, I want to look at Paul’s description of this spiritual journey.

Question: Why is our mindset so important in the Christian walk?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Weakness of the Flesh

The Weakness of the Flesh

We’re continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s bringing them, step by step, through the process of salvation, from sinner to a deep spiritual walk.

At this point he’s dealing with the possibility that although Christ set you free from slavery to sin, you can still sin voluntarily.

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

Romans 6:19

This is a very important verse in understanding our problem with sin. Paul is talking on the human level about the choices we make.

The phrase, natural selves, is really the word, flesh or sarx in the Greek language. He makes it clear that our flesh is our weakness. This begins a new level of teaching at this point in his letter.

So far, Paul has been talking about our body or soma in the Greek. There’s a distinction between these two concepts – body and flesh. In the battle against sin, our flesh is the area of our weakness.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Galatians 5:16-17

As in Romans, the phrase sinful nature is the word flesh in this verse. The flesh is the nature and will of the body. It is contrary to everything God wants for you. That’s our greatest weakness.

So in the pages of Scripture, the term, flesh, refers to the wants and desires of the body. That’s why Paul has referred to it as the body of death.

Getting back to Romans, chapter 6, Paul says that our new life should be the same as our old life. The only difference is who we’re offering our body to as a slave.

Exactly like you offered up your members to serve impurity, going from lawlessness to lawlessness, now offer them to righteousness.

We find that once we take first step, it’s easier to take second. So I must offer up my members as servants of righteousness. That will lead me toward holiness and deeper into a walk of righteousness. The fact is that I can force my body to obey God even if my flesh doesn’t want to.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:20-23

Now Paul asks another question. Looking back, what fruit did you hold by the things you’re now ashamed of? At that time in your life the point you were aiming at was death.

Now you’re liberated from the reign of sin. You can be a voluntary servant of God. Now the fruit that you produce leads you toward holiness. More than that, your life is now aimed at a perpetual, forever-life.

In the last verse, Paul summarizes what he’s said so far. The wages paid by sin are death. Please understand, wages are not paid immediately. On the other hand, God’s gift is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Question: What are the difficulties in voluntarily serving God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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