Jas 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
We cannot be found adding to or subtracting from the Word so that it suits our thoughts, or our so called discoveries, or what we can see with our eyes. Paul marvels that the Galatians were so soon removed from the simplicity of Christ, by adding to the message and thus cluttering and complicating God's pure Word.
When we add to the Word of God, we dilute it and we lose the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot compromise the work of the cross by patronizing Jesus’ death, saying it was wonderful, but by our teaching, praying and believing we are saying it wasn’t enough for today’s problems. We say we need extra knowledge, medications, counseling, therapy, and all the while people are still struggling with their problems. Deliverance and healing has already been accomplished through the cross.
We think we need more or different power than what the Holy Spirit brings. We patronize Him, thinking He’s good for worship moments and the fruit of the Spirit, but to stop and wait for His power and guidance like the early church is no longer for us. We rush ahead using all our own resources and human machinery, then wonder why ministers burn out and why so little happens after so much effort. We don’t stop to hear that still small voice like Joseph heard that can interpret a dream and deliver us from the prison, and take us to the throne, transforming the prosperity of a nation in a day!
We must look into the perfect law of liberty and not forget who we are, accepting the transformation it promises. We cannot afford to forget who we are! James says that the believer who does not suffer amnesia, does not forget who they are, but continues in the perfect law of liberty will be blessed in what he does.
Who Do You Think You Are?
The Apostle Paul tells us we are God's workmanship (Eph 2:10).
We are God’s work of Art.
Vines expository Dictionary of New Testament words tells us this is where the English word 'poem' comes from. It means something that is 'made'. We are God's creations. The Creator has created. People are His highest act of creation. We are His masterpiece. He took clay and made a masterpiece. The devil, thrown out of heaven and rejected forever by the Creator despises all that He has made, especially those that bear the same image. The devil is relentless in seeking to destroy the image of God in the Earth. Sickness, sin, rebellion, tragedy, anything that will kill, steal or destroy this masterpiece is the design of darkness. The enemy of a great artist has entered the gallery. He has attacked it with graffiti, bats, knives, fire, anything to destroy the work of the artist.
When it was decided to clean and restore the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican at Rome, amazing discoveries were made. For centuries art critics had concluded that Michelangelo had employed subdued colours because that was what God was like - muted, darkish, colourless. Yet as the restoration began, it became obvious he had actually used the brightest colours imaginable. The smoke from the candles over the centuries had discoloured the original vibrancy. Incredible!
People had developed opinions about God and the artist with complete ignorance of reality. Only as the restoration began did the artist's view of God become clear. The 'smoke' of religion over the centuries had deeply blurred the view people had of God. They imagined He was dark, subdued, muted, because His representatives were. Yet, when a restorer comes, the colours of people's lives are radically altered. They see God as He is. They see themselves as they are meant to.
When we receive Christ the restoration begins. What is the model to guide us as to what we are ultimately going to look like? Jesus! He is the restoration template. He is our restoration complete.
I John 4:17 … As He is, so are we in this world.
He heals the sick, He defeats the tempter, He walks on the water, He commands the winds and waves, He raises the dead, He makes disciples, He brings salvation, He multiplies the food, He brings blessing to people, He brings forgiveness and mercy. That's the image we are being changed into.
The basis for our new self-image is the fact that we are ‘In Christ’; we are able to reach our full potential.
We were always destined to be in Christ, not just theoretically, but actually, in Christ and clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly we are able to far exceed anything we were capable of naturally. We are catapulted into a supernatural lifestyle.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Sin, darkness and Satan have colluded to deeply blur this image of God in humankind. When we receive Christ, that image is recreated. We are born again into the Father's image. We are not just 'created'. We are born of God. We receive the spiritual genetics of the Father, of God, when we are born from above. The traits of God manifest in our makeup. When people see us they should be feeling like they are seeing reflections of God in the Earth. We do what God would do; we behave like Jesus Christ would behave. Our character reflects His.
Calvin stated, 'The image of God is the complete excellence of human nature'.
We are called the image and glory of God;
1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God;
Ephesians 4:24 …and that you put on the new man which was created according to God
When we live in the 'new man', we live in the image of God. There is a false righteousness and a false holiness. Neither reflects the image of God. The new nature reflects perfectly the true righteousness and the true holiness of the Father.
Through the fall the image of God was seriously attacked, damaged and flawed. It has been the ultimate intention of the Father ever since to restore us to the fullness of His image in this Earth.
This image we have been 'made in' is not just a distant reflection of the Almighty. Our intrinsic nature echoes the substance of God Himself.
2. You Are a New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
We have a new spiritual genetic structure, we have been "re-gene-rated"
Not a renewed person, but a brand new person. The Amplified Bible says it as 'A new species of being'.
We have a heaven and earth nature. We are spirit plus an earthly being in the same body. We do what no other creature does. We worship. Animals do not worship, yet the most ancient and untouched peoples in the world do. Making sacrifices with priests, they understand worship. This comes from the spirit of man, something God breathed into us. Something no other creature has. We create music, culture and art. Eternity is in our heart.
We are without form, waste and empty, chaotic and confused until we meet Christ. Like original creation, the Holy Spirit moves on our lightless lives. When the Word comes His power blazes through the heavens. We receive the Word of God. Our lives are transformed.
Light comes first to us, the new creation. This light is life. God divides light in us from darkness in us. Now we know the difference. We make the choice to live in the light.
The first man (Adam) was of the Earth, earthy. The second man is from Heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49 And so it is written, 'the first man Adam became a living being'. The last Adam became a life giving Spirit. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second man is the Lord from Heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of the dust, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly Man.
Adam is easily deceived. Weak and fearful he hides from God.
Jesus is truth itself, full of light, faith, love and filled with the Holy Spirit, anointed, doing good, healing all oppressed by the devil. He is undefeated in temptation, unkillable in death, complete master of circumstances. Our flesh is death dominated. It terminates after 70 or so years. The spirit man is unkillable. It is 'life-dominated'.
His image however, was always to be borne by men and women who also owned their own unique identity. This is one of the most beautiful of all the mysteries of God. Adam receives dominion over all God has created. As 'Adam' we also receive dominance over all creation.
The new creation man also receives dominion in the invisible, spiritual realm. He reigns over life, death, sickness, demons, circumstances, sin and self. Our spirit man is in the image of God.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
There's not one religious observance, not one religious ceremony, not one religious act you can do that will bring the salvation of your soul. The only thing that accomplishes the works of God is being a new creation.
What works in the New Testament is the new creation man. The new nature inherits the New Testament. The old nature would love to have the things the new nature is due to inherit but it is unqualified to obtain those things. The selfishness, doubt, fears and disobedience of the old nature prevent it from receiving the promises.
Ezekiel 36:26 'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
The new man is formed in the image of God. However, this 'new person', new man, new image is not forced upon us. We must 'put on', the new man.
Ephesians 4:24 …PUT ON the new man … created according to God…
We step into the new creation person. It's not a feeling thing, we are not founded on feelings. We are founded on the Word of God. We 'put on' dominion. We 'put on' joy. We 'put on' love. We 'put on' forgiveness. We 'put on' health. We 'put on' the new man. The new creation persona doesn't drop on us from the sky. We take the initiative, 'put on' this nature and walk in it, through our decision to do just that! So walk like an overcomer, talk like an overcomer, feel in your heart like an overcomer, be an overcomer!
3. You Are Overcomers
I John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith.
Sometimes we don’t know what we’re capable of until we are forced into a situation beyond our capacities. We will never realise how powerful Christ in us is until we are forced into situations too big for us in our own strength.
The eaglet doesn't know it can fly till falling from it's nest (pushed by its mother), it stretches wings to suddenly find itself doing something more exhilarating than it ever believed possible. It fumbles a few times, the mother catches it, but eventually it discovers the power of flight. It never discovers this incredible ability unless pushed from its nest thousands of feet above the ground.
Likewise, we'll never discover we are overcomers until we have something to overcome. The Christian life moves in the opposite direction to this world. We often find ourselves with far more challenges than we want. Yet the power of faith is released when we face difficult circumstances, when we fail, when things don't go the way they should. When life is worst we move into faith, the attitude of the over comer. We declare we're going to make it. We win. This won't bury us. We'll only go higher. We accept the fact there will be difficulties, setbacks, but that's OK because we know we'll cross the finish line in victory. We'll beat the odds. Darkness doesn't overpower us. We overcome. That's just how we are. That's how it is.
Defeat doesn't have to defeat us. Failure doesn't make us a failure.
These things happen. Everybody in life makes a mistake or fails at different times. It's part of living. What we do with those failures, and how we react to those times is the reason we will either ultimately make it to the other side or not. We overcome.
Check back next week for Part Two!
See you in church!