Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P44 (07-28-20)
Do we, you and I, really grasp God’s love for us? That is what God’s power is for, to know the depth, height, width, and breadth of this love God has for us. When we face trials and tribulations, and we will, do we doubt that God loves us? That is where this truth that God has stored in our hearts comes alive in faith. When we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, then those trials and tribulations are seen as but light and momentary, forming in us attitudes of heart far greater that can never be taken from us. See, we come to the depths of understanding that Christ really is our life.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
When you think of the apostle Paul’s life, who experienced so much persecution, trials and hardships, in danger of the sword and scourged five times, and each time but one strike away from death, he could see that he is convinced of something. He is convinced that nothing could separate him from the love of God. We too, who are in Christ, have the same Spirit living in us, so we too can experience the love of God in our daily lives. It is not something we get more of, but God is love and He lives in us. It is a person we can access, whom we can communicate with, who we can allow to live His nature in and through us.
Oftentimes in this life we are told to get more of God in your life. You cannot get more than what you already have, which is everything. He has told us He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. When you have Him, you have everything. The question is, are you experiencing this love, the fruit of the Spirit, in your life? The real issue is, who are you allowing to control you, the world, the flesh, or the Spirit of God, who lives in you?
If you are in Christ, and someone insulted you, robbed you, are you so embittered that you will never forgive him? What is going on there? You are listening to your flesh, which cannot forgive. So, ponder over what God has freely given you. Has He not taken away the sins of the world even before you were born? Yes, He has! In Him, you have the forgiveness of sins. Do you see the attitude in Christ Jesus, who said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing”?
That same Spirit of Christ lives in me. “Lord Jesus, my flesh cannot do this. I will glory in my weakness.” I can’t so your strength will be manifested in me, and you are in me, and as far as I am concerned, by faith, that man or woman is already forgiven. Why? Because I am in you and you are in me and you already accomplished that for me. I cannot do it. You accomplished that for me. That is such an understanding we have to get a hold of.
So, in other words, the way we live is by faith, as the apostle Paul said, “the just shall live by faith”. We act upon what the Spirit of God tells us is true, those attitudes of heart that are in us because Christ Jesus is in us. That is why scripture says that the Spirit lives in us to will and to act according to His good purposes and who teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. There is truly a renewing of the mind going on, that the Spirit of Christ is at work in you and me to conform us to the image of God. This work of renewing our mind will be going on until the day of redemption, when we leave this sin-indwelling flesh of ours. But, for now, we remain and are built up in the Lord, so we can say like the apostle Paul, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.
In reality, all the work has been accomplished by Christ, and Christ is living in us. So it is not about us getting more from God but entering into that Sabbath rest of God, walking in faith in what He has said and promised us, in what He reveals to us as to what truth is. As Jesus said, my people will worship me in Spirit and in truth. Those are the true worshipers that the Father seeks. And, our true spiritual act of worship is this, that in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. That is done by faith for faith is what pleases God, and expresses itself through love. That love is not something we manufacture, because we cannot do so in our weak flesh, but the love that is initiated by God that we respond to and we enter in and access by faith, through the person who lives in us and who is love. So we boast in our weakness that the love of God might be manifested in us and through us. That is what truly living is, Christ in us, our only hope of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:12
12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
What has He freely given us? Everything that we need for life and godliness. Everything!
A person says, “I cannot forgive”. I know your flesh can’t but the Spirit who lives in you already has. This person you are mad at, God has already forgiven. You say, “I try and I try”. You cannot try. You say by faith, that the forgiveness you exercise with that person over there, that forgiveness is already in me. I do not get it. I have already got it. Even though my flesh cannot understand that, and my flesh will never forgive a person, but by faith because you live in me, I claim that person is forgiven by me. Why? Because I am a new creature, You are in me, and I am in You. My flesh cannot forgive him and you already have and I am in You, so as far as I am concerned they are already forgiven.
You have to do that by faith. I am never going to do that in my flesh. Your flesh says, “You forgave him when you cried on the altar”. But you go back to the pew and that pew is just as stinking as when you left it. Your flesh cannot do that. You just let that person come in contact with you and see him do the same thing he did before and see how much you have forgiven him. It is not that my spirit will. It is that my spirit already has. The Christ who lived in me died 2000 years ago to forgive sins of that person you are resentful toward. That Spirit lives in me. “Lord Jesus, my flesh cannot do this. I will glory in my weakness.” I can’t so your strength will be manifested in me and you are in me, and as far as I am concerned, by faith, that man or woman is already forgiven. Why? Because I am in you and you are in me and you already accomplished that for me. I cannot do it. You accomplished that for me. That is such an understanding we have to get a hold of.
These truths, patient, kind, not seeking your own, never keeping records of wrongs, those things are already in us. We do not go get it. We already got it. Faith says, “I will draw upon it, claim it by faith, and move on”.
What this means in Ephesians 5:18, to be controlled by the Spirit. In one of the next lessons we will talk about substitutes for love and how we get hung up on everything except love. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? How many times do we get a clap from someone who says “I am a spirit-filled Christian”.
I understand that because you are taught that and you hear that. Like I say, to be spirit-filled, meaning that is who I am, my identity. Sorry folks, that is not your identity. To be filled is a continual action verb. It is to be continually being controlled by the Spirit. To be indwelt by the Spirit is critical, and that happens once in a point in time in history at spiritual birth you are indwelt by Spirit just like you are born again. That is what it means. What are you born again of? Spirit. So when the Spirit comes to live in you, you are indwelt by the Spirit, as explained in Romans. If God does not live in you, then you do not belong to Him. That is critical. Just like physical birth is once in time in history.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
You can say I am a Spirit-indwelt person. But if you truly understood the meaning of Christian, that is what Christian is, someone Spirit-dwelt, not Spirit-filled. To be filled is a continual action verb, to continually being. The word filled means to be controlled by. So it means to be continually controlled by the Spirit. Because we do not open the pantry to see what is in there and what it means, so we listen to people say what it means. So we substitute manifestations that they tell you are evident of that truth. So we worship at the foot of manifestation. What it means to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5 is explained in detail in Ephesians 3. The explanation came before the admonishment. In that explanation Paul gives it to us in a prayer. We are going to explain this prayer of the apostle Paul and show you the importance of grabbing a hold of this truth that we have been given everything we need for life and godliness and how the Spirit is going to help us understand that.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
As we see all this pulling together. In Ephesians 5:18, do not get drunk on wine. That is not confined to wine. The issue is do not get drunk. It does not mean God will zap you but that it will lead you to debauchery. Whatever you yield your body to you are going to be controlled by.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
So what he is saying is do not get drunk, That is a continual action. Do not continually get drunk. It leads to debauchery and misplaced dependency off Jesus and onto you. Instead be continually be controlled by the Spirit of God. It is a contrast of control. It is not the case of saying, “Well boy, that is a bad sin and God is going to zap you”. No, it is the case that it will lead to debauchery. Yes, it is sin for sure, but Jesus already dealt with the sin issue. I am trying to keep you from being led into debauchery and instead to be led by the Spirit of God who lives in you and who has already accomplished for you by whatever you are trying to accomplish by that bottle of wine. Satan tells you that this is going to do something for you. The Spirit of God, who lives in you, says “I have already done something for you. Now draw upon it”. It is not the case of pray and get but let me pray so God, who lives in me, and all of His truth lives in me, will enable me to understand what He has already given me. That is prayer. Let me understand because you already got it there. Let me understand the height, depth, width, and breadth of what you already put in me.
We have the idea that everything is out there. So I get it. God says, “No, it is not out there. Everything you need is in here. When you have me, you have everything you need for life and godliness, for life because I am life, for godliness because I am godliness. And contained in my godliness is love; patience, kindness, goodness, forgiveness”. That is already here. It is not something you go get. It is something you already have. ’So, Bob draw upon it. Access it”. That is where in Ephesians 3, dealing with being controlled by the Spirit who lives in you, is not about getting more of what you already have.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Here again is this strength, Paul said, “I am going to glory in my weakness”. That is why he is going to strengthen you with power. Whose power? His. I do not have any power of my own. So being strengthened with his power through His Spirit in your inner being is in contrast to this going out and getting your flesh strong and trying to get strong on your own. You have heard people tell others to get strong in the Lord. The only problem is you have forgotten that it is in the Lord for that is the only place where strength is.
It did not say to go get strong in your flesh, to make your flesh strong. One of the characteristics of being a child of God is having no confidence at all in the flesh. So if I have no confidence in the flesh, then what am I trying to get it strong for? So people go out and say, “gut it out, make commitments, have your accountability groups, and that will make your flesh strong”. You need an accountability group with the Lord. The Lord lives in you. You need to get to know Him. People are out trying to develop ways and means of making the flesh strong. “If I can get with some guys, I will not be tempted”. Baloney. If I get with guys, I will never give into temptation”. Nonsense. If you cannot be accountable to God, why do you think you can get accountability with others? Now, is there anything wrong getting with groups of guys, studying the word of God, and saying, “well, that is a weakness of mine”. And, I say, “yes, that is a weakness of mine, too”. So what do we do? “Bob, why don’t you try rejoicing in it. For that weakness is what is keeping you trusting in the Lord”. But to think that in and of itself, getting together, saying that I have these mistakes without a solution to it, it will not accomplish anything for anybody.
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Now, Christ is already there. What does He want you to understand? So He can dwell there. Be there. Be at home there, so Christ may be at home in your hearts through faith, to know he is there. If He is there, then all of His characteristics, His love is there. So read the prayer of Paul.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp
To grasp something. When you are looking for power, He says the power I want you to have, the purpose of it is not to go do something good for God, but the power to grasp something in your mind. What is that something to grasp?
how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love
What does that tell you? There is a world of difference between believing that love and knowing that love. You get to know that love when, by faith, you enter into it and access it. You can know about it with your mind, but faith brings it into your heart. So we have to understand that. What God wants us to know is how wide and long and high and deep is God’s love for you, and then to enter into that love so that you might be filled, or controlled, to the measure of all the fullness of God.
that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
It does not say with some of the fullness of God. If it had said some of the fullness of God, then He left some of the things at home. The moving van did not get it all. If He says He is talking about all the fullness, then that means everything that God wants you to have He has already given to you in Himself. In Him you have everything.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
When I have Him, I have got it all. What He wants us to do is to be controlled to the measure with all that fullness of God, to recognize that truth. My flesh cannot forgive somebody who offended me like that, but Jesus, who is already in me, has already done that. Draw upon it. Draw upon that truth. You say, “but that is Him, not me”. No. No. If you are in Christ, you are in Him and He is in you. So, it is not the me’s and you’s. It is my flesh and me. If you are in Christ and He is in you, it is already a done deal. So claim it by faith and move on with your life.
8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
Now, your old flesh will come along and oppose that. So, you say to the flesh, “Go talk to somebody else”. I am in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him I have been given everything that I need for life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
His forgiveness lives in me. By faith, I have already claimed that forgiveness in regard to this person who ripped me off. I am not going to think about this any more. It is a done deal. What is that? It is being controlled to the measure with the fullness of God’s love for you with an understanding that when God hung on a cross, He died for the sins of the whole world, including whoever you do not like, the wife that ran out on you, the husband that ran out on you, the children who ran out on you, the boss that fired you, or whatever else it might be, all of those things that you consider sins, He has already put behind his back, never to see them again. That is already done.
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”[Jeremiah 31:33]
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Your flesh says, “No, I am going to remember that until doomsday. I am going to go to my grave hating that person. Don’t you see what he did to me?” Yes, we do. I saw what he did to you and so did Jesus. And when Jesus saw what he did to you, he said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do”. So, if you are in Christ, then your attitude should be like that of Christ Jesus.
33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
In Christ, His attitude was, “Father, forgive them. They don ’ t know what they are doing”. What should your attitude be if you are going to yield to what is already in you? What is already in you is an attitude of the Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. That attitude is already there. It is not the case you have to get it. If you are in Christ and He lives in you, He brought with Him that attitude. It is not the case you can’t, but the case you won’t. It is not the case that I cannot enter into that kind of forgiveness. It is the case that I won’t.
My flesh is telling me, “No”. But God’s Spirit, who lives in you, is saying, “I have already done it”. Are you going to access that, or are you going to keep hanging on the flesh? Well, you say, “Well, we will see. Give me some time to determine that”. Sometimes we struggle all our lives with it. But there is going to come a time that you will say, “I am so tired of being so sick and tired. I am so sick and tired of being bitter. I am so sick and tired of being controlled by this anger. Lord Jesus, you have already given me this thing, and as far as I am concerned I am entering into that and the rest of it is over. They are forgiven and it is over.”
My flesh did not do it. You never said it would and never thought it could. You did it, and I am in you, so it is a done deal. The world is not going to teach this. Unfortunately, a lot of religion does not teach this. Religion is trying to get our flesh strong. My flesh is not strong. It is weak. The only thing in the world that keeps me hanging on to Him is the weakness of my flesh. If I ever got my flesh strong, what would I need Him for? That is what religion is designed to do, many times, is to help people to get their flesh strong. “Boy, get that thing strong. Just think, if I can quit doing this and quit doing that, then I can get to the point that I do not do anything. And I am going to be so good that I do not even need Jesus anymore#8221;. That is how a lot of people look at maturity. “I am getting so mature that I am almost to the point that I will not even have to think about Jesus anymore#8221;. My friends, rejoice in your weakness. It is the thing that shows you your need for Him to be controlled to the measure with all of the fullness of God that lives in you. That fullness of God lives in you. Be controlled by that fullness of God that lives in you. The way you do that, the starting point He said, is to learn about His love. When you realize that love lives in you, that now it says, I got it in you. Now, get it out. Let it out.
This is certainly an interesting study isn’t it? To understand these marvelous truths of being indwelt by the living Christ of all that He is and all that He has. We have the privilege of accessing that by faith and by faith alone. If we do not want to walk by faith, there is no way we are going to draw upon what He has given you, then you are going to try to make flesh like him. All I say to that is good look.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We do not have to wonder about if this love was just taught. No, that love was demonstrated. That is very important for us to understand. God did not just talk about love, he demonstrated it. Now in Romans 8:35-39, Paul came to some conclusion, and as we come to the conclusion of our study, these are the conclusions we need to look at. Have we driven the stake in regards to these truths?
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Paul was not sitting here, as he was writing to the citizens of Rome, saying “I need some strong, strong buzz words, like hardship would be good, and persecution. Those would be nice words to use.” No, he did not have to wonder what to write. He had been through this. He had been through trouble. He had been through unbelievable hardship. He had been through persecution. He had lived in famine, left naked numerous times, been in danger of the sword. He had been through all of these things. He had been subject to the natural attack of the scourging of the Romans, minus one from death, one hit away from death. He had been through that five times, if I recall.
36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[Psalm 44:22]
I wonder, sometimes, if we look at ourselves that way, to face death all day long and to be considered for slaughter. As Americans, we do not experience that. In other countries they have. We live pretty easy over here, folks. Sometimes we look at that and we think it is so wonderful. I was thinking as I was listening to the state of the union address, bragging about how wonderful, rich and prosperous we are. I could not help thinking about the day to be ready to fall, for pride comes before the fall. When we sit around and think about how wonderful we are, it is all about we. There is not an ounce of attention given to God. It is all, “look at what we have done”. That is a dangerous place to be. In true disciples, as Paul says, in my life, I was considered as a sheep to be slaughtered. In all these things, is that going to separate you from God?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Now, that is real conquering when you are slaughtered. But I am convinced of something, that I have something in me that all of this Roman empire could not touch if they wanted to. I have something in me. I am convinced of something.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The apostle Paul came to some conclusions. There is only one way he could have done that. That is by faith. If you are getting beaten up and going through a shipwreck and stoned and left for dead, and then come up from that saying, “I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God”, you have drawn a solid conclusion about something. The apostle Paul said “I have drawn a conclusion about something”. Nothing can separate me from the love of God and if God is for me who can be against me? I am a conqueror when the whole world is against me. I am still a conqueror through Him who loved me.
As we go through our daily routines of life and we encounter trials and tribulation, and who doesn’t? No matter where you look, you see people with trials and tribulations. If you do not have any today, you will have them tomorrow. If you have not had any, you probably have never been alive. Young children go to school and hear such cutting remarks from other students. They experience persecution, rejection, and hurts.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The only thing you can overcome in the world is that recognition, if Christ be for me then who can be against me and nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Trials can’t. Tribulations cant’t. Neither angels nor demons can. No matter what you throw at me, nothing will separate me from the love of God. One of these days, death is going to be thrown at me and even that is not going to separate me from the love of God and that is a big one. That is the truth and that is what He wants us to hold onto by faith.
As we conclude, let us sit back and recognize something, that the apostle Paul, that for him, the love of God was not just a doctrine to be taught, it was a reality to be experienced. It was something that he was not only able to write about, because he had experienced it, but it was meant, because of his writing and experience, for you and me to look at and say, “this is something that if Paul understood and experienced, then why can I not understand and experience it because the same Spirit living in Paul lives in me”. If Paul was able to say “I was convinced of something, that nothing could separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord”, then he learned from his own experience that truth, and you can as well learn from your own experience that truth. That can be a reality in my own life as it was in the apostle Paul’s life. The issue is this. Have you come to understand the extent of God’s love for you? Do you still have these times wondering if God loves me or if God has left me? You do not need to say that when God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. He wants to give you that understanding, the power to understand His love. As we close, it may be that it is time for you to merely talk to the Lord, which is what prayer is. If you do not mind, why do we just pray together.
Lord Jesus, I pray that you would give me the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, how deep is your love for me. I ask you to help me to experience this love so I can be filled and controlled to the very measure with your fullness to understand how much you love me and that that love indwells me. It is not something I have to reach out and get any more. It is something that I have. I can draw upon it any moment of the day. Thank you for the mercy that enables this to be true. In Jesus name, amen.
Order the Bible Study; “A Closer Look at Faith, Hope and Love” book today!