Table of Contents
PART 1: WE STILL SIN, RIGHT?
PART 2: CHAPTERS FROM KEYS TO KINGDOM EXPANSION
PART 3: SPIRITUAL INVENTORY
PART 4: SCRIPTURE VERSES
After reading my books The Gospel According to Jesus or Keys to Kingdom Expansion or my wife’s book Home Sweet Home, readers often are convinced and convicted, but do not know what to do from there. They truly believe God and want to please the Lord, but have been surrounded by compromised cultural Christianity for so long, they simply don’t know what to do next. After thinking about the possibility of living in the freedom from sin which Christ purchased for us, I inevitably hear the question, “But we still sin, right?”
This short piece is meant to supplement those books and answer some of those difficult questions. I will assume you have read The Gospel According to Jesus. It sets the stage for much of what will be taught here. If you have not, download a free copy (it is section one of the Kingdom Expansion Series) at www.KingdomDriven.org. It is a very concise, yet challenging, read.
I pray the Lord will use this work, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, to grant you total freedom from sin.
Instructions for using this resource:
This document is set up in four parts:
1) The body of the document
2) Applicable chapters from Keys to Kingdom Expansion
3) The spiritual inventory
- Sample prayer
4) Scripture verses
- Verses cited in the text
- Verses about truth and lies
- Verses about darkness and light
Start with Part 1, looking up the verses cited in the text in Part 4 as you read the text. I did the work of including these verses in the back of the book so that you will be more likely to read them. I considered them important enough to include, but did not place them within the text to avoid impeding the flow excessively.
Then read Part 2 for additional illustrations and explanations of the spiritual dynamic of gaining freedom from sin.
Finally, go through Part 3 with a partner, as often as necessary to maintain total freedom from sin.
The latter verses in Part 4 are for your personal meditation.
Part 1: We still sin, right?
A Word Picture:
Picture an enemy naval force advancing against your coastline. At first, they send salvos and aerial bombardment to lower your defenses. They do not take any ground, but rather constantly bombard your positions to soften your defenses and identify weaknesses to leverage. The enemy is off the coast and has unhindered ability to relentlessly pummel your coastline, regardless of your response. However, the defenses can thwart the landing with consistent perseverance. This is equivalent to temptation and resisting temptation.
Once the weaknesses are identified, the enemy sends landing craft to secure a foothold (or “place”). At this point, the enemy is taking first ground with the objective of securing a position to deter defenses and safely receive reinforcements and supplies. The enemy is extremely vulnerable at this phase of the assault and can be easily thwarted by a retaliatory strike from the defensive reserves. This is equivalent to sinning upon temptation and the retaliation is repenting resulting in cleansing by the blood of Christ.
However, if the defensive reserves are not rallied to counter the offensive landing, the enemy receives reinforcements and becomes firmly entrenched. At this point, the enemy is formidable, and deterring the advance is extremely difficult. In fact, the enemy really could not even achieve this success absent the willful complacency or capitulation of the defensive force. At some level, the defenses are let down and the enemy is even aided by the defender, allowing the enemy to become fully entrenched. The end of this scenario is eventual defeat and death. This is a stronghold, or the “willful sinning” or “practicing sin” described in Hebrews 10 and 1 John 3 (discussed later).
The only possible solution to this apparently insurmountable scenario is to call in reinforcements. Additional troops from outside the original compromised defensive lines are necessary to provide a crushing blow to the enemy, but only with the defender’s cooperation. If the defenders refuse the aid, they are abandoned to the enemy for a time, so that they come to realize that the enemy is not benevolent, and means them harm. If the defenders come around, they will repent of their treason and seek the aid of the reinforcements. With help, the enemy can be thwarted and the stronghold cleansed. Then the unity of the allies is reestablished and loyalty to the King reaffirmed.
We will discuss the Scriptures demonstrating the reality of this scenario throughout the remainder of this dissertation.
Truth and Lies
The first casualty of war is truth! A version of this quote was first uttered in 1918 by US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson. Senator Johnson knew that in order to mobilize a nation to arms in a foreign war, leaders needed to rally support through propaganda and lies. The truths behind why a war is waged and the horrors of both fighting a war and the aftermath of war are insufficient to get a population to voluntarily engage. This concept is no different with spiritual warfare as compared to carnal worldly warfare.
In the battle of Satan against God for the allegiance of men, the propaganda machine started all the way in the Garden of Eden:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
Here was the first salvo–the first attack challenging the truth set forth by our Creator. “Indeed has God said?” Certainly God had said. But the Serpent set out to cast doubt on this truth. It was a direct frontal attack on the character and trustworthiness of our Creator.
We know how this played out. Adam and Eve took the bait. They were tempted and sinned, and that resulted in death. As a result, sin entered God’s perfect Creation and every man thereafter was given a predisposition to sin.
However, God had a plan to restore us from the lies of the enemy:
“Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” (John 8:31-32, NASB)
After much teaching of the Kingdom laws, Jesus commanded his listeners (which includes us): “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Could He have really meant what He said? How could that be?
Likewise, Paul said: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Was that just wishful thinking, or did Paul really mean what he said?
The letter to the Hebrews says:
14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
16 “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”
He then says,
17 “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10)
John, in his first letter says:
3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 2)
Now this certainly does not line up with our experience, so how can it be true?
The letter of Hebrews says: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Temptation, Sin, and Death
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15, NIV)
We see here three elements: temptation, sin, and death. One does not necessarily need to lead to the other. A clear understanding of the spiritual dynamic at work can empower us to achieve victory over sin’s power in our life by stopping the progression from temptation, to sin, to death.
We are tempted by our carnal desires. We have a predisposition to sin dating back to the Garden. Our fallen state has given Satan dominion over us as we are enslaved to the one whom we obey (read all of Romans Chapter 6 now). Through Christ, we have been set free. The old man has died and the new man is birthed. Christ’s blood cleanses us from all of our past sins (see Romans 3:25). Jesus destroyed the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).
If you read John 15:1-10, you see that they were cleansed by the word spoken to them, but could be cut off if fruitless, defined by not obeying. Therefore, the cleansing is for past events, and future events still have a bearing on salvation.
Likewise, Jesus’ dissertation to the church in Sardis (Revelation 3) shows that the church was soiled and could only be cleansed by repentance. If they failed to repent, they would be erased from the Book of Life.
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (Philippians 3)
Paul says he is NOT perfect, but is ministering to those who ARE perfect and tells people to live up to the standard they HAVE obtained. Confused? Let me explain.
In my own words, we are cleansed by Christ’s blood and the old man dies and the new man is birthed. We are free from the devil’s power and enslaved to righteousness. At that moment, we are holy (why in Scripture we are called saints, and NOT saved sinners). We are indeed saved by grace. We are PERFECT!
At that point, we can just walk in freedom, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” for we are cleansed and not subject to the lies of the “Accuser of the brethren” (Satan), because “the TRUTH has set us free.”
However, we still have the capacity to sin. We are now God’s possession, no longer bound to our former slave master, Satan, and free to walk in holiness, righteousness, and obedience. But the same old dynamic plays out: temptation (from our carnal desires) can lead to sin, and sin to death. So how do we stop this onslaught of the enemy?
I want to introduce the concept of temptations, footholds, and strongholds. The first level of “evil” is temptation. All humans are tempted. Even Jesus was. In fact, I would argue that we must be tempted in order to prove our holiness. There is no way to determine if we are worthy of being in God’s presence unless we demonstrate our obedience, holiness, and righteousness by being victorious through temptation.
So what happens when we are NOT victorious? Sin! See below in two translations:
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NKJV)
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)
Anger is a natural emotion that does not have to lead to sin. Lashing out verbally or violently would constitute sin. The anger is simply an emotional response that is quite natural. Tempering that response through the Spirit and obedience to the Kingdom teachings (turn the other cheek, forgiveness, kindness for evil, and so on) renders Satan powerless. However, obeying our former slave master by responding inappropriately gives the devil a “place” or a “foothold.”
You see, Satan does not have authority to operate in our lives when we are cleansed, because we are no longer subject to the law of sin and death. We are free. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8, NASB). We resist the devil by not giving him a place, or a foothold, which is obeying him at the expense of the Spirit’s guidance.
If we sin, we give the devil dominion and authority to operate in our lives. He is granted a foothold. However, even this can be stopped right here. Do you remember how the church in Sardis could avoid being erased from the Book of Life? That’s right! Repent.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1)
In this passage we see a few elements thus discussed. We are cleansed by His blood if we walk in light, practicing the truth, in fellowship with Him and the saints. Here John emphatically states we do sin. Yet in the same letter he says if we are born of God, we can’t go on sinning! Confused? Well, what he is saying is that anyone walking in the Light, abiding in Christ, will subject themselves to the Spirit and repent, confessing their sins to God and to each other. The result? A clean slate–that is, PERFECTION!
Again, the foothold is taken away from Satan, we are holy (saints, NOT saved sinners), and we are righteous. However, if we continue to sin, it just shows we are carnal, not abiding in Christ, grieving the Spirit. Read Galatians 5 below:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Now what happens if we continue to sin? A stronghold is formed. What is a stronghold? It is when we continue sinning, and at the point we justify, and even defend the sin, it is a stronghold of Satan in our lives. In Scripture, it is defined as “every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” It is a lie–a direct assault on the truth. Satan once again says “indeed has God said?” See below.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10)
Pick any one of the commands of Christ or Apostolic commands. Obedience is submission to the Spirit, and walking by the Spirit–abiding in Christ. Disobedience is the result of ignorance–believing a lie in lieu of the truth. When we defend the lie, we actually go as far as to serve Satan. We justify the sin and encourage others to likewise disobey so that we do not feel shamed or convicted that we are the only one disobeying (Romans 1:32). In essence, we sense safety in numbers. We believe this lie even though Jesus said wide is the way that leads to destruction, and narrow is the way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). We even search out teachers to comfort us in our sins and agree with our views, in spite of the clear warning that this would happen in the last days (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
So when we believe and defend the lie, it is a stronghold of Satan, and only can be broken down through the power of the Spirit. However, the Spirit is grieved and no longer in operation in the person with the stronghold. Therefore, the saints must step in!
In the US, where independence and rugged individualism reign, the church (or assembly of Christ’s followers) has been rendered inconsequential. The fact that someone can simply leave a “church” and join another whenever they are made uncomfortable with their sin, has led to entire institutions full of sinners who deceive themselves into believing they are still saved. All this even though Jesus and the Apostles warned us that we would be deceived in this way (read 2 Peter 3:14-18, Matthew 7:15-20, 1 John 3:7, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and Jude 4).
However, Scripture demonstrates mutual accountability and empowerment of the Body of Christ. There is power and authority in numbers!
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18)
Christ’s affirmative response to prayer, his presence, and discipline are all CORPORATE in nature. Jesus actually didn’t teach much about the nature of the “church,” but much more emphasis was about the nature of the Kingdom of God. But this much He made clear: discipline has real protocol.
It begins with the offended addressing the offender. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). The objective is to bring them to repentance, which is taking the foothold away from Satan and preventing the formation of a stronghold. If they fail to repent, then a second person accompanies the offended to make clear to the offender that the claim by the offended is substantiated. Repentance, which cleanses the offender by Christ’s blood, releases the foothold and restores their right standing with God.
However, if they justify and defend their sin, a stronghold results, grieving the Spirit, granting Satan authority in their life. This is when the church passes judgment and they are cast out and shunned. They are handed over to Satan for him to have his way with them. But don’t for a second think this is done for a reason other than love. Let me demonstrate.
In the letter to the church in Corinth, we see a perfect example of church discipline. Paul made the case that the church must discipline sinners.
1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 5).
Paul says not even to associate with unrepentant sinners–not even to eat with them. He says it is the church’s responsibility to deal with sinners who are “so-called brothers.” But let me shed light as to why this must be done. It is not just to maintain the purity of the church (which is indeed an objective). It is to bring the wayward person to repentance and restoration. Handing him over to Satan can lead to his salvation.
Paul taught: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Rejection from the church leads to sorrow, which leads to repentance and salvation. This is very good. Ignoring someone’s sin does not help them at all. In fact, it is a one way ticket to Hell. Ignoring sin is simply avoiding confrontation–either an individual exercising self-love, or a church avoiding losing membership (thereby serving two masters, God and mammon).
In the end, after the person was shunned for a while and repented, Paul counseled to restore him to the church. “6 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2).
We also see the power of the church for the forgiveness of sins and answered prayer (consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18) in James 5:
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. (James 5:13-16).
When it comes to defeating the powers of darkness, light must be shed on that darkness. Many verses have been provided at the end of this text concerning truth and lies, and light and darkness. Meditate on these truths.
Confession of sins, and corporate prayer and discipline will crush Satan’s schemes. So where do you start? I encourage you to start by reading the excerpts from Keys to Kingdom Expansion, provided as the next section of this work. Then find an accountability partner and work through the Spiritual Inventory provided as the third section of this text.
Once you have been cleansed through repentance, renouncing, and releasing, maintain a clean slate by walking in a constant state of repentance, being cleansed by the blood of Christ, listening to God’s grace at the Spirit’s leading. God’s grace has power to save if we walk by the Spirit. See below what Scripture says about the power of working of God’s grace.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14, NASB)
The work of God’s grace through the power of the Spirit is not a “completed on the cross” kind of thing. It is an ongoing cooperative relationship. He leads us and simply wants us to follow His leading. Through His leading, we walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh and simply repent when we fall short being cleansed by the blood of Christ.
From there, bathe yourself in the teachings of the New Testament, obeying what you read, and disarming the darkness by shedding the light of the truth on that darkness. Recognize that Jesus meant what He said and that we will ultimately be judged on His words. In your journey, be attentive to the words: “what that really means is…” This is Satan’s language. He is again saying, “indeed, has God said?” Remember that what it says is exactly what it means. Disregard any commentator (which is most of them) who tries to tell you that Scripture means something other than what it actually clearly says. Just a little study of the beliefs of the very early church (Ante-Nicene writing) will show that for hundreds of years Christians obeyed the New Testament writings quite literally, with special emphasis given to Jesus’ teachings and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 through 7). Read it for yourself and obey it, literally.
God bless you in your journey from bondage to freedom from sin, lies to truth, darkness to light, and from the world to the Kingdom!
Part 2: Chapters from Keys to Kingdom Expansion
I would venture to say that for most of us, God’s redemptive plan for humanity is people-centric rather than God-centric. We focus on salvation and the benefits of having some kind of relationship with the Lord. As a result, we live our lives and design and execute our ministries with people in mind, rather than God. If we were honest and looked at our hearts, we might even find that our ministries minister to us. At some level we seek ministry success to satisfy our desire to accomplish a lot for God; however, the aim is misguided by our insecurities and deep needs, rather than motivated by God’s glory.
The truth is, our holy and righteous God is somewhat ego-centric—and rightfully so. Everything that was and is and ever will be is for God and His glory. Therefore, our raison d’être in life and ministry is to glorify God, and nothing more.
Through the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan thwarted God’s plan to glorify Himself through His Creation. Satan mocks God, as if saying, “Look, the humans you created for your glory follow me—all of them listen to me and sin.” This is a complete affront to God. Therefore, God’s redemptive purposes—bringing our submission and allegiance to our Creator rather than our deceiver—are designed to restore deserved glory to God, not simply to give us a get-out-of-hell-free card.
The big picture is this: we are in the center of a custody battle. There is a war raging on between God and His foe, Satan, for the hearts and allegiance of men. We are in the middle of the battle, but we are not the focal point. It’s all about them. As stated earlier, glory that rightfully belongs to God has been directed toward the devil and his works via our sin.
He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)
God, through Jesus Christ, has restored glory to its rightful recipient by turning our allegiance to Him and transforming our lives. Anything less than full allegiance and radical transformation falls short of glorifying God. Yet God deserves our hearts and our allegiance, and we are blessed when we catch the vision of serving for His glory!
Unfortunately, in the pursuit of God, we often assume that reaching and ministering to the lost is the end, rather than a means to the end. As a result, we focus on conversion (saving souls) rather than transformation and seek to meet needs rather than invite folks into Kingdom life. However, I say it again: the end is to bring glory to God. God’s redemptive purposes ultimately point back to Him.
Conversion without transformation seems to rescue some from a fiery end. However, it fails to bring God glory. You can imagine Satan still mocking God: “The man you created continues to believe my lies and loves the world and sin even though he knows you suffered and died for that sin.” The untransformed “Christian” is an affront to God. Satan knows full well that an unfruitful “believer” makes a mockery of the cross, denies the power of the Spirit to change a life, and makes the faith unattractive to outsiders. You can see why it is so vital that all of our ministry efforts focus on the Lord and His glory, not on us and our plans.
Pursuing works without a Kingdom invitation likewise misses the mark. Do you think government welfare or the wonderful works the oil rich Muslim nations do throughout the world glorify God? No way! In fact, they steal God’s glory, because the Body of Christ should be meeting those needs. However, simply meeting a physical need is not “the end.” The goal should be to offer freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ—giving living water to quench the underlying thirst, real food to satisfy the soul’s appetite, and true victory, to give peace that multiplies. We were created for good works, and faith without works is dead. However, radically transformed people labor for the Kingdom, not for good works alone.
Nothing short of a radically transformed life brings God glory. Changing allegiance from Satan to God, death to life, flesh to the Spirit, sin to obedience, the world to the Kingdom—that glorifies our Creator! Satan has no recourse. Extreme transformation results in a passion for God and fellow man that is unquenchable and leads to works of service, in love. The result: a radical departure from the world and even cultural Christianity that leaves onlookers strangely curious about the God who can change a person so substantially. As a result of true transformation, the Kingdom expands organically.
How does your life reflect God’s glory? What about your ministry—what fruit is it bearing for God’s glory? Meditate on such things.
Christ ushered in the Kingdom. However, evangelical Christians invite people to heaven (or simply to church) rather than to Kingdom life. We are accustomed to preaching the Gospel of salvation only and simply meeting together, not to presenting and engaging people in the Gospel of the Kingdom (see Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Mark 1:15, Luke 16:16). Yet Jesus focused His teaching on the Kingdom (there are over 100 references to the Kingdom in the Gospels), with far less emphasis on His redemptive work, and even less on how we gather. Interesting, huh?
This may seem like a subtlety; however, it can prove significant in how we minister to folks. Evangelical Christians under-emphasize the significance of the Kingdom life and experience, while focusing much more attention on other matters: church organization and attendance, programs, doctrine, and (to a lesser extent), compassion ministries and evangelism. These are certainly designed and executed with noble intent; however, there is a vital element missing.
Now let’s paint a picture—speaking in generalities and hypotheticals. When someone becomes a church attendee, they are often simply a spectator. They more often than not see the paid ministers as responsible for ministry. And they likewise only visualize ministry in the context of the programs offered at the church. When someone is converted (without transformation), they sometimes fail to embrace the Kingdom lifestyle; they may or may not even adopt a “church” lifestyle. They often do not become transformed for a long time, if they do at all. They do not embrace the vision or engage in the mission. They do not transfer their allegiance from the world to the Kingdom, from death to life, bondage to freedom, spectator to ambassador and soldier, flesh to the spirit. Life more abundant eludes them. We stop short of the true, intended born-again experience.
As a result of the disconnect, the experience of converts and church-goers don’t differ much from the world. Where is the freedom, peace, joy, and abundant life promised by Christ? Unfortunately, it’s typically missing, because Christianity has become intellectual rather than transformational. We engage with our minds and not our spirits. Promiscuity, failed marriages, depression, and other ills plague professing followers of Christ at nearly the same proportions as the rest of the world. Not very attractive, is it? Why sign up?
I think this disconnect can be traced back hundreds of years. I personally believe that the early church had an advantage by not having the canon. Sounds crazy, I know—but think about it: Christianity was a way of life, not a series of doctrines. Early followers of the Way relied on the Spirit and learned through the lifestyles of mature believers (discipleship). We have turned it into information and meetings, rather than a walk empowered by the Spirit.
The modern evangelical church gets most of its intellectual-bent doctrine from Paul, underemphasizing the teachings of Christ Himself, and Christ’s contemporaries (John, Peter, and James). Read the “red letter” text with First John, and then James, with the Pauline lens removed, and you will see divergence from the modern Christian experience. Certainly Paul’s teachings are God-breathed; however, they are best contextualized with an understanding of his way of life—the Kingdom life. Pauline doctrine was never meant to be “learned” simply by reading a series of letters. Paul admonished his readers to “join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Philippians 3:17). He demonstrated what the Kingdom life looked like and followed up with letters to address specific issues within the churches. Paul (and Jesus) showed us how to embrace the Kingdom while overcoming the world—they didn’t simply tell us. They practiced it so that they could make disciples. We must do the same.
We demonstrate the reality of Christ by how we live. We can’t confess Him with our mouths and deny Him with our lifestyles. If we do, we will certainly never achieve the vision. A sermon series, discipleship class, or reading books will not adequately present the Kingdom lifestyle so that it carries forward to others. A radically transformed life is required to transform others’ lives. Until we embrace this, we will not propagate Kingdom life.
I urge you to consider: does your faith walk demonstrate a radical departure from the world—a full commitment to the Kingdom life? Are you transformed—living life more abundantly? How attractive is your life, and how attractive do you make Christ? Meditate on these questions.
Catching the Vision
For those of you who have the Kingdom vision and are on the mission, this teaching is a cool, refreshing drink of water on a hot day. For others, this is dirt in the eye, an irritation and an offense. However, I hope that irritation to your soul births a pearl, and ultimately the Pearl of Great Worth, that ignites an unquenchable passion for expanding God’s glory. I know that deep down in every believer the capacity to birth that Pearl exists. However, it is quenched by the world and all her ways. We must get beyond our religious assertions and traditions and embrace the vision, to truly be on mission. It does not matter what your denominational persuasions, or how, where, or when you fellowship; it is about your spirit’s yearning to surrender everything for the Pearl of Great Worth. If you pledge your allegiance to a system of thought or a practice rather than to God’s glory, you will not catch this vision.
This is your kairos moment. You were created for a time such as this. We are in the second-to-last scene in history. God is enlisting His army of soldiers to engage in reaping the end-time harvest. We are very near to the end, and the mission is at hand. There are no spectators for this last burst of revival. Can you sense the times? Does not the Spirit within you leap with these words? You know this to be true deep in your soul.
Every one of us can change the world. We have to think bigger than we have been conditioned to think. A single man teaching a few, contributed to an 18% increase of the Christian population in Ethiopia in just years. One failed church planter in Rwanda retooled his methods upon catching the vision and resulted in changing the nation forever—effectively ending prostitution in his area. One former bishop in Nairobi, Kenya was kicked out of his role after catching the vision; his reward? He is now at the top of a discipleship lineage 25,000 strong. These people are just a handful of the multitude of Kingdom saints impacting the world for God’s glory. Not the result of political activism or a better structure or doctrine—just transformed lives given a clear vision for the times and a strategic and actionable plan for their involvement in the mission. The rules have changed. God is on the move and enlisting the willing. Who among us does not eagerly desire such fruit?
Even as the Lord of hosts is mobilizing His people for action, men are still rushing to hell in hoards. Her fiery fate is consuming millions daily because we do not recognize the times, catch this vision, and engage in the mission. God is mocked by the devil and men. Where is our passion? Do we not care that most of the people we encounter daily are going to suffer God’s wrath forever? Does this not make us die a little each day—where are our tears for them?
The Gate is narrow; however, the path is narrower still. The Kingdom of God is not simply, “walk in and you’re in.” It is a path that requires walking. We have to show people that Kingdom life if they are going to walk the path with us. Those we lead to the Gate will never walk the path alone. They need a guide, a mentor, someone to disciple them (see Philippians 3:17 and 1 John 2:6). This is one of the critical missing elements in many evangelism methods and discipleship “programs.”
Now to get a bit personal; I do not want to but I must, because I know that the vision is not caught by mere words. Rather, my life and the Spirit must bleed into this text for you to catch this. I chase the King with reckless abandon. People call me fanatical, holier than thou, self-righteous, and judgmental, among other things. Yet, I am not greater than my Master and they called Him the same. I have been radically transformed. I get questions like “No TV? Eighht children—you’re done, right? Homeschool? Fellowship in homes? Africa? All of you in that little house? No salary, how do you pay your bills?” It doesn’t phase me. I am on the mission moving full-speed ahead and not looking back. I have found the Pearl and want to glorify God by telling the world.
With all of the idiosyncrasies of my life, the unbelievers around me are the least offended. Ironically, it is the unrepentant churched that persecute Kingdom saints the most. Sinners God is working on are eerily attracted to the counter-cultural lifestyle of Kingdom saints. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and make a real difference in the world with their lives. Truth be told, the average person is not happy with their life. They have no sense of meaning, purpose, or fulfillment. They chase after entertainment, drugs, sex, money, relationships, and even religion to satisfy—but these can’t fill the need for purpose and adventure. They see that most within the church do not live much differently than those outside—because the “churched” predominantly lack transformed lives. We shoulder the burden for this; most of these folks have not been given a clear vision and specific marching orders for the mission. And if they have, they have not been shown by us leaders what it looks like, simply told (ouch!). They also have not been empowered by the Spirit or set free from sin. Multitudes of pew-dwellers wallow in worldliness, rendering the church inconsequential.
I know that these words can offend. I know all of us strive to do the best we can and many have captured the vision and possess the Pearl. For you, I hope to offer practical tools that can be applied within your context. Bear with my style—the prophet in me makes no apologies, but the shepherd in me with loving compassion for you, my fellow saints, desires not to cause you harm. Receive what is from the Lord to mobilize the Kingdom saints, and please overlook the eccentricities of my imperfect delivery.
I pray that the Lord will speak to you through these words to challenge and inspire you with greater passion in the Holy Spirit, to spread His Glory by mobilizing the saints into the Kingdom harvest. I pray that you will seize this kairos moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Preparing for Battle
Why do so many people join the Reserves? Is it love for country, commitment to defend freedom, chivalry and public service, a sense of duty and sacrifice? Certainly many do join for such noble reasons; however, numerous other young men and women simply join for the benefits, such as college tuition and other signing bonuses. It may not sound very nice to say it, but let’s be honest—if they would serve without the benefits, would the government even offer them? Absolutely not! However, the government knows that to entice a sufficient reserve force, the benefits are necessary.
When those who have signed up with selfish motivations are deployed to the front lines of battle, do you suppose they really want to be there? When they signed the dotted line, we can only wonder if they really counted the cost. Is college tuition a fair trade for the ultimate sacrifice? Without a commitment to the vision (freedom) and the mission (defend and protect), no amount of compensation is worth dying for; but with a sense of duty, honor, and sacrifice—no price is too high. In fact, dedicated soldiers yearn for the front lines.
We can see a fitting analogy. Numerous believers have joined the kingdom “reserves” based on the benefits. They wanted freedom from the penalty of sin and a free ticket to heaven. They may even believe signing comes with others benefits such as health and wealth. Sometimes they reluctantly sign up, almost as if they are doing their recruiter a favor. However, do they really know what they are signing?
Do they know that they are asked to surrender everything to God for the mission? They are told to end all other allegiances: to the world, sin, wealth, pleasures of life, self, the flesh, family, possessions, and to be prepared to even give their very life for the cause. When they sign, they give up all personal rights and privileges. They must obey all orders. In fact, their failure to comply makes them a traitor, and subject to judgment. They not only fail to promote the cause, they hinder it by serving the enemy’s commander.
Do we present the truth and the necessity of counting the cost? Do those in our camps know that when they signed up, we were not at peacetime, but in the throes of battle? We are at war. The enemy has not let up. Why have we? Why are all our troops AWOL? Where are their commanders? Are we AWOL, too?
Recognize that we are at war. Millions are dying without salvation. The main reason is that we recruit our reserves, but don’t give them deployment orders. Even when American soldiers sign for selfish reasons, they still receive the same training as those who sign with more noble intent. They learn the art of warfare alongside the visionaries. And when they are deployed, they are ready to fight with valor and precision. Whether from false motives or true, they are on the mission.
We must learn from this analogy. I don’t care why or how these reserves joined our ranks. However, they need to know that we are at war NOW, and receive their training and deployment immediately. They must be shown the vision by our leadership. But, for them to catch the vision and get on mission, we must recognize we are at war as well, and be willing to count the cost.
Let me ask you—or rather, answer the Lord: have you counted the cost? Would you give up your possessions for Christ? Your comfort? Your freedom? Your wealth? What about your pride? Would you give up your home? What about your family? Now it’s getting tougher. Would you surrender your title? Your pleasures? Your fears? Your hurts? Your sin? What about your very life?
Ok, if you’re still with me, you can rest assured that God does not want you to sacrifice everything on this list right now. There is a better picture of what He wants from you. Just get a blank piece of paper. Now sign on the bottom. He will simply fill in what He wants you to give when He needs it of you. Will you sign the blank piece of paper?
Until we are ready to sign this document, we are not fit to serve in His Kingdom. Signing this document will lay the foundation for His service, and qualify us to train the reserves for the mission. The reserves will not follow us into battle until we take the flag and run headlong through the incoming fire. Reflect upon this.
Lord, speak to your people. I beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Entrance into the Kingdom
In order to initiate a healthy, organically-reproductive discipleship movement, the right spiritual DNA must be established. Unfortunately, some bad stock has been spreading throughout Christendom for a while now. Let’s really take a good look at what the Scriptures say concerning some foundational matters.
This is the single most important book I have ever written in my life. Life and death, heaven and hell, stand in the balance. Yet I am certain to lose some of you now, because I will depart from the mainstream a bit with this teaching. But I urge you to please sincerely evaluate what I share with an open mind.
I know we all like to look at classic verses such as John 3:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9 and 13, and many others concerning salvation, because they are so black and white. They allow us to have an understanding that fits with our Western thought patterns. We are linear thinkers, and need to wrap our minds around matters to satisfy our flesh. Yet, God and His economy are much more complex and veiled in mystery. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. It is a shame that we try to unlock that mystery with systematic theologies and statements of faith. It forces us to take what He has imparted by the Spirit, and reduce it to human terms. Unfortunately, to clarify what I believe has been a radical departure from the intent of the mystery of the Gospel of the Kingdom, I will do much of the same here.
There is only one book in the Bible that was written to definitively inform believers about whether or not they will indeed enter the Kingdom of God. First John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (emphasis added). This verse sums up the purpose of John’s letter. Therefore, we can trust it to provide clear insight into these matters. Now I have seen this verse used in popular evangelism methods, with absolutely no reference to the content of the letter itself. This is very irresponsible.
Let’s look at some of the content of the letter:
“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:3-10)
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. “(1 John 2:15-17)
John wrote this letter for the very purpose of providing insight to believers so that they could know they have eternal life. As you can see, the standards are much higher than taught today. Yet, John says, “let no one deceive you;” otherwise, this is the correct standard to apply. He says that if you are born again, you will not continue to sin. Not my words, his. He also says if you claim to know Him and do not keep His commands you are a liar. Not my words, his. He also says if you have one ounce of worldliness, you do not know God. Therefore, walking in freedom from sin, obedient to His commands and free from all worldliness—this is the measure of whether or not you know the father and are indeed born again, receiving eternal life (I didn’t say it, he did).
This should not be surprising to us if we read Jesus’ teachings. He said that our righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees. He took the Law, and raised the bar big time—not just our actions anymore, we are now condemned for our thoughts as well. Most of us have been taught that if we enter the Gate, we are in. Yet Jesus taught of a path. The Gate is narrow, but the Way is narrower still. We wrongly assume we may live in a constant state of worldliness and this is acceptable. We assume that God will forgive us through His grace, regardless of what we do. Believers scream “don’t judge me,” and “God is merciful.” I will not judge, but God’s Word, which all believers claim is inspired, authoritative, and their guide for all matters, will certainly condemn them. Many will discount these words saying, “he teaches salvation by works.” Well James 2:24 says: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
Further, the Bible says:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8)
What? Our fine linens being works? He must have been mistaken when he wrote that! Well, let’s read the parable of the wedding feast (a parable of the Kingdom) in light of this Scripture:
“But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'” (Matthew 22:11-13)
Might Jesus be saying that someone got through the Gate, but didn’t walk in the Way? Let’s see what the Apostle Paul had to say about the eternal consequences of living by the flesh:
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
It is no secret who will be saved and who stands condemned. Jesus taught plainly that a tree will be known by its fruit. John made it clear in his letter, and Paul confirmed it by showing us what the fruit of the flesh is. I’m sure you’re familiar with the remainder of Galatians 5 and the “fruit of the Spirit.” Concerning fruitfulness, John the Baptist said:
“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father”; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:8-10, emphasis added)
Jesus said just about the same thing. Check the context—He is speaking to believers here!:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:4-6).
James said, “prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22, see also James 2:17-18). Authentic faith results in fruitfulness.
The Bible tells us to test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12, emphasis added). Several times in the Scriptures, the saints are referred to as those who “are being” saved, rather than those who “are” saved (see Acts 2:47, 1 Corinthians 1:18, and 2 Corinthians 2:15). I think the mystery of salvation is best understood like this: do not ask a person for intellectual assent to determine whether or not the person is saved. But rather look at their life for the fruit of authentic faith indicating they are being saved. Many believe and find the Gate, but few persevere to walk the narrow path unto fruitfulness.
Understanding these truths certainly compels us to remain fruitful and on-mission to continually glorify God!
Here is some perspective on the subject of salvation from Jesus. Consider it afresh in light of John’s message in First John and the theme of this chapter:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:13-29).
Clearly, in the end many will claim Jesus as “Lord,” but in name only. They may do good works, but they have not signed that “blank piece of paper” that gives everything to Jesus, and they do not walk the path of righteousness. Their fate is not what they imagine.
I apologize for the length of this chapter. I also know that this subject is both deep and controversial. However, a clear understanding that the authentic Christian faith results in radical transformation—and an understanding that there is no “sure thing” for the one who is not persevering in faith—is foundational to launching a disciple-making movement. So I urge you to meditate on these passages with an open spirit.
Lord God Almighty, I pray that you will open minds and hearts, and remove anything that hinders your Spirit from reaching the heart, and allow your truth to sink in deep into the soul. I pray for a resolve to chase after your ways and your truth. Prevail in all things for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Path to Freedom
The discussion of salvation presented in this book may deviate from what you typically hear taught. Salvation by grace through faith is what you’ll hear—and I agree, Ephesians 2:8-9 still stands. Ultimately, we are indeed saved by grace through faith—not by works or by our own self-righteousness. Salvation is beyond our reach, and so is righteous and holy living. However, this does not mean that we can disregard the standards set forth in First John (it is God’s Word, after all).
First John 5:13 certainly speaks of eternal security; however, it is conditional on freedom from sin (1 John 3:9), freedom from worldliness (1 John 2:15), obeying His commands (1 John 1:4), and walking as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). Not my words, his.
Let’s take a look at an event in Scripture to illustrate this point. In John chapter eight, Jesus encounters a woman caught in adultery who stands condemned. The religious folks try to trap Jesus and ask Him what to do: stone her (the justly deserved punishment) or let her go? He stumps them by telling them that he who is without sin is to cast the first stone. They scatter, knowing they are sinners also. The following discourse ensues between Jesus and the adulteress: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (John 8 :10-11).
I want to highlight a few things here. First, the woman never disputes her guilt or justifies her actions. She knows she is guilty as charged and fully condemned. She is literally at the verge of a painful death, and has absolutely no recourse. The silence of the text does not remove the image in my mind of a woman with much regret, remorse, and angst facing certain death. She is at her very end, and knows she deserves it.
Yet Jesus shows mercy, and by His grace forgives her for her sin. She is fully condemned and does not deserve grace, but He gives it to her anyway. However, the discourse does not stop there. It ends with “from now on sin no more.” From this we see that repentance is not just saying you are sorry, but being sorry enough to not do it again. It is turning your life around. It is realizing that you are condemned and deserve death—indeed, eternal separation from God and the punishment of hell. However, you must remember that even if you receive the grace to be saved, it comes with the edict to sin no more.
What do you suppose Jesus would do if He were facing the same woman in the court the next day, having been caught in the same sin? I know many would say that He would forgive many times and that we can repent many times for the very same act. However, this is not the case. Hebrews 6:4-6 says:
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
Note the word “impossible.” Repentance is a one-way street. Therefore, it is by grace that we get a second chance, and likewise by that same grace we receive freedom and empowerment to walk in holiness and righteousness. We all believe we are saved from the penalty of sin, yet few believe (or at least live as if they believe) that we are saved from the power of sin. It’s comparatively easy to trust in God for our salvation because it is far out, and is not necessarily evidenced in our life (though I would argue that point). Yet we fail to embrace freedom from sin because it often conflicts with our experience. This is an unfortunate reality in modern Christendom.
I urge you to get your concordance out and look up the word “repent.” There is too much discourse on the subject to treat it in one short chapter. But I will leave you with one last teaching from Jesus.
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’” (Luke 13:1-9).
In line with the teachings of Jesus, the path to freedom from sin begins with repentance and ends in holiness and righteousness. Yet, we cannot experience freedom from sin in our own strength. That’s why Jesus said that apart from Him, we can do nothing (see John 15:5). We need the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this work! In the next chapter we will continue to discuss freedom, with very practical and foundational application. I know it’s not enough to just say, “sin no more.”
Lord Almighty, grant freedom to your people—not just from the penalty of sin, but from its power in our lives. You are an awesome and holy God, who by grace has given us a chance to truly live—entrance into the Kingdom. Empower us to walk in victory and teach others to do the same. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Freedom from Sin’s Power
Freedom from sin’s power is a goal for all of us. However, for many of us it is elusive. I think a lot of that stems from our understanding of the process. We tend to “work” on ourselves for an extended period of time, slowly (and not so surely) improving ourselves. Typically, evangelicals leverage secular philosophies or psychology that is simply “Christianized.” Oftentimes spiritual maturity is confused with sanctification. In looking at the methods that we use to restore a person to wholeness, one would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is insufficient to transform a life. Again, we believe in God’s power for salvation, but not necessarily for transformation.
One Christian teacher shared a great analogy about the mystery of sanctification that has stuck with me. I have always liked it because of its simplicity—it’s not what you will find in the classic or mainstream Christian life resources! This little word picture has allowed me to live in and empower others into freedom from sin’s power with great success. The teacher compared our transformation to restoring a car. It makes sense that we work one part of the car at a time: undercarriage, engine compartment, body panels—all the while continuing to use the car as a daily driver. Yes, parts are restored. However, continued use results in new dings, new scratches, wear and tear on the drive train, newly discovered rust spots, and so on. So even though we work it one part at a time, with sweat on our brow, we never get it done. The vehicle always has something that needs “sanctification.” Sound like anyone you know?
Yet the process should look more like this: we surrender to God, He takes the car, puts it in the crusher, makes a 2-foot cube of steel out of it, and sends it to the scrap pile. Then Jesus pulls up in a stretched limo, opens the door and says, “Hop in! From now on, you’re riding with me.”
Let’s read Romans Chapter 6 in light of this analogy.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6)
We are dead to sin, having partaken in Christ’s death and resurrection. We are entirely freed—our old self is DEAD. We now have freedom from sin’s penalty and power over our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to righteousness. We now walk in newness of life. Our freedom from sin’s power results in sanctification, which leads to eternal life (verse 22; notice the consistency with previous chapters: no sanctification means no eternal life). Let no one deceive you by teaching otherwise. We are free indeed, and must receive that freedom.
However, freedom only comes when we surrender everything. If we are kicking and screaming and clinging onto the old car as Christ tries to take it to the crusher, we will not gain our freedom. That’s the same as holding onto our chains even though the shackles have been released; it is a self-imposed bondage. As a result, Satan can convince us that the shackles are latched even though it is simply us holding onto the chains (very common). What a grand deception! This robs God of His glory.
Lord God Almighty, show us our freedom and empower us to lead others to freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Freedom We Can Experience
Maybe the last chapter caused you some heartburn; after all, most of us have come to believe that struggling with sin is the normal Christian experience. However, I want you to know that we all have been given opportunity for complete and total freedom from sin’s power—it’s just that we fail to receive it.
The phenomenon reminds me of how elephants are trained. They are attached to an immovable object for a time—they pull and pull and never break free. So after a while, they stop pulling. They can be held with a tent spike from that day forward, because they are convinced that their resistance will be futile.
This deceptive training concept is similar to what happens to northern pike when they are captive in fish tanks. To prevent the large fish from eating their natural prey within the tank, a Plexiglas divider is placed to prevent the pike from reaching its prey. A short time of running into the glass trains the pike to never try again. Even with the protective glass removed, the small fish live in safety, because the pike assumes that the barrier remains.
We oftentimes walk around in bondage as a result of similar training. We have tried for so long to escape some sin patterns, we become convinced that we can’t and just stop trying. We have been deceived into thinking that the struggles we face are beyond our ability to overcome. The enemy keeps us clinging to the chains, when all the while, we have been granted freedom from them.
Notwithstanding our freedom in Christ, we cannot belittle the enemy’s influence. I now want to shed light on his methods and the root of his power in our lives.
Recall the illustration of the epic “custody battle” between God and Satan for the hearts of men, which was presented in the first chapter. We see this dynamic in the book of Job. Job apparently gave his allegiance to God—he “signed the blank piece of paper” and was willing to give it all. God reveled in the glory given to Him through His righteous servant Job, even boasting to Satan. Satan tested whether or not Job indeed “signed” by going after one line item on the sheet at a time. In the end, Job proved out that he had surrendered full allegiance to God and glory was given to God, not the devil. Job was actually not the center of the story—God and the devil were. Nor are we the center of the battle that continues to rage to this day. In fact, the same battle for the glory due God evident in Job’s life surrounds us as well.
Before we give our allegiance to God, all areas of our lives are under the authority of the devil. Our sin invites him to operate freely within our lives. Let me illustrate this dynamic.
Picture our life as a house. The door is wide open for the enemy to roam freely within the home. Our sinful life grants him full dominion. We have sins in every room: unforgiveness, anger, sexual sins, idolatry in many forms, addiction, worldliness, and much more. These permeate our being and give him permission to have his way with us.
Now imagine the transformation: when we surrender to God, our repentance cleans the house through Christ. In fact, the house is outright purchased by God, and we are no longer even the rightful owners. The deed is in His name. In actuality, sin has no permission to reside there. We still possess the ability to do so, but it is a violation of the true owner’s “house rules” for us to sin.
Absent of complete surrender, however, a different scenario plays out. If there is any area of our life that we do not give to God, the devil still has permission to operate in that area. The house has changed ownership, yet we still have a few items that we try to keep hidden.
Imagine, for example, that there is lots of jewelry in the back closet in God’s house. Who in all creation has the power and authority to steal from God? That’s right, no one! But we, being tenants in the house, can still open the door and let folks in and allow them to take things—even though they are rightfully the property of the owner, and not us the tenant. The house can indeed be cleaned and the door locked, but we allow the devil entrance. Satan is still permitted to access those dark corners. In so doing, he gets his grubby footprints in every room. That is why light needs to shine in all the dark closets, and those areas must be taken from the devil and given to God.
So what does this look like, practically speaking? A mentor takes a disciple through a spiritual inventory. Through much introspection and prayer, they must literally write down all recurrent sins, past strongholds, areas of victimization, and so on. The disciple must repent to allow cleansing. Then, out loud (because Satan can’t read minds), rebuke the enemy—take these from him by exposing light to them, command Satan to get out, and submit these things to God. State plainly that the enemy no longer has permission or authority to operate in these areas. Renounce Satan’s claim, then ask God for strength and protection—lock the door so Satan can’t get in. Then burn the list.
To sustain the victory (and to keep Satan from getting his foot in the door again), teach the disciple to live moment to moment, not day to day. If someone struggles with smoking, they may light up and fail for the moment. But in the next moment they can, mid-drag, realize their sin and repent of it, rebuke the enemy, remind the devil that he has no authority over that stronghold, put out the cigarette, and throw away the pack. There is victory moment by moment. If day by day, we too easily justify our sin by saying, “I’ll quit when this pack is gone.” Glory goes to Satan rather than God.
Now take the disciple through the same exercise next week. Some rooms really don’t get clean with one pass—carpet stains always come back a few times. The list will get shorter over time, and complete freedom is the end. God will be glorified in that life.
Now I wish I had unlimited space to deal with this subject, because it is so important for freedom from sin’s power. A radically transformed life can only occur when sin’s power is defeated entirely. However, I trust the Holy Spirit to finish where I have left off.
Lord, grant your people freedom from the enemy’s clutches. I rebuke the enemy and command him by the authority of Jesus Christ to stay away from your people. Free them from sin’s power and restore your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Remember, humanity is caught in the middle of the epic struggle between God and His doomed foe, Satan. Our allegiance and affections are sought to glorify one or the other.
Again, think about it as a custody battle. Satan rebelled against (divorced) God and was kicked out of the house (heaven). Now Satan, to satisfy his own ego, wants the children. He does not love the kids but just wants them to get to God. So he works to win our allegiance and affections. The wayward parent always attracts the children with worldly things: riches, pleasures, and freedom to do as they please. And they tell lies about the good parent, designed to keep their allegiance.
The good parent is very different. Because they love the children and know what is best for them, they make them eat their lima beans, go to bed on time, and restrict their unhealthy appetites. So the foolish children chase immediate satisfaction in the care of the wicked parent, at the expense of long term well-being. To the contrary, the wise children seek the protection of the righteous parent.
I am confident that if you have read this far, you have decided who will receive your allegiance and affection. And any of us who have walked the path of wickedness know full well that the devil’s allures, as attractive as they once were, lead to pain and heartache. So we have a unique perspective. Yet many of our siblings are being deceived by the lies and give their allegiance to Satan.
What are we to do about it? We need to tell them the truth! We need to go out there and show them where the lies end. We need to tell them that they are pawns in an epic battle for their allegiance and affection. We need to tell them that true freedom and fulfillment only come through submitting unconditionally to our Heavenly Father.
Making disciples is simply taking people through the healing process of becoming free from the devil’s lies, and surrendering to a loving Father. Then, we help them get closer to their righteous and holy Father, and nurture a zeal to take others on the journey of truth, freedom, and empowerment.
Friends, Jesus tells us to love our enemies because they are not our enemies; they are simply deceived children used as pawns to steal God’s glory. So let’s go out there and steal our wayward siblings from the clutches of their deceiving father, the devil.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a)
The truth shall set you free! Freedom is power, and power leads to God’s glory! Now go out there and spark an unquenchable fire of Kingdom expansion!
Lord God Almighty, I pray that your glory will cover the whole earth. I pray that the enemy would cringe at the advancement of your glory. I pray that your laborers would storm the gates of hell, and initiate an unstoppable movement of radically transformed lives. Lord, free your people with the truth. Empower your people. Be glorified. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Part 3: Spiritual Inventory
As Christians, we fight against a real enemy. We may refer to these powers as “Satan,” but our enemy is the whole army of fallen beings who serve Satan and try to work within the world’s systems to influence men away from God and His Kingdom. There is much that could be said on this topic of spiritual warfare, but I want to limit it somewhat. My focus isn’t so much to explore the breadth and depth of the topic but rather to share what is relevant to the Spiritual Inventory, as it can be a very powerful tool to break down the strongholds of Satan and destroy his work in our lives. This is key to experiencing freedom in Christ and the abundant life that He promises—which is most relevant to our topic of Kingdom expansion.
Take a look at the Spiritual Inventory with examples written in:
In the column and boxes you can see references to personal sins, occult involvement, victimization, Satanic thoughts, and ideological strongholds. Any and all of these can become what the Bible calls “strongholds” that Satan uses to keep us from fully surrendering to God and experiencing life in the Spirit and freedom from sin. The Apostle Paul refers to spiritual strongholds in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
You can see here the reference to the war that is being waged between the opposing armies of God and Satan, and you can see that we should be spiritually armed to fight in that battle. However, there are strongholds (which are lies) that the enemy strategically uses to gain ground and maintain his advantage. Through Jesus Christ, we can take our thoughts captive, walk in the truth, and destroy the enemy’s advantage.
Before you begin to populate your personal spiritual inventory (the blank form found in Appendix A), it is vital that you bathe the process in prayer. You must be sure that your house is “clean;” that is, that you have experienced authentic repentance with the result of desiring to live in obedience to the commands of Christ and grow in His likeness. You need also to commit your signature to that “blank piece of paper.” Surrender all to God, show your willingness to follow wherever He leads, and allow Him to work in you through circumstances that will stretch you, challenge you, and discipline you when necessary.
Most importantly, you must understand that the authority to demolish the strongholds of Satan does not come from you; it is not a result of your goodness and it is not something that you can speak against in your own power. You must use the power of Jesus’ name and His authority to take back the ground that the enemy has taken in your life. You must stand strong to declare your freedom from strongholds and all of their effects; this can close all the doors in your life that now remain open to the enemy. Recall the prior analogy: if you leave the doors open, the enemy will come in and get his muddy footprints all over the house that has been cleansed and now belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first area you should consider in the Inventory is personal sins. You will want to write down in the first column of the worksheet any personal sins that you have struggled with, particularly habitual sins which indicate a stronghold of the enemy. Ask God to specifically reveal things to you, and make sure to get to the root cause of your struggles rather than to name resultant sins. You can see, at the bottom of column one, that the goal of the inventory is to help you to repent of these sins.
Now let’s move to that center column, Occult influences. This may or may not be relevant to you, but any occult influence is an open door to the enemy. It can be a magazine that arrives in the mail that contains anti-scriptural ideas; it can be cutural traditions or even patriotism or tribalism. Occult influences may also be outright witchcraft or cults. New Age ideas are a Satanic influence, as are astrology, some types of meditation, and even secular viewpoints like humanism. It is a good idea to get rid of any physical items which may be strongholds, but you also need to repent of any occult involvement that may provide a stronghold for Satan’s continued entry into your life. Anything that you have experienced in the past and which may continue to invite Satan’s involvement should be included on that list. You can see at the bottom of that column that all of those strongholds must be renounced and power taken away from the devil in Jesus’ name.
In the third column you will list any victimizations which Satan uses to influence you away from God and His Kingdom. You may harbor unforgiveness—and remember the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Victimizations can create strongholds because they can cause us to walk in anger or unforgiveness. As well, they can create mental strongholds such as fears, emotional instability, depression, and so on. Victimization effectively holds us prisoner to the past instead of freeing us to walk forward with Christ, in faith. After you pray over and write down any relevant victimizations that are strongholds in your life, the solution is to release them.
In the boxes at the bottom the page, you will consider your habitual thought patterns and ways of believing about yourself and God. Satan is called the father of lies because he leads us away from God’s truth; these lies hold us in bondage and can render us ineffective and unproductive for the Kingdom. So, in the first box, write down any lies from Satan that you have believed about yourself. You may struggle with low self-worth; you have to remind yourself that you were created in the image of God, for His purposes, and that He had a purpose and a plan for your life even if it seems small. You have to avoid comparing yourself to others and remember that you are just one member of the Body and that all parts are unique. Think about your own life and write down the lies you have believed about yourself. Then, read, meditate upon, and even memorize the Scriptures that will remind you of God’s truth and help you walk in victory.
The second area of ideological stronghold is the false ideas you have believed about God. I’ve heard it said that our understanding of God can be greatly influenced by our relationship with our fathers, since God is somewhat of a “father figure.” And while God is a holy God and does expect our obedience, He does not remove His love from us when we sin. He is more concerned with our direction than our perfection, as long as we are pressing on. I still find that I have to keep these opposing ideas about God (his righteousness and holiness versus His love and grace) in balance. This is where, again, it helps to be in the Word and to have Scriptures that can help you when you get caught in an ideological stronghold of one type or another.
Praying through the Spiritual Inventory
After you have completed the spiritual inventory, ideally you will share it with someone who is close to you and mature in the Lord—an accountability partner, if you will. James 5:16 says, “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” As well, there is power as we gather in Christ’s name. Jesus said in Matthew 18:18-20,
“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
There is something powerful in our agreeing together in prayer and being united in Christ.
Our willing confession, coupled with the humility that allows us to share our sins and shortcomings with others, helps us to stand against the enemy and all of his lies. Satan wants us to keep things hidden in darkness, but God wants them exposed to the light. Only then can we be truly cleansed and walk in victory. And, as we will discuss in the next chapter, establishing an accountability relationship is an important element of growing in the grace of God to keep from sinning. All of this is essential for us as wives and mothers as we seek to be spiritually strong and to create a home atmosphere which ultimately glorifies God.
Once you have invited a partner to discuss the inventory with you, you will want to go over some of the things on your list with them. Resist the impulse to just talk about your areas of victimization—easiest because they often focus on what other people have done to us, rather than what we have done before God. While you don’t need to name every sin and talk in detail about each and every thing, you do want to share the most important things that create the greatest strongholds in your life—the areas where you struggle most and the root causes. You will want to pray: repent, renounce, and release. In the name of Jesus, rebuke the enemy and remind Satan that he no longer has hold over you, that God has not only forgiven your sin through Jesus, but He has also released you completely from the power of sin in your life. Satan cannot read your thoughts, so you will need to tell him out loud that he needs to leave you alone! For some people, this is a new idea and might be a bit strange or uncomfortable; however, understanding the spiritual dynamic is very freeing.
Following are some sample prayers. You do not need to repeat these verbatim, but they are designed to help you understand how to effectively pray against strongholds in the power and authority of Jesus Christ.
Opening Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, you are present here in this room and in my life. You alone are all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present, and I worship you alone. I declare my dependency upon you, for apart from you I can do nothing. I choose to believe your Word, which teaches that all authority in Heaven and on earth belong to the resurrected Christ, and as a follower of Christ, one who is alive in Christ, I have the authority to resist the devil as I submit to you. I ask that you fill me with your Holy Spirit to the fullest and guide me into all truth. I ask for your complete protection and guidance as I seek to know you and do your will. In the wonderful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Declaration: In the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command Satan and all evil spirits to release their hold on me in order that I can be free to know and choose to do the will of God. As a child of God who is seated with Christ in the heavenly places, I declare that every enemy of my Lord Jesus Christ that is in my presence be bound. Satan and all of his demons cannot inflict any pain or in any way prevent God’s will from being done in my life today because I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Under each area pray the following prayer and listen to God to show you aspects from your own life that you may need to confess, and replace the lie with the truth:
Personal Sins: Dear Heavenly Father, you have told me to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and to make no provision for the flesh in regard to its desires. I confess that I have given in to fleshly lusts that wage war against my soul. I thank you that in Christ my sins are already forgiven, but I have broken your holy law and I have allowed sin to wage war n my body. I come to you now to confess and renounce these sins of the flesh that I have committed and the ways I have grieved the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Occult Involvement: Dear Heavenly Father, please bring to my mind anything and everything that I have done knowingly or unknowingly that involves occult, cult, false religious teachings or practices. I want to experience your freedom by renouncing any and all false guidance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Victimization: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience toward me, knowing that your kindness has led me to repentance. I confess that I have not shown that same kindness and patience towards those who have hurt of offended me. Instead, I have held on to my anger, bitterness, and resentment toward them. Please bring to my mind all the people I need to forgive in order that I may now do so. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Satanic Thoughts: Dear Heavenly Father, I understand that I have believed lies that Satan has told about how you view me, and I refuse to allow myself to be deceived any longer. According to your Word, I am adopted, chosen, called, sealed and heir to the throne, and I am assured that greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. May you please reveal to me any ways that I have allowed Satan to control my thought life and keep me in bondage so that I may break those bonds by identifying the lie that Satan has told me about myself and reaffirming the truth of what you say about me.
Ideological Strongholds: Dear Heavenly Father, you are the truth and I desire to live by faith according to your truth. The truth will set me free—the truth of Jesus—but in many ways I have been deceived by the father of Lies and the philosophies of this fallen world, and I have deceived even myself. I choose to walk in the light knowing that you love and accept me just as I am. As I consider areas of possible deception, I invite the Spirit of truth to guide me into all truth. Please protect me from all deception as you “search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Prayers of Confession:
Personal Sins: Lord Jesus I confess that I have sinned against you by [name the sins]. Thank you for your forgiveness and cleansing, and I state that I will not allow sin to reign in my moral body and I will no longer allow my [name the thing that you have used in the sin—ie., mind, thoughts, body parts, etc.] to be used in this way, but rather I will only use my [name the item again] to be used for godly purposes such as [state the item’s usage in a positive way—ie., praising, serving, loving, etc.]. Amen.
Occultic Involvement: Lord Jesus, I confess that I have [my family member has) participated in [specifically name every belief and involvement related to this aspect of the list that God has brought to mind] and I renounce the sin of ________ as a counterfeit and a lie. I ray that you will fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may be guided by you. Thank you that in Christ I am forgiven. Amen.
Victimization: Lord Jesus, I choose to forgive [name the specific person] for [name what they did or failed to do] because it made me feel [share the painful feeling, ie., Rejected, dirty, worthless, inferior, etc.].
After having done this, release yourself from being in bondage to them by praying the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, I choose not to hold on to my resentment. I relinquish my right to seek revenge and ask you to heal my damaged emotions. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness. I now ask you to bless those whom I have been hurt by. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Satanic Thoughts: Lord Jesus, I confess that I have believed the lie of [name the specific lie] that I have been told by Satan and his kingdom of darkness and I renounce the lie that I have believed about myself. I confirm the truth of what you say about me [state the truth of what God says about you and the situation] and I thank you for your forgiveness and commit that I will no longer believe Satan’s lies in this area of my life and I will believe what you have revealed to me through your Word. Amen.
Ideological Strongholds: Lord Jesus, I confess that I have been deceived by [confess the specific area that you have believed a lie of Satan]. I renounce this lie that I have believed and I confirm the truth of [restate the truth of what God says about this situation or belief]. I thank you for your forgiveness and commit myself that I will no longer believe Satan’s lies in this area of my life, and I will believe only the truth of who God is. Amen.
Part 4: Scripture Verses
Verses Cited in the Body of this Article
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6, NASB)
24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (Romans 3:24-25)
8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. (John 8:40-45, NASB)
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:1-10)
1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3, NASB)
32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18, NASB)
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20, NASB)
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; (1 John 3:7, NASB)
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NASB)
4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4, NASB)
Truth versus Lies
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6, NASB)14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13, NASB)
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17, NASB)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (Romans 1:18-19, NASB)
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:25, NASB)
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25, NASB)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. [his assault on truth] 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 10:6-17, NASB)
8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, NASB)
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10, NASB)
3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6, NASB)
Read 2 and 3 John looking for the term “truth.” It shows up numerous times.
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
God Can’t Lie
1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, (Titus 1:1-3)
…it is impossible for God to lie… (Hebrews 6:18)
Spirit Teaches Truth
27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1 John 2:27)
The Great Peril of Turning from the Truth
26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31, NASB)
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22hIt has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20-22, NASB)
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6, NASB)
From Darkness to Light
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “ I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:6-13)
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
Read the letter of 1 John. He discusses light versus darkness a lot.
While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” (John 12:36)
No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)
For God, who said, “ Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9)
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9)
2 thoughts on ““We Still Sin, Right?””
Hi, Marc. I’ve been reading some of your articles and am turning things over in my mind…asking the Holy Spirit to make all things clear to me. I grew up in a legalistic church, but I have parents who truly love Jesus. I never had doubt in my mind of their love for Him. They did everything they knew to serve Him and follow His commandments. Still, I grew up afraid that if I made a mistake and Jesus came back at that moment, I might go to hell. For instance, as an adult, if I get angry with my children and raise my voice, then I might loose my salvation. What do you have to say to this? Thank you for your ministry.
I posted a long detailed response, but then lost my connection and the message. Here I am trying to recall what I shared.
The Kingdom Gospel is a love-obedience-faith relationship with Christ. See Jn 14:15, 14:21, Jn 12:47-50. Obedience is eternal life, and it is love. There can be obedience w/o love, but no love w/o obedience. If if we claim to believe Him, we will certainly obey Him, for He is the master teacher and judge. However read 1jn5:3. Not a burden, a privilege. We no longer have to obey Satan and sin because we have been set free. Amen! Perfect love casts out fear 1jn4:18. But God disciplines those he loves (heb 12:1-12). Perfect love is obedience and there is no discipline in obedience. Yes, we work out our salvation w fear and trembling. But read Jn 15:1-17. We abide in Him, for apart from Him we can do nothing. We bear fruit to prove we are His, and this through obedience (v. 10). However, not as a slave, but as a friend (v, 12-15). But v 14 says we are friends, IF we obey. Not legalism, a relationship.
Therefore, we walk in freedom–not to sin, but rather, from sin. When we fail, we simply repent, and he cleanses us (1jn1:9). Cleansed means tossed into the sea of forgetfulness. Conviction is from the Spirit. We simply repent–that is turn away from the thing we know is wrong (James 4:17). Then we walk in freedom w a clear conscience. Condemnation is from Satan. There is no condemnation is Christ Jesus. Thoughts like “I can’t be good enough, why bother trying, and so on, are demonic. Rebuke them and call upon Christ and move on. Repent of conviction, rebuke condemnation. Walk in freedom from guilt.
Read Christ’s discourse with the church in Sardis (Rev 3). Repent and be restored, walk w Him in white. No condemnation, just freedom through repentance and cleansing by His blood.