Monday, April 23, 2007

From Shame to Strength

To the Brothers and Sisters in Christ who still suffer shame and guilt from their past, today I will show you nothing “new”, but I do hope to show you a consistency in our Hope and the blessing He has given us. Sometimes it's just hard to see the whole picture when we're living in it. It can be easier for an outsider to see in. This, if I do my work by Him, will leave you broken and humble, but will make you a much stronger and sharper weapon in the hands of the Spirit of God. I set out to answer your concern in full measure, and in trust that God will minister to your heart.

All quotes are from the Darby Translation.

First lets look at the reality of the situation He has brought you to, if you find this post is addressed to you. Currently you are being worked on as described in Heb 12. But let's look at the why and let Him control the how.

Rom 7:12-13
12So that the law indeed [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13Did then that which is good become death to me? Far be the thought. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death to me by that which is good; in order that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Matt 5:3
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, for *theirs* is the kingdom of the heavens.

See you know your stake. You know what you bring, which is nothing good. You are spiritually bankrupt without Him. Recognizing this makes you stronger than you can even begin to imagine. Do not forget it.

2 Cor 12
9And he said to me, My grace suffices thee; for [my] power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell upon me.
10Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in straits, for Christ: for when I am weak, then I am powerful.

So that's where you are. If you haven't stepped into the power of it yet that is only because you have not surrendered. I am more than confident in the Spirit's ability to make you do so. It is then that we become Fruitful beyond our abilities, skills and knowledge. Because it's Him working and not us. We are simply vessels that have been ravaged by the sea until He came and made it calm.

Looking above at 2 Cor 12:9&10 we see that Paul has come to know that his pride gets in the way of the power of God working through him. He no longer seeks to boast about how good he is. He isn't concerned with feeling good about himself. He's focused squarely on Christ.

Paul addresses this again in Philippians 3.
Phillippians 3:8-11
8But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ;
9and that I may be found in him, not having my righteousness, which [would be] on the principle of law, but that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which [is] of God through faith,
10to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,
11if any way I arrive at the resurrection from among [the] dead.

“not having my righteousness” Paul is no longer concerned about his own ability, just that he be found in Him with the righteousness which is of God through faith. This talks about Who Paul's hope is in. It touches our subject because we see that Paul is forsaking his past to depend totally on the standing that is in Christ Jesus. Paul continues;

Phillippians 3:12-15
12Not that I have already obtained [the prize], or am already perfected; but I pursue, if also I may get possession [of it], seeing that also I have been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].
13Brethren, *I* do not count to have got possession myself; but one thing -- forgetting the things behind, and stretching out to the things before,
14I pursue, [looking] towards [the] goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.
15As many therefore as [are] perfect, let us be thus minded; and if ye are any otherwise minded, this also God shall reveal to you.

We see here that Paul is talking about his lack of perfection. He's still got “issues” that he's working out. Here's the relation to our topic, he admits it and moves on. He makes no excuse. He does not try to reconcile the past. He does not offer either himself or anyone else comfort for the past. He says “forgetting the things behind and stretching out to the things before” He peruses the goal, which is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Now there surely is a two fold meaning to both these two sections of scripture that we've looked at in Philippians 3. We need to forget what we think is positive AND what we know is negative of our past. Our future is Christ and we need to simply pursue that Goal.

Paul continues on the subject. He's going to write about how important this teaching is, and then sum it up for us.
Phillippians 3:16-21
16But whereto we have attained, [let us] walk in the same steps.
17Be imitators [all] together of me, brethren, and fix your eyes on those walking thus as you have us for a model;
18(for many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they [are] the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19whose end [is] destruction, whose god [is] the belly, and [their] glory in their shame, who mind earthly things:)
20for *our* commonwealth has its existence in [the] heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ [as] Saviour,
21who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory, according to the working of [the] power which he has even to subdue all things to himself.

This is a very important portion for you and I. Paul has just written about how he is walking, forgetting what is behind and striving ahead for the Goal. He now tell us to do the same thing, and to fix our eyes on those we see doing just that. Then a stern warning that needs deep consideration.

“for many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and their glory in their shame, who mind earthly things.”

These people are not looking ahead to the Goal. They are fixed on their flesh. They revel in their shame. They do not have faith in Christ's work on the Cross which Paul goes on to explain in the next two verses to show why ones such as these are doomed.

In verses 20 &21 Paul tells us that we are not a kingdom of flesh, our kingdom is in the heavens. And read the language of vrs 20b-21 carefully, speak it out loud. This is the faith that those Paul warns about have ignored, and thereby not considered the Cross their only hope. “the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, Who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of the power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself.” Oh the faith of that statement!! Do you see it? Let me dare walk you through it in case you've missed the tender truths and absolute power revealed therein.

The title Paul uses for Jesus is the first bit. “The Lord Jesus Christ as Savior” What a title! He is Lord. He is Christ. And in acting as Savior, He's going to do something we can have faith in. Paul uses this title for Jesus showing the fullness of His position in relation to the topic. This is the same practice as we see in the using of God's many names in the Old Testament where the name used would reflect what He is doing at that time. Jesus means Jehovah Saves for example. So we see “the Lord of the universe Who saves by paying the price for our sin will act as Savior”. Oh blessed assurance!

Now Paul goes on with what He's going to do. “Who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory” He “SHALL” transform our body of “humiliation”. This IS going to happen. We can depend on it. We do not change our state of humiliation. We have faith that He shall do this. That He shall conform us to the image of Christ, as has been predetermined in eternity past.
Rom 8:29
Because whom he has foreknown, he has also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be [the] firstborn among many brethren
Notice the language of this promise;
Eph 1:4-6
4according as he has chosen us in him before [the] world's foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love;
5having marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6to [the] praise of [the] glory of his grace, wherein he has taken us into favour in the Beloved:

This is something He will do. We will be blameless before Him. He will not find us so here on Earth, but He will make us to be that way according to His will which is unfailing.

OK, so up to this point we've seen that we have done terrible things, and that we can not base our lives on our past, either good or bad and still that He has promised to change our shameful humiliating bodies into His image in the future. I can say that at this point we must realize there is no comfort for how we were, or even how we are. We are simply to “forget it” and strive on to the Goal.

But this is not the end of the message. I want to quickly remind you of a principle of God that you can apply to this situation for yourself. When God says something, it is as good as done. We have read Him say He “has” reconciled all things to Himself yet we look around and seems not to be the case. We know by prophecy that this reconciliation will actually take place in the future, (Daniel and the Revelation). Yet because He has determined it, it is done. God's will is perfect and unfailing. He has declared the end from the beginning.
Isa 46:10
declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;
This is what “Positional Truth” is. God has said it therefore it WILL be so we can treat it as already being so “Positionally”. Brother or Sister in Christ, you are “Positionally Blameless” There is no further need for you to suffer guilt and shame. God has said He will transform you. Your flesh is Crucified let Him live instead of you.
Gal 2:20
I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, *I*, but Christ lives in me; but [in] that I now live in flesh, I live by faith, the [faith] of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me.
Now go run towards the Goal, Christ bore our sin, despised the shame of it but it is done and He is seated at the Right Hand of Majesty.
Heb 12:1-2
Let *us* also therefore, having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, laying aside every weight, and sin which so easily entangles us, run with endurance the race that lies before us,
2looking stedfastly on Jesus the leader and completer of faith: who, in view of the joy lying before him, endured [the] cross, having despised [the] shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 14:3
and if I go and shall prepare you a place, I am coming again and shall receive you to myself, that where I am ye also may be.
Eph 2:6
and has raised [us] up together, and has made [us] sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus

Where He is, there we will be too, and blameless and we already are. Such is the freeing nature of Positional Truth.

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