RSS

Category Archives: Power of God

Are You Like Moses?

The Apostle Paul explained to the early church about the fallacy that obeying the Law of Moses will give you access to the power of God.  In my last post, we looked at this verse…

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Paul says that their minds, or literally their perceptions, were made dull, hardened, and callous.  Then he makes a statement that we miss the implications of altogether.  He says that to this day the veil remains when the Old Covenant is read.  IT HAS NOT BEEN REMOVED.

I’ve heard preachers talk about this and explain that it’s about the Jews who don’t understand that Jesus is the Messiah.  The truth goes so much deeper than this.  Remember, Paul is writing to believers in this passage.  He makes no qualifications as to who the veil is covering.

He says, without any adjusting of the statement, that whenever the Old Covenant is read, the veil remains.  Even if a Christian reads it there remains a veil that only Christ can remove.

The reason is that the law veils the truth about righteousness.  The law sounds logical.

“If I will do this, then God will do that.”

“If I will bring the whole tithe to the church, then God will rebuke the devourer and pour out a blessing.”

“If I will walk in righteousness, then God will manifest His power in me.”

This veils the truth that under the New Covenant this is not the case.  Paul goes on in more detail.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16

EVEN TODAY!!!  It’s so clear.  Right now if I read the Old Testament, a veil covers my heart.  There’s a cure, however.  The word, turns, in this verse is actually a Greek word that means turn again.

What this says to us, is that when anyone reads the Old Covenant a veil blocks their view of New Covenant righteousness.  But when you turn again to Christ, the veil is cast off.  How can you turn again to Christ if you were never looking at Him in the first place?

Paul is warning us that as New Testament believers, we cannot read the Old Testament without constantly looking back to what Christ did on the cross.  He fulfilled it all.  Everything I need to walk righteously before God has been supplied to me by the Savior.

Question: Why do many believers still live as though they’re under the Old Covenant?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Rules and Power

In this post, I’m continuing to talk about Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s addressing the issue of trying to live for Christ by turning the Gospel into a set of rules.

In the church, we’ve come up with all kinds of excuses as to why we lack the power of God.  The one that I’ve been posting about is the notion that until we walk in righteousness, we’ll never experience the move of the Spirit.

This is exactly how the Pharisees viewed the world.  Unfortunately, many of us are walking in the same amount of power they walked in – NONE.

There was a group of former Pharisees who were trying to lead Christians to follow the Law of Moses “if they were truly saved”.  Paul was vehement in his opposition to this movement.  Let’s continue in Second Corinthians, chapter 3, and look at the revelation that he received concerning this teaching.

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Here Paul is referring to when Moses came down from the mountain where God delivered the law to him.  The Bible says that Moses’ face shown so brightly with the glory of God that it looked like the sun.  People had to shield their eyes from it.

So that he could be among the people, Moses put a veil, or a cloth, over his face to shield them from the light.  But something else happened.  As Moses was with the people, the glory of God started to fade and grow dim.

At one point, even though the glory was dim enough for people to see without hurting their eyes, Moses left the veil on.  Paul said it was so the people would not see the glory of God fading.  In other words, Moses put on a veil so that the Israelites would not see his spiritual batteries draining.

Moses was a man who walked in great power.  He called down plagues upon Egypt.  He commanded the Red Sea to part.  He obtained water from the rock.  The list of miracles God performed through his hand goes on and on.  Yet, all of Moses’ power was derived through the law.

On more than one occasion he blew it.  He even missed out on entering the Promised Land because of one of his failings.  As great as his power was, it was only a battery pack compared to what the Holy Spirit offers us today.  What surprises me is that many of us try to use the same lesser power that Moses used.

We have a better covenant than Moses had.  In my next post, I’ll show how trying to live like Moses will actually rob us of spiritual strength.

Question: Why is it popular to think that we can adequately serve God in our own strength?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Rules and Righteousness

In my last post, I talked about the difference between a ministry of rules vs. a ministry led by the Holy Spirit.  There are so many believers bound in the notion that if we can just be righteous enough, we can walk in the power of the Spirit.

They spend their lives frustrated trying to live up to the righteous rules set out by their teachers.  Many give up on ever obtaining a walk in the power of the Spirit.  Little do they know, that their quest is in vain.

And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
2 Corinthians 3:11-13

It’s the power of the law which, like batteries, eventually fades away.  Not so the power of the Spirit.  This verse literally says that it lasts, remains, stays perpetually.  What kind of power are you looking for?  A temporary boost that fades as your strength declines?  Or do you seek a power that comes from the Spirit of the living God?

The righteous life can only come from a walk of power.  Jesus not only walked in power, but also in the righteousness of the Father.  This means it’s possible for me as well.  I just need to apply the truth of Scripture to my life.

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

Righteousness is not a function of my strength or my will power.  It comes from God through His Holy Spirit.  The key is that this truth is revealed in the Gospel – the Good News.  To many believers, a righteousness from God is Good News.

As I’ve said before, so many live their lives constantly failing to live up to the standards set by Christ in the Word.  The Good News is that you don’t have to.  But wait a minute!  Maybe you think I’m talking about the imparted righteousness that God gives to us when we’re saved.  I’m not.

The Bible teaches about two different kinds of righteousness under the New Covenant.  First, there’s imparted righteousness.  This is the righteousness that Christ places within you when you’re saved.

This means that when God the Father looks at you, He sees you in Christ.  This gives you access to God at all times so that your sin will not keep you from approaching the throne for forgiveness, praise, worship, or any other purpose.  We need this righteousness to establish a relationship with the Lord as we grow in our faith.

There is also another kind of righteousness that the New Testament talks about.  That’s the walk of righteousness.

This is the application of the righteousness of God to our daily lives.  This means that I live correctly before God.  This one is harder to see manifest in my life.  That’s especially true if I try to accomplish it in my own power, as so many Christians endeavor to do.

I believe that in the above verse, Paul is talking about the walk of righteousness.  It’s this righteousness from God that allows us to live righteously.  We can never hope to walk rightly before God in our own strength.  It’s going to require us to walk in the ability of the Lord in order to please Him.

Going back to the first passage we looked at, we see that knowing this allows us to live boldly for Christ.  I know that it’s His work in me that makes me walk in His image.

Question: Why is it so tempting to please God in our own strength?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

A Ministry of Life and Death

In my last post, I talked about the victory we have in Christ, even through our humanity.  Paul now goes on to talk about what this victory looks like his in ministry.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The first thing that we need to understand is who Paul is talking about in this passage.  He’s referring to himself and his ministry team.  He tells us that their lives give off a spiritual fragrance.

Of course, this could also apply to any believer who’s walking in their calling.  Christians who are living for themselves don’t have this “aroma”.  That’s because the life of Christ is only evident in those who strive to live as Jesus did.

The apostle says that their lives create a spiritual atmosphere around them.  When people are near them, they pick up on the truths that are a part of Paul’s ministry.

Paul mentions two groups of people who his ministry affects.  He also tells us what the “fragrance” is that he’s giving off.

The two people groups have to do with the direction that they’re heading.  That’s how Paul describes them.  The first group is those who are heading toward salvation.  The second is those who are heading toward destruction.

The effect that the ministry has on these two groups may sound counter-intuitive at first.  But as we look closely at it, we’ll see what Paul means.

The first group is composed of people who are headed toward salvation.  Their desire is to see God’s completed work accomplished in their lives.  To those believers, Paul’s ministry is the aroma of death.

Why is that?  Simply put, it will take the death of self to see the resurrection power of Christ at work in you.  This all points back to something Paul wrote about in his first letter to this church.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

It’s the message of the cross, where our old self is crucified with Christ, that releases the power of God in our lives.  Those who are headed down the path to ruin and loss think that the message of the cross is foolishness.

However, Paul’s ministry also had an effect on those who were headed toward destruction.  That was the evangelistic side of his calling.  His goal was to bring light and life to those who are in darkness and sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

This is the other side of ministry.  There has to be the call to receive Christ’s offer of salvation.  It’s a call to life.

As I look at the apostle’s ministry, and how he sees these two goals, I have to agree with his final assessment.  “Who is equal to such a task?”

In our own strength and intelligence, we’ll never be able to accomplish this great work.  But, I praise God for the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  It’s His work in us that makes us competent ministers of the grace of God.

Question: How do you see the “aroma” of life and death at work in your ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 10, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Grace Under Pressure

Right now, the world is reeling under the threat of the Corona Virus.  People are scared.  Whole sections of grocery stores are sold out.  All public venues are closed down.  How do we respond to all of this?

The Apostle Paul had pressures in his day as well.  Listen to his insights.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10

It’s my hope and prayer that you’re never in a life-threatening situation.  I’m also trusting God to keep us safe and healthy in spite of all that’s going on around us.

I know, however, that weather, accidents, and natural disasters can come when least expected.  It seems like every day there’s something going on in the United States that could have tragic results.  If and when that occurs, you will be faced with a choice – do you despair and give up or do you continue to put your hope in God?

I’ve been in that kind of situation.  I know what it feels like to be trapped by an unforeseen incident with no way out and no help in sight.

At one point, I was on a solo hike in the backwoods of Maine.  I had an accident that resulted in a severe sprain.  I could barely walk and I was miles from the nearest road.

At about the same time, a huge thunderstorm hit the area.  I can tell you that at a time like this there’s a great temptation to just give up.

I praise God that the Holy Spirit within me was there to encourage me.  I continued on, even through the pain, and was miraculously brought safely out of the wilderness.  I say “miraculously” because this was before I had the use of a cell phone.

It’s truly in those times of need that God proves Himself faithful.  I can say, without hesitation, that God has never abandoned me to my problems.

We’re facing many challenges right now in our society.  The question is; how will we respond to the pressure?

The key to making it safely through a problem, either present or future, is to make the choice now, that whatever happens, you will not abandon your trust in God.  You’ll find that He’s always there with you to help you in your time of need.

The main thing that helped the apostle was the ability to look back and see how God had been faithful in the past.  As you remember what God already accomplished in you, it’s easier to trust Him with your future.  Because God showed Himself strong in my past challenges, I can expect Him to show up in my present situation.

In your prayer time today, reaffirm your trust in the Lord to take you through the hard times.  Place your life fully in His hands.

Question: What challenges has God already brought you through in the past?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 20, 2020 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare – The Personal Struggle

In many instances in the Scripture, our personal spiritual walk is described as a battle.  Light vs. darkness; Heaven vs. hell; good vs. evil.  We need to know how to live with this truth.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

In this verse, Paul is talking about the authority and power of God.  He wants to work these through us.  There’s a battle raging on the earth right now.  Unfortunately, many don’t even care about it.  Do you?

The last sentence of this quote is very important.  It literally says, attending to this with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The emphasis is that this is encompassing all the saints.

The battle is all around you whether you want it or not.  That’s why the apostle uses such strong language in his exhortation.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Think about the church today.  Picture the body of believers as an army standing before hell’s gates.  Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.  The question is; are we that victorious church that the Lord was talking about?

We should be, and in some areas, there are local churches that have the enemy on the run.  But that’s not the case everywhere.  Are all the believers in their spiritual armor?  Are all believers even willing to fight this spiritual battle?  I don’t think so.

What about the enemy’s kingdom?  Are they ready?  Absolutely.  They understand what’s at stake and they’re in it for the long haul.  They won’t give in without a fight.

Right now the arrows of the enemy are flying all around us.  If you remember, I’ve said that arrows are the first strike weapon.  The truth is that you don’t have to be in the fight to be hit by an arrow.  That’s why believers are encouraged to take the spiritual armor seriously.

How do you take the stronghold from the enemy?  First, you put on the armor and pick up your shield.  Behind the gates are the prisoners that need to be set free.

Understand this, as you approach the gates the fight goes from general to personal.  It gets to the point where it’s one on one.

Paul is not talking to all believers in this letter, but to the faithful.  That’s who I’m talking to as well.  The believers who want to make a difference in the world around them.

For the next few posts, I want to talk about this personal spiritual battle that we face on a daily basis.  I’ll use Christ as our example of how to live an overcoming lifestyle.

Question: How is your life affected by the spiritual battle?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Our Victory is in Christ

Now that we’ve seen the war against the flesh and the world, we’ll move on to the final battle.  We’re in a war against the spiritual forces of the kingdom of Satan.

As I’ve already written about, the people around us are not the enemy.  They’re prisoners of war in the spiritual battle.  They’re being held captive by the world system under the control of the devil.

It’s up to us, God’s people, to set them free and bring them to the cross.  That’s where they can find true salvation for their souls.

In order for that to happen, there are some things that we need to understand.  We can’t go into this battle with only half the information.

The first thing that we have to realize is that Christ has already won the war.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15

Jesus Christ has once and for all won the victory over all the power of the enemy kingdom.  However, that doesn’t mean that the fighting has stopped.

Just like in WWII, when the Axis powers collapsed, the Allied forces had to mop up the remaining troops.  They had to enter the concentration camps and free the surviving prisoners.  That’s where we are in the spiritual war today.

The trouble is that even in defeat, the enemy is dangerous.  He wants as few people as possible to be set free by the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just how do we thwart the devil’s plans?  The Lord already took care of this.  Look at what Christ said to His followers.

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Luke 10:19

The same power over the enemy that the Lord walked in has been conferred upon us.  We have authority over the enemy’s kingdom.  Of course, the devil would like that to remain a carefully guarded secret.

As long as we look to the future for our victory, we’ll never see the enemy kingdom back down.  We must learn to walk in the authority of Christ that we’ve already been given.

We need to see a God’s-eye-view of the spiritual war.

“…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [Hell] will not overcome it.”
Matthew 16:18b

We have to come to the realization that the gates of Hell don’t move.  They don’t attack the church.  These gates are fixed around what the enemy already possesses and he’s trying to keep hold of.

The gates of Hell are around our centers of education.  They surround our political systems.  They’re also around our entertainment industry.

What we need to see is that it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.  The gates of Hell – all the power of the enemy – cannot withstand an attack by God’s people walking in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Too often we try to infiltrate these areas of society using the rules of the world.  That’s why we only achieve limited success.  We need to learn to take this battle into the spiritual realm.

I’m going to take a few posts to talk about what God has given us in order to walk in the victory that Christ has already won for us.

Question: What are the spiritual battles that you’re facing right now?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,