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Three Components of God’s Wisdom

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is laying out the basis for walking in the power of God.  According to the apostle, it’s through the Word of the cross that this power is accessed.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Never forget that all the power we need for life and godliness is from one source.  It’s all because we’re in Christ.  It has nothing to do with how good I am, or how faithful I’ve been to God.  It’s His work, only, that’s given me this blessing.

We know from the rest of this chapter that the cross was the supreme revelation of the wisdom of God.  When I grasp what happened there, I can embrace and walk in the power of God.  Of course, we have to wait until chapter 2 to see what it takes to lay hold of this wisdom.

But for now, Paul gives us a description of what are the major components of this wisdom.  There are three specific parts to how God operates in us.

The first is His righteousness.  Simply put, righteousness is being seen as right or correct in God’s eyes.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, we can be seen as righteous no matter what our past is like.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Because I’m in Christ, God the Father sees the righteousness of Christ, rather than my personal failures.  That allows me into His presence, where my life can be changed, daily, into the walk of righteousness.

Next is holiness.  This is the description of anything that has been made clean and consecrated for God’s use.  In the Old Testament, everything used in the Temple had to be made holy.  Giving us a position of holiness was another work that Christ did on the cross.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith…
Colossians 1:22-23a

By trusting in what Christ did on the cross, I’m now seen as holy; set apart for God’s personal use.  This is an important truth because nothing impure or unholy can enter God’s presence.

On my own, I have no holiness to offer.  Because of this, I would have no right to come into God’s presence.  The problem is that I can only be made clean in His presence.

Now, because I’m seen as holy in Christ, I can come before God without any accusation.  In that way, I can be purified to live a life of holiness in Him.

The third part of God’s wisdom is redemption.  This is probably the greatest gift of all.  It’s what the enemy never saw coming.  Redemption means that on the cross, Christ made the complete payment to buy us out of slavery to Satan and the world.

Righteousness and holiness would have been little help to us if we were still under the authority and control of sin.  Because of the work of Christ on the cross, we are free to serve God as a part of His kingdom.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…
Ephesians 1:7

The wisdom of God is the most wonderful part of our life with God.  In the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul says that we can access it in our walk with the Lord.

Question: What blesses you the most about God’s wisdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 17, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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From Holy to Holy

In my last post, I finished my series on First Thessalonians.  The next Scripture that was inspired by the Holy Spirit was Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church.  The background for these is found in Acts 18-19.

The Apostle Paul ministered in Corinth for about two years, establishing the church.  After some further travels, he came to Ephesus, where he stayed for almost three years, working with that church.

During his stay at Ephesus, Paul began to hear rumors of disorder in the Corinthian church.  He then made a hurried visit, but matters only got worse.  He then started to receive numerous visits and letters from the leadership of the church in Corinth.

As a result, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to write his first letter to the Corinthian church.  This is probably the most practical of all his letters.  It deals with many of the issues that believers face in their daily lives.

His opening statements are important in setting the tone for this letter.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3

This is probably one of the most important things that believers of any generation need to hear.  I think that sometimes we miss it in our present walk with God.  It’s Paul’s statement that we are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.

We don’t get it because of the words used in the translation.  Both the word, sanctified and the word, holy are the same Greek word, just different tenses.  Sanctified means to be made holy.

The next question that arises is; what does holy mean?  The definition of holy is to be pure, clean, and blameless in a religious sense.  It’s used in speaking about something that has been set apart and consecrated to God for His purposes.

In the Scripture, holiness has two important uses.  We need to know both.  The first is the position of holiness that we’re given in Christ.  Because the Holy Spirit lives in me, I’m holy in Christ; set apart by God for His use.

There’s also the walk of holiness.  That’s when I actually live like I’m set apart to God.  The Bible speaks of both kinds of holiness.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
2 Timothy 2:20-21

When I submit to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, He can work God’s holiness into my life.  Then those around me will recognize the fact that I’m set apart to the Lord.

We need both the position and the walk of holiness if we’re going to fulfill our callings in Christ.  That’s why Paul starts this letter on that foundation.  He’s going to be explaining this in detail to the Corinthian church.

It’s something that I believe we also need in our generation.  As I’ve said before, the first letter to the Corinthians is one of the most important messages to strengthen our walk with the Lord.

Question: How does the walk of holiness differ from the position of holiness?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Holiness – Walk or Position

In my last post I talked about how church leaders need to spend quality time in God’s presence. They need to hear a Word from God to pass on to their people.

Much of church teaching today has no effect on the people. I believe it’s because most church people know that it doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit, but from the training and study of the teacher. Of course a leader must train and study, but the goal should be to hear what God wants said at the meeting.

Now Paul is going to talk to them about a segment of the known will of God.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

In my last post I explained why 1 Thessalonians was one of the foundational books. In this verse we see another “first”. This is the first time that the word sanctification or holiness appears. This is important to us.

Paul tells us that we should be sanctified – made holy – and uses an example of what it looks like. One of the signs is an avoidance of sexual immorality. The word Paul uses for this is the general term for any sexual sin.

I know that there are a lot of believers who like to deal with people about the sin. That’s not the right place to start. We should be stressing holiness. If we understood true holiness, then sin wouldn’t be an issue.

The problem of understanding stems from the fact that there are two forms that holiness takes. When we’re saved, God immediately declares us to be holy in Christ. We’re set apart to Him and are free to approach His throne whenever we want. This is called positional holiness.

Paul isn’t talking about positional holiness in this verse. Because he explains a sanctification that can be seen in your lifestyle, he’s talking about the walk of holiness.

One of the imbalances I see in the church these days is the overemphasis on the position of holiness. The Holy Spirit felt that it was important that the first mention of this principle in Scripture, be the walk of sanctification.

I believe that when an immature Christian hears about their positional sanctification, without hearing about the corresponding change of lifestyle, they become apathetic to the life-changing work of the Spirit of God.

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

This passage sums up what’s been said so far. Paul is talking about a lifestyle of holiness. We should expect to see our lives changed by the salvation of God at work in us.

If there’s no ongoing change in a person’s life, that’s evidence that they’re rejecting God. After all, when we’re saved, God places His Holy Spirit in us. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to change us into the image of Christ.

We must allow the Holy Spirit within us to continue making us holy.

Question: How would you describe the difference between the position of holiness and the walk of holiness?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The New Man

 

MirrorI’ve been posting about the teachings that Paul referred to in his letter to the Ephesian church.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

I’ve talked about the putting off of the old self and the renewal of the mind. The final piece that these early believers were taught was how to put on the new man that was created to be like God.

This process can take place slowly or quickly, depending upon our obedience and understanding. In looking at the modern church, it seems like this is the step that we know the least about. We definitely have very little experience with it.

But, before I get into the “how” of putting on the new man, I need to warn you. What I found in Scripture, as I studied it, totally changed my perception of how God works in us. As I got deeper and deeper into the Word, I found that my definition of the words I was reading was inadequate and, in some cases, inaccurate.

As we go along, I will have to redefine some words that the church has watered down over time. It wasn’t done maliciously, but it’s had a negative effect on us none the less. Please keep an open mind as you prayerfully take in what the Word of God teaches us.

Keep in mind that this is what the early believers were taught, at least under Paul’s ministry. Through prayer in the spirit, they overcame and put off the old man. They won the war against the flesh and its misdeeds.

Also through prayer in the spirit they were able to grasp and retain the mind of the Lord. It caused their minds to be renewed in the process. They no longer thought the way they used to.

Now there’s a need to put on the new man. The old is gone, but we must replace it with something better. God wants to give a new nature that’s been manufactured, fabricated, to be like God.

What’s the sign of this transformation? According to the Scripture, it’s true righteousness and holiness in the lives of those who accept it. I’m not talking about positional righteousness and holiness. As important as these are, they don’t always manifest in the lives of believers. They must be laid hold of by faith.

I’m talking about the actual, physical walk of righteousness. It’s living out the holiness that God has for us. When this happens, the world sees something different in us.

Unfortunately, based upon this definition of the new man, much of modern Christianity has missed it. What we have is a church that can’t get out of its own way. God’s people are too busy chasing after the world and its pleasures. All the while we’re confessing Scripture and believing for the blessing of God. Any talk of commitment or devotion to God is seen as condemnation and we avoid it.

The simple truth is that we’ll never be like Jesus until we put on this new man. The phrase put on literally means to sink into like a robe. We must be immersed in it.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:12

It’s clear from this verse, and many others, that putting on the new man is a matter of our choice. It’s not automatic. Why would we be exhorted over and over again to do it if it would just happen by itself? It’s another step in our Christian growth.

For the next few posts I’m going to share what I learned as I looked deeply into the Scripture concerning this truth.

Question: How does the modern church compare to the life that Jesus Christ exemplified for us?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Living the Truth

 

ButterflyGod wants us to understand that living for Him is not just a single decision, but an ongoing walk. Sometimes I think that the modern church has lost sight of the spiritual life that the early church walked in. It’s a principle that many believers in former generations understood. We need to relearn some of the truths that we’ve let slip over time.

I like looking at church history. I read how those in the past lived for Christ. Sometimes the walk of these early Christians, and even my grandparents, amazes me. I see a walk of righteousness that we only dream about. It causes me to ask, why do we struggle with things that they overcame on a daily basis?

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve lost something over time. In the above verse Paul said, “You were taught…” What was it that they were taught? I believe it was how to walk according to the Spirit.

It’s not something you just grow into. You don’t just wake up one day mature in the Lord. These are things that we need to be taught. More than that, we must accept, apply and perform them.

We sometimes get in trouble theologically because we rip things out of context. We apply things to our lives that are not for us or that we haven’t attained to yet. We need to know who this verse was written to.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus…
Ephesians 1:1

Scripture wasn’t written in a vacuum.   There were things surrounding what was written. The letter to the Ephesian church was sent to a group of mature, faithful believers who were walking in the truths Paul was writing about. They understood these things – and I’m convinced that many of us in the modern church don’t.

Here’s what happens. We read the words in chapter 4, above, and we think that it’s true about us. We think that Paul is writing these words to us. No, on the contrary, he’s writing to a people who are living it; as an example to us.

If the things Paul wrote in that verse were true of us, then we would be experiencing it in our daily walk. Why then are we still corrupted by our deceitful desires? Why do so many in the church still have the same attitudes as the world? Why, in the church today, do we still not live like Jesus, with the same love and works that He operated in?

I believe it’s because we’ve lost some of the truth that these other generations possessed. There are three things in the above verses that need to be done. Paul said that they put off their old man, renewed their minds and put on the new man.

I’m convinced that these milestones are worked on after our initial salvation. Paul makes it clear that these were things that they were taught. Teaching requires time, and I don’t think it was time spent being taught before they received Christ.

This has been on my heart for a while now. I’m burdened not only for myself but for the church as a whole to experience this renewal. Because of that, I may be posting about this subject for longer than I normally take for a series. But I really think that it’s needed and relevant to the church today.

Question: What would the church look like if we were “like God in true righteousness and holiness”?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Holiness – The Pull of Worship

EmeraldI’m currently posting about the atmosphere surrounding the true worship of God. I’m using the gems mentioned in Revelation, chapter 4, as a starting point. I’ve already talked about praise and the principle of ownership.

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Revelation 4:3

The next gemstone that I want to talk about is the emerald. Emeralds are in the beryl family. Because chromium is in their composition, they have a green color.

Many nations have used this gem for their crown jewels. It’s considered by many cultures a “Holy Gem.” The emperor Nero had glasses made of it to watch the gladiator games. Aristotle said that owning an emerald made you important simply because you possessed it.

When I think about all of these aspects, I can understand this emerald glow around the throne of God. When I come into the Lord’s presence I can see things as they truly are.

I came to God as a worthless nobody in my sight, now because of His grace, I’m important to Him. He wants me in His kingdom. The Lord looks the same way at you. We are all precious to Him.

True worship springs from this attitude of holiness. When I understand that I’m set apart for God, for His good pleasure, it’s easier to worship.

You need to understand that in Christ you’re not like everyone else in the world. You’ve been born again into the family of God. You’re a joint-heir with Christ Jesus. You have a calling and a destiny that’s greater than you can imagine.

Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
Psalms 96:9

Throughout the Bible worship and holiness are linked together. One flows from the other. It’s even found in the New Testament.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

This is true worship. It’s birthed in the atmosphere where you see your whole being as set apart for His purposes. When you’re in that place, worship can flow freely. That’s because you realize just how much you mean to the Lord. You’re free to be intimate in His presence.

As God’s people we need to cultivate this attitude of holiness. It will truly usher us into the matchless presence of our loving Father.

Question: How do our attitudes about holiness affect our worship of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Revival, Worship

 

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Sonship – Position vs. Walk

Different AnointingIn my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we have been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We are placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We have also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes in when we fail to understand that there is a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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