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Do You Know the Two Kinds of Testing?

ClimberWe all go through challenging times in our lives. The Bible calls them trials or tests. None of us are exempt, so we need to be aware of how they function.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Notice that James is not saying that the trial is a blessing. Our blessing is the result of coming through the test victoriously. If you remember from the first post in this series; it’s our faith that’s tried. This trial then brings perseverance and results in our faith being approved as genuine.

But what exactly are these tests all about? James goes on to explain it to us.

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

First, we must understand the words being used. In the English Bible, the words temptation, test, and trial all mean different things to us. In the original Greek they’re all the same word. The translators used these different English words depending upon the context.

In this verse, James is only referring to one kind of testing – testing by evil. In this post I want to talk about the two kinds that are spoken of in Scripture.

The first I want to share about is testing by evil. This is usually called temptation by the translators. This is when we are given the opportunity to do something against God’s law or human law. It could also be troublesome, injurious, or destructive to us or others.

In thinking about testing, it’s important that we don’t get our theology from cartoons. There isn’t any little demon or angel sitting on our shoulder, whispering into our ears!

James makes it clear that usually the devil is not even involved. I think that we give him too much credit. It’s actually our own flesh that brings on the temptations that we face. We are tempted when our sin nature wants something that’s not God’s best for us. The only way to overcome consistantly is by a lifestyle of fasting and prayer in the spirit. (For more detail on these, click fasting or prayer)

The second kind is testing by God. James only says that God doesn’t use evil to test us, but there is a test that He sets up for us. This happened a lot with Jesus and His disciples.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:5-6

In this kind of testing, the Lord brings opportunities before us. Their purpose is to show forth the faith that has been produced in us as a result of hearing His Word. He wants us and others to see the growth that’s taking place in us. The result should bring glory to Christ working in us.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

Knowing these two types of trials will help us to be victorious no matter what challenges we face. As we rely upon the Holy Spirit, we can become mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Question: How has the testing process worked maturity in your Christian walk?

©Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Healing Principles – The Sin Nature

TargetI believe that Christ is the Healer. I believe that in His death, burial, and resurrection He paid the price for all sickness and disease to be healed. That being said, I also understand the reality that not everyone is healed at this point in church history.

Just like it’s God’s desire for all to be saved, I believe He wants us all healthy and whole. But please understand, I’m not one of those who lightly says, “You just didn’t have enough faith” when someone’s not healed.

There are certain kingdom principles that I think we’ve missed along the way. I want to take a few posts to talk about some of these as they relate to the healing that’s available to all believers.

The first is the principle of the sin nature. We need to understand how this relates to sickness. I covered this aspect in great detail in a series I posted called Healing 101. To read that series click here.

The bottom line of what Scripture teaches is that sickness is a part of the sin nature. Let me be clear – sickness is not always caused by a specific sin in our life, but it is a part of the total sin package that Adam embraced.

Sin means to miss the mark. Adam was created to never be sick. Sickness misses the mark of God’s desire for our health. Jesus Christ himself made reference to this fact during His ministry on earth. This took place when a group of men lowered their sick friend to Jesus through a hole they cut in the roof.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Luke 5:20-26

In looking at this event in the life of Jesus, it’s important to note that the Greek word that we translate as forgive literally means to remove. Therefore, according to Jesus’ own testimony, in order to prove that He could remove sin – He removed sickness.

Jesus would not have made such an amazing statement unless it was true. This is one of the most important concepts we need to hear. When a person is healed, a manifestation of the sin nature is removed from their life.

In order to understand how healing works in the church, we must first come to grips with this truth. God feels the same way about sickness that he feels about any other sin – He wants it gone!

That’s good news. I don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s God’s will to heal me. It is. I just need to understand the guiding principles about how that healing is accomplished in me.

Hopefully, over the next few posts I can bring those across. My prayer is that as you read these, you can lay hold of it. If the result is that your healing manifests, please share it with us in the comments so that God can get the glory for His work in you.

Question: How has God healed you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Healing, Ministry, Power of God

 

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Spiritual Surgery

 

surgeryI’ve been posting about how we deal with our old sin nature. In my last post I said that water baptism was the first step in this process. Through it we identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Here Paul tells us that in the same way we trusted Christ in baptism, we must count or literally inventory ourselves dead, indeed, to sin.

This goes right along with our baptism. In verse 3 of Romans chapter 6 we were baptized into His death. Now in verse 11, there’s something that Paul is hoping you’ll move into by faith. Paul describes this step to the Colossian church.

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12

This is what we want to concentrate on – the putting off of the sinful nature. According to Paul, this is a surgical procedure that can only be done by Christ.

It isn’t a work I can perform. It doesn’t matter how much will-power I put forth. Only Christ, Himself, can bring it to pass in my life. I must submit under the blade of the divine Surgeon.

There are two prerequisites to this surgery. The first is baptism and the second is faith in the power of God. This means that I can’t look to myself and how well I can obey God. It’s all about how much I trust His power working in my life. How much am I willing to surrender to Him?

It’s the same as in the natural world. If I don’t trust the surgeon in a medical procedure, then I will not allow them to put me under the anesthesia.   I’ll only let someone I trust have that much power over my body. Do we trust Christ enough to consent to His life changing work in us?

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

There’s another key point to this work of Christ in us. It can only be done in the spirit. It’s not something that I can physically accomplish. Neither is it a choice that I make in my mind.

The change is required in my heart. The old self has to be removed. How can my sin nature remove itself? It would never willingly choose to do that.

To get the old sin nature out of our heart requires outside assistance. That’s why it’s a work that only Christ can do, and it must be a spiritual work.

It’s for this reason that an understanding of the Word of God as a sword is so important.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The sword of the spirit is the scalpel that performs the work in our heart. In the past I’ve emphasized that the things of the spirit can only be received through prayer in the spirit. This is the work that needs to be done in us. It’s a work that must be done in the spirit. Only prayer in the spirit will accomplish the change that’s necessary in our hearts.

In order for God to do this work in us, we must yield ourselves to Him. As in any surgery, we must willingly go under the knife if our healing is to take place. This is true for our spiritual surgery as well.

Question: How has Prayer in the Spirit changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Which Criminal are You?

CrossesWe all want to experience the resurrection power of Christ in our lives. We just don’t like the road that it takes to get there. Paul understood what needed to happen to walk in the power.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:5-7

This is a huge verse. For Paul, it was the foundation for all that he did. He writes that we should know this. But knowing and applying are sometimes two very different things.

The Greek words of this verse say that our old, antique, worn out man is crucified with Him. What does that mean to you? How do you see this taking place on a daily basis? What’s your reaction to it? These are the important questions we all need to deal with.

Actually, we can gain some insight into it by looking at the scene of the Lord’s death on Calvary. There were a couple of people who really were crucified with Christ. What was their reaction?

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Luke 23:39

Here’s the first response. You’re the Christ. It sounds like there’s some level of belief. But the plea is, “Save yourself AND ME!”

The unfortunate thing about this is that many believers do the same thing. They’ll try everything possible other than crucifying the old nature.

“Lord, surely there must be some way to keep the things I enjoyed about the old man.”

What we need to realize is that it’s because of our sin nature that Christ went to the cross. That’s exactly where our flesh needs to hang. It needs to be done away with, never to be heard from again.

It was the second criminal that got it right.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:40-43

He understood that the cross was where he belonged. But that wasn’t the end of the story. He was also looking forward to the resurrection power of Christ.

There are two responses to being crucified with Christ. Which do you choose? Keeping the old man as long as you can, trying to make him be good. Or will you nail him to the cross with Christ and open yourself up to the power of the risen Lord.

I want to experience the manifestation of the kingdom of God during this life. To do that I need to make sure that my sin nature is right where it belongs – nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Question: What does it take to crucify the old sin nature?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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Healing 101 – Sickness and God’s Will

PillsThroughout both the Bible, God equates sickness with the sin nature.  His treatment of sickness is the same as His treatment of sin – total removal.  In my last post we saw that Jesus taught that sickness was a manifestation of sin.  During His ministry He went about removing sickness.

This proves that sickness is never God’s will for your life.  In the Gospels, there’s no evidence that Jesus refused to heal anybody for any reason.

To prove that God wants you to remain sick, all you have to do is find a verse where Jesus said, “I’m sorry.  I would really like to heal you, but it’s the Father’s will that you bring glory to Him by remaining sick.”

There’s nowhere in the Bible where Jesus ever touched someone and said, “Be blind.  I need to teach you something that you can’t learn any other way.”

You will not find it.  It’s not there.  Jesus healed everyone who came to Him.

What about the apostles?

As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
Acts 5:15-16

When the apostles prayed – ALL WERE HEALED!  There are some who say that this was just the infancy of the church.  God wanted to start things off with a bang; a lot of healings right at the beginning to get people’s attention.

So really what these people are saying is that God thought, “I’ll get everybody healed now, to get them excited about the church.  Then, once they get going, I’ll show them what I’m really like.”

The God I serve does not change!  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  Look at the testimony from the end of the book of Acts when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta.  During that time he met an official named Publius.

His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
Acts 28:8-9

All were healed!  What about the next generation of believers?

Based upon my studies, I believe that the book of James was the first book of the New Testament to be written.  It’s our first glimpse into the teaching of the church.  What does Pastor James tell us about the ministry of healing that took place among his people?

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:14-15

According to James, all the sick, not just some, could go to the elders and expect to be healed.  Not maybe or most of the time.

We know that confessing sin brings forgiveness.  James only mentioned that once.  He declared the fact of healing twice.

Just because this isn’t our experience, doesn’t make it any less of God’s will.

We need to relearn our knowledge of God’s plan.  God is teaching this truth to the church right now.  We need to trust God for the total restoration of this gift to the church.

Question: Why is it easier to believe that God forgives sin than for Him to heal the sick?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Healing

 

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