Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mind - Control Your Mind - Ephesians 6 and 2 Cor.10 - February 28, 2010

Bible Study – Mind – Control Your Mind – February 28, 2010

This is our final study in the series entitled “Battle for the Mind.”

Our scripture is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17.

This has been an interesting series of study. I have been pondering what we have been studying for the past few weeks. As believers, we have been saved from the consequences of our sin and eternal death. We are born-again into the family of GOD, filled with and indwelled by the HOLY SPIRIT, given the gift of eternal life. Our citizenship is in heaven, we have direct access to GOD 24/7, we may address GOD as Daddy and we are made righteous through CHRIST’S passion. Believers have the presence of GOD in them and the power that comes from GOD through the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT, so why aren’t they more effective? Each believer has to examine his/her life to be able to answer that question. My answer is that my flesh still gets in the way.

Each believer is in the process of sanctification, which is the process of being made into the image of CHRIST. GOD has equipped each believer with the necessary tools to accomplish this. The missing and vital ingredient is our will. GOD gives each believer the freedom of choice. This is the battle for the mind. It is not to make robots out of believers but it is the battle for the very seat or core of our inner being where choices are made. It is believers choosing the mind-set to either follow the dictates of the flesh, Satan, or the dictates of the Spirit, GOD.

Believers live in a world ruled by Satan. Believers become the enemy of Satan the instant they receive CHRIST as their SAVIOR. Satan’s job is to defeat and destroy every believer. That is why CHRIST has equipped every believer with HIS power, HIS assurance and all the things necessary to live in unity with HIM, which is the victorious Christian life. That is why every believer must remain in unity and relationship with CHRIST or else Satan will defeat him/her on earth. Being a Christian is not passive but active.

Believers will not lose their salvation because they have been born into GOD’S family. Just as you were born into your family, there is nothing you can do to change who your parents are. You can change your name and move away to distant lands but your parents will forever be your parents. The same is with GOD. Once you have been born into the family of GOD, through the miracle of the rebirth, there is nothing you can do which will change that fact.

So how are you born into GOD’S family? Ask CHRIST to forgive you of your sins, believe that HE shed HIS blood upon the cross and died for your sins and was resurrected from the dead. The resurrection of CHRIST is proof that CHRIST paid the price for sin and was the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of all who will believe. The victory has already been won by CHRIST.

So why do believers still have to do battle with Satan? Believers are born-again but GOD has chosen for them to remain in their bodies on earth to obediently serve HIM, grow and mature spiritually. Thus believers are housed in their bodies of flesh which have not been redeemed. The process of sanctification is the process of the HOLY SPIRIT working from within to produce and bring under control a believer’s flesh. But again, GOD gives every believer the freedom of choice or mind-set to choose.
Every believer is in a spiritual battle 24/7. Paul gives us a glimpse of the spirit world and Christian warfare in the following scripture.

Let’s read Ephesians 6:10-12:

Christian Warfare

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics[10] Or schemes, or tricks of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.[11] Eph 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10

The Apostle Paul had addressed the importance of unity in CHRIST to the Christians at the church in Ephesus. He concluded his letter with a strong command using the word “finally.” In essence he was saying, “Pay attention to this because it is important.” The phrase “be strengthened by the LORD” in the original Greek is passive and imperative. It carried the idea that neither the church [nor Christians] can make itself [themselves] stronger as the result of its [their] own strength. GOD is the only ONE WHO can make the believer stronger and only to the extent he/she is willing to put on the full armor that GOD provides. Believers cannot choose which pieces of the armor they want to put on. They must “put on” the entire ensemble because they are going into battle and do not know what they will encounter during a day. The words “put on” are not an option. As used in this scripture they are a command.

In verse 12, Paul states that believers are in battle. It is a battle for their mind-set. When a believer’s mind-set is on the things above, he/she must suit up for battle. When their mind-set is on the flesh, they are vulnerable and Satan will move in. Many people will comment that, “Surely, you do not believe that Satan is real.” That is what Satan wants people to believe, especially believers. Satan is very real and he is out to deceive and destroy the believer.

Our modern day warriors know the value of dressing for battle and the importance of their dress and equipment because they never know what they will encounter. When our men and women in uniform go into enemy territory each day, they depend on their equipment to protect them and to be available to them at the moment of need. Spiritual warfare is no different. Believers never know when, where or how the enemy plans to attack. Deception is part of the enemies plan to defeat and destroy.

Satan is no different. He is a deceiver and he can disguise himself. The Bible tells us that he can disguise himself as an angel of light - 2 Corinthians 11:14 - 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself is disguised as an angel of light.

Paul makes it clear that believers are not fighting against flesh and blood but against – (1) the rulers, (2) against the authorities, (3)against the world powers of this darkness, (4) against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.[11] Eph 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10

Who are these spiritual foes? They are fallen angels – Satan, demons and evil spirits. Does Satan involve fellow humans to battle believers? Yes. Believers never know where the attack will come from. Many believers innocently wander into Satan’s domain by dabbling in Horoscopes, fortune tellers, séances, tarot cards, reading tea leaves, lucky charms, watching, reading or listening to things that can lure them into compromise and the list goes on. Believers must be ready and prepared at all times to do battle with Satan. When you encounter things that lure you, claim the blood of JESUS and remember the scripture in 1 John 4:4 -
4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. That is “Greater is HE (CHRIST) that is in you than he (Satan) that is in the world.” A believer’s protection is the shed blood of JESUS.

This is not to frighten young believers but to alert them to truth and to let them know that victory is in CHRIST. Look to HIM and claim the blood of JESUS if you encounter evil. (We could do an entire study of this but let’s move on.)

Let’s read Ephesians 6:13-17:

13 This is why you must take up the full armor[12] 1 Th 5:8 of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.[13] Ready to go tell others about the gospel 16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

Again, the words Paul used are a command and not an option – “Put on the full armor ---.” Why, because the believer will encounter a formidable foe. Satan is not to be taken lightly. Yes, CHRIST has defeated him but believers remain in their earth suits and are warriors for CHRIST and enemies of Satan. Believers must maintain battle readiness so they can resist in the evil day and having properly prepared, they will not run but will take their stand. If they have properly prepared, when the heat of the battle is over, they will still be standing in victory.

To be properly prepared here is what a believer is to put on:

- Truth like a belt around your waist. The Roman soldier’s waist belt gave him support and held the tools of warfare for him to access in battle. Truth is vital for the believer. This is why believers must know they have encountered CHRIST in a personal way. They have asked CHRIST to forgive them for their sins and to come into their lives. They know that CHRIST is in them by the confirmation of the HOLY SPIRIT. They know the truth because the truth will set them free of doubt. This is the result of being born-again into the family of GOD, building a relationship with GOD through CHRIST and really getting to know HIM, not just knowing about HIM.

- Breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of the Roman soldier was critical because it protected his vital organs – lungs, throat, liver, etc. Righteousness is vital to all believers. Truth and righteousness go together. Keep in mind that believers are made righteous at the instant they ask CHRIST into their lives. 2 Corinthians 5:21 - 21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- Shoes for your feet. The Roman soldier wore shoes with hobnails. Hobnails gave sure footing and prevented the soldier from slipping during battle. The Christian warrior is to know the gospel of CHRIST, which is to know the truth and not to just know about the truth. Knowing truth means that the HOLY SPIRIT has revealed truth to you as you have sought truth through your relationship with CHRIST and reading and studying the Bible, GOD’S Word. Many believers seek truth from fellow believers. They can be good sources but they can be poor sources. It depends upon their walk with our LORD. I found that I had embraced a number of false notions about GOD along the way. False notions about GOD will fail every time and when they fail, believers become discouraged with GOD. The workbook “Experiencing God” authored by Dr. Henry Blackaby and Claude V. King, LifeWay publishers, available at Baptist book stores or Christian bookstores is an excellent workbook to help believers evaluate their relationship with GOD and see truth. When I went through the workbook several years ago, I told GOD, “I was not going from one section to another until HE and I were in harmony with each other. I had issues with HIM and I was sure HE had issues with me.” Be honest with GOD and reveal all your hang-ups with HIM to HIM. That is the only way you will get to truth. GOD can take it. HE already knows how you feel about HIM but when you bring it into the open, then both of you can deal with it. Do it because it will be an awesome experience.

- Shield of faith. The Roman soldier carried a large shield which covered their body. The enemy would dip their arrows into pitch and ignite them and shoot them at the soldier. The Romans had devised their shields such that the flaming arrows would be deflected. Paul likens this to spiritual warfare and Satan and his army shooting flaming arrows at believers. Faith is vital when you are in the thick of battle. It is our faith in CHRIST that is vital. CHRIST has already won the battle. Believers are not to retreat but to stand firm and hold their ground because their faith is in CHRIST’S ability.

- Helmet of salvation. The helmet was vital protection for the Roman soldier. Paul used the word “take” which can also mean “receive.” Salvation is the very core of rebirth. Salvation is from CHRIST. A person cannot earn his/her salvation because it is a free gift as the result of a person asking CHRIST to forgive him/her of his/her sins. Believers’ knowing they are saved is ground zero. Romans 8:16 tells us that – 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

- Sword of the Spirit. The sword was vital to the Roman soldier. The Roman soldier had a small weapon for hand to hand combat. The soldier also had a larger sword which was used for both offensive and defensive purposes. The Bible tells us that GOD’S Word is a sword in Hebrews 4:12 – 12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. GOD’S Word is a powerful weapon.

By putting on the full armor, a believer is putting on CHRIST and in doing so it is CHRIST who is battling the spirit world through the believer. Paul addressed this in our next scripture.

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

3 For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way,[2] Lit war according to flesh 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Some of the Apostle Paul’s critics accused him of walking in the flesh. Paul acknowledged that he, as well as, all believers walk in the flesh and cannot wage war against Satan in the flesh. However, when believers put on their spiritual clothes, they are prepare to do battle in and through the power of the Spirit, which is CHRIST’S power. When believers are fully clothed by GOD, through CHRIST, they are prepared to invade and demolish strongholds, arguments and high-minded things of Satan.

What are strongholds, arguments and high-minded things?

Strongholds are fortresses where Satan has dug in and is well fortified in the hearts and minds of believers and non-believers alike. Flesh attempts cannot penetrate these strongholds. Only the power of GOD can penetrate and destroy. The battle field is the mind, which responds to either the things of the Spirit or the flesh. Believers can get caught up in sin that takes them captive into strongholds such as addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography, the occult, spiritual compromise, anger, bitterness, stealing and the list goes on.

Arguments and high-minded things are arguments against knowing GOD, yielding to HIS will and obediently serving HIM. Being clothed in the armor of GOD allows a Spiritual warrior to deal more effectively with deception and the clever tactics used by Satan. The tools of the spirit-world are revealed and rendered ineffective. The born-again believer must be fully clothed in the armor that GOD provides to allow GOD’S power to penetrate and defeat these strongholds and various arguments and supply the wisdom and strategy that can only come from GOD.

It is wise for believers to enlist fellow born-again believers to join them as prayer warriors when battling strongholds, arguments and high-minded things. This is especially true when you encounter people who have been involved with the occult. When dealing with those involved in the occult, always have at least two believers who are fully clothed Spiritually with you and have a separate group of prayer warriors praying for you and your team as you go into battle.

Keep in mind that “Greater is HE that is in you than he that is in the world.”
Paul ends with “take every thought captive.” When a wrong thought enters your mind, take it captive immediately. Do not let it lie there. CHRIST has already defeated Satan and his army. But this does not mean that you won’t have to be in the battle. Just know that you will be in battles but when they are over, you will be standing firm and even stronger in the LORD because you have seen the power of GOD at work through you.

Be careful after the battle. JESUS sent seventy (70) disciples on a mission trip in pairs to areas where HE was to preach the gospel. When they returned they were excited about the power of GOD. Here is what JESUS told them in Luke 10:17-20:

The Return of the Seventy

17 The Seventy[4] Other mss read The Seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” 18 He (JESUS) said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash. 19 Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions[5] Gn 3:15; Dt 8:15; Ps 91:13 and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you. 20 However, don’t rejoice that[6] Lit don’t rejoice in this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Believers must be careful not to become Spiritually arrogant and self sufficient. Believers must always keep in mind it is GOD’S power working through them. Even Satan can use Spiritual success as an opportunity to capture the mind. Our minds are very active and many thoughts run through them every day. Be carful what you dwell upon. That is why believers must put on the full armor of GOD daily

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mind - What's on Your Mind - Colossians 3:1-14 - February 21, 2010

Bible Study – Mind – What’s on Your Mind – February 21, 2010

This study three (3) in our series entitled “Battle for the Mind.”

Our scripture is Colossians 3:1-14.

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Colossae. Paul did not start this church but it is believed that Epaphras (EP uh frass) may have started it. The church was encountering false teachings. It is not clear what the false teachings were but they took away the supremacy of CHRIST, which led to attitudes and actions unworthy of Christians. It could have been an infiltration of Gnostics in the church.
Paul emphasized the need for believers to be the same inside and outside. The key to being the same inside and out is what is on your mind. If JESUS were to approach a believer at random moments and ask him/her to reveal their thoughts, would his/her thoughts be pleasing to HIM? A believer’s thought life is a good barometer of his/her spiritual growth and maturity. It reveals the degree a believer has been transformed by the renewing of his/her mind.

Paul mentions CHRIST’S death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven to sit at the right hand of GOD

Trying to renew your mind on your own is impossible. Renewal of the mind is accomplished by the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT to the degree a believer allows HIM.

Let’s read Colossians 3:1-4:

The Life of the New Man
1 So if you have been raised with the • Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. 4 When the Messiah, who is your[1] Other mss read our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

In a recent study, we discussed the fact that, in essence, when a person became a true believer in CHRIST, he/she died when CHRIST died on the cross, was resurrected with CHRIST and ascended into Heaven. The miracle of our Spiritual rebirth brings believers into complete unity with GOD through CHRIST. GOD chose to leave believers upon earth to be HIS witnesses to the lost and in need of salvation. Satan knows that, so he tries to break a believer’s unity with CHRIST, thus GOD, through compromise.

Since our citizenship and home is in heaven, believers are to “set their minds” or think the way GOD desires. In the model prayer JESUS gave us a glimpse of the mindset GOD desires in believers – Matthew 6:9-10 - 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

When believers pray they need to pray from the mindset of obedience, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Only those who are believers, in unity, with CHRIST can carry out GOD’S will and purpose upon earth.

I recall a story I heard from a former pastor many years ago. A military flight instructor drilled into the heads of his student pilots the absolute necessity of checking their instruments especially when flying when they do not have a visible land reference such as bad weather. A student asked him why he was such a stickler about them checking and relying on their instruments under such conditions.

The flight instructor told his students about a time when he was flying in bad weather and could not see any landmark. He was flying by the seat of his pants. He thought his left wing was drooping so he corrected it by applying pressure to the right to raise it. He continued to feel that his left wing was drooping so he applied more pressure to lift the wing. He did this several times and he felt his shoulder straps cutting into his shoulders. He decided to check his instruments to discover that he was flying upside down and in the wrong direction. He said, “That is why I am telling you to watch and rely upon your instruments when you fly, especially when you are flying in conditions when you have no land reference.”

I learned to fly many years ago. Learning to fly by the seat of your pants, especially in a small aircraft, becomes natural because you are in unity with the aircraft and you can feel the position of the aircraft from your bottom side which is in contact with the seat. It is easy to rely upon your own intuition when you don’t have a landmark and in a tense situation.

This is so true of our walk with CHRIST, especially when we encounter bad weather in our life and loose our spiritual landmarks. We must reflect on what we know to be true and check our instruments – GOD’S Word, prayer and trusted fellow believers. As I recall the words of yet another pastor, “You must practice in the dark, what you learn in the light.” Easier said than done.

Paul was coming from that viewpoint in verse 1. He was telling the Christians in Colossae to come back to the basics. Their citizenship was no longer on earth but in heaven where CHRIST is seated at the right hand of GOD. So they were to focus their minds on heaven and not upon the things on earth.

Every believer has died to his/her flesh and when CHRIST is revealed, so will all who believe in HIM. Let others see CHRIST through you. The miracle of rebirth results in a believer being in unity with CHRIST. CHRIST fully and completely becomes one with the believer.

So why don’t believers do what JESUS did when HE was on earth? Paul will give us some ideas as we study the following scripture.

Let’s read Colossians 3: 5-11:

5 Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly:[2] Lit death, the members on the earth sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient,[3] Other mss omit on the disobedient 7 and you once • walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his practices 10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian,[4] A term for a savage slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

Paul used “therefore” to carry the thoughts up to this point in their minds because they knew the truth but had gotten spiritually off course. “Therefore” was intended to carry what had been stated over to what would follow.

Remember GOD gives us, as HE did CHRIST, freedom of choice. We choose every day whether we will follow the flesh (world) or the dictates of the SPIRIT. JESUS tells believers in Luke 9:23 - 23 Then He said to [them]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. all, “If anyone wants to come with[8] Lit come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily,[9] Other mss omit daily and follow Me.

Since all believers are in CHRIST, they should choose, daily, to put to death all the things that are of the flesh such as: Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed. Paul confirmed the fact that they knew what he was talking about because they used to do these things of the flesh.

Some of the pagan religions had temple prostitutes for their members to have sex with. They had both male and female prostitutes. Gratifying the flesh was what it was all about, thus Paul’s list. It was a society where anything goes that pleases you. Believers today can add Paul’s list to their check list plus many other things such as addictions.

Paul urged them to take off the ways of their old life and put on the righteousness that comes only from CHRIST WHO gives them new life. A person cannot serve two (2) masters. Paul’s use of the words “take off” and “put on” were a reference to taking off your old clothes and putting on new freshly cleaned clothes. My, my you smell so much better in your new clothes.

Focus upon the fact that CHRIST is in you renewing your mind, through knowledge gained from walking with HIM. Walking in unity with CHRIST, results in a believer being made into the image of JESUS. Since GOD and CHRIST are ONE, when CHRIST is in the believer, through the miracle of rebirth, he/she is in unity with GOD through CHRIST. Even born-again believers can get caught up in other things the world has to offer but if they will check their instruments – the Bible, prayer, attitude to GOD and fellow believers, their joy level when they consider their relationship toward GOD – they quickly learn their spiritual status.

GOD is no respecter of persons whether Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian slave or free. After listing various groups of people he concluded that in every group of people there are believers because they had CHRIST and CHRIST had them - “CHRIST is all and in all.” When a person has CHRIST, he/she also has GOD WHO is manifested through the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT. As CHRIST is the image of GOD, GOD’S desire is for all believers to be made into the image of CHRIST, through relationship and obedient service.

Believers are one in CHRIST. Believers are in unity with CHRIST and HE wants believers to keep that in their minds. Take off your dirty, smelly clothes and put on the clothes of righteousness which have been cleansed by the shed blood of JESUS.

Let’s read Colossians 3:12-14:

The Christian Life
12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must [forgive]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. . 14 Above all, [put on]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. love—the perfect bond of unity.

Paul used the word “therefore” to tie what he had said regarding the believer who was in the process of renewing his/her mind by being in unity with CHRIST and fellow believers to what he/she should be putting on. Just as believers took off their old way of life they should put on their new life in CHRIST because GOD had chosen them, made them Holy through CHRIST and loved them by sending HIS ONLY SON JESUS to save them. HE sent the HOLY SPIRIT to indwell each believer to manifest GOD in his/her life. Paul gave a partial list of the fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT - heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. A list of the fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT is found in Galatians 5:22-26: (Notice that it is the “fruit” of the Spirit and not “fruits.” Also keep in mind that fruit has seeds so it can reproduce.)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,[5] Or 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, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

There is no place for prejudice in any believer. Believers are to show heartfelt compassion, which means put feet to your concerns. Take action! We can say what a pitiful situation that person is in is showing compassion but heartfelt compassion is doing something about it. Kindness and humility focuses on the needs of others before our own needs. Gentleness is harnessed power kept under control by the Master and patience involves waiting and not giving up on people or a situation needing a positive outcome. Accepting one another and forgiving one another. It is easy for some believers to become self-righteous and look down on others struggling with various problems. Until a believer has walked in that person’s shoes he/she cannot fully understand what he/she is going through. We all come from different backgrounds. Some may have become addicted to sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, lying, stealing and the list goes on and on. CHRIST can deliver them but the flesh can rise up again. All believers must remain in unity with CHRIST through fellowship to overcome the lure of the flesh. Fill your mind on the things above because earth is not your home. You are not your own because you have been bought with a price – the shed blood of JESUS. Every believer owes a debt they cannot pay but the love of GOD came down to earth to redeem every believer from sin and death. REJOICE!!! AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE!!!

It is important that believers forgive others who may have done them wrong or done something wrong in the past. Un-forgiveness breaks unity between believers and non-believers. Forgiveness followed by love restores unity. It is love for the person but not for what a person does or has done. Once believers are shrouded with righteousness and in unity with GOD, through CHRIST, the love of GOD can flow through them to others. Remember, CHRIST so loved you that HE gave HIS life for you.

As believers, we are in unity with CHRIST; therefore, just as CHRIST represents love to all, believers should do nothing less. Unity cannot exist in the absence of love.

Is this easy? No, it is impossible in our own strength but when we are in unity with CHRIST, HE helps believers to show love without constraint. This is agape love which demands nothing in return. Put on the love of CHRIST and look upon others through HIS eyes.

Love is the ultimate ingredient in relationships. Paul states the importance of love in 1 Corinthians 13:13:

13 Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Paul tells believers, “Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity.” Love is the final touch that puts the sparkle and sweet smelling fragrance to our freshly cleaned clothes, cleansed by the shed blood of CHRIST.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mind - Change Your Mind - Philippians 3:2-15 and 4:8 - February 14, 2010

Bible Study – Mind – Change Your Mind – February 14, 2010

This is study two in our series “Battle for the Mind.”


Our scripture is Philippians 3:2-15; 4:8.

In our last study, I may have shocked some of you with comments regarding “no condemnation” for all born-again believers. The key is being a “born-again” believer. Once a believer has experienced the joy of salvation and fellowship with CHRIST he/she may wander but there is always a yearning within his/her heart for the joy and fellowship with CHRIST he/she once knew to be restored. GOD’S desire for HIS children are for them to fellowship with HIM and serve HIM out of an obedient heart. When a believer is in fellowship with CHRIST, he/she is always in HIS will.
Once a person becomes a believer, he/she is not only born into the family of GOD but he/she becomes an enemy of Satan. But believers must keep in mind that CHRIST defeated Satan on the cross and they are indwelled by the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO empowers and protects them. The shed blood of CHRIST is eternal protection for a believer from Satan and his demons. When believers compromise their relation with CHRIST, by yielding to the flesh, Satan moves in to lead them into temptation and sin.

Believers are in spiritual warfare with Satan, who rules the spirit world and his demons. His target is the mind of all believers. He cannot win the soul of the believer but he can keep the believer from being an effective believer. His goal is to neutralize the believer, defeat and ultimately destroy the believer’s earthly witness for CHRIST. But 1 John 4:4, we see that CHRIST in us is greater than all:

4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One (JESUS) who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (Satan).
Let’s read Ephesians 6:10-20: (The spirit world)

Christian Warfare
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics[10] Or schemes, or tricks of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.[11] Eph 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10 13 This is why you must take up the full armor[12] 1 Th 5:8 of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.[13] Ready to go tell others about the gospel 16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the • mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.

This is why believers must build an intimate, personal relationship with CHRIST. They must get to know HIM in a personal way, as they would with their very best friend. This, in essence, is the very heart of our study today. It is not just getting to know about CHRIST through head knowledge but getting to know HIM by interacting with HIM, walking with HIM, talking with HIM, obediently serving HIM and willingly yielding to HIM to become just like HIM. It is a lifetime journey called sanctification.

There will be many ups and downs but the ultimate goal of GOD is for every believer to be made in the image of HIS ONLY SON, JESUS.

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Philippi. It is often referred to as the letter of joy because of the number of times he refers to joy. Remember joy comes from within and is not dependent upon outside circumstances. Joy is all about our relationship with CHRIST.

Let’s read Philippians 3:2-6:

2 Watch out for “dogs,”[1] An expression of contempt for the unclean, those outside the people of God watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh— 4 although I once had confidence in the flesh too. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a • Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

There was a major problem plaguing Christians in Philippi and threatened the spread of the true gospel of CHRIST. There was a group of believers who could not let go of their Jewish traditions. They believed for a person to be saved he had to be circumcised, follow the Jewish ceremonial law and believe in CHRIST. Therefore, according to their teaching a non-Jewish person, Gentile, must first become a Jew by being circumcised (mutilated as Paul stated), observe the Jewish ceremonial law and believe in CHRIST before he could become a Christian. This approach gave the idea that a person could earn his/her salvation and excluded GOD’S grace. Those promoting this false way to salvation were called Judaizers. It became such an issue the practice was brought before the council of Christian leaders in Jerusalem in 49 A.D. as we read in Acts 15:6-11 and 19:

The Jerusalem Council

6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them: “Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you,[1] Other mss read us that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving[2] Other mss add them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us (Jews). 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Why, then, are you now testing God by putting on the disciples’ necks a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they are.” --------

19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those who turn to God from among the Gentiles,

After the Christian leaders made their decision, the Judaizers could not conform and continued to preach their way to salvation. Paul referred to those who held this false belief as “dogs.” They were adding something unnecessary to the Gospel of CHRIST, leaving grace out, implying that a person could earn his/her why to GOD through works thus misleading those who were seeking truth in CHRIST.

These “dogs” were believers but they had a false notion regarding the way for Gentiles to become a Christian. It is easy for believers to be misled by their ego. This is true today. That is why it is vital that all believers study the Bible and measure what they are being taught against what the Bible reveals.

Paul immediately let those who held this false belief know if following Jewish customs and ceremonial law was the way to GOD, he would have achieved it. He had been the Hebrew of all Hebrews. He had believed that he was serving GOD by killing and punishing Christians but after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, he realized that he only had been serving his flesh and ego, which resulted in him being mislead. He made it clear in verse 3, that it is not the mutilation (circumcision) of the flesh that makes a person righteous before GOD. It is the circumcision of a person’s heart that is vital. It is CHRIST that makes a believer righteous and it is not through the works of a person. Paul addressed the ONE WAY a person receives righteousness in 2 Corinthians 5:21: 21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

CHRIST in you makes you a Christian and nothing else. CHRIST in you makes you righteous. It is not joining a certain church, working on worthwhile projects or giving money. Christianity is not a religion but humans make it a religion. It is CHRIST in you, period. If a person does not have CHRIST, he/she is not a Christian!

How does CHRIST come into the heart of a person? Each person must ask CHRIST to forgive him/her for his/her sins and to come into his/her life. That is so simple, yet so hard to do. It is the miracle of rebirth. The instant a person gives his/her life to CHRIST he/she is born into the family of GOD. He/she immediately becomes a child of GOD, which is eternal. Satan will fight the person considering salvation through CHRIST every step of the way. Satan will attempt to divert a person to some religion or practice that requires him/her to do something to earn his/her way to heaven. Don’t fall for it, it is a lie and you are being deceived by Satan.

Some intellectuals believe that Satan is a myth. That is exactly what Satan wants them to believe. Keep in mind what Ephesians 6 has to say about the spirit world. Many of us know that it exists. Paul knew about the spirit world and he was aware that Satan had blinded him when he thought he was serving GOD prior to his conversion to CHRIST on the road to Damascus. Paul had kept the law but keeping the law never made Paul righteous. Paul was obedient to the law.

Paul states true believers are those whose hearts have been circumcised by the Spirit of GOD, who obediently serve God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.

Our next scripture revealed what Paul saw after his conversion to CHRIST, through salvation.

Let’s read Philippians 3:7-9:

7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ[2] Or through the faithfulness of Christ —the righteousness from God based on faith.

Paul knew that he was a strict keeper of the law. He prided himself on being able to observe the law, yet when he gave his heart, mind and soul to CHRIST, he discovered true righteousness. Paul considered the righteousness he thought he had obtained by serving the law as filth. He laid aside any belief that strict observance of the law was of any value compared to the righteousness that comes as a free gift to those who ask CHRIST, through faith, to come into their lives. Let’s look again at what CHRIST did for all believers by giving HIS life on the cross as Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I used to argue with GOD and asked HIM why couldn’t I give my life for my sins? HE gave me an answer, “You do not qualify. I require a perfect, sinless sacrifice, however, where you do not qualify, MY SON JESUS does qualify and if you accept HIM, I will accept you.” That made a lot of sense to me. I did and that was many years ago.
If you have questions for GOD, let HIM know.

Let’s read Philippians 3:10-11, 12-15 and 4:8:

Philippians 3:10-11:

10 [My goal]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Paul gets to the heart of what being a Christians is all about, getting to really know CHRIST. It is not getting to know about CHRIST but getting to really know HIM intimately and experientially. Paul wanted to experience totally and completely by dying to himself and allowing CHRIST to be manifested through him without having to battle the flesh. Paul wanted CHRIST to be resurrected in him so that he would not have to battle his flesh in any way but be totally consumed by the presence and filling of CHRIST. This is not head knowledge but heart knowledge, which is the result of interacting with CHRIST, moment by moment, through the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT. It is the yielding of your life to the control of the HOLY SPIRIT. It is impossible for believers to accomplish this in their own strength.

Philippians 3:12-15:

Reaching Forward to God’s Goal

12 Not that I have already reached [the goal]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not[3] Other mss read not yet consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly[4] Or upward call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.

Paul realized and acknowledged that being completely consumed by CHRIST was a spiritual growth and maturing process that he had not fully obtained. But his goal was to be made into the image of CHRIST. Paul had baggage from his old life before he gave his life to CHRIST. I am sure Satan never let him forget his old life. But he realized that he had been born anew into GOD’S family, through the miracle of rebirth. He had been forgiven and he was a new creation, therefore, he could not allow his past life to keep him from completely serving GOD through CHRIST.

Paul urged all believers to think this way. Every believer should have the goal of growing and maturing into the image of CHRIST. If you think differently, pray about it. GOD will reveal the truth to you. GOD’S desire is for HIS children to have an intimate relationship with HIM but HE does not sprinkle them with Holy Dust for them to get this relationship instantly. It is through the process of yielding our will to HIM, walking with HIM, learning about HIM through study and experience. It is a process of learning to trust CHRIST and building confidence in HIM. It is letting HIM know what you do not understand, don’t like or question. It is like building any relationship, “Why did YOU do that or not do that?”

Philippians 4:8:

8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

When believers are challenged, question or in uncertain times, they must focus on the things that they know to be true, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent or praise worthy to dwell on those things. Dwell on what you know.

What do believers know? Once, they were lost but through CHRIST they have been found. When tough times come into your life and there is a battle for your mind, think about the time you gave your heart and life to CHRIST. CHRIST in you makes you a Christian period. Upon the foundation of CHRIST each of us builds a relationship with CHRIST. How do you build a relationship with HIM? It is like any other relationship, spend time with HIM. Learn of HIM by studying the scripture, communicate with HIM through prayer and obediently serve HIM. Tell HIM that your desire is to have an intimate, dynamic relationship with HIM and HE needs to help you build that relationship.

The title of our study is “Change Your Mind.” Paul believed he was right in his beliefs about GOD before his encounter with CHRIST but after he encountered the living CHRIST, he changed his mind. Has the living CHRIST changed your mind? If not, ask HIM to forgive you of your sins and to come into your life now. Then seek to obediently serve HIM by yielding your will to HIM and allowing HIM through the HOLY SPIRIT to give you a new mind in CHRIST.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Bible Study – Mind – Right Mind – February 7, 2010

We begin a new series of study entitled “Battle for the Mind.”

Our scripture for this study is Romans 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 and 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

The remaining studies for the month are:
February 14 – “What Will It Take to Change Your Mind?” – Philippians 3:2-15; 4:8.
February 21 – “What’s on Your Mind?” – Colossians 3:1-14.
February 28 – “How Can You Stay in Control of Your Mind?”- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17.

The battle for our minds happens every day and all around us – newspapers, TV, radio, mail, internet, e-mail, telephone, billboards, friends, neighbors, relatives, the flesh, the HOLY SPIRIT and the list goes on and on. Satan battles for our minds, especially when a person is considering salvation or dedicating his/her life to CHRIST. CHRIST battles for our minds to lead those who are seeking to salvation. If Satan loses the battle to prevent a person from accepting CHRIST as his/her SAVIOR, then his next objective is to defeat this new believer to keep him/her from becoming an effective Christian. This is especially true for believers who have a desire for a deeper, more intimate relationship with GOD through CHRIST. But through the battle for the mind, the believer is strengthened and is drawn closer to CHRIST, if he/she will seek HIM as the battle rages. This is part of the sanctification process, which is the process of building a more intimate, dynamic relationship with CHRIST. GOD’S goal for every believer is for him/her to be made in the image of HIS SON, JESUS.

However, GOD gives each person the freedom to choose. HE never overrides the will of non-believers and believers. HE wants all to come to HIM and obediently serve HIM freely, without coercion. HE woos and works within our hearts to call all to salvation and to a deeper walk with HIM. But the choice is up to each person.
When the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome he had not visited it. There are two (2) churches that Paul wrote to that he did not establish – Rome and Colossi. Therefore, when he wrote to the Church in Rome, he wrote a smorgasbord of Christian fundamentals. He wanted the Christians in Rome to know exactly where he was coming from regarding faith in CHRIST. He knew that Rome was a hodge-podge of gods, religions and religious practices. He wanted the Christians in Rome to know exactly where he stood regarding Christian fundamentals.

Our scripture begins with Chapter 8. As we look back to his message in Chapters 1-4, it was sin that prevented a person from salvation and good works could not make a person righteous and acceptable to GOD. Paul made it clear that salvation was faith in CHRIST and that HIS death on the cross broke the sin barrier. As a result of JESUS paying the price for sin, all who believe in HIM are made righteous. Paul addressed this in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In Chapters 5-8, Paul discussed life as a Christian.

In Romans 8:1-4 Paul discussed the joy and benefit of being a “born-again” believer:
1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,[1] Other mss add who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you[2] Other mss read me free from the law of sin and of death. 3 What the law could not do since it was limited[3] Or weak by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain,[4] Lit in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering,[5] Lv 5:6–7,11; 14:31; Isaiah 53:10 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not • walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

In Romans 8:1, Paul was confirming the fact that “born-again” believers would not be condemned in this life or the life to follow. Why do I use the words “born-again?”
Verse 1 is directed to all “born-again” believers. The key is “born-again” believers. This is not directed to people who have “head knowledge” of CHRIST or people who believe that belonging to a certain church will get them to heaven. Christianity is CHRIST in you, period. Believers attend church to grow and mature in CHRIST. It is good for non-believers, which includes people with head knowledge of CHRIST, to attend church because in doing so it provides an opportunity for truth to be revealed to them.

Verse 1 is profound. Let’s read what JESUS had to say about “born-again” believers and condemnation or judgment as recorded in John 5:24 which could form the basis for Paul’s statement:

24 “I (JESUS) assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

Once believers accept CHRIST as their SAVIOR, they are born into the family of GOD and become a child of GOD; there is “No Condemnation.” This to me is profound. I recall in my younger years a pastor stated, “if he believed that once you were saved you could never lose your salvation, he would “paint the town red” (Meaning do whatever the flesh led him to do) every Saturday night (That was the big night for carousing.) and go to church on Sunday to get forgiveness.” What did this say about the heart of the pastor?

Think about, “no condemnation.” Once believers are born into the family of GOD through the miracle of rebirth, GOD gives them freedom to do as they please. HIS desire is for all believers to obediently serve HIM because of what GOD has done for them through CHRIST, salvation from sin and eternal death. What do believers forfeit if they choose not to obediently serve HIM after they are saved? They forfeit the joy of getting to know HIM intimately, through relationship and the rewards, both earthly and heavenly, for not obediently serving HIM.

HE never forces Himself on non-believers or believers. Born-again believers have the inner presence and working of the HOLY SPIRIT, once they have received salvation. GOD beckons HIS children to yield their wills to HIM and to obediently serve HIM. Doing so brings unspeakable joy and assurance of the presence and power of GOD in the life of every believer.

It is vital for all people, especially believers who have strayed from serving CHRIST, to realize that no matter what they might have done, GOD is always ready with open arms. HE eagerly waits to welcome those seeking forgiveness for their sins or to welcome back a wayward child into fellowship with HIM. Believers may move away from GOD but GOD never moves away from them. HIS children have the freedom to move away from HIM. But it is GOD’S desire for all believers to willingly serve HIM. HE never forces Himself on a person but HE sure can place barriers or allow circumstances to get his/her attention.

What a SAVIOR and what a loving GOD we serve!!! HIS desire is for all people to come to CHRIST for salvation and for no one to go to Hell. In 2 Peter 3:9 we find:
9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Once a person is “born-again” in his/her spirit, he/she remains in his/her human body, flesh, earth suit. I like to think of our human bodies as “earth suits” because they are useful for believers to continue to live on earth and interact with fellow humans to spread the Gospel of CHRIST. This is GOD’S plan. The instant we ask CHRIST to forgive us of our sins and to come into our hearts, HE does and the HOLY SPIRIT indwells our human bodies to:

- Give us assurance of our salvation. The HOLY SPIRIT is GOD’S down payment to every believer that his/her faith in CHRIST is real. Romans 8:16 - 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and 2 Corinthians 1:22 - 22 He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.

- Empower us.

- Enlighten us to truth. Ephesians 1:18-19 - 18 [I pray]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

- I love the words “eyes of your heart.” The HOLY SPIRIT reveals truth and enlightens all believers in their inner being. I think of it as the most secret place within each of us where GOD and each of us know the real truth. It is the place where we can be honest with GOD. It is the place we can discuss the most intimate things with GOD and seek HIS guidance and help. It is the place we receive comprehension and understanding. It is the place, as we see HIS hand at work or as we read HIS Word, we have that “ah haw” or “now I see” moment.

- Teach us, lead and guide believers as they serve HIM and so much more.

- Our earth suits or jars of clay become the dwelling place for the SPIRIT of GOD. This is awesome. Every place you place your foot becomes Holy Ground because of the presence of GOD in you.

As believers, we are no longer under the “law of sin and death” but under the “SPIRIT’S law of life in CHRIST”. It is impossible for a person to receive salvation by serving the “law of sin and death”, meaning the flesh. Believers are free from the law of the flesh. Believers belong to GOD through CHRIST and their citizenship is in heaven. GOD leaves believers on earth, once they have received their new life in CHRIST, to obediently serve HIM. We must keep in mind that we were not made for time but for eternity. Heaven is the home for believers.

GOD sent CHRIST to earth to accomplish what the “law of sin and death” could not accomplish. GOD sent CHRIST so that all who believe in HIM will be under the SPIRIT’S law of life through CHRIST, which is salvation from the “law of sin and death.” Is that Good News or not?

Now let’s explore verses 5-11, which deal with the mind of the flesh versus the mind of the Spirit.

Let’s read Romans 8:5-11:

The Life-Giving Spirit
5 For those whose lives are[6] Or those who are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are[7] Or those who are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those whose lives are[8] Or Those who are in the flesh are unable to please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since[9] Or provided that the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead[10] Or the body will die because of sin, but the Spirit[11] Or spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through[12] Other mss read because of His Spirit who lives in you.

To receive the promise of “No Condemnation”, a person must be born into the family of GOD through faith in CHRIST. This is the rebirth of the human spirit. JESUS discussed this with the Jewish Rabbi, Nicodemus, in John, Chapter 3:1-8:
Jesus and Nicodemus

1 There was a man from the • Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Him at night and said, “• Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “• I assure you: Unless someone is born again,[1] The same Gk word can mean again or from above (also in v. 7). he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit,[2] Or spirit, or wind; the Gk word pneuma can mean wind, spirit, or Spirit, each of which occurs in this context. he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you[3] The pronoun is pl in Gk. must be born again. 8 The wind[4] The Gk word pneuma can mean wind, spirit, or Spirit, each of which occurs in this context. blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

To be born-again is not saying certain words but it is the attitude of the heart. It is believing that CHRIST died for your sins by giving HIS life on the cross for your sins. HE died where you and I should have died to pay for our sins. HE died in our place. Also, believe that GOD raised HIM from the dead. The resurrection of CHRIST was GOD’S proof that JESUS was the acceptable sacrifice for all sin, especially the original sin of Adam and Eve, which was the beginning for all sin. Sin is why there is death, disease, wars and every act of violence. HIS resurrection was proof that HE conquered sin and death and as a result all believers receive salvation from sin and death.

Verse 5 addresses our thought life. The thought life of believers reveals where their heart is. Believers can know their spiritual health by evaluating their thought life. If believers are carnal minded or flesh minded, they think more about the things of the flesh but as believers yield their thought life to GOD, they think more about the things according to the Spirit. That is why scripture memory is so important. The more we can fill our minds with scripture and dwell upon the things of GOD, the less we dwell on the things of the flesh. But I can tell you, if you are a red blooded person, you will be lured into thinking about the things of the flesh because there is a battle for your mind. When you see that you have flesh thoughts, confess it and try to fill your mind with the love of GOD and with scripture.

Verse 6, speaks of the mind-set of the flesh. The mind-set of the flesh is death. That does not mean those who have the mind-set of the flesh go around with long faces and dwell upon dying. No, it means that they are dead to the things of GOD. They have blocked out all that GOD is trying to reveal to them. Whereas the mind-set of those who are led by the SPIRIT is life and peace because they are secure in CHRIST and GOD speaks to them as they walk with HIM.

Verses 7and 8, underscore that the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to GOD and is unable to please GOD. The Apostle Paul addressed the mind in Romans 12:2:

1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.[1] Or your reasonable service 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

The HOLY SPIRIT renews the minds of believers to the extent they allow HIM.

Verses 9-11 - In essence, when CHRIST died believers also died and when GOD raised HIM from the dead, believers were also resurrected. Believers were resurrected when CHRIST was resurrected; therefore, believers live in a body made alive by the power of GOD. When a believer’s earth suit dies physically, his/her “born-again” Spirit leaves his/her body and is immediately present with CHRIST and GOD in heaven. When CHRIST returns to earth for the second time, “born-again” believers who have departed this earth in the physical death will return with HIM to receive their new glorified bodies. Their new glorified bodies will be just like CHRIST’S glorified body at HIS resurrection.

In the mean time “born-again” believers are on earth in their “jars of clay” to obediently serve GOD.

Paul writes about the importance of renewing of the mind when he wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4:

3 But if, in fact, our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 Regarding them: the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,[1] Or the gospel of the glorious Christ, or the glorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”[2] Gn 1:3 —He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Treasure in Clay Jars
7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars (our earth suits), so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.

The mind-set for those in the flesh is against GOD. Guess why? Satan is the ruler of this world. He deals with the flesh. The flesh is powerful and against the things of GOD. Satan does not want any person to know the truth of salvation. He tries to blind the minds of unbelievers. At one time believers were unbelievers. But believers are the beacon of light and hope to those who are lost and blinded by Satan. That is why it is vital that believers yield their lives to obediently serve GOD and be the salt of the earth and the light that GOD intended. GOD works within the hearts and lives of every human. Believers can be the physical connection between GOD and those seeking salvation or finding their way back into fellowship.

Ephesians 1:3-6:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,[2] Eph 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12 in Christ; 4 for He chose[3] Rm 11:5–7; 1 Co 1:26–31; 1 Th 1:4; 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pt 1:1–2 us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.[4] Vv. 3–14 are 1 sentence in Gk. In love[5] Or In His sight in love 5 He predestined[6] Ac 4:28; Rm 8:29–30; 1 Co 2:7; Eph 1:11 us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

I believe GOD’S foreknowledge allowed HIM to see those who would become believers and HE made certain that each believer would be conceived.

CHRIST brought light to a world covered by the darkness of sin and death. Salvation though CHRIST brings the light of GOD into the lives of all believers. GOD’S desire is for believers to share the light they have. What a joy!

Only those who have the mind-set of the SPIRIT see the light and know the light of GOD in their lives. Believers have this vast treasure in their hearts, which is in their earth suits or jars of clay and give off a fragrance. WOW!

Believers have the mind of CHRIST and are led by the HOLY SPIRIT. Did you know that as a believer you give off an odor?
How do you smell to others? Believers give off an odor. Paul writes about it is 2 Corinthians 2:14-16:

14 But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display[6] Or always leads us in a triumphal procession, or less likely, always causes us to triumph in Christ,[7] Lit in the Christ, or in the Messiah; see 1 Co 15:22; Eph 1:10,12,20; 3:11 and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him. 15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life. And who is competent for this?

Have the mind-set of CHRIST and give off the sweet odor of salvation to those lost.
Oh, how good you all smell to GOD and to those around you today.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 2:12-16:

12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.[7] Or things with spiritual words 14 But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated[8] Or judged, or discerned spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate[9] Or judge, or discern everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated[10] Or judged, or discerned by anyone. 16 For: who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?[11] Isaiah 40:13 But we have the mind of Christ.

Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Corinth for believers not to be surprised when they cannot communicate about Spiritual things with non-believers. You can talk about the spirit world and most people will discuss it with you. But when it comes to GOD, CHRIST and THE HOLY SPIRIT and what you are learning, seeing or being taught it makes no sense to the non-believer.

I like the way the King James Version translates verse 14:

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The HOLY SPIRIT within every believer is the decoder of Spiritual information from GOD to each believer. The non-believer or natural person is unable to receive Spiritual things from GOD because Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. When GOD begins to present Himself to non-believers and HE gives us opportunity to speak to them, HE will give us the right words to speak, which will make sense to them.

Let the light of CHRIST shine through you and the fragrance of HIS salvation let others know of your relationship with CHRIST. Renew your minds by seeking a more intimate loving relationship with CHRIST today. Hide the Word of GOD in your heart that you might not sin against HIM. Blessings!!!