Everyone has struggles of the flesh. Whether your struggles are life-controlling issues, such as substance abuse, uncontrollable habits, or you are longing for more meaning in your life of faith, this book explores the scriptural teachings that guarantee the life lived more abundantly. Jesus said, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Most religious practices (even those under the title of Christianity) are built on a flawed principle. They seek to strengthen the flesh and depend on coping mechanisms, and try to force our source of weakness to become our strength. This can only create very limited success, and is often a guarantee of failure. God’s design is to die to our weakness, and grow in the life where the Spirit is more than willing to empower us to live and thrive in a fruitful life, built around acceptance and perfect fellowship with God. You can’t fix the flesh. You can’t fix yourself. It’s God’s job to subdue your sinful flesh and empower you to live and thrive in the life of the Spirit. God is your strength; not your condemner. God is your righteousness, not your punisher. As you learn to walk in the Spirit, you’ll understand the Bible’s statement, “Now all things are of God. Old things have passed away. Behold all things are new.” You were meant to bloom in every circumstance, and the Bible says that a joyful and fruitful life is a guarantee. This book explores the principles that help you grow in this promise! The ebook version is only 99 cents.
Delivered on Palm Sunday. This study examines the crucified life and how the cross delivers us from sin and the law.
Don’t shortchange your faith. Life is so much more than escaping condemnation. Sharing the gospel is much more than lecturing on hell. The focus of the gospel is Christ, not sin. As a young preacher, I was taught an erroneous way of presenting the gospel. Success was measured by two things: how many Christians were compelled to the altar to repent again, and were there any sinners who were convinced to escape hell.
Over the years, I began to recognize some flaws with this style of preaching. The first thing was, what about those who are trying to grow in their faith? “Eddie, you need to preach a fiery message of salvation. Otherwise you aren’t going to get converts,” the pastor who mentored me said. I was preaching at a prison and two other ministries that reached low-income families. But I began to feel a burden for those I knew were Christians. Some I had even seen come to Christ. Do they need to hear a ‘You are a sinner’ type of message?
Another flaw is this: rarely does true faith emerge from the fear of hell. Fear is a powerful tool that can be employed to manipulate people. Politicians use it. The legal system uses it. Employers use it. Many areas of society uses it. Should the church be using it? It is God who said, “My ways are not like your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” In fact, throughout the New Testament, we see the Bible stressing how the Christian life and God’s ways are counter culture and counter to human nature. If society is dependent upon fear to control and manipulate, shouldn’t that at least cause us to stop and ask, “Is God’s way different than society’s?”
Funny I should ask, for the Bible does answer this question. Romans 2:4 tells us, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” And look at the message of 1 John 4:18-19
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Hell, fire, and brimstone is strangely missing from the gospel message preached by the disciples. On the day of Pentecost, when the church was born and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, they went to the very crowd they feared – those who had crucified Jesus. It was the very group that caused Peter to deny Christ out of fear of going on trial with Jesus. But there Peter stood, with the disciples, in front of thousands of people. His words speak volumes. He began his message by explaining that he and the disciples were rejoicing, not because they were drunk as some accused them of being, but because the promise God had given in the Old Testament had come. They had received the promise given of the Holy Spirit that would empower the believer to be united with God and receive from God.
We see similar things in the Apostle Paul’s messages to the unchurched cities where he started new churches. Paul never proclaimed their damnation, nor did he use the promise of a ticket to heaven that would escape hell. He preached Christ. He presented the goodness of God and the power of Jesus. First, the power of Christ to conquer death through His resurrection, and from that position of power we could trust Him to conquer death in our lives. First, the death of the flesh in this life was defeated through Christ, second, the death of our life on this earth would be defeated and we will one day be transformed in our bodies as we can now be transformed in our spirit.
Read the Apostle Paul’s presentation of the gospel to the pagan worshipping men of Athens. He found an altar with the inscription, “To the unknown God.” He used this as an opportunity to present the God these men never knew. From there, he pointed to the goodness of God, explained how God did not hold their ignorance against them, but now calls for them to repent. And repentance means to turn. It is both a change of mind, and a change of directions. He then pointed to the erroneous way of thinking that God could be crafted out of stone or gold, but that His desire is to be united with them.
Indeed there is a place to mention sin, but sin is never the focus. Paul states, the day is coming when God will judge the world in righteousness, but He has given us the assurance of life through Christ. Peter uses a similar line of reasoning in Acts 3:12. They healed a man who had been born a cripple. The people were amazed and rushed to see the spectacle. Peter used this as a second opportunity to preach to the very crowd who condemned Jesus to death.
Keep in mind, Peter is about to present Jesus to the people who knew who He was and consented to His death. Peter then says, “By the power of Jesus, whom you put to death, this man stands before you whole today.” I’ve condensed the speech, but this is the nuts and bolts of his presentation. Then Peter points out that Jesus is the man they crucified with sinful hands, but then shifts the focus. Repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out and the times of refreshing may come. Indeed sin is mentioned, but sin is not the focus. Look at the goodness of God. Your sin prevents you from experiencing this, but turn to God and He will remove your sins so you also may experience the goodness of God.
There is a big difference between the message, “Look at your sins. Look at hell. Beg God for mercy that He may let you escape hell,” and the message, “Look at the power of Christ, and the goodness of God’s love offered through Christ. Let God remove your sins and transform you into a new creation so you can walk in that love.” Do you see the difference between biblical evangelism and the hell-fire evangelism method? One is self-focused. One is Christ-focus. One teaches the flesh to save itself. The other teaches us to trust in the goodness of God and let go of the flesh.
To see the vast difference between these two gospels, look at the fruit of repentance. Those who are running from hell are dependent upon perpetual repentance and show little love for God. He is one to be feared. Obedience is compelled by a fear of judgment. Those who see the goodness of God and His invitation to join Him in new life overcome fear. God becomes a Father and life is about learning how to enjoy fellowship, not a fear of anger. The Bible says that we are perfected in Christ, yet the above passage from 1 John says, “He who fears has not been perfected.” We love God because He first loved us. It is the love of God that compels people to true repentance. When we see the depth of God’s love for us, we are drawn by that love. When we see the love of God, poured out through the life of Christ and His payment for our sin on the cross, we are drawn to that call of love.
Which shows love? The lord who says, “Serve me or I’ll beat you with stripes?” Or the lord who sees us struggling for survival and says, “Let me carry your burden. Walk with me and trust in my works. If you join me in my labors, I’ll reward you by making you an heir to my kingdom?” The last example IS the message of the cross. Jesus said, “He who is weary and heavy laden, be yoked to Me and I will give you rest.” A yoke is how two oxen were connected so they could plow a field. But the message is not for us to pull the plow, but to be yoked with Christ so we can find rest as He pulls the load. Yet we are still rewarded as if it were our labors.
Ephesians 2:9-10 begins by making it clear that our salvation cannot be earned, it is a gift of grace and not by any works. Yet it ends by saying, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in it.” We are God’s workmanship. We walk in His works as He works to transform our lives into something glorious, and our role is to walk in God’s works. We don’t create our own. But then we are rewarded as if it were our own.
Who will enjoy the Christian walk, the one who thinks he must pull the plow, labor all his life, and fear that it might not be enough? Or the one who joins to the yoke of Christ and enjoys fellowship while walking through the works God prepared beforehand for us to walk in? And we walk through God’s works with Christ for two main purposes – to enjoy fellowship and to be rewarded for the work as an heir of the Kingdom of God. Do you see how God’s goodness can do nothing but lead us to repentance? This is nothing but good news – and that is what the word ‘gospel’ means, good news.
The message of the gospel is not, You have sinned and God’s preparing judgment. The message of the gospel is, Under Adam, we are already under condemnation, but God so loved the world that He gave. He gave Himself as the payment of sin so we could be freed from condemnation and join Him as an heir to His Kingdom. The gospel does not say, “Look at your sin,” but rather, “Take your eyes off your sin and look to Christ. Trust in His payment for sin and enjoy fellowship with God. He has given you all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
Eddie Snipes 2013
Look at a passage most people are familiar with, John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
A good man is not a sinner. To sin is to commit a violation against another. Would we die for those who violate us? It’s not likely.
Who would die for their friend? Most of us would like to think we would, but it’s not until someone is in a life or death situation that they discover the answer to this question. Several years back I went through a layoff at work. Each person was called into a room and told their fate. I remember the mixed feelings I had when I walked out of the meeting. I had survived, but several of my peers did not.
Though it hurt to see their lives shaken, there was also a sense of relief knowing my financial life would remain unscathed. This example shows our human limitations. Though there are times when we might be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of those we think deserve it, in everyday life we rarely are willing to sacrifice for our peers, and even less likely for those we feel are less deserving.
Our human nature doesn’t fully grasp the concept of sacrificing everything for someone who deserves punishment. The heroes of our movies don’t sacrifice their lives to rescue the enemy they are trying to stop. Yet, this is what it means to be a sinner. The Bible says that before someone is redeemed, they are at enmity with God. The word enmity means to show hostility toward someone out of hatred. It’s a declaration of war by our actions, against another person. Yet the picture is that while our actions were a direct affront against God, He loved us enough to sacrifice on our behalf – and to do so while we were still showing hostility toward Him and His word.
This is the picture of love / agape. It is a self-giving love that sacrifices for the good of someone completely hostile toward God. While God is demonstrating love, our sinful human nature is casting that love aside to pursue the sins that are an affront to God’s own nature. Yet while we were in this state of rebellion, God demonstrated more love by bearing the penalty of our sins and then calling us out of rebellion and into fellowship with Him.
Most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as hostile toward God, so let’s put this into perspective. What happens when someone tries to tell us what to do? The natural reaction is to resent it. Have you ever had someone try to impose their will upon you when you didn’t believe they had the right to do so? It brings up feelings of hostility. People react differently outwardly, but inward, we all have similar feelings.
I had a friend who worked for a large corporation. A new VP took over his group and paid a surprise visit. When the stranger walked in and started barking orders, several members of his group rebelled at the idea. Someone asked, “Who does this guy think he is?” In their ignorance, they rebelled against authority. Once they realized he was a high ranking VP over their group, their attitudes made a quick turnaround.
Through our ignorance, we have all also rebelled against God. When God reveals Himself to us, we then either repent and receive His favor, or continue in rebellion and choose consequences over mercy. In a later chapter, we’ll look at this in more detail, but first let’s explore the love of God given to us.
Excerpted from Simple Faith
Question: Why did God overthrow the nations to give Israel the Promised Land? Did God care about the souls of the nations that lived there?
This is a great question. Or should I say questions? Let me start with the second question and work back.
Yes, God cared about the people in the land. While most of the Bible is told from the perspective of Israel, there are glimpses into the lives of those outside of Israel. The reason Israel is the focus is because this is the nation God used to bring the promise into the world. It started with Abraham, and the promise of Christ began there. From Abraham on, the scripture follows the promise of Christ. Abraham had many children and each of them became people groups and nations. But the promise given to Abraham was to go through Isaac. Before Abraham died, he gave a portion of the inheritance to his children and sent them away from Isaac (Genesis 25:6).
We also see that when conflict arose between Isaac and Ishmael, he was sent away with the promise that he would become the father of nations as well. (Genesis 17:20). From the time that the children of Abraham were sent away, the scripture focuses primarily on Israel – the nation of promise that came directly through Isaac. However, this does not mean that only Israel had the light of the gospel. In fact, many nations had prophets, but only Israel was chastised by God to keep them on course to be promise carriers. Even they were destroyed for their sins, but God kept the promise alive through a small remnant.
The Gospel among the nations.
Let’s first look at the evidence of the gospel in other nations. One of the clearest examples was Moab. When Israel was crossing the desert and passing by Moab, the king of that nation sent word to a local prophet named Balaam. Balaam was not an Israelite, but he was a prophet of God. He was obviously well known, for the kings knew they could call on him and that he spoke in the name of God. Balak, king of Moab, thought he could manipulate God by having the prophet speak a curse, but he found out that it was God who directed the prophet, not the prophet that directed God.
We also see the knowledge of God among the nations through Job. Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible and it predates Israel as a nation. Yet Job knew God and he had several friends that advised him in the name of the Lord. God used Job to reveal Himself to the nation in which Job lived, and God worked directly in Job’s life and the lives of those around Job.
Another example is the city of Nineveh. Nineveh was never part of Israel, but when they became morally bankrupt, God sent the prophet Jonah to preach to the city. Jonah hated the Ninevites and did not want to see them repent, so he ran the other way. God didn’t allow him to escape and in the end, he delivered the message and the people turned back to God. The Lord made it clear that His goal was to show mercy, but the message was that if the people refused to turn from their wickedness, God would bring judgment and destroy the city.
Why God drove the nations out.
This brings us back to where we began. Did God despise the people of the Promised Land and leave them without an opportunity to know God? No. The same truth we see elsewhere can be applied here; however, God told Abraham that the people in the Promised Land would become morally bankrupt. God also stated that He would not give the land to Abraham’s descendants until after the people became bankrupt. Look at Genesis 15:13-16
13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
14 “And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
15 “Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
16 “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Abram is the name of Abraham before God renamed him.
Two things are noted in God’s instruction to Abraham. First, the children of Abraham would be taken out of their land (the land promised to Abraham’s descendants) and they wouldn’t be allowed to return until after the iniquity of the Amorites was complete.
The Amorites are only one of the people groups in the Promised Land, but apparently they were the only group not to the point of moral bankruptcy. God spared the entire region because of the Amorites. We see a similar scenario in Sodom and Gomorrah. When God revealed to Abraham that He was about to destroy these wicked cities, Abraham interceded for the people. If you read the story, Abraham asked if God would spare everyone if there were only 50 people counted as righteous. When God agreed, Abraham pleaded the number down until God agreed to spare all if He found only 10 people righteous. The standard of righteousness wasn’t high, for God counted Lot as righteous even though his lifestyle was corrupted by the people around him (2 Peter 2:7-8).
God only found one that could be considered righteous, so Lot was taken out of the city and judgment fell. In God’s conversation with Abraham, He is showing a similar act of mercy to the Amorites. For the sake of a few righteous, God showed mercy on all. But when Israel came out of Egypt 400 years later, this was not the case.
The sins of these nations were truly morally bankrupt. They offered their children as burnt sacrifices, they performed sexual rituals before their idols, they worshiped everything but God, and they ignored the voice of the prophets as we saw earlier. Moab was in the path to the Promised Land, and they had a well known prophet there. He was preaching the word of the Lord, but the nations were not listening.
When God destroyed the nations with the flood in Noah’s day, the people heard the message for 120 years but not one person outside of Noah’s family entered the ark. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we see the same scenario in the Promised Land.
Keep in mind that when Israel entered the land, God said, “Do not think I’m giving you this land because you are better than the inhabitants. It is for the wickedness of these nations that I drive them out.” (Deuteronomy 9:4). Since these people refused to turn, putting Israel in their midst would only corrupt their ability to follow God. We see this throughout Israel’s history. Each time they were judged by God, it was when they followed the ways of the nations around them and became partakers of their sins. They didn’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so the only restraint was from God’s commands and by separation from the other nations.
When Israel became like the nations that God drove out of the Promised Land, God drove them out from the land. They lived in captivity for 70 years, and only returned to the land when they returned to the Lord. (Seen Daniel 9:1-27)
God held His people to the same standard.
We can see that not only did God care about the nations that did not know truth, He also held Israel to the same standard of judgment. The only difference is that God protected the promise of the coming Messiah. Since Israel was the carrier of that promise, the Lord preserved a remnant so the promise could be fulfilled. That ultimately came to fruition in Jesus Christ. In fact, if you read Daniel 9, God sends an angel to Daniel during his prayer of repentance. The angel Gabriel reveals that the nation will return, and 490 years later the Messiah would present Himself to Israel and would be cut off. We know this as the crucifixion.
The point is that Israel is how God promised to bring redemption to the world and therefore, God preserved them even after they were conquered and taken captive. When God returned His people to the land, it was for the purpose of preparing the way for their Messiah – and ours. This is why Israel was given the land, and wickedness is why people were driven out of the land. This held true for the nations that Israel conquered, and it became true for Israel also. When they became like the nations that were driven out, God treated them like the nations that were driven out. But the promise was given as a sure covenant and wasn’t based on Israel’s worthiness, but on God’s promise to Abraham. That promise was fulfilled and now we are partakers of that promise through Christ.
Does the Bible teach that God is a man?
You disagreed with the Word of Faith’s teaching that God is a man 6 foot tall and 200lbs. Isn’t man created in God’s image? If that is the case, wouldn’t God have arms, legs, hands, etc.. Just because He is a spirit, does that rule out having a form of some kind? And if he really does have a form, why then could it not be around 6′ tall?
Many scriptures may seem contradictory on the surface unless you keep in mind that God’s word does not change and what God has previously revealed is not nullified by what God revealed later in scripture. In other words, God’s word will never pass away but each passage must be interpreted in light of the whole of scripture. Scripture interprets scripture. What God says in the New Testament supplements what God has said in the Old Testament. It does not replace, but complements.
You must also keep in mind that Jesus is fully God but what you see is not all that God is. It is true that in Jesus dwells all the Godhead bodily but keep in mind that God also indwells the heart of every believer. Look at John 14:
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
How can the God of the universe make His home with every believer? The Bible tells us that all things were created through Christ and in Him everything consists. He not only created the universe, but He also holds together the universe by His power. Jesus did not come into being as His birth and Word of Faith teachers claim. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8-9 says:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.
Jesus has always been and He is the same today as He has always been. The incarnation did not change the nature of Jesus Christ. When God became a man, it was for our benefit so that we could see the attributes of God that He desired to reveal to us. We beheld His glory, but we did not see all of God’s glory. We saw what God revealed to us. Look at Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
God’s attributes are invisible (for God is Spirit) but what God has revealed about Himself is clearly seen. In Christ, God revealed His attributes that could not be seen without seeing Him walk, relate to others and express His love towards those walking physically on this earth.
In Christ dwelled the fullness of the Godhead, but His physical body could never contain all that God is. If Jesus’ physical body is God, then Hebrews would be making a false claim by saying, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever…”. Consider this along with the passage cited above in John 14, “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him”. How can the Father and the Son make their home with the individual believer and still fill the universe? I think we can get a clearer understanding from 1 John 4:
13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
Also read 1 John 3:
9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
When we are born of God, His seed remains in us. His seed is the Holy Spirit as indicated in 1 John 4 and also in this passage from John 14:
16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever —
17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
We are told that when we belong to Christ, He and the Father make their home with us and place the Holy Spirit within us. Our physical bodies do not become limitations for God but rather God becomes the power that works through our physical bodies to do His will and live our lives spiritually. This body of flesh is not the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) but it does house the new creation during our walk on earth.
Jesus may have humbled Himself to take on the form of a bondservant, walk among us and then die for our sins on the cross, but that physical body is not all that Jesus is. The physical body of Jesus is how God chose to reveal His invisible attributes to us, but it is not all that God is. God remains Spirit and even during Jesus’ walk on earth, it remained true that the universe could not contain God. The heavens and the earth are in God and God is in them. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19) but Christ was also in God (John 10:37, John 15:10). In Christ dwells the fullness of the God head and in God dwells Christ. Don’t loose sight of the fact that Jesus is fully God, therefore He is Spirit as well. In Him can dwell God fully but that does not mean that God must fully fit into a physical body.
Finally, you asked that if we are created in God’s image, doesn’t that mean that God would have arms, legs and our physical attributes?
The answer is, No. God is Spirit and man was created in God’s image with a spiritual aspect to his nature. We have become dead because of sin but are made alive in Christ. Because of mankind’s sin, we have all inherited a body of corruption and a sinful nature that is bent on corruption. Anyone who has ever had a child knows that we are born into sin. I never taught my kids to be selfish, to hit, throw fits or misbehave. I use external measures to curb that behavior but only God can create a new heart within us. Our bodies are not eternal and are destined to return to the ground. Man’s physical body was fashioned out of clay – not God’s image. The spirit of life breathed into him comes from God.
When we are redeemed in Christ, we become alive and again inherit God’s attributes He intended for us to have from the beginning. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
This is a very important passage. Notice that we no longer regard each other according to the flesh. Why? Because we are new creations – not according to our arms, legs and physical attributes but according to the new creation we have become in Christ. We no longer regard Christ according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. When we are born in the Spirit, we are now a child of God and can truly know God and have a personal relationship with Christ through the Spirit – not by the flesh. When we are born spiritually, we inherit again the image of God that was intended from the beginning. Until we are born in the Spirit, we are not sons, we are not heirs, and we cannot understand the things of the Spirit.
If you observe the Word of Faith movement, everything is focused on the physical and all doctrine centers around self-gain. However, if we are in Christ, we no longer live for ourselves but die to ourselves; we no longer live for physical things but live now according to the spirit – not storing up treasures on earth but live in hope of the eternal promises of God and the reward He gives to those who are faithful. Jesus said, where your treasure is, your heart will be also. If someone accepts the so-called prosperity doctrine, their heart is in the wrong place. When someone loves the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in them (1 John 2:15).
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.