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In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul’s instruction for community life begins with “Let love be without hypocrisy… (Romans 12:9a).” All that follows is built on this foundation, from the twelve additional short commands (through v. 13) to the end of the epistle.

The breadth and depth of this command presents more of a challenge than one might experience in a cursory reading. Indeed, these may be the five most challenging words in the Bible.

With all due respect to Bible reading plans, the Scriptures contain matters of truth that simply do not fit earthbound self-imposed schedules. “Let love be without hypocrisy…” is one of those truths that should blow up our reading plans. We will spiritually injure ourselves (with collateral damage to those we love) if we diligently press on to the next verse (or, in this case, phrase).

We need to sit here for a while. Our Father in heaven is bringing many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). We participate with Him when we invest the necessary time to search out the truths He has hidden for His children.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Let’s begin with a couple of definitions. First, as we have considered previously, God’s love (agapē) is more than “unconditional” (as so many teachers have popularized). In fact, it is not unconditional at all. God’s love is something more; it is better described as sacrificial. God so loved the world that He sacrificed His son, that those who believe (a condition) might be saved (John 3:16). We manifest God’s love when we sacrifice for others.

“Without hypocrisy” comes from the Greek, anypokritos. Blue Letter Bible’s Outline of Biblical Usage defines anypokritos as “unfeigned, undisguised, sincere.” Synonyms (from Oxford Dictionaries) include genuine, true, honest, authentic, unforced, wholehearted, deep, transparent, palpable, and audacious. Consider each of these and you will understand why I am stuck on “let love be without hypocrisy.” If we cannot get this right, how can we move on to the rest?

Searching further, we find John encouraging and describing our sincere love. Read the rest of this entry »

As we have asserted in the past, God is a process-oriented problem solver. Salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc. – all the ways of God are processes, not events. This is a critical paradigm shift for anyone determined to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

In the New Covenant, God has taken responsibility for the lion’s share of these processes.

  • We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
  • He is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13b).

Our responsibility is to do what we can to participate with Him in the processes. His grace is appropriated by our faith. We must walk in the good works He has prepared for us (not do them, as most translations have it). We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:13a).

Let me stop here and quickly acknowledge that God has grace (i.e., enabling power) for even our part in the processes He has created and prescribed. We are left with little more than choosing Him and His ways. This includes the process of faith.

The Process

Faith is our entry point into every one of God’s processes. The righteous shall live by faith (Romans 1:17); and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We do ourselves great harm in thinking that faith is passive and/or simply an event. The Scriptures are clear on this matter: the process of faith consists of three progressive phases.

The hearing of faith: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Genuine followers of Christ have been given ears to hear (Matthew 13:16). It is time we used them (Matthew 11:13). Hearing requires listening; listening takes time and requires attention.

Obedience to the faith: The preposition here is important. Our faith does not produce obedience (of). We must choose to obey the word of God that we are given for faith. We present our body as a living sacrifice and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2), reckoning the truth of God’s word as true for ourselves – that we are instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:11-14).

The work of faith: The work of faith is an inward (Philippians 2:13) and an outward work (Ephesians 3:20). Faith without work is dead (James 2:14-26). The work of faith associated with the word of God is more than a product of faith; it is the catalyst that brings our faith to life. Read the rest of this entry »

The Work of the Faith

Discussing faith and works together has become a difficult, anxiety-inducing exercise for most of the Body of Christ. This is not so much due to an identifiable point of disagreement as to the subconscious suspicion that what the other believes may be different and/or challenging to something we have been told. This again is a ploy of our carnal minds – to protect closely held convictions and opinions; to maintain control and comfort.

Rigid mindsets are generally dangerous things, built on arrogance and fear. There is nothing wrong with strong convictions – as long as those convictions are constructed on the diligent and humble study of God’s word.

Sadly, most of us lack the time required for diligent study, having given said time over to worldly pursuits. Consequently, we are left with someone else’s word as the final word for the doctrine of Jesus Christ (2John 1:9). This is particularly troublesome in regards to the foundational subjects of grace, faith and works.

At a minimum, every disciple of Jesus Christ should recognize and accept that there is more truth than they have yet learned. At the same time, they should be prepared to humbly offer what they have come to understand. And so, with a desire to learn more, I offer here my humble understanding of the work of faith – taken mostly from Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:14-26, and other noted NKJV passages).

Grace, faith and works cannot be understood apart from each other. Our faith – which is a gift of God – appropriates the grace of God. The grace of God manifests itself in His good works. His good works perfect (i.e., complete) our faith, as we walk in them. Faith without these works is dead (i.e., without effect). Because these works are His, we have no claim of credit for them. Read the rest of this entry »

In previous articles, we have:

  1. Made the case for attaching enemy status to our carnal minds;
  2. Provided five ways for exposing the carnal mind’s deceptive practices;
  3. Recognized our responsibility in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;
  4. Introduced the process of faith as God’s design for overcoming our carnal mind’s influence; and,
  5. Promised to introduce the disciplines God has provided to initiate and maximize His grace in the process of faith.

Begging your forgiveness, we have decided on a brief segue to share a relatively simple explanation of the relationship between our mind (or minds, should it come to that) and our faith. We will introduce the disciplines next time.

For those of you that require a summary statement:

Faith appropriates the grace of God that overcomes the influences of our carnal mind. This is accomplished throughout our lives as an iterative process – the process of faith – which is also an integral part of our ongoing salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc.

Now, for those interested in a layman’s humble explanation:

The Process of Faith and the Renewal of Our Minds

To begin, let me recognize that others may find exception to the following explanation. I think I would be surprised if someone did not. Much smarter theologians have explained it differently – and they don’t agree with each other. We are, it would seem, one of God’s most mysterious creations.

If you find yourself disagreeing, by all means, let me know what you think. In the meantime, don’t let disagreement get in the way of whatever blessing God may have for you here.

Before we are born again (as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3), the physical organ we call “the brain” functions on behalf of our carnal mind and, to the extent that they influence that mind, on behalf of Satan and the world.

The mind and brain are not the same. The brain is the most incredible physical organ designed and created by God. Much has been written about the brain’s capabilities; we will not discuss those here.

In the most basic case, the brain processes sensory input, interacts with the mind concerning a response, and then directs the body in that response. Additionally, the brain is being programmed – beginning before birth – to respond automatically to external stimuli (e.g., smiling at a mother’s voice, shutting eyelids when something gets too close). These auto-responses can be self-protective, destructive, or neutral.

The mind functions at a higher level, in response to input from the brain and information that it retrieves from its storage cells. The mind gives direction to the brain both – and this is important – consciously and subconsciously. Our mind is where we think and reason; where we imagine and create. This too occurs consciously and subconsciously. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week’s article was primarily written to encourage you in identifying and exposing the ways our carnal mind attempts to deceive us (Phase One). In doing so, I may have also inadvertently communicated Phase Two of the strategy. You may recall two suggestions:

  1. Invite and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth.
  2. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

These are certainly mission critical parts of our strategy. We should know where they fit by the end of this series (I am still working some things out). In the meantime, allow me to address the promise I made last week – to update “The Process of Faith” article (from 2017).

That faith would be one of our greatest weapons against deception is not something the average Christian would intuitively recognize. However, as we will see, God has designed the process of faith with necessary and critical steps which involve our minds (spiritual and carnal). The 2017 article broke the process down into five steps. Since then, some additional revelation (related to our mind) has come to light.

As you read through the process, consider the carnal mind’s active resistance in each step. It is aggressively working to distract us from the hearing of faith (steps 1 – 3), to reject or confuse our belief and reckoning of the truth (4 – 5), and to resist or subvert our obedience to the work of faith (6 – 8). Notice also how the mind of the new man is edified and empowered to overcome our enemies’ attempts at deception. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowGive to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. Matthew 5:42

Honestly, I have had more questions than answers about this verse. Does this include every person on every corner that is holding up a “please help” sign? What about the professional panhandlers I come across in downtown Atlanta? What if they are going to use it for drugs or some other addiction?

Do I donate every time every organization sends a request? Does this include candidates for political office, or just people in need? What if I run out of money; won’t I become a part of the problem? Is there not some other way to understand this saying of Jesus Christ? Did He really mean what He is saying here?

I have an opinion about the meaning of this saying; but does my opinion matter? Perhaps more important is what all these questions reveal. Am I looking for understanding; or for an excuse to move this verse to the “consider later” basket; and move on to something else?

It seems this verse is pivotal in our discussion and obedience to “these sayings of mine” in the Sermon on the Mount and beyond. There is this option of moving on to “easier” sayings, but if we start now, I guarantee most of the rest will go in the same direction; and habits are hard to break. Perhaps now is the time to face our fears and deal with the reality of our commitment to faith and obedience. Read the rest of this entry »

iStock_000005991593SmallGetting ahead in business requires more than working hard. One must work harder than the persons ahead of them; for those persons, being ahead, have both distance and resources as their advantage. This is the character of a carnal system.

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matthew 7:21-23

In the same way, many Christians work hard assuming hard work will automatically earn God’s blessing in their business or profession. As good as it sounds, this is the way of the world. The followers of Jesus Christ must remember that whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). God does not reward sin. He rewards the obedient work of faith.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the rhema (i.e., spoken word) of God (Romans 10:17). Before working hard to get ahead, be sure you know that you have God’s will for your work. BTW: It is not God’s will for you to neglect your intimacy with Him, your family and the body of Christ.

Workplace Ministry Tip:
As you would any strategic meeting, set aside time to meet with God; that you might come to understand the plan He has for you. Reckon the truth concerning success in the kingdom of God: God rewards the obedient work of faith. Work hard at the work He has willed for your life.

Contact me, at rob@inlightconsulting.com, if I can be of assistance.

Humbly yours and His forever,

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