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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The breakthrough

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:25).

Steam’s temperature is 100° C. Ice’s temperature is 0° C. But, water can reach 0° C and not freeze. Water can reach 100° C, and not turn to steam. This is because the level of heat at 100° C is not enough to change the molecular structure of liquid water into water vapor. After it reaches 100° C there must be added another 540 calories of heat to build up in the water, and then it will flash into steam. Similarly with ice. The cold water must continue to lose its heat another 80 calories after reaching 0° C, before the water changes its molecular structure from liquid to solid, and then it will crystallize into ice.

This is a very good illustration of salvation. Our fallen nature doesn’t immediately take to righteousness. We don’t naturally trust God and the love that He claims to have for us. We’ve been abused from the lack of perfect love, and we have given the same imperfect love to others. All of that together makes us think that God is no different from us. Our own character flaws, and living in a world of character flaws, makes us distrust a faithful Creator. He suffered the coldness of our sin-filled hearts to be near humanity and let our race see that His love is truly rock solid, perfect, undying, and permanent.
 
Yet, it would take a while to sink in—2,000 years. And on an individual basis, no one is fully saved, safely saved, until he has stayed in the heat of his crucible, until the purification process is complete. How long does that take? No man knows the day or the hour. All we know is that that part of the salvation process belongs to God, and we can peacefully leave that in His care. In the meantime, we have a work to do. We cannot open the lines of trust in God, the fibers of that invisible muscle. But, our Creator can; and we must let God do that. There is no magic mantra or potion that we can self-administer. But we can do all that is possible for us to do—we can take in Jesus’ commandments, and words, and His beautiful example of love. As we do that, those lines of faith begin to develop under the supervision of our Creator. We can’t see it happening. In fact, for a while it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. We can feel like giving up, because it doesn’t seem worth the time and effort to read the Bible, to join with others in Bible study or Sabbath school, to talk to Jesus, etc.

In fact, life can get worse. Our sins become more magnified, instead of fading away, because our spiritual discernment is growing. “The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect nature. This is evidence that Satan’s delusions have lost their power; that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God is arousing you.” Steps to Christ, p. 64. But, seeing our imperfections and mistakes more clearly than ever is not what makes us happy. We don’t want to keep seeing our sins. The caloric heat is changing, yet there is not change in our state of being.

But, if we will patiently endure in faith, continually learning more and more of Jesus, helping others lose their misconceptions of God as we lose ours, hoping against hope for the day when we can have peace with God, that day will come.

“But if we hope forG1679 [what] we see not, then do we with patienceG5281 wait forG553 it.” (Rom. 8:25).
“For we through the Spirit wait forG553 the hopeG1680 of righteousness by faith.” (Gal. 5:5).

G553 apekdechomai From G575 and G1551; to expect fully: - look (wait) for. G1680 elpis from elpō which is a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence: - faith, hope.

As we wait, we are to fully expect with expectation and confidence and anticipation the righteousness that comes from the faith of Jesus, the faith that Jesus had. What was the faith of Jesus? It was a faith that sought for every possible evidence of His Father’s love for Him. In the dark and with wave after increasing wave of emotional agony in Gethsemane and the blinding pains of crucifixion He did not give up seeking out the lost love that He had known from His Father in heaven. Jesus would not give up. He had surrendered all to His Father all His life. Now, with the complete loss of all His Father’s evident love, He wouldn’t surrender to doubt and the temptation to escape the torments that He knew, His Father desired Him to endure. This is the faith of Jesus.

How can we have that faith? Not from our own willpower and choice. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12,13). All we can do toward our own salvation is to accept Jesus’ invitation to come to Him, and then hang on for dear life. Our new birth is not in our control. Our birthing is Jesus’ work. But, we can stay in the womb and wait for the day of our grand entrance into the world of grace. We can keeping coming to Jesus day after day. We can do so knowing in faith that in due time, as soon as He can get us ready, we will be delivered from self. When we have all the preliminaries done, trust will happen and we will be freed from our prison of unbelief and temptations to drown the conscience with some substance in order to ease its convictions of our sinfulness. We will be brought out of the darkness into the light of clear day. All during Jesus’ battle for our salvation, He only want our eventual peace in Him.

“He that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.” (1Cor. 9:10).

If no man knows the day or hour before we can have relief, what keeps us keeping on? We do like Paul, we enter into the new birth process wrestling with the Law of God.

“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Wherefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7:9-14).

We accept the realization of our moral poverty. We can live with the squeezing forces from the womb of God, as we move down through His birth canal. And worse squeezing is yet to come in the process, unless we want to die before birth.

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Rom. 7:15-20).

We learn from the master teacher that in us dwells nothing good. In sin were we conceived in our first birth. Utter, desperate selfishness exists in the fallen human soul. Accepting this we move further into the new birth process.

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Rom. 7:21-23).

Where is the peace promised to me? All I see is my captivity to the power of sin. All I see is my wretchedness! Horror of horrors! Days and nights are spent in misery. No one loves me; everyone hates me. I want to disappear from planet Earth. I am an untouchable, a leper. Everywhere I go I deserve to cry, Unclean! Unclean! But, something in me keeps me coming back to the Bible, hoping in God for help, because no one else can stand to be near me.

“He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21).

“If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23).

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1,2).

The promises become especially appealing, even though I hold them with only a glimmer of hope that they were meant for people like me.

I finally see myself as I am. I see myself as God sees me. I’m totally in the dark. There is no one in the whole universe to love me. The stars have all fallen and the black sky offers no hope. God has abandoned me because I’ve committed the unpardonable sin a thousand times over. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).
 
I lose; God my Saviour wins. But, He doesn’t leave me in hopelessness long. Just as the night is becoming its darkest, when my faith is about to fail, the change comes. I can begin to believe what I have read earlier in my journey, I can barely trust that He wants to pardon and forgive me; He wants to give me a new heart and put His Spirit within me. I can believe God’s word; I can believe that He is genuine. He did mean what He said, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37). “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt.11:28).

I can believe.

“The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:22-24).

My confession is: “As it is written, That Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged.” (Rom. 3:4). And as a result, I win because I lose to God. I open my heart to Him.
 
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” (Ps. 51:1-4).

The breakthrough! Alas, the breakthrough has come. The heavens were brass over my head and the earth iron under my feet. But, the heavens opened, and straight from the throne of God His dove of peace came into my heart. I am finally with Paul in Romans 7:25; the Romans 8 victory is now opened to me.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Ps. 40:1-2).

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hopeG1680 of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patienceG5281;
And patienceG5281, experience; and experience, hopeG1680:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love hopeG1680 God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:1-5).

G5281 hupomonē From G5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: - enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).


Even after our conversion, there is more patience to endure, for a greater fulfillment of happiness. That is our sanctification, and its work of a lifetime is a good work, a fulfilling work that no one can have without the required patient while waiting under difficulty, hardship, and even tragedy.

“If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abideG3306 in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abideG3306 in His love.” (John 15:10).

G3306 menō A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): - abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), X thine own.
 
Patient endurance is easy and light because Jesus has accepted me. Nothing else matters. The things that before were either a heavy load or impossible, are now doable and healthy for my growing faith. I am in Christ, and His words are in me. And His Spirit of life makes me free from the power of death that harassed my every effort to be free from sin.

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