Have you ever wondered, what life is supposed to be like for the Christian? Nearly all of us have. The reason this question arises is simply that many believers don’t have a way to properly gauge the quality of their Christian experience. Certainly we can all find a myriad of religious alternatives all vying for our attention, yet can we be confident that they offer us a proper view of the Savior? The good news is that most of the people that will read this book have already begun a search for spiritual truth. Having initially said yes to Jesus they know that encounters with God are possible, if not proper; but there is a problem. If God’s perfect Gospel is interrupted, unanswered, or is not actually given its proper place, then we will find ourselves jumping into all sorts of error. Instead of achieving God’s highest, we will only produce results that remain limited to creation. For some that might seem like a worthy cause; this world offers all sorts of imaginative perks; however God does offer a better reward. As we trust Him with the journey we are invited to live a renewed life based on His power to save and our residency is now set in heaven. Think about it; our highest call is to be brought up into a heavenly reality; one rooted and grounded upon eternal principles. This means everything that guides us can be immersed in the nature, character and Spirit of God. The life we live and the fruit we produce, even while on this earth, can be of a greater quality than that which we have previously known. The truth is we sometimes miss the way; there are times that we become confused about what actually represents God and His Kingdom. Consequently if the “Adam in us” (the fallen nature) decides to take charge of the journey, then we will quite often open ourselves up to all sorts of damaging spiritual detours. For some, this is their current predicament. When the journey is all about “us” it means we are making choices in life and even in faith that fall short of God’s marvelous provision. Subsequently man’s fallen nature has negatively impacted our faith by adding religious ideals and spiritual trouble to our walk. In the chapters ahead we will seek to define healthy relationship with God from a biblical perspective, as well as offer fresh insights regarding His Kingdom. Our goal is to help believers get back to the “basics” so that their relationship with God can take precedence. A new life is waiting for us free of the limitations of our old man. This is all made possible because God first gave us His Son and then offered us access to His Holy Spirit. Actually, for the believer the Spirit of God is now the most essential ingredient in maintaining a healthy Christian perspective. Our freedom and maturity is totally dependent on walking by the Spirit. How do we walk by the Spirit? Though the Spirit of God has been given to all that ask for salvation, we have not always understood how to be pliable to His continued instruction. In error, we try to add God to our agendas, rather than recognizing the importance of being added to His. When we walk by the Spirit it is simply a matter of allowing the Spirit of God to guide our choices and make changes within us. This is the plan of salvation; God is making us new and inviting us into all the benefits of His life. Where we were once moved by Adam’s rules regarding life, love and commitment, we have now found a better way to live. All of this is made possible by Christ’s work on the Cross. The most over looked Bible truth When we refer to the “Cross”, we are talking about a foundation of Christianity which is based on every benefit delivered to us by Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Certainly we should first understand that Jesus was crucified and shed His blood in order to redeem us back to God. This selfless act literally purchased us for God and paved the way for an eternal relationship.
Ephesians 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
But, on further inspection we find that there were other advantages that the Cross offered us.
The Curse — We were freed from the curse once imposed upon Adam. Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
The Serpent — The Serpent has had power over Adam’s race, but he has lost power over those who are now found in Christ. Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
The Law — The Law of Moses was moved out of the way as our chief standard of performance. Colossians 2:14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil — The Tree which is synonymous with how fallen man thinks and acts has been moved out of the way. No longer do we have to gauge the meaning of life based on our own standards of good and evil. Colossians 2:20-21 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21”Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
Sin nature — The fallen nature of man is always set towards rebellion, but every act of disobedience has been crucified. Romans 6:1-3 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:6-7 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Sin behavior — Behavior that is unfitting for God’s people is the result of men moving and acting upon their old nature; this is the Adamic nature. Acts that lead to sinful behavior have been removed at the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Romans 7:5-6 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
The above verses make another important point. Unbeknownst to many Christians, it wasn’t only Jesus that died on the Cross; it was also the place of our death. No, we didn’t die physically; instead Jesus supernaturally invited us into His own death so that we could come to know His life. In this way everything that once bound us to the fall or made us improperly relate to the world can get moved out of the way. Even today there is no limit as to how many ways our lives can be changed at the Cross of Christ. This process can be summed up in one simple statement:
Jesus died for your redemption; but you died with Christ to gain transformation.
Once we let the Cross separate us from our former way of life, the resurrection power of God begins to move in our hearts, minds and actions. Jesus raises us up into a new and living way which is empowered by His Spirit.
Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Romans 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
What a wonderful gift! Our present and future lives can now be free of all sorts of added clutter and the things that have lied to us about life with Christ.
Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
The power of the Cross and the resurrected life of God’s Son can provide us a perpetual platform for change. It is here that we begin to participate in what the Word calls “sanctification” or “renewing the mind”. We set aside all the limits of Adam’s fallen ways and put on all the advantages of Christ’s own nature. This is one reason that the Christian life can be seen as a progressive journey. It is simply that we have yet to realize all the benefits of walking in God’s strength and salvation. Yes, we are eternally saved, but our daily choices and actions may still need a Savior. The miracle of the Gospel (the good news) has offered us a way out from the trappings of our old man and entrance into abundant life with Christ. This was all given to us right from the start and it now sits before us just waiting for a convert. So how do we believe and properly respond? Our only true means of making the Gospel work is to agree with the One that provided it without defect.
Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes and so is justified, and with the mouth he confesses and confirms salvation.
In the Greek, the word “confess” is “homologeo” and is defined as: saying the same thing as another, i.e. agreeing with; conceding to confess, declare; professing to declare openly, speak out freely; praising and celebrating. Other scriptures that bring forth the same truth are: Mat. 10:32, 1 Tim. 6:12, Heb. 13:15, 2 Cor. 4:13.
The emphasis on agreement with God is alive throughout the scriptures, and if we want, it can be alive within each one of us. Paul the Apostle trusted in this very thing; he believed that a new life was available for him by agreeing with God’s work on the Cross. Let Paul’s confession be a precursor to our own declarations of freedom.
Application I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
My old way of thinking was tied to performing for God, rather than letting Him and His gospel change me. This meant that I improperly sought for examples in the Word, or in other men, that I could act upon or imitate, rather than believing that God had provided me with a Spiritual means of transformation. Basically, I was too busy trying to follow a rule book that admonished me to change, yet these actions simply made me religious. Up to this point Christianity was all about me. Simply stated, if we don’t allow Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to resonate within our faith, then there is nothing that can properly carry us on into God’s abundant life.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Now, please consider that if we haven’t properly separated from Adam’s folly, then the Christian experience has been frustrated along the way. If our natural man (Adam) has been leading with his own brand of reason then he has improperly put his hands on every aspect of Christianity. He not only complicates a simple salvation message, but due to his fallen attitudes he aggressively dominates the scene in physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual ways. For our study we will define the difference between religion and true faith in this way;
—-Religion is a search for God, but subject to man’s own strength and definition of a savior (We are in control).
In contrast “Christianity,” or our “faith,” refers to a pure expression of relationship which has been initiated and delivered to us by God (God is in control).
This is our battle in a nut shell. Will it be Adam’s view point that rules our hearts and minds or is it time to truly trust in the life of our Savior? Fallen activities may not disqualify us for heaven; however dabbling in Adam’s world and his religiosity can certainly divert our course.
The Christian Journey
This brings up another important point; our Christian journey is Spiritual. We call upon a Spiritual God for Spiritual answers and find victory while participating in a Spiritual new life and Kingdom. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
As we trust Him to be supernatural in our lives we find that transformation leads us into effective service and connection with God. Yet we are not the only spiritual people on the earth. Fallen mankind is also moved to make choices that are spiritual and this tends to alter his quality of life. Yes, even the unsaved depend on spiritual encounters to define their way. Subsequently maintaining freedom in Christ does require that we make right Spiritual choices. In the pages ahead we will be looking for truth in Jesus and His Word, but we will also be considering many of the spiritual pitfalls that currently blanket religious thinking.
(For our study and throughout this book you my also notice that I have capitalized the word “Spiritual” to coincide with the work of the Holy Spirit and represent a true definition of salvation in God. Likewise I have left a small case “s” in “spiritual” to represent a generic understanding of spiritual things as well as describe the fallen works of creation.)
What we want to offer the reader is an invitation to become Spiritually aware and Spiritually awake to a greater victory that is available in Christ. Don’t be overwhelmed by this task; once you understand the importance of the Cross in your daily walk, you will find that Spiritual victory is a breeze, as well as your most perfect security. The Cross of Christ clarifies our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual connections for us.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
By embracing the Bible’s way of transformation at the Cross we can begin to gleefully challenge any spiritual fallacy or misconception that interrupts a pure faith. Here are some key subjects that we will be discussing in the chapters ahead.
Covenant: The right to agree with God is a privilege, but going beyond the fullness of God’s covenant plan can cost us dearly. Added agreements with men, organizations or a demonic realm have put us under serious spiritual obligation, leaving us powerless to show forth a true faith.
The Serpent: Through intrigue and deception the Devil has taken hold of Adam’s world and declared himself a god. This fallen angel also tries to entangle believers in an alternate example of spiritual success.
The Anatomy of a Contract: The Serpent holds mankind captive to a very old contract. If we can recognize how that contract still impacts our lives, then we can escape many of the strongholds that have accompanied our fallen choices.
Tale of Two Kingdoms: If we become spiritually subject to a fallen world it is likely that we won’t reach for heaven and heaven will have a hard time reaching for us. It all depends on where we choose to dwell.
The Shadow of the Spiritual: When religion is central to our faith it means that “we” are central to our faith. This can make the Church a dangerous spiritual minefield and rob believers of their God given innocence.
Duality in faith: When true faith becomes joined with ideas and concepts that are merely religious in nature they end up supporting a different agenda and invite other gods to speak. The Church and its ministry have taken a turn for the worse under such influences.
The Religion of Old Testament Covenants: An improper dependence on the Old Covenant message by a New Covenant Church can become an unhealthy template for success. Old Testament ritual has fueled many of Adam’s attempts to be good and godly, yet a better Covenant is now available in Christ.
Spiritual Ministry: Ministry that seeks to confront spiritual trouble from a religious perspective can find itself just as vulnerable as the people it is trying to help. By challenging our ideas about Christian practice we can return to a pure expression of ministry guided by the Holy Spirit.
The Search for Christian identity: The question of who we are and what we are made for can never be answered based on human reason and fallen principles. This includes how we seek after God. A lack of clarity on how we gain Christian identity keeps us running around in religious circles. Yet God has made the answer to this question simple as we find transformation in Him.
The chapters ahead will address numerous beliefs rooted in man’s religious search for the divine. This may challenge some of your own connections with religion and make you wonder about various church movements. This author’s own journey followed numerous church groups as well as Charismatic faith; some of it was Jesus and some of it was not. Though we seek to challenge our foundations, please keep in mind that I am not suggesting setting aside a supernatural life. No, just the opposite; I am merely suggesting that we call upon Jesus to be our only example and resource of Spiritual truth, power and success. The foundation of our faith should remain singular under one God and one Spirit. Every need has been satisfied in Christ, and God remains available as we draw near to Him. In fact the miraculous has happened simply because we started to trust God with the answer. He fulfilled all things long before we existed, so that we could draw from a Source of Life that is always constant and never fading. That is actually the most comforting thing I have ever known, especially as I have begun to walk free of many years of spiritual and religious distraction. Are you ready to take a journey; a journey that will show you a powerful way to separate from Adam’s spiritual madness? Come along and experience the freedom for which Christ has set you free. The most precious of promises can be realized when you come out from,
“The Shadow of the Spiritual”
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