Being Good Does Not Save You!

I have always wondered why people insist that Christianity is about being good. That all decent, good people are going heaven. Hence our salvation would be based on works or our behavior. But the Bible is telling us the polar opposite:

You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Eph.2: 8-10)

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is a gift. Faith is a gift. Grace is a gift. Jesus is a gift. It’s all God’s work from start to finish. Even the idea is God’s. Our role is to receive these gifts and believe. Like Lewis Sperry Chafer has stated “Anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to Heaven. Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, who are His enemies, can go to Heaven.”

However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law. (Gal. 2: 16)

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Not by being good and doing good. That will come later, when the Holy Spirit works in and through us. God has planned great things for us to do when we are inspired and empowered by the Spirit. Those works are fruit of the Spirit and we will always be just vessels of God’s grace. But those works don’t save us, only faith in Jesus does.

I died to the Law through the Law, so that I could live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. I don’t ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal. 2: 19-21)

In defense of Grace, Amazing Grace, saving grace. There is a distinction between good people and people who use good to further their own status. Good people show up all over the place – and it’s not helpful to raise questions about their integrity, motives or spiritual status. Grace Alone has made for lots of lazy Christians who talk the faith but hardly live the faith – but that’s okay, because they’re saved by grace (Paul deals with this in Romans).

This is a distinction based upon a misreading of Paul, filtered through Luther – sadly, we end up reading Jesus and the Old Testament through Paul, rather than the other way around. We need to read Jesus in the light of the Old Testament, and Paul in the light of Jesus. We’re still stuck in the old Reformation paradigms, which are of value, but limited value, not absolute.

The doctrine of grace, as noted here, can make us spoilsports – we see good, as the Pharisees did, and reject it, because it “lacks” the verbal or whatever-witness we expect.  Where there’s good, there’s God! Where there’s God, there’s good. God constantly creates good in all sorts of places so that the “elect” don’t get uppity (see latter half of Genesis 12 where Pharaoh lectures Abram on ethics and morals). Christians have often used this idea in a one-upmanship style – that we have the “true and right” understanding, and while the framers of the doctrine intended a great humility, in the souls of some, it’s the doctrine that has come to mean more than the grace, and thus the pride of knowing the doctrine rather than grace.

We have been co-crucified with Christ. When we receive God’s grace, we are saved through our faith in Jesus. Then it is not us but Christ doing those good deeds. We can only boast in the cross. We can only brag about God’s grace. And even that is free for all.

If we say that Christianity is about being good and all the good people are going to heaven, we are making the crucifixion unnecessary. We are ignoring God’s grace, downgrading the power and meaning of the blood of Christ. Lord, have mercy!

 

 

*Resource: Mari-Anna Stålnacke

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God’s Blueprint

If you’ve ever watched a house being built, you know that blueprints are essential. Blueprints contain plans that fully describe the quality and specifications of the materials – including the foundation. The quality and strength of a foundation determines the quality and strength of everything built upon it. The same is true for Christian’s life. A Christ-Like life built on a sub-standard foundation will never reach God’s intended purpose.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart… 1 Pet. 1:22

We are living in strange tymes in terms of how the church functions. We have been caught up with a fierce desire to find a way to relate to a culture that has been immunized to Christianity. We try to find new methods to reach the lost. The motivation is righteous, because we should have compassion for the lost. The danger comes when we ask the lost how they want to come into the kingdom of God, how they want to worship God, and how they want to hear God’s Word, and then tailor our method to their tastes and preferences. That is fatal. Sooner or later the church must come back to confidence in God’s way of doing God’s work, because the Bible does give us a blueprint for evangelism.

It gives us a blueprint for reaching the lost and for generating spiritual growth among the people of God. The blueprint is not a matter of rocket science or Madison Avenue technology; it is a blueprint that God guarantees will not be fruitless. It is accomplished by the method of proclaiming the Word of God, which, as Peter says here, changes lives and purifies souls through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sometymes religion can become a road block to a meaningful spiritual life. One struggle many believers have is in trying to find the perfect religion. They go from one group to another trying to find God’s blue print for life. The problem is that no institution on earth has the complete blueprint of God. To begin with there is no such thing as the perfect religion. And secondly, Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world. [It can’t be found in an earthly form.]

Every tyme I think I got it sorta figured out — what I’m supposed to be doing and how I can do it with a degree of joy, peace, and trust — it eventually comes.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally live it up and squeeze out the good tymes when they come my way.  But, I know, life doesn’t stay that way.  At least, not on this side of heaven. The trouble with trouble some say is part of God’s blueprints includes trouble that God uses trouble to grow us and make us stronger.  I do understand that to some extent.  God says His strength in us grows when we tire and grow weak. Maybe I’m splitting hairs when I say this… I don’t totally think that God puts trouble into our plans. I think God does His work in spite of the trouble.

When God designed us and our lives, I believe He accounted for the problems we’d come across — whether they come from us, others or events that happen to us. I view trouble, not so much as an ingredient in the blueprint. 

Trouble is in the list of risks and environmental life factors that God took into account, when He constructed our blueprints. His plan for us is to succeed, so that we can stand up to the weight and fall of natural “life” disasters and stresses.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:8, 9

God has the blueprint for my life.  But, I think it’s more of a blueprint for who He wants me to become, rather than what I’m actually doing.

Sometymes what I do matches with who He wants me to be, but it doesn’t always happen.

It takes tyme to learn how to live in kingdom life. A difficulty we often have is in reading our own belief system into the Scriptures. We read it that way because we want to believe it that way. This is called eisegesis, or “reading into.’ This form of reading can mar a person’s spiritual life. Rather than let God speak to our hearts, we rush through the Scriptures to bolster what we want to believe.

The proper way to read the Scripture is called exegesis, or “reading out of.’ To properly understand what a Biblical writer means when he uses a certain term, we have to understand how that term was used during his tyme. When John says,

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace,” we need to know how the term ’fullness’ was used at that tyme. The word “Pleroma means “that which fills,’ and it comes from “pleroo”, or, “to fill with content.”

Pleroma as used by the gospel writers had a two-fold meaning. It meant that believers have been brought into fullness in Christ’s sphere of life. In this case there is nothing we need to do to be any closer to God, than being “in Christ.’ This fullness of our sphere of relationship takes place in the new birth. It is not some later added spiritual experience.

This Greek word also means that believers are filled absolutely by the Person of Christ as the giver of life. No believer has more of Christ than another believer. It is here that we get the idea of Christ living out His life in us. The apostle said that the one who belongs to Christ is one spirit with Him.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

How do you see God’s blueprint taking form in your life?

 

 

Today’s post was inspired by Laura Boggess’ wonderful Blueprint post at High Callings Blog *Resources: Lawrence “Buddy” Martin, Aaron Armstrong, & Bonnie Gray

Who Am I?

It’s another Melodic Monday and my song of the day is Who Am I? by Casting Crowns.  This song reminds me of God’s sovereignty: God is holy, God is almighty! Yet, he loves us! He wants to know us intimately; he wants to have a personal relationship with us! Not because what we are or what we have done but because of God! When we respond with ‘yes’ to God’s invitation we’ll be awestruck how much God really loves us.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Eph. 2:7-10, MSG)

We truly are God’s children meant to be living in God’s grace. We are special in God’s eyes but it’s not about us, it’s all about God! Casting Crowns’ song captures this so well. God of the Universe loves each and everyone of us! We can return our love to God by surrendering into his service. What does that mean to each of us is ours to find out. God adores to answer that kind of questions!

Not sure who you really are? Read this list of Biblical truths that reveal who God made you to be.

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues.  I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9-10).

I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

I have no lack for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

 

 

But God…

But God! Every time I read a verse that says “but God” it is fantastically good news. There are literally hundreds of verses that have “but God” in both the Old and New Testaments.  Especially by what follows. I have heard many people I witness to say that they have too much baggage, too many sins to overcome, too much to have forgiven. I can reassure them that Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness. One of the most powerful things I can tell them is would be the scriptures that contain “but God….”.

Once we were dead in sin, BUT GOD made us alive! Once we were captive to Satan, BUT GOD made us free! Once we were children of wrath, BUT GOD has promised to spend eternity unwrapping the riches of his grace in kindness toward us!

Ephesians 2:1-9
And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:12.
REMEMBER that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (THE CHURCH), and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We were dead in sin, BUT GOD made us alive with Christ.

We were captive to the prince of the power of the air and enslaved to the course of this world, BUT GOD raised us with Christ and made us sit with him in the heavenly places.

We were children of wrath and deserving of an eternity in the torments of hell, BUT GOD, instead of pouring out wrath, will spend eternity showing the immeasurable riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Doomed, dead, hell-bent…but God.

Ephesians 2:4–7

4) But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5) even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6) and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7) that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

We were dead in sin, BUT GOD made us alive with Christ

We were captive to the prince of the power of the air and enslaved to the course of this world, BUT GOD raised us with Christ and made us sit with him in the heavenly places.

We were children of wrath and deserving of an eternity in the torments of hell, BUT GOD, instead of pouring out wrath, will spend eternity showing the immeasurable riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

O that you would reckon with God! Consider now what the Word of God says concerning those who trust in him. Here is the way we will handle the text.

Ephesians 2:

We will put verse 3 over against verse 7 — we were children of wrath, BUT GOD promises endless kindness.

We will put verse 2 over against verse 6 — we were enslaved to the spirit of this age, BUT GOD freed us to sit with Christ in heaven.

And we will put verses 1 over against verse 5 and 6 — we were dead in sins, BUT GOD made us alive with Christ.

Brothers and sisters, this is good news! Impossible for us…but God? Nothing Is Impossible.

Genesis 50:20
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.

Acts 10:28
And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Psalm 49

14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them;   The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;  And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me.  Selah  something like “stop and listen”

Acts 13:29-30

29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead.

Romans 5:7-8
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.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;

1 Corinthians 3:6-7
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

No, we can’t do it by ourselves. Holiness is not the way to Jesus, Jesus is the way to holiness. Just read “but God” and you’ll see how the impossible becomes quite possible. For us, yes, it is impossible, “but God?!”

.

*Image resource Jack Wellman

Sufficient? God’s Grace Is More Then Sufficient!

Just by chance I went to lunch with the Sr. Management team at my job. I rode with one of the executives who just so happen had to drop his car into the dealership. We where at Kerbeck Premium Brand Division and as he took care of his business with the repair shop, like most men I went DREAM SHOPPING. I don’t think since I was maybe ten did I lay my hands on something and start “Naming and Claiming!” I prayed to let God know that the USED ROLLS ROYCE that I was staring at would be MORE THAN SUFFICIENT for me! I would just give the keys to my Chrysler to anyone at the nearest bus stop if only!?

Now God didn’t allow me to leave that day with my dream car. But I know it coming. But God did use a Sale Specifications Sheet “you know the sheet in the window showing: Price, VIN, Condition: Brand-New Warranty: Full Factory Warranty, Transmission: Automatic, Horsepower: Sufficient to ministry to me. Sufficient? To me this has seemed to be a Rolls Royce marketing strategy if you will? Or them just bragging? So I asked the Salesman who explained that was the #1 asked question after a potential buyer would ask  after looking at the Spec sheet? The explanation went like this:

Once upon a time a well-to-do gentleman walked into a Rolls-Royce dealership with the intent of purchasing one of the world’s finest automobiles. The story goes that he was impressed by the quality of workmanship, the performance, the accoutrements, the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’.  Absolutely everything about the automobile enchanted him.  He made his purchase.

Upon closing of the transaction he asked the salesperson, “By the way, I have but one question.  Can you please tell me, what is the horsepower of this remarkable vehicle?” The salesman replied, “I do not know sir, I’ll be happy to send your request to the Vice- President of Manufacturing.”

According to legend, the very next day our proud gentleman received a knock on his door, and a telegram from Rolls-Royce Motorcars, Vice-President of Manufacturing.

“ Good Morning Sir. Thank you for your confidence in purchasing one of our very fine vehicles. I also wish to thank you for your question regarding the horsepower of this vehicle.  I am proud to provide you your response.”

“The horsepower of each and every Rolls-Royce Automobile is… Sufficient.

It’s an Rolls-Royce what else would you aspect?”

Historically, Rolls-Royce has somewhat smugly declined to quote horsepower numbers, utilizing amusingly evasive language like “entirely sufficient” to describe its engines’ power outputs. Unlike Rolls, God has never been smug with his disclaimers! His grantee has always beaten Fords, GMC’s, Jaguar’s & even Rolls warranties:

  • “For by grace are ye saved through faith . . . it is the gift of God . . .” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye,” (Psalm 32:8). “. . . the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness,” (Psalm 18:28).
  • “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth,” (Psalm 145:18). “He has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows,” (Isaiah 55:4).
  • “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).
  • “. . . but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day,” (II Corinthians 4:16).
  • So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

I had to hop onto my IPad and pull up www.biblegateway.com to view scriptures on God being sufficient. And of course the first one was 2 Corn 12:7-10 dealing with Paul.

The apostle Paul had direct experience with God being sufficient. He tells us what God taught him about this in his second letter to the Corinthians. Paul relays a message he received from God in this passage. When Paul asked God to take away a “thorn in his flesh,” God denied his request—because the thorn made Paul weak. Why would God want this for one of His faithful servants? Because it also made Paul powerful, grace is the key to being both weak and powerful at the same time. In fact, grace is all that is needed—grace alone is sufficient.

This sets up a conflict between the worlds—unavoidably mired in sin—and God. In the world, how much control you have determines your power. If you have more control over other people than they have over you, then you have power. If you control more money than others, then you have power. Conversely, if you have given or lost control to others, voluntarily or involuntarily, you are weak. If you control less money than others, then you are weak, and so on.

In God’s system, the more you attempt to control things yourself, the more you close off access to the Spirit’s power. On the other hand, the more you relinquish control to God’s Holy Spirit to guide you, inspire you, and act through you, the more power you have. And this is not just any power. This is the power that created the entire universe, that healed the sick through Jesus’ touch, and that ultimately raised Jesus from the dead! So, the weaker you become in the world’s eyes, the more real power you actually attain.

Most of us would say that yielding control is hard, but we’re just fooling ourselves. We yield control all the time without even realizing it. When we need to get to the fourteenth floor of our office building, we turn control over to an elevator rather than maintaining control and trudging up the stairs. Instead of walking across the country to visit loved ones, we turn control over to a pilot and a jet aircraft. We are actually quite good at giving up control when it is to our benefit. And what could benefit us more than the power of God?*

 So, is God’s grace sufficient? Yes! Abundantly so! That’s the truth.

Grace enables you to make it, no matter what. No matter who turns against you, no matter what obstacles you face, no matter how many times you fail. God’s incredible grace is there to pick you up, to revive lost hope, to heal broken bones, and to strengthen your weak will. It is never inadequate, nor is it ever depleted. It never spoils and it has no expiration date.

* Resource: blogging YouTruth

Our Sin Is Great. Gods Grace Is Greater!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. (1Cor. 16:23)

Grace. It’s a term that’s much easier to understand than experience. Actually, I’m not sure we understand it very well, either.

Begin with this thought: Reconciliation rarely occurs without sacrifice. By giving his one and only Son, God took the initiative in healing our broken relationship with him. He made the supreme sacrifice for us that we might be reconciled to him. Jesus’ death was the sacrifice for your sins, yet he lives. His death makes it possible for you to be saved, to be reconciled to God, to fix the broken tie that sin caused between you and God.

Remember, you were dead in your sins, but in Christ you have life. You were dead and buried in baptism and coming out of the water came out alive, reconciled to God. You are now his child, you have been saved by God’s grace. You gave your life to God; you are a living sacrifice, pure and holy – holy and pleasing to God.

Do you have a malnourished view of grace? It’s not too hard to tell. Do you live in a constant state of fear and discouragement that you aren’t measuring up to God’s standards? Do you wonder if God’s forgiveness covers your worst sins? If so, you’re failing to benefit from the unmerited acceptance God offers us through the grace of the cross. Or maybe you have the ill-informed perspective that being a Christian really isn’t all that difficult. You think the Gospel of grace is great news for non-Christians but rarely think about it as a believer. Your successes tempt you to pride, while your failures produce discouragement. Both are rooted in self-sufficiency rather than humble dependence on God’s grace.

God’s grace truly is amazing. Many of the songs we sing focus on the awe-inspiring reality that God has fully and freely forgiven our many sins through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God at Calvary. But grace includes even more! His grace extends far beyond that event, in both directions. It was God’s grace that chose us in Christ to be His precious possession before we were even born. (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9) God’s grace gives us strength to turn from sin and walk in righteousness. (Titus 2:11-14) It is God’s grace that will enable us to faithfully persevere until our last breath. (1 Cor. 1:4-9)  And if that weren’t enough, God tells us in Ephesians that in the coming ages He will “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7) Endless grace!

If grace seems like a foreign concept to you, I’d highly recommend you buy and study two of Jerry Bridges’ books, Transforming Grace and The Discipline of Grace. Don’t spend another day missing out on the glorious riches of grace in our Savior.

Thank God I Didn’t Take That Blue One!

The other night I was watching The Matrix for what was probably the 74th tyme. This is easily one of my top five favorites movies. Not just for the special effects! {well special back in 1999!} But in fact, after watching and studying this trilogy that I’d say The Matrix can be used as personal development resources. Really! Upon detailed examination, the movie provides us with countless personal development lessons and metaphors for life.

The image of the red pill and blue pill is key. This is what leads Neo to be “born-again.” There is really no choice for Neo to take the blue pill. He was destined to take the red pill, and it’s the key function in the narrative. Just as 1 Peter 1:20 states that Jesus “was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last tymes for your sake.” the same can be said about Neo in the film.

I’m not going to tell you what the matrix is because nobody can really do that. It’s something you have to experience for yourself. But I can hopefully make you somewhat aware of the fact that the matrix has you because awareness is the first step towards breaking free. –Morpheus The Matrix

In “The Matrix” movie, Keanu Reeves was able to shift reality with his mind, to use more than just his strength, more than just his intelligence and more than just his intuition to succeed. Likewise, with using the word of God. In the movie, The Matrix, the character ‘Neo’ wakes up to a world that is much different from the one he formerly knew. Prior to his awakening the world seemed to consist of individuals going about their daily lives – working, playing, and ‘paying their taxes’ in a manner essentially identical to the world that we live in. Now, after having been ‘woken up’ by the character Morpheus, Neo sees that what he formerly thought about reality has turned out to be a complete lie – an illusion foisted upon him by an inhuman race of beings (the machines) for there own ends.

But is Neo’s knowledge of this ‘new world’ any more certain to him than the ‘knowledge’ he thought himself to possess of his former world? If it is not, why is this  the case? And what light does this shed on the issue for us, as beings trying to find a satisfactory explanation the relation between ourselves and the world

To put it quite simply, Neo’s knowledge of his new found world – ‘outside’ the matrix – is no more certain than the knowledge of his previous world – ‘inside’ the matrix – because his experiences of the two worlds are qualitatively identical. Inside the matrix, he approaches an object, makes certain observations and forms judgments about it and so forth, and moves on to the next object. Whether this experience is based on a ‘real’ object or a computer generated stimulation of his nervous system he cannot know (although before his awakening, this was almost certainly his assumption). Now we examine Neo outside the matrix – how have his experiences of objects really changed? He again holds the same relationship to them – he remains absolutely external to objects which are merely ‘given’ to him. Again, Neo does not really know whether his experiences are based on ‘real’ objects or if these are not just simply more illusory (computer generated or otherwise) experiences – their illusory nature to be discovered at some later tyme. It’s sadly funny, Neo wakes up, discovers the world he lived in was not truly the one meant for him. But he still doubted & never really renewed his mind!* (well not till the third installment)

When you start this journey of personal development, it’s likely you are somewhat delusional and think that you’ll listen to a program once and then you’ll be an overnight success. You fail to realize that those who have achieved MASSIVE levels of success worked at it, often for many years.  Just as describe by Malcolm Gladwell on his  10,000 hour rule :

By dissecting my own journey a bit, I figured I could give some insights.

  1. You’ll believe it when you see it.
    If you operate from the idea that you’ll believe it when you see it, then you’re a long way from unplugging. A core lesson of this movie is that you’ll see exactly what you believe. In fact, if you only did one thing to advance your development, choosing empowering beliefs would be the most valuable thing you could do. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
  2.  Your purchases are status symbols.
    If you purchase nice cars, designer labels, and other expensive items because you want to have other people complement you, think you are cool or anything along those lines, then you’re really not in control of your life. You’re letting the approval of others dictate your purchases. There’s nothing at all wrong with having these things but only if you genuinely enjoy them and want them for your own personal fulfillment. Leviticus 26:1
  3. Excessive concern with approval.
    While this is similar to the above it extends beyond what you purchase. Many people take actions in their personal lives solely based on the approval of others. Yet, the ultimate irony is that trying so hard to gain the approval of others is exactly what makes them think less of you.  John 3:33
  4. You follow the herd.
    Conformity is overrated. The most successful people in society have been willing to go out on a limb, go against the herd. In the end the herd ends up following them. Be a leader, not a follower. Romans 12:2
  5. You never want to rock the boat.
    Some people are so afraid of conflict that their opinion is never heard. I used to be completely afraid of conflict. The downside to holding it all in is that you eventually explode. Rock the boat every now and then and your ride through life will be much smoother.  Deuteronomy 31:6
  6. You’re a slave to your emotions.
    Emotions can be both empowering and detrimental. When you don’t learn to control your emotions then you tend to let them control you. It’s just one more area where you are not in control.  Galatians 5:22-23   
  7. You’re completely unaware of any of the above.
    Awareness is really the beginning of freeing yourself from the limitations of the matrix. The average person is living in a reality that is a reflection of the ideas and images in the world around them, rather than a reflection of what’s in God’s word.  1 Corinthians 7:5

When you decipher the Matrix it’s really nothing more than a system of beliefs, social constructs, and programs designed to actually hold you back from reaching your full potential. But even more powerful then the Matrix, is the word of God. The victory is for those who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Every born-again believer needs to believe and appropriate that victory before they will experience the rewards of the victory. It is like someone telling you that a meal has been prepare for you. Unless you believe it and take steps to eat it, you will not receive the benefit of what has already been prepared.

Recognizing that the flesh wars against Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, motivates each of us to appropriate by faith the victory over the flesh won by Christ, and to die daily to the flesh and walk in the Spirit. With that mindset we can fulfill the charge to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and experience the joy and peace of being able to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

The renewing of your mind is not a one-tyme event.  Walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh is a daily, even a moment by moment, choice. It is life-long endeavor that begins afresh each day of your life, building upon the wisdom and understanding from the previous days. That is why the Apostle Paul commands us to “exhort one another daily” (Hebrew 3:13), to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Ephesians 6: 10), to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11), to put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24), and numerous other exhortations related to walking in “newness of life”(Romans 6:4). Choose what you watch, listen to, and read wisely. Hopefully the advice above will help you begin to unplug. Free your mind, be peaceful, be patient, and the rest will follow. Hebrews 6: 12 

Resources: Dumb little Man and Taxmanatx’s Journal