- God’s Perspective
- Living My Life
This was included in the list of identities. (As I said in the beginning, I did not compile the list, I received it. I would have made sure it was in alphabetic, not quasi-alphabetic.) There are renderings into English of the original language as "the prisoner of the Lord." Other versions put it "prisoner for the Lord." Based on my limited knowledge of the original language, I would say the latter rendering is more accurate.
Which means being a prisoner is not an identity of being in Christ. It is a result of that identity.
Who a person is, dictates what a person does. We are what we are deep in the core of our being. This is true of any person, no matter who. So, the writer was in prison -- literally, in prison -- because he lived from his heart, obeyed God's vision for him, and offended a whole lot of people. (Although, it was probably not his individual behavior that offended. Rather, it was his ontinual confounding of the "experts." The experts were offended, because he kept showing them they were not so expert.)
Although, we always live from our hearts, we don't always live in agreement with our hearts. We have been born into the world, which is corrupted by sin, and chose to give God our allegiance. God has given us a spiritual DNA injection, and our spiritual transformation/restoration to our original design is assured. But we are in the "process" of transformation and restoration.
Moreover, in this life, we have made agreements, and given ourselves promises. This means, because of circumstances we have gone through, we have reached certain conclusions about ourselves, the world and God. This conclusions form a filter and frame of reference through which we live. And too often, the conclusions compel us to live wrongly.
The process of spiritual transformation is assured. We can cooperate with the process by changing perceptions and perspectives ... coming to new conclusions and agreements, and therefore, changing the filters.
So, the process of exploring our identity in Christ is a way of making these changes. We see God more truly. We begin to see ourselves as God sees us. Agreements and conclusions are proven false. And we begin to live in congruence with how God designed us.
The world still lives in agreement with the lies of the enemy. So, if we are living in agreement with our identity in Christ, we will cug across agreements of the world. And the world will react. And we will get caught in the reaction. We will suffer pain as a result.
And it is not pain because of thinking wrongly, acting wrongly or speaking wrongly. It is the opposite. (Doesn't mean there won't be pain because we act like jerks. Which Christians sometimes do.)
The world and this life will be a source of pain, no matter if you choose to live in agreement with the enemy, or live in agreement with the Creator.
In this series, we are contending that God views us in a particular way(s), and that if we embrace it (them), we will move closer to living how God designed us, and we will move the world closer to how God designed it. And we will experience good, bad, reactions for God, and reactions against God. We will fail. We sill triumph. But we should never measure our ultimate value, progress or standing with God based on any of that. We should believe we are, what God says we are.
When we give our allegiance to God, a number of things happen. One thing that happens, we beome a child of God. God becomes our Father. We become part of his family. A new position. A new status.
A second thing, there is a change in our hearts. It is like God injects new spiritual DNA into our innermost being. As spiritual mitosis takes effect, this new DNA takes root, increases and we undergo change. Change will continue until the old DNA is gone, and only the new remains. At that time, restoration to our original design is complete.
As we have discussed before, this process will never be complete in this life. We will make progress. It should be significant progress.
This DNA transplant will affect every area of our lives, but it will be seen especially in a few areas.
- We will grow in love for the Father.
- We will grow in love for God's other children.
- We will have a new attitude toward God's commands.
● God's Perspective
The main battle against the enemy is getting people to change their hearts, to give allegiance to the Father, to join his family. Once that decision is made from the heart, the Holy Spirit, who is both the carrier of this new spiritual DNA, and the DNA itself, invades our innermost being. At that point, it's all over but the shouting. Our faith has defeated the enemy. We are liberated from the enemy's kingdom. We are part members of God's family. The enemy has lost any claim on us. Transformation to spiritual perfection is assured. Again, not in this lifetime. But the process has begun. It cannot be stopped.
God's commands are not just a set of limitations to keep us penned. They are guides toward Christ's image. All the commands in the Old Testament were intended to guide Israel to holiness. Towards Israel becoming separate from the world. Not a separation of disengagement. A separation of distinction with engagement. A separation defined by the quality of life that demonstrates God's design for people, and, therefore, demonstrates God's superior way of living.
And all of the commands in the Old Testament are intended to guide people to Jesus. It is impossible to obey them.
Commands are valuable as guides. They give clues for life and conduct. Jesus said we only need to know one ... "love." "Love" obeys all the commands of God. Now, Jesus does instruct in other areas how to give love further resolution. But all we really need to know is love.
● Living My Life
Many people walk in fear. They give their allegiance to Jesus. They get adopted into the family. Now, they feel they need to toe the line, or God will get angry, and toss them out of the family.
Before someone gives their allegiance to Jesus, they ars rebels and enemies. And God views people and their sin in that light. Sin is an act of war and rebellion.
After someone gives their allegiance to Jesus, they are beloved children. These people are dead to sin and alive to God. God views those people and their sin in that light.
Please do not misunderstand. Sin is still serious. God still hates it. But I think to God it tKes on a different flavor. It becomes less an act of war, and more an interference.
God designed men to have relationship with God. This relationship is man's main heart "fuel." Man is "powered" to experience life truly. Sin in his children does not make God mad as much as it makes him sad. Sad, because his children have chosen an inferior life. Sad, because the relationship God has made people for is broken.
The relationship can be fixed. As we chose to follow Jesus in repentance and faith, we can choose relationship again in the same way. Still, too often, we rob ourselves by delay.
And if we walk in fear of our Father rejecting us, it can have the same effect as sin. Our focus is not on experiencing the relationship with our Father, and not expressing life as we intended to live it.
We need to focus on living the relationship, knowing God, being present with him. The relationship leads directly to connection to our main "fuel" and directly to accelerating spiritual transformation.
Living My Life
The Bible says that all things work for good. All things means all things. The good, the bad and the ugly.
The Bible also says that the best thing is a relationship with the Father. As we have discussed before, as the physical body needs many different nutrients for optimal health, the human spirit needs many different nutrients (love, beauty, purpose, meaning, etc.) for the same reason. The main nutrient is a relationship with the Father. So, God works all things for good, but with a special filter and priority toward growth in relationship with the Father.
Suppose someone chooses to indulge in an addictive behavior, and God chooses to discuss it with him. Some people would think that God would say: "You are being really bad. You better stop doing this, or I will cut you off." Others would think: "You are being bad. You dishonor me. This does damage to my name."
But what if God is saying: "You are holding pain in your heart. You are trying to comfort yourself with this behavior. It will never bring you comfort. You must learn to turn to me."
Or what if someone loses their job. Many people would be sad, worried or afraid. God is concerned about the way people live. His primary message may be: "You should be more faithful to your employer by being more punctual or respectful. You should be more diligent in completing your work assignments."
But maybe his main message is: "You have bound your identity to your job. It is a temporary thing. Just as I provide for the birds, I can easily provide you a better job. But you cannot get a better relationship than mine. Let you identity be bound to me, and your heart to me."
Maybe in each circumstance, there is an invitation to greater relationship and greater obedience.
UPDATE: God speaks to each situation to bring good. Since, his priority is relationship -- his relationship with you -- he leans toward speaking about relationship. He may share a way that helps you improve the relationship. He may simply remind you of your identity in Christ, or one of its facets. It is through this identity and its facets that he views you and deals with you.