Saturday, November 22, 2008

Repentance: A prerequisite for doing His work

There's only one way to be walking perfectly in the work of God. We see many people who appear to be doing God's work, but the Spirit clearly tells us that God is not in their efforts, that their work is purely from a self manufactured effort. As accounted by Institutionalized Christianity, these people may be considered as having it all together and to be on the right path, and even to be firmly entrenched in the things of God. But only God and ascertain their true motives. So how can we be sure we're on the right path in our service with God? We must understand, know and believe it is not appearances that God judges, it is the heart of man that God ponders.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts. (Proverbs 2:2)
A lesson from King David: laying in the dirt and fasting The back story of this lesson is that King David has sinned against Bathsheba by lying with her, and he has sinned against her husband (Uriah) by having him killed in battle. Once David had taken Bathsheba as his wife and the child was about to be born, Nathan came to the King and delivered a message from God. We pick up the story once Nathan given the word of God to King David, has left for his house:

And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. (II Samuel 12:15-17)

But when David saw that his officials were whispering to one another, he realized that the child was dead. "Is the child dead?" David asked them. "Yes, he is dead," they answered. So David got up from the ground, bathed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the LORD's house and worshiped. Then he went home and asked for food. They placed food in front of him, and he ate. (II Samuel 12:19-20)

We see King David's life mourning the judgment or ordinance of God against himself, and seeking the face of God in hopes that He might spare the life of the child And if there were any chance of God changing His mind, David showed his agreement with God regarding his sin by symbolically demonstrating the filth of his sin by "laying upon the earth" and "fasting".

Fasting: It's not the Pious thing to Do
Fasting is not something we do in order to show or demonstrate our piety to God and certainly not to others (as seen in other religions). From God's point of view, fasting has an entirely different purpose in mind:
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
This is the typical, secular understanding of fasting. The average person sees a fast simply as a day to hold their heads low and have sorrowful expressions on their faces. It is a day to cover themselves with ashes (Ash Wednesday) so that the world may see that you are penitent. God defines the purpose of a fast quite differently:

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:5-6)

Fasting, according to scripture, has one purpose: it is to loose the bands of wickedness, to unto the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke.

To be under the bonds of wickedness and heavy burdens, to be oppressed and yoked is, as simply put as possible, is to be under the burden of sin. Sin is the result of disobeying God's word. As Jesus said, “it is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4) While this may seem a bit out of context with the subjects we are discussing, remember that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and Jesus is saying that life comes through the word of God, therefore, death comes through the absence of the word of God.

Since we know that fasting is simply going without food, and we know that the word of God gives Life, and we know that the wages of sin is death, we can know ascertain (with the help of Isaiah) the spirit behind the fast: fasting can be seen as physical reminder to ourselves that we have chosen our own food over the true bread of life, the word of God. Therefore, fasting is painful and ever present reminder that what we have chosen must be done away with, just has we have omitted food from our lives for a period of time, and that what we must chose in the future is the true bread of life instead of the sin that so easily besets us.
Lying in the dirt: It's a dirty job – Just like sinning

King David fasted and lay all night upon the earth. By laying upon the earth, David was demonstrating his association with sin by covering himself with filth. Clearly, God has associated dirt and filth with sin and impurity:
Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations. (Exodus 30:18-21)
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (Matthew 27:24)Thus, through laying in the dirt and fasting, we see King David being honest regarding his sin.
Pick yourself up: get out of the dirt and return to God

Once the child had died, King David “got up from the ground”. The first thing we must do when faced with sin is to abandon the sin. Disassociate your self with the sin, with that thing, or those people that have lured you into the place or thought life you have found yourself:
If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)
Wash yourself: Receive God's Forgiveness

Next, we must wash ourselves of the sin, just as King David “bathed” to remove the filth from his body. But wait a minute, only God can wash us of our sin, right?. Yes, that is true, but it is our responsibility to initiate the process of God washing us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Anoint yourself: Be ye filled with the spirit

The next thing King David did was to “anoint himself”. We must then fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit. Again, you're rightly thinking that it is only God that can fill us with His spirit. And of course, that is true. But again, only you can initiate the process:
“And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesian 5:18-21)
This passage is more often misused as a condemnation of alcohol that it is used to teach the actual message it contains, which is prescription of how to be filled with the spirit. First, it is reasonable to assume that being drunk is a choice. You have a bottle of wine and you chose to drink from the bottle until you're drunk. Clearly it is a choice to pick up the bottle, fill the glass, and to repeatedly empty the glass in to your gullet. It is the same with being filled by the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit and we must chose to be filled by the Spirit. How then, are we to be filled? By following the prescribed 4 step process:
  1. speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
  2. singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
  3. giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
  4. submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God
Change your clothing: Renew your mind
The next thing King David did was “change is clothes” . He put off that which he was previously associated with, and put on something new. He completely changed his mind, his actions and his purpose in life. He did not put on the clothing that he soiled while laying in the dirt. He put the old clothing away, and chose something new, something clean, something that associated him with his new purpose in life.
Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Worship the Lord: And Praise His Name
The next thing King David did was “to go into the LORD's house and worshiped.”

There are times when we don't feel like drawing close to God, but the Lord does not put a prerequisite upon us that we should only praise and worship Him when we feel like it, or when we consider the time to be customary to worship and praise the Lord. More often than not, we wait until a church service to lift, at best, our hearts and minds to a place of worship and praise.

Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:1-2)
Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:7-9)
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.(Pslam 7:17)
Go home to God: He has what you need
Then “he went home and asked for food. They placed food in front of him, and he ate.”

God has what we need. He's has made provisions for all of our needs through His riches in glory. Going to God for our needs is exactly opposite of taking matters into our own hands and committing sin against God.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:17-24)

Honesty with God: A prerequisite to Service
Behold, thou desires truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)
Therefore thus says the LORD, If you return, then will I bring you again, that you may stand before me; and if you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth: they shall return to you, but you shall not return to them. (Jeremiah 15:19)
In other words, if you forsake your sin, God Himself will bring you into His presence (you don't have to work to get back into His favor), and if you will learn from your mistakes (take the precious from the vile), then He will exalt you with the honor of speaking His words. Those with whom you sinned (or those things with which you sinned), you shall not return to, but those who will come to God, shall join you at your side.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Foundations of Biblical Ministry

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 NASB
Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Your Ministry must flow from

Your Faith
    • Eastons' Bible Dictionary:
      • Faith is in general, the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true. It's primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests.
    • Your faith must be placed in God, that He will do His work in those you minister to. It is His work that must be done; you are not the one who changes a mans' heart, but it is the work of God that changes a mans' heart. Place your faith in Him alone and entrust your self to Him.
Your Labor of Love
Love is an action word.
    • Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB)
Your Steadfastness of Hope in Jesus
    • yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (Colossians 1:22-23 NASB)

Your Ministry relies upon the function of

The Word of God
    • Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. (2 Timothy 2:8-9 NASB)
    • So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 NASB)
    • For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)
The Power of God
    • For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NASB)
    • For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB)
    • and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NASB)
The Holy Spirit
    • "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26 NASB)
    • And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 NASB)
    • Paul said: "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. (Acts 7:51 NASB )
    • While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. (Acts 10:44 NASB)
    • And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52 NASB)
Your full conviction
    • The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (Romans 14:22 NASB)
    • When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? "And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-58)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hidden with Christ

What does it mean, in Colossians 3:3, when it is said that our “life is hidden with Christ in God”?
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
First, lets define a couple words:
  • Hidden (adjective)
  1. to hide, conceal, to be hid
  2. escape notice
  3. metaphorically to conceal (that it may not become known)
Thus, to be hidden is to be concealed or obscured from something else. Tumors are typically hidden until revealed by a CAT, X-Ray or MRI image. The frailty of the financial industry was hidden before it was exposed by the mortgage crisis of 2008. The true nature of the average American was hidden until hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and mass looting ensued and the local government began going from house to house and illegally seizing weapons from law abiding citizens.
Furthermore, to be hidden is only meaningful when there are at least two or more parties or two or more objects in play at any given time: two people can't play “hide-n-go-seek” when only one person knows that the game is being played.
  • Life (noun)
  1. the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate
  2. every living soul
  3. of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical.
Thus, life in this context, refers to everything we are, both in essence and in spirit.
So, this question must be asked: hidden from what?
Hidden from the "Certificate of Debt"
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (NASB - Colossians 2:13-14)
What is the this “certificate of debt”? The greek word used for “certificate of debt” is actually a compound word “cheirographon”. It is a combination of two words: “cheir” and “grapho”.
  • Cheir
  1. By the help or agency of any one, by means of any one.
    1. Thus, this applies to the effectual agency, efficacy and effect or affect of the object.
  • Grapho
  1. To write, with reference to the content of the writing.
    1. Thus, this applies to the letters and words written.
  • Cheirographon
  1. a note of hand or writing in which one acknowledges that money has either been deposited with him or lent to him by another, to be returned at the appointed time.
Thus, this “certificate of debt” is the Law written against us:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (NASB - Romans 3:19-22)
Paul also illustrates the accountability and debt incurred by the law:
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (KJV - Galatians 5:3)
And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. (NASB - Galatians 5:3)

Wages are Earned, Debts are Owed
Wages are a thing earned, they are a thing received. You are paid wages, you receive wages. You do not incur a debt when you sin, you are paid wages:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(KJV - Romans 6:23)
A certificate of debt, on the other hand, describes a thing owed by you to another. It is a mortgage, a bank note describing something owed. The Law describes the righteousness we owe God.
Therefore, the Law does not justify but rather it is a certificate of accountability to God, it is a certificate of debt of required righteousness.
Nailed and Paid
Jesus not only nailed the certificate of our debt to the cross and left it there, He paid our wages for our sins:
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
All of these things describe the completeness of the redemptive work of Christ, and the completeness of the state of being hidden that we enjoy. The question remains then, from what exactly are we hidden from?

Hidden from Wrath

In the Old Testament, it is clear that there were those that could be hidden from “the day of the Lord's anger” and those that were not:

Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)
Thus, if you were not “hidden in the day of the LORD's anger”, then you perished. However, if you were “hidden” from His wrath, then you survived and you and/or your children eventually returned to Jerusalem with the opportunity to rebuild His temple and your life:
"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the LORD. "Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. "I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. (NASB - Jeremiah 23:1-5)
In the New Testament, we see a similar vein of thought in reference to “children of disobedience”:
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (NASB - Ephesians 5:6)
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (NASB - Ephesians 2:3)
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (NASB - Romans 5:9-10)
Before being hidden with Christ, we were therefore:
  • Dead in our transgressions
    • even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:5)
  • Without hope in this world and without God
    • remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
Hidden from Condemnation

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Our Position in Christ
Colossians 3:1-10 contains many statements regarding the position of believers in Christ:
We are dead (v.3), have taken off the old self (v.9), have put on the new self (v.10), have been raised with Christ (v.1), and we are hidden with Christ who is at the right hand of God (v.1,3)
All of these things are already true because we are already in Christ. Furthermore, we cannot do for ourself what has already been done for us. The difference between New Age philosophy (“believe it and it will be true”) is that the Christian rests on the paradigm of “it is true, therefore I believe it”.

Our Guarantees in Christ
  • We are no longer bound by a Certificate of Death; it has been canceled.
  • We are no longer Dead in our Transgressions
  • We are no longer Children of Disobedience
  • We are no longer Subject to the wrath of God
  • We are no longer Separated from Christ
  • We have Hope in this World and are in God
  • We are no longer Condemned
    • There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Possessing yourself in sanctification

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; “ (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

A vessel without Sanctification and in Dishonor
Imagine you possess a canteen. You put the canteen into a pot of boiling water and sterilize it for an hour. Once it's sterile, you take it out of the boiling water and carry it with you until you find pool of infected and diseased sewage, at which time you fill it. You take the canteen with you on a journey. At some point in the journey, you become thirsty. However, you can't drink from the canteen. Even though you spent an hour sterilizing it, the canteen and it's contents are unusable because of the environment it has been exposed to. You must now find more water, another pot, create more fire and spend more time cleansing the canteen in order to make it useful for the purpose to which it was intended. And, you must go thirsty until you have rectified the situation. In addition to that, you are in a very precarious situation: you could, at some point, be overcome by thirst and die. In the least, your journey has been extended and you might not receive the blessings that were due to you because of the necessary delay.
This is an illustration of how dishonoring the work, time and effort one has cleansing a vessel can affect you in the future. It is an example of how not to possess a vessel in sanctification and honor.
A vessel in Sanctification and Honor
Imagine you possess a canteen. You put the canteen into a pot of boiling water and sterilize it for an hour. You then find some pure, distilled water and fill the canteen. You take the canteen with you on a journey. At a certain point in the journey, you become thirsty. Since you know the canteen was sterilized and you know that the water came from a pure source, you open and drink from the canteen. The canteen was available for the use to which it was intended because you employed the time and effort necessary to maintain the cleanliness of the canteen, and you made the effort to find a clean and pure source of water in which to fill the canteen. Furthermore, your thirst has been quenched and your strength renewed. You can complete the journey and receive the blessings that are due to you at journey's end.
This is an illustration of how honoring the work, time and effort one has cleansing a vessel can affect you in the future. It is an example of how to possess a vessel in sanctification and honor.
Living in dishonor
You will reap what you sow
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10)
Who is in control of your life? This is an important question because God did not design our soul to function as master.1 Selfishness is about being in control, it's about adding some type of perceived value to yourself. Therefore, as Jesus said, you are either severing wealth or you are serving God.2
So what does this look like? The deeds of the flesh are evident:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
This is certainly strong language and as such, it must be taken in context of the original intent and audience, other wise one could be lead into false doctrine regarding the eternal security of the believer. However, the core principles remain the same whether you are a saint or a sinner. These things enumerated are not of the spirit of God, they are not pure, and they defile the spirit of man that God works to sanctify.
These actions, when committed by a saint, serve to destroy the work that God has wrought in your life. Satan is a destroyer, a deceiver and a lier. He will use what ever means possible to tear you down and thus hinder the sanctification process:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:12-13)
As a saint, we must constantly be on guard and review our actions and responses to those things that are set before us (regardless if they are of God or of the enemy), and we must evaluate our motives for our actions and responses. We must evaluate whether or not our actions and responses are of the flesh or of the spirit of God.
The deeds of the flesh are the fruit of sin. If you resist the sanctification process and instead continue in sin, you will bear the fruits of the flesh. One of the hardest things for a man to break himself free of is an addiction to sex or pornography. These addictions are very similar to alcoholism in that they are both consumption addictions. In the beginning, the feed a desire, but in the end, they create more desires that seemingly need to be fed with the very same activities that created them. All addictive behaviors begin in selfishness. A person feels a certain way and participates in a given action that, for the moment, makes them feel better. The only problem is that the activity breeds more desires to participate in the same or similar activities.
This is why the world says, “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” For the saint, this does not have to be true. God can so break the bonds of addiction that the substance will never again hold the power of bondage over them again. Obviously, one can choose to participate in the thing they have been delivered from, but that is clearly resisting the process of sanctification. Participating in the process of sanctification however is relying upon the power of the Holy Spirit to die to the flesh and live to the spirit.
Living in honor
You will reap what you sow
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)
Our other option is living in the spirit. Living in the spirit is participating in the sanctification process that God is working in all of His saints. By living in the spirit, we bear the fruits of the spirit:
"For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. (Luke 6:43-44)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)
The process of sanctification results in the bearing of the “fruit of the spirit”. However, you cannot make yourself bear fruit anymore than a tree an prevent itself from bearing it's fruit in due season. Once the tree has taken root, it will eventually and naturally bear fruit. As long there is water and nourishment, the fruit is going to spring forth. This also reflects the law of sowing and reaping, and it is the picture of what happens in our lives when we chose to obey God and submit to the sanctification process.

Pruning, Discarding, Bearing

Jesus said:
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:1-10)

The Saint the bears no fruit: Discarded

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1)
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. (1 John 2:28)
There are several different tracks one may take when attempting to understand John 15:1. Of all the ones I can think of, I would have to say they're all correct from their own point of view and contextual limits.
The context in which relates to this discussion revolves around the saint (who is in Christ), but refuses to participate in the sanctification process. Eventually, this saint will be sanctified3, but clearly the saint is not useful to the Kingdom of God as long as he or she refuses to submit themselves to God. Eventually, God will give them over to their lusts and they will be put on the shelf of uselessness4.
However, there is another contextual light to which this may be viewed:

The Saint that bears fruit: Pruned and Used

and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
The things that God prunes out of your life are those things that don't look like Him. We all have dead weight that we're carrying around that needs to be discarded. God may be using us, we're may be bearing fruit, but we're like everyone else on this planet: imperfect. The difference is that we've submitted to the sanctification process. Unfortunately, the pruning process doesn't always seem to be pleasant. However, we're told to persevere, and when we come out of the process, we'll be better equipped for the work of the God5.
The bottom line is this: don't resist the sanctification process. Don't resist the call to purity. And don't be lured away by your own lusts, by those shinny things that look so good that only serve to enable you to set your self up as the worship object of your life. Keep yourself clean, and when you do sin, “... [you] have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

1 Neil T. Anderson, Restored: Experience Life with Jesus (Franklin, TN: e3 Resources, 2007) 96
2 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24)
3 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)
4 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, (Romans 1:28)
5 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ignoring the Call of God: Embracing Sin

The story of Jonah is about a man who receives a call from God to preach a message of warning and repentance to the great Assyrian city of Nineveh. He rejects the call and attempts to flee from God. We then find him in a ship, in the water, and finally in the belly of a great fish before he mostly comes to his senses and begins the long trip to Nineveh for his over-due speaking engagement.
Most of us have casually dismissed the tale of this fish-belly dwelling prophet because we've never sensed God calling us to anything. This is an unfortunate problem because if we would just take the time to find God's message through the story of this prophet's struggle with sin, then we might find the repentance to which God is calling us.

The call of God

The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
In our life, Nineveh is representative of sin and bondage. There's something in our life that God has touched, He has laid His finger on it and told us that He doesn't like it, that He wants us to turn away from it. In essence God has said to us, “discard and repent of that sin in your life, because the wickedness of it has come before Me.”

The rejection of the call

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD
And herein lies the problem: we like the sin, we like the cords of bondage it has around us. It's comfortable and familiar; we've found solace in it and it feeds our fleshly desires. The only problem is that we can't seem to get the same high from it as we have before. It takes more of it for longer periods of time to bring that same satisfaction that came so easily before.
So, what have we done with God's call to repentance? We've ignored it, and done our best to flee from it. The problem is that when we run from God, there's no place to go but where our sin will take us and that is down, down and down again in to the depths of depression and despair.

How our sin affects us

But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.
One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to pull ourselves out of bed. Sleep makes the pain go away, but only for a little while. Sooner or later, the dread comes back and we find ourselves back in the midst's of our sin, trying to make ourselves feel better. Maybe we're not depressed, or maybe we're just in denial of it. In any case, what happened next to Jonah is exactly what we do.

How our sin affects others

"Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you."
We pass judgment upon others, and blame them instead of ourselves for our problems.
Jonah knew God was after him, he was depressed out of his gourd, and he wanted to die. How else do you explain wanting to be thrown into the raging sea, far from any shore?
I know what you're thinking: he was just trying to save his shipmates. No, he wasn't. Who exactly were his shipmates? The same kind of people that God had sent him to: people that were not Hebrews, people that were not God's chosen; people who were the heathen of the world, gentile sinners.
Jonah was so angry with God, that he blamed those not like him for his trouble to the extent that he was willing to make them responsible for his death. If Jonah has actually cared for his shipmates, he would have jumped off the ship before they started throwing their cargo overboard. Not only was he unwilling to be responsible to himself for his poor choices, he was unwilling to lessen the burden he had placed on those around him by owning his decisions and removing himself from their midst's. But to our uttermost amazement, we find the contrary: he was perfectly willing to cast the burden of murder upon their shoulders by suggesting that they should be the ones to cast him overboard.
We're the same way. We think that if someone else would just change, we'd be fine. If our circumstances were just better, then we wouldn't be like this. If God just would perform some small act of kindness, or even possibly a miracle, then we could change our ways.
In essence we blame someone else for our problems. We attempt to make someone else responsible for our demise, or we attempt to make someone else responsible for our salvation from our circumstances that we ourselves have created.

God will get your attention if you refuse to listen and obey

So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. ... And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
Eventually, God is going to bring a circumstance into our life, and we'll find our self in a belly ache of a problem. We can either choose to follow God, or we can let him break us, which is exactly what happened next.

God can save you out of all your trouble

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.” ... Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.
Once God has us in the process of being broken, we can do one of two things: we can resist the process and end up like fish food, or we can get on our knees and call out to God for salvation. There's one other thing you need to know about the breaking process God has (or will) put us in: it doesn't stop until we repent, or it won't stop until God stops the process. It's possible to resist the breaking process of God. In that case, God will try again in the future. Eventually, we will either humble ourselves before God, or He will put us on the shelf of uselessness.

We must deal appropriately with our sin

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.
This is exactly the point where most of us get tripped up. We find ourselves sinning and confessing, sinning and confessing; in a cycle of repetitive sin and confession that never seems to end.
If we have an addictive behavior, then nothing outside the grace of God is going to break that behavior. Sure, there's a 12 step process for just about anything these days, but at the end of that process we still consider ourselves as "recovering addicts". God doesn't want recovering addicts, He want's His children to be free: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". In the process, we must ask God for wisdom, and we must believe that He will answer us. (James 1:2-8)
We must pray and fast. Fasting is not something you do to solicit favor from God, rather it is something that you do to break the bonds of sin. This is s exactly what we need: the bonds of sin broken in our life. God is serious about our sanctification process, and He is serious about sin. We should likewise be serious about breaking our selves free from the bondage of sin.

Don't fall into anger at the prospect of giving up your sin

"Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life." The LORD said, "Do you have good reason to be angry?"
Jonah did what he was commanded to do, but he wasn't happy about it one little bit. If that is the attitude we have regarding giving up and shedding our sin, then we're going to fall right back into the same bondage patterns we're experiencing now. We're not repentant if we're angry or disappointed for having to give up sin, or give up those things which lead us into sin.

Bondage vs. Freedom

We have a choice. We can live in bondage to sin, as an unuseful vessel to God, or we can submit, yield and surrender to the yoke of Christ and let Him carry your burdens. And through that process, God will sand, chisel and cut away everything that doesn't look like Jesus, leaving us in the end, we "will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work."

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Model Prayer: Thoughts on how to pray

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

The 'Lord's Prayer' or better, “The Model Prayer”, is the prayer guide that Jesus gave to us in order to teach us how to pray. The model prayer describes a structure that we should strive to emulate when speaking with God. Furthermore, it provides an outline of what to pray for and it inherently provides priorities relating to our relationship with God through prayer.

The structure of Prayer

  1. Proper focus with humility and exaltation of God.
  2. Align your desires and will with His will.
  3. Suplication with dependence upon Him.
  4. Confession, repentance and forgiveness.
  5. Protection and guidance.
  6. Acknowledge and praise His pre-eminence over all creation.

Proper focus with humility and exaltation

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name
  1. The proper focus of our prayers should always be God the Father. Never should you pray to a person or saint (living or dead), or anything else (idol) that you could venerate.
  2. Humility and exaltation are found in 'hallowed be thy name'. Hallowed means to venerate. Venerate means to make holy. Also see Jude 1:25

Align your desires with His will

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  1. God's will is always perfectly done (performed) in heaven. You must be willing to align yourself to His authority and desires and will for your life here on earth.

Suplication with dependence upon Him

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  1. Paul said, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
  2. Dependence upon Him is is paramount above all else. Dependence upon self, outside of the Grace of God, is rooted in pride. This does not mean we should not take action based upon our knowledge and abilities. Recall David and Goliath: even though David spent years (assuredly) practicing with the sling, it was God that enabled him the victory.

Confession, repentance and forgiveness

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors..
  1. It is interesting to compare the differences in the priority Jesus gives to confession of sins during prayer as to priorities we learn from the average teacher. The average teacher (or preacher if you so chose), is dead set on telling you that the first thing you should do is make sure your sins are confessed, or “God won't hear you”. They're even sure to use the scripture to back themselves up, quoting Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” This scripture is taken completely out of context, and such an application does not fit in any way, shape or form the model prayer given by Jesus that we see here.
  2. So consider for a moment, the placement of confession, repentance and forgiveness in the model prayer: it's 4th in the list of priorities. Why is this? Because He has forgiven all our sins. Not just some of them today, and a few more tomorrow, but all. When we were made alive with Him, we were forgiven all of our sins; past, present and future.
  3. Confession, repentance and forgiveness (our forgiveness of others) is for us to restore our right relationship with God. God never moves away from us, we move away from Him.

Protection and guidance

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  1. If God does not tempt any man, then what is the meaning of this phrase? It is a prayer of protection. A similar petition was made in Psalm 141:4: “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.”
  2. Quite simply, God has the ability to protect you from suffering, should it be His will. However, through trials and tribulations, we are perfected.

Acknowledge His pre-eminence over all creation

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
  1. We end up at the end of our prayer in a similar place as when we began: acknowledging that God is in all, through all and in control of all, and that it is use that needs to be changed, not the desire or will of God. We must be willing to praise and worship Him in all things, and we must be willing to humble ourselves and our will to His desires and will for our life.

Overcoming Habitual Sin: How to be free from Bondage

There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart. (Psalm 107:10-14)

What is an Habitual Sin, What is Bondage to Sin?
  • A specific, nameable thing that presents itself more as a habit, rather than an occasional failure.
  • Scripturally, a habitual sin is called bondage. We may also call it an addiction, but from the scriptural perspective, it is a bondage to sin. This is not just a bad habit, though someone in denial regarding their bondage may label it as such.
Within this context
  • It is something that you are aware of, but may feel helpless to be rid of.  Being drawn away by our own lusts is not necessarily bondage to sin.  But a person who is a slave to sin, or is bound to sin will be sometimes feel as if they're being pushed into sin.  And that is key difference: we all occasionally chose to sin, but bondage to sin actually feels as if you're being pushed into an action.
  • You make many attempts to rid yourself of the behavior, but you always end up doing it again.  In example, a pornographer will destroy his collection and then rebuild it.  An alcoholic will pour out the whiskey and wine only and eventually purchase more.  The smoker will throw away the cigarettes only to buy more in a few days.
The key here is "repetitive."  Just a s a slave is driven to work or perform for the master, a person in bondage to sin is driven into sin.  References verses are Ephesians 6:12, Luke 11:24, Mark 9:20-23
  • Repetitive participation in extra-marital or premarital sex.
  • Repetitive participation in pornography and impurity
  • Repetitive participation in the consumption of alcohol or drugs; aka, alcoholism and addictions.
  • Persistent attitude of pride, or other ungodly attitudes.
  • Persistent avoidance of God ordained responsibilities (slothfulness)
  • Persistent participation in anything that is (or the end result) is sin.
What are the root causes of Bondage?
An improper belief system
  • Bondage to sin is always, somewhere or somehow, based in a lie that is incorrectly accepted as a truth. As seen in the introduction verse, bondage is always related to rebelling against Gods word. In essence, this means that instead of believing and acting upon truth (Gods word), you believe and act upon a lie.
  • Hebrews 2:1-3 - For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
  • John 8:32 - "and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Bondage to sin is never a result of believing truth, it is always a result of believing and acting upon a lie.
  • John 17:17 - "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
  • We are released from bondage to sin when we reject the lie(s) is it based upon, and delivered into freedom when we choose to believe the truth of Gods word, and act upon those truths.  For example,  consider the repetitive sins I enumerated:  all of them revolve around generating our own peace, our own comfort.  The lie is that they can provide peace and comfort.  The truth is that only Jesus provide  true and lasting peace, John 14:26-27 - "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
It is failure to put on the armor of God
  • Ephesians 6:11 - Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
It has roots in demonic involvement
  • 1 Peter 5:8 - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
  • Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
It is a failure to actualize our freedom from sin
  • As Christians, we are made free from the power of sin through the work of Jesus Christ. Consider, however, that unless you believe in the work Christ (that it has the power to set you free) and actively choose to apply it to your life, then you will never receive the benefit of His work.
  • Romans 5:17-19 - For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
It is in our nature to occasionally sin, but as a child of God, it is not in our nature to remain in sin.

The Steps to Freedom can be found in Psalm 119:57-64

Acknowledge that God has not reined in your life and make God your core focus.
Psalm 119:57 - The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.
  • Portion – Allotment, inheritance
    • Make God your portion in life, not things, not relationships, not pleasure.
  • Promise - a vow.
  • Keep your words – this means to guard the “matter of His word”, or to guard the “essence of His word”
  • All of us at one time or another have promised to keep Gods word: we’ve determined not to sin; or determined to say and do the right thing; we’ve all said in our heart, “I will do the right thing in this or that circumstance”. What you are effectively saying is that ‘you promise to keep Gods’ word’.
  • When you come to the realization that you have sinned, you are in effect saying, “I have promised to keep your words, but in this one thing I have failed.” In this verse, the Psalmist is acknowledging that he has sinned. This is further demonstrated in the next verse.
Ask forgiveness and confess for your sins
Psalm 119:58 - I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word.
  • I sought your favor – He is seeking the blessings of God, and by implication, he has asked for forgiveness of his sins; as seen by next phrase:
  • Be gracious to me according to your word – It is the mercy of God that forgives us, and the Grace of God that changes us and saves us. But the word ‘gracious’ implies, within current context, the totality of God’s mercies and grace. God has promised to be gracious to those that seek his face –
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 … My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Repent of your sins
Psalm 119:59 - I considered my ways And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
  • Note that after he has confessed his sins and sought the graciousness of God, he then again considered his ways. After careful consideration of his “ways”, he ‘turned his feet to Gods’ testimonies.
  • Your testimonies - The words and actions of God.
Know and Keep God’s commandments
Psalms 119:60 I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments.
  • There’s not much to say about that; don’t be slothful; seek God with immediacy and with diligence.
Be Steadfast in your dedication to God and learn to Praise and Worship God
Psalm 119:61 - The cords of the wicked have encircled me, But I have not forgotten Your law.
  • Cords of the wicked - the bindings of evil, the thing(s) that keep and put you into bondage to sin. 
  • I have not forgotten your law - even in the face of turmoil and evil, he continued to seek Gods’ testimonies.
Give thanks to God
Psalm 119:62 - At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances.
  • At midnight I shall rise - He did not fail to make time to give thanks to God; he went out of his way and caused himself discomfort in order to give God thanksgiving, honor and glory.
  • because of your righteous ordinances - he gave thanks because of the things which brought him freedom 
Seek out and surround yourself with Godly friendship
Psalm 119:63 - I am a companion of all those who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.
  • I am a companion - Godly friends and counsel are required in our lives and they help keep us on a straight path. This does not mean that we cannot spend time with our unbelieving friends and serve them through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it does mean we need core companionship that consist of Godly people.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals.
Acknowledge His provision, His Loving-kindness
Psalm 119:64 (a) The earth is full of Your loving-kindness, O LORD;
  • You must believe, proclaim and acknowledge the loving-kindness of God. Those who cannot see God’s loving-kindness are deceiving themselves of the most precious truth there is to know about God: how He chooses and desires to relate to us.
  • Believe that God is full of Loving kindness, and that He wants the best for you.  
Learn the word of God and believe His word
Psalm 119:64 (b) Teach me Your statutes.
  • Statutes - the Law of God, His precepts
  • Desire to know God.  Knowing His word teaches you who God is.
  • Base the foundation your life in the truth of God, not in your desires, not in your fears, not in your self protection. You must believe Gods' word and use it as the foundation from which to find freedom from sin.
Trust and Believe - ask for and seek Gods wisdom
  • Hebrews 11:6 - without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
  • James 1:5-7 - But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord ... 
Discipline your mind in against your sinful actions and discipline it to rest in God.
  • In all cases of recurring sin, the mind (the seat of your flesh patterns, your natural inclinations) has won the battle against the Spirit:
    • Galatians 5:16 - But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
    • Proverbs 23:7 - For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
Control your thoughts, train your mind in a new way (this is resisting the devil)
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 - We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
  • Speculation – ideas and fantasy
  • lofty thing – The pride of life that exalts itself against God.
  • Captive to the obedience of Christ - Surrender your mind to Christ, surrender your thought life to Christ, bring your mind into submission to Christ.
  • While you are in the process of disciplining your mind and rejecting sin, your spirit is in the process of gaining strength. However, you must remember that discipline can take you only so far: it is the Spirit that must be the victor over sin in order for you to gain true freedom.
The Most Important Step: Submit, Resist and Draw
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  (James 4:7-8)

[ Also see my other post, Overcoming Bondage to Sin ]