Posted by: jiminmontana | July 10, 2012

Old Souls and the Spirit: Seeking the Breakthrough

Following are the notes from a sermon I delivered on Sunday, July 8th, 2012:

About Me:  Sinner, Redeemed, Southerner, Bible reader, Faith, interacted with God at age 10. Biology degree.  Grew up in the Church of Christ:  Holy Spirit not permitted there — Angry people who knew a lot about the Bible, but had no transcendent Power to be godly in life = much frustration and anger.

Quandary: How can a Christian person be rotten? If God is real and if Christianity is real, why does Christianity seem to fail in various people in various ways? I had enjoyed that early initial interaction with God that made it personal to me. Convinced later by prophecy that this Bible thing is real – the Bible is the only source of Revealed Truth delivered to us from the God who precedes us in time – for me, the hundreds of prophecies that have already been fulfilled was ample proof that this Bible is the Word of God. So why is the Church full of people who can be so nasty? So immature? Now, the best people I have known are mature Christian people, but why aren’t more Christians like Christ?

Gandhi of India was asked the question, “What’s the biggest obstacle to the Gospel of Christ in India?” He answered with one word: “Christians.” Christians have always been the biggest obstacle to the fulfillment of God’s plan for this planet. Christians like me. How is it that I can be so confounded? Why is it that I can thank God in the morning for all the Good that He has done me despite myself and then have the nerve to draw a hard line with my wife that afternoon. I can go to bed at night acutely aware of the true fact that I deserve to spend eternity drowning in a black Lake of Fire far from the Presence of God and His Grace – and spend hours the next morning hardly even aware that every breath is a gift and every moment is an opportunity to love others and receive their love and to be about the real Business of the Kingdom. Rather than being an example of godliness in the real world, if I am not careful, I can become a cautionary tale.

David: Think about good King David. What a great man of God who wrote the Psalms. Fantastic.

Complete this phrase:  “David & __________.” (Goliath)

Again, “David & ___________.” (Bathsheba)

Isn’t it true that some people who really are Saved by the Blood of the Lamb ought not tell anyone?  You see a bumper sticker about Jesus on some maniac’s car who runs you off the road and you want to scrape it off with a screwdriver.

I grew up knowing that the Bible is True and completely trustworthy. I grew up knowing that the God of the Universe is both Powerful and Kind and that He sees me and loves me. Yet I grew up keenly aware that the Church and more than a few Christians are a mess. WHY?!

While thinking about this makes us uncomfortable, the good news is that the solution is easily discovered. It’s right there in Scripture. The truth is this: Christianity has not been tried and failed. No. Christianity has been attempted and found difficult and abandoned at various places along the path toward maturity. What the World needs is MATURE men and women of God who will CONSISTENTLY deny their own selfish interests and allow the God of the universe to live through them on a daily basis. That is what will save our nation. That is what will save your neighbor and your neighborhood.  We need more Believers who keep the garden of their lives well-tended — Believers who do not reserve a plot for weeds.

I am here to make a case. Maybe you didn’t believe me before, but I am a Sinner. Maybe I can’t be trusted to tell the truth for five minutes. So read your Bible. Know what the revealed Truth of God says and believe that. But I confess that I do have an agenda and I am going to press toward a goal today – and I do that without apology.

My goal is to flesh out HOW a sinful person like each of you and everyone you know can become a MATURE man of God. HOW a baby Believer can get beyond the dirty diaper stage of infancy and walk with God as a full-grown daughter of the King. A champion. One who lives in righteousness. One who is entrusted with the Power of God.

Key Verses and key concept:

Luk 9:21 NKJV – And Jesus strictly warned (his disciples),
Luk 9:22 NKJV – saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Luk 9:23 NKJV – Then He said to [them] all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luk 9:24 NKJV – “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

What does that mean, that you have your own cross to carry through life daily as you follow Christ?

First, everything goes back to the Garden. Everything. Let’s start with the Garden of Eden.

Every day, Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening. He had eaten from all the trees in the Garden, except for two. One tree was forbidden. All the others were available to the Man. One tree represented Rebellion against the Ways of God – by eating that fruit, Adam could sever himself from dependency upon the God who made Him. It would mean no more walks in the cool of the evening – that relationship would be altered.

Up to that point, Adam was totally innocent and pure, but he did not POSSESS Holiness as something which flowed from his own character. He did not own that Virtue as his own possession.

Day after day, Adam had the opportunity to eat from the other special tree in the Garden, the Tree of Life. But he chose not to do so. You see, the Man had not yet made up his mind. To eat from the Tree of Life meant that Adam would have made the decision to permanently bind himself to the Lord and to forgo the option of pursuing his own way of life. Despite the fact that God walked with the Man daily and proved His Goodness and Wisdom to the Man over and over, the Man was not ready and never became ready to accept the deal that God was offering until it was too late. Then, when it was too late, that initial offer was no longer available to him.

God had warned them about eating from that Tree which represented Independence from God saying, “In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” So, answer this question: When Adam swallowed the fruit from the forbidden tree, did he fall over dead? No. He lived, it seems. Yes? OK.

So, did God lie? Was it a good lie? A WHITE lie? Was it a needful lie, being God’s way of withholding a harsh penalty? No, God cannot lie.

Num 23:19 ESV – God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

The moment that Adam ate the fruit which his wife had presented, he did die, but it was not evident in the physical realm. There is a spiritual realm – it is the other side of reality. Everyone you know is made in the image of God. You are not God and you are never going to become God or become a god. But you share a quality with God in that there is a part of you which is spiritual. There are so many things that you cannot perceive with your senses, yet they are real.  Spiritual things, by definition, are not perceptible with the senses.

The problem is that when the Man ate that fruit of rebellion against the God who made him, Adam ruined that spiritual part of himself that was able to get plugged into the Life of God. He could have chosen otherwise. In common terms today, Adam could have plugged into the Tree of Life. But he chose to plug into the Tree of Death and it fried his system. Adam got harmed in a way that he could not fix. Adam died in his spirit. His human spirit was ruined that day.

But in the physical world, he lived. Adam lived on as a natural man with a ruined spirit. He no longer had a healthy human spirit to impart to his children. Cain was born with a ruined spirit – his father gave it to him and could do no better. Abel and Seth were also born with ruined human spirits. Noah was a second Adam, as it were, and although he had turned to the Lord as a sinner, he still had received a ruined human spirit going back to Adam and was destined to die. Each one of us received a human spirit from a human father which goes back to that Original sinner in the Garden. We are naturally born UNPLUGGED from the Lord, unplugged from eternal Life in God.

This explains why Messiah had to be born of a Virgin. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son to be born as a natural human being, yet having his natural human spirit fully alive and innocent. Having no human father, the Spirit of God had mysteriously caused him to take on human form. This was always the plan of God; it was an end-run around the problem of inherited sinfulness in the natural world.

And here is the Gospel message. That this one man, Jesus (Yeshua) would be born as the Son of God, yet fully human. He lived under the Law of the Jews and was totally obedient. He never did anything to violate the Law, because his human character was rooted in the Character of God the Father. It was natural for Jesus to eschew sin and do what was Good. And He lived a full life as an innocent Man despite the Sin around Him. At the age of 30, He presented Himself to God as an obedient Son and the Holy Spirit fully inspired Him to do ministry as the ultimate Man of God. Jesus took on a role which the Bible calls being the “Last Adam”, in that Jesus would bring an end to that woeful condition that you and I and every baby born today will share. Having lived the Perfect Life of – not just Innocence – but having waged war on the Serpent and having been Victorious over the World, Sin, and the Devil, Yeshua was hated by those sinners He had offended. Both the leaders of the Jews and the local leader of the Gentile world conspired to kill Him and to torture him to death.

Scripture says, hundreds of years before the Crucifixion, that it “pleased God” to harm Him. There was no other way for us to be reconciled to God.

There is a limited number of sins in the world. Of all the lies that have been told, they can be counted. Of all the murders throughout the centuries, they can be numbered. I think of the gas chambers in Europe and the estimated 6 million Jews who died in the last century – they can be counted. I think of Chairman Mao in China killing an estimated 60 million of his own people – their bodies could be counted and the heart of God is broken with each tear-filled face that falls headlong on His Creation. But there is a number assigned and sin is finite and limited.

But the value of Jesus cannot be measured. God the Father has not enough words to express His love for Jesus. The infinite Worth of Messiah is able to atone for each and every sin – for each and every sinner. You do not have the power to overwhelm His Life of Goodness and Obedience.

At the Crucifixion of Jesus, there was one too many deaths in the world. It is as if the Justice of God had been broken in the World. Here was the One Man who had lived a sinless life of devotion to God the Father – slain. Killed horribly. That’s not Justice.

But Jesus had laid down His Life so that we could take it up. Being Wrong, the Grave could not hold Him. His Presence there killed the Grave and Jesus is alive forevermore.

Because His Life was so Good and His Death was so Wrong, His Life is able to overflow to you. He has made the way for you to plug into the Tree of Life. He is that Tree of Life. But you have to accept the deal. Back in the Garden, Adam had a choice before him. Which tree would he choose? His choice affected you from conception in the womb. He doomed you. You were not born into this world with a healthy human spirit. But Jesus has died and risen from the dead. He is the answer to our human condition. He is alive today before the Throne of God the Father as our great High Priest, making intercession for those who have placed their hopes in Him.

Do you believe that? OK, so why is the Church still rotten? It’s not totally rotten, thank God, but it does have a few issues, yes? Why?

Hbr 4:12 ESV – “… the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hbr 4:13 ESV – And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hbr 4:14 ESV – Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Hbr 4:15 ESV – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hbr 4:16 ESV – Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

“the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit.”

The Word of God is able to separate your soul from your spirit. You have a spirit. You have a soul. They are not the same thing. God is keenly interested in separating the two. And it sounds painful. There is a sword involved.

We humans are made in God’s image, but God is spirit and not physical. We have a spirit, we have a soul, and we have a body. To separate any of those three elements from a person is to kill him.

Luk 9:23 NKJV – Then He said to [them] all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luk 9:24 NKJV – “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

There is a sword involved in this. There is a cross involved in this. When you turned to the Lord and trusted in Him to make you right before God and get you into God’s Heaven, were you aware that there would be a sword involved? Did you understand that there would be a cross with your name on it?

When Adam ate that fruit of rebellion, he did die in his spirit. But his body and his soul continued to live for years and years. So, what is the soul?

Your human soul is the seat of all of your natural desires and concerns and thoughts and feelings. In Greek, it is the “psyche”. It is your psychology. It is the source of all of those character traits that make you proud. It is the source of all of those character traits that make you ashamed. It is natural and has a natural life that is all its own. Your soul can live completely apart from God and be happy in its selfish existence. And your soul can do good in the world. I have known many unRedeemed people who can be sweet and helpful and kind – they can do good things like cure disease at the hospital and raise children to be good citizens. They have powerful souls that are not steeped in sinful behavior. Others are not so praiseworthy.

Adam died immediately in his human spirit, but he died progressively in his human soul, then ultimately he died in his human body.

Cain leading Abel to his death

He died progressively in his soul. Before eating the forbidden fruit of Independence from God, Adam was totally innocent day after day. Did he know how to cuss? Did Eve ever go to bed with a black eye or a busted lip? Of course not. That’s ridiculous. But in time, all of the hurtful things that we humans do to one other became a reality. Over time, Adam learned how to sin more. His sons made advancements that were built on their father’s progress in sin. Over time, Adam became more and more depraved. Adam died progressively in his soul until he finally died and was buried.

Yeshua Messiah has reversed this process for us. When you accept God’s deal for Salvation in Jesus, your human spirit gets plugged into the Throneroom of God. On that day, in that moment, you are declared to be Justified by Holy God – all of the Virtue of Jesus is imputed to your account. Scripture says that you are legally married to Messiah, and that makes you as if a daughter-in-law to God the Father. As His Bride, all of the rights and responsibilities of that lofty position are yours.

But just the day before, you were a hooker or a drug addict or a con-artist. Or maybe you were just a fibber who only occasionally deflected from the truth when the cause was “worthy”. Ideally, you come to the Lord as a young person – a child – who has a very short list of sins. Come to the Lord early, before your soul has become full of sinful habits and foolishness. That person has a real advantage. Nevertheless, the Lord is glorified in a unique way by each unique life that comes to Him.

But all of us have a defect in the soul. Jesus is alive and giving us the power to progressively cure our souls. The soul needs to be Saved also, and we call that Sanctification. It is always a process. The spirit is saved in the blink of an eye when you are Justified and declared by God to be just as Righteous as Jesus Christ, His Son. But the process of Sanctification, the salvation of your soul, will be an ongoing process every day of your life until that blessed day when you meet the Lord and He graciously makes you whole in every way. In that day, you will OWN the same character that Jesus owns. In that day, you will be without one wrinkle of sinfulness. Virtue will belong to you. Your soul will be pure – absolutely pristine. God will restore your soul. When others meet you, they will be interacting with a person they can trust completely. Others will not have any dread of you. You will be able to extend love to others and receive love from others with out any fear of harm.

You will not be misunderstood or taken advantage of. When I think of that Age to come when Sin and sinfulness is no more, that’s one of the things that I try to imagine – what will it be like to interact with other people in mutual purity?

The human soul is not to be despised.  Made right, your soul can be a wonderful and powerful thing — lovely.  The Lord is in the business of “restoring” you soul.  Unfortunately, that will include the (painful) removal of all that is not righteous.  Like making a clay pot from common soil, the initial clay that comes out of the earth has impurities (pieces of rock, both large and small) which need to be picked away before the clay can be formed.

So, how is the soul perfected?

First, as stated before, you have to accept God’s deal. Don’t just believe that Jesus was the solution to human misery and alienation from God. You don’t just look at a parachute and say, “That thing can save my life if the plane runs out of gas.” That is not enough. You gotta put on the parachute. You have to “put on Jesus.” You have to realize, “This plane is gonna hit something hard. Soon.” All of your focus becomes directed at that parachute and getting yourself into that. That is how to come to the Lord. “I realize that this World is just about ruined and I want to get signed up with God and His Salvation right now.”

You put on the parachute, you tighten the straps, and you bail out of the plane before it crashes. How do you bail out of this crashing plane called the World?  How do you “eject”?

Did you know that this planet is currently managed by Satan and his devils?

1Jo 5:19 – “the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.”

You and I were born as citizens of this World which Satan is developing into his own evil image. There is progress, yes. And the Snake from the Garden is growing up to become the Dragon of the apocalypse.

You bail out of this crashing World-system through submitting to water baptism.

The Devil can’t read you mind. He doesn’t truly know that your commitment to Messiah is real until you are baptized. In doing that, you have told the World and the Devil that you are no longer a citizen of this doomed World-system. You have switched allegiances. To the Devil, it is a symbolic drowning, yet you come out of the Water as his resurrected enemy. You expatriate yourself for the Kingdom of God that is coming. The Kingdom is here and it is also coming. And you demonstrate that you are a citizen of what God is doing. From that day on, the Devil sees you as if you were a monster — a creature that has died to his realm, but is still alive and dangerous to his domain here on earth.  With the Holy Spirit of God knit to you and giving you eternal life today, the power that is available to you is beyond comprehension.

The first step is to take God at His word and accept “the deal” that Jesus offers through His death and resurrection. Then you demonstrate that you really are a part of all that through a symbolic drowning and resurrection. God will honor your obedience by sending His Spirit to first “SEAL” you for Heaven and then to start “welling up” inside of you.

Act 2:38 ESV – And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Then there is a third step which is more of a life-long process of maturing in the Lord. We are all born as babies. Babies are cute, so we love them, but they are a lot of trouble. Natural-born babies are a big responsibility and they make messes and offer very little to us in return. Same with new Believers: they are cute and we love them for the potential that we see and because they are part of our forever family. But they are troublesome and a lot of responsibility. They need to be cared for and offer very little in return. Ask any pastor and he will confess that many days are hard going.

However, growing up is the goal. That takes four things: Scripture, Prayer, Fellowship, and Worship. Later, the believer will add the fifth crucial stage, which is a ministry that brings others to Salvation in the Lord.

But listen to this, almost everyone who turns to the Lord will begin the maturation process, but will get stuck along the way. Everyone will pick one means of grace that they like and avoid one that they don’t like as much. One person will prefer to read Scripture, but will tend to avoid prayer. One will do just the opposite. I know a man in town who can pray in such a way that you feel God’s presence drawing near, but he won’t go the church – and he’s a mess. His personal life is a mess because of choices and preferences that keep him confounded.

So what is God going to do about that? Is a good and loving and wise Father going to allow one of His children to flop along for years and years in a state of foolishness and error? No. A good father steps in and takes action and gets that child’s attention. And the Lord does that with a heart FULL of Love and Compassion. At first, the Lord is very gentle – every time He begins to correct a wayward son or daughter with tender mercies and wooing – sweet words and kindnesses meant to draw the son back to wisdom. Gentle affections meant to win back the wayward daughter.

Soft wooing cannot go on forever. In time, while the Lord is trying to correct the wayward souls of his children and bring them back into alignment with His perfect will, it will definitely seem like pure punishment being doled out – wrecking the lives of the disobedient.

Jhn 12:24 ESV – Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Jhn 12:25 ESV – Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Let me alter the English words for “life” as they are found in the original Greek text here and see if it won’t clarify what I said earlier about the difference between the soul and the spirit.

Jhn 12:24 ESV – Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Jhn 12:25 ESV – Whoever loves his psyche loses it, and whoever hates his psyche in this world will keep it for eternal zoe.

Jhn 12:25 ESV – Whoever loves his soul’s life loses it, and whoever hates his soul’s life in this world will keep it for eternal spiritual life.

(see blueletterbible.org link)

The Lord Messiah is making the point that you and I are like a seed. For the seed to germinate and grow up into a mature plant, a part of the seed has to cease to exist. The life of the seed is inside in the embryo, but it is walled off from the world by the seed wall, also called the seed coat. That seed coat is usually very hard and protective and covered on the outside by a waxy substance that keeps the seed from going bad. The seed wall keeps moisture out. But what is important to the life of the seed is that the waxy coat keeps just a little bit of moisture inside the seed to keep the living embryo of the seed alive for many months, even years, of dormancy. And this works really well as some seeds can be stored away for many years and still germinate. Only God can make a seed.

I grew up on a working farm where we raised corn and soy beans and other crops. After harvest each year, we carefully held back about 5 percent of the crop to be seed for the next year. But the seeds that you buy from professionals have been treated in a way that may surprise you.

A seed merchant takes seeds from the best plants in the garden and dries them out. Some seeds need to be frozen for several weeks as in Winter. After that, something weird is done to the seeds. They undergo a process called SCARIFICATION. The seeds are damaged on purpose.

individual seed being scratched

Often, the seeds are blasted through a tube of compressed air and made to collide with sandpaper or a large steel file that scrapes off a part of the seed wall. Sometimes they are treated with acid.  Without this damaging process, many of the seeds would not germinate when planted. But having been damaged, water is able to penetrate the seed and make the seed grow into a new plant.

That is how we Redeemed saints are. We are like the seed in that we have spiritual life inside us. You who have trusted in the Lord’s provision for your salvation, you have received all of the Holy Spirit that you need to grow into that mature man or woman of God. Inside of who you are, the Holy Spirit has given you complete spiritual vitality, but it will likely seem to be in dormancy. Maybe there is a tingle of God doing something inside of you, but most new believers do not have much more power than a new baby in a crib. And that’s a good start. Normal. But it is not good to be in that same condition ten years later as is the case with so many people who really are Born Again. The seed wall of the soul has to be damaged.

Look at what it takes to get a poor avocado seed to germinate. You practically have to torture it — crucify it. You take the avocado seed in one hand and you stab four wooden toothpicks into it. Then you soak it half-way in water for several weeks. And as the young tree grows, the seed cracks in half and diminishes until it disappears.

The water that germinates the seed is the Word of God, inspiring new growth. Eph. 5 shows this:

Eph 5:25 ESV – “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Eph 5:26 ESV – that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
Eph 5:27 ESV – so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Christian maturity cannot be accomplished without regular watering with the Word. But when you and I wall off the Lord with our over-grown souls, then you can know with certainty that He knows how to damage our soul-life in a way that will compel us to yield to His influence.

Again, when Peter first preached the Gospel message in Jerusalem after the Lord was resurrected and ascended back into Heaven, this is how he ended that message:

Act 2:38 ESV – And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

You who have trusted in the Lord and have been baptized have received the Holy Spirit into your human spirit. But that Holy Spirit may be stuck in a state of dormancy because of the powerful life-force of your natural soul. The soul must be peeled back so that the spirit can break forth with new life. Remember Hebrews 4:12

Hbr 4:12 ESV – “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit”.

The Lord is intent to see that the power of your natural soul does not live forever to confound the spiritual life that’s inside of you. We see that the Lord who can speak so sweetly to us can also wield a very dangerous sword with the same Word.

When we present ourselves to the Lord, we bring to Him all of our talents and abilities. We bring to the Lord our character and we point out what we are good at and where we may have a flaw. And what does He do every time? He expresses His appreciation for this offering and then – He breaks what we bring to Him to pieces!

How did the Lord feed the 5000?

Jhn 6:8 ESV – One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,
Jhn 6:9 ESV – “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
Jhn 6:10 ESV – Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.

Luk 9:16 ESV – And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
Luk 9:17 ESV – And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

So, here is a little boy with some pitas and dried fish. He hands over his lunch to Rabbi Yeshua. Jesus says thank you for your gift, Jesus prays in thanks to the Father above, and Jesus begins to tear the lunch to pieces.

Dismay. Jesus, I trusted you with my lunch. Jesus says, keep on trusting me. You say, “No no Jesus; you are doing it wrong!  You are tearing up my lunch.”  You say, “Jesus, I brought my talents and abilities to you, and I don’t like the way that things are going now.”  But when it is all over, everyone around will be totally blessed and there will be plenty left over. It will all work out, but the process will often be disturbing.

Hebrews 4 has the idea of a sword cutting one part of you away from another part. That is disturbing. Tie it in with the OT idea of animal sacrifice by the Jewish priesthood. You and I are to be living sacrifices to God:

Rom 12:1 ESV – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

1Pe 2:5 ESV – you yourselves are like living stones being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Today, we live in a time when no one sacrifices animals to God, but there was a time when this was a daily occurrence. And the flesh of the sacrifice was always, always, always rubbed with salt before it was roasted on the altar.

Ezr 6:9 ESV – And whatever is needed–bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require–let that be given to (the priests) day by day without fail,

Lev 2:13 ESV – You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

Eze 43:24 ESV – You shall present (your sacrificial offerings) before the LORD, and the priests shall sprinkle salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD.

Sacrifice of the Soul

These sacrifices are showing us that it is our natural strengths and talents that must be offered to the Lord. And it is always a true sacrifice in that it is painful for us to give our powers to the Lord in that He always cuts our talents – our souls – into pieces and rubs them with salt. Salt in a wound is very painful – it seems cruel. But when the natural strengths of our soul-life are entrusted to the Lord and broken by Him, the spirit life can break forth and bless many.

Remember Mary’s famous gift to the Lord just before He would be tortured to death as our Redeemer:

Mar 14:3 ESV – And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
Mar 14:4 ESV – There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?
Mar 14:5 ESV – For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii ( a year’s wages) and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.
Mar 14:6 ESV – But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
Mar 14:7 ESV – For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.
Mar 14:8 ESV – She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.
Mar 14:9 ESV – And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Luke informs us that Simon was a Pharisee and that the woman was a known sinner – a prostitute. John informs us that the woman was Mary Magdalene and that her alabaster flask contained about a pound of nard. Moreover, John includes a precious word, and I quote John 12, verse 3: and “the whole house was filled with the fragrance of her perfume.”

You see, Simon was a leper and lepers stink like rotting flesh. But he was a godly man who was concerned about what was happening with the People of God in his day and age and he was being gracious to the Lord and the Lord’s friends. Everyone in the house was quietly, graciously enduring the stench of his protracted death. Trying to enjoy their food, perhaps struggling to swallow each bite.

Enter a street walker, Redeemed by the Love of the only good man who has ever lived – the only Good man she had ever known. Let me suggest to you that she had not squandered all of her money. Some had been saved and some had been spent to buy for herself this powerful perfume which she kept in a lovely alabaster flask. She had a lifetime supply and she used it to overwhelm the odor that was associated with her profession. This flask of perfume had been the savior of her senses. She was not going to need that anymore.

alabasteron

In this impassioned moment of adoration, the woman was not composed. She did not have the control needed to open the flask with care and her alabaster vial was broken to pieces. She would not need it anymore. She did not hold back one bit of what she offered to the Lord. He was pleased. He defended her from men who would have thrown her back to the streets. And the whole house which had been stinking beforehand was filled with the lovely fragrance of her gift.  And the sound of her sobbing.

You have a lovely thing within you that needs to be released, but that can only be accomplished if you will permit your lovely flask to be broken to pieces. Your talents are wonderful and powerful and praiseworthy. But take them to the Lord knowing full well that He is going to break them. Your natural talents are not eternal. What the Spirit of God has brought into your innermost person is eternal. Your eternal reward is based on how much of that spiritual power you allow to break forth into the World. Knowing that it will cost you. But please be assured that you will receive back much more than you offer to the Lord. You attempt to bless the Lord and you do, but in breaking your gift He multiplies it. Those around you are blessed. And God gives you buckets so that you can gather up all the multiplied PIECES of your broken soul. Trust the Lord. He knows what He is doing when he scarifies you – when He brings the sword and the salt and a cross with your name on it.  This is His miraculous way of making you more than you are today.

Psa 23:1 KJV – [[A Psalm of David.]] The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psa 23:2 KJV – He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psa 23:3 KJV – He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Take up your cross and follow Him. Trust and obey. Your maturity in this life and the reward you will receive in the next age are based on your willingness to bring your soul to the Lord, knowing that He will multiply your offering through a shocking process of breaking. We need this. But know that He will also restore your soul to righteousness.

OK. I have made my case. Let me end with a more thorough reading of Peter’s letter to his beloved congregation in 1 Peter 2. Remember that he is writing to true Believers and he is warning these Christians to not be living as foolish evil-doers, but to mature in obedience to God’s perfect will.  When Peter mentions “the emperor”, remember that he was speaking of leaders who would persecute Christians to death with devilish cruelty.

1Pe 2:1 ESV – “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
1Pe 2:2 ESV – Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation–
1Pe 2:3 ESV – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1Pe 2:4 ESV – As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
1Pe 2:5 ESV – you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:6 ESV – For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
1Pe 2:7 ESV – So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
1Pe 2:8 ESV – and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
1Pe 2:9 ESV – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1Pe 2:10 ESV – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1Pe 2:11 ESV – Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
1Pe 2:12 ESV – Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
1Pe 2:13 ESV – Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
1Pe 2:14 ESV – or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
1Pe 2:15 ESV – For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
1Pe 2:16 ESV – Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
1Pe 2:17 ESV – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1Pe 2:18 ESV – Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
1Pe 2:19 ESV – For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
1Pe 2:20 ESV – For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
1Pe 2:21 ESV – For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
1Pe 2:22 ESV – He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
1Pe 2:23 ESV – When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
1Pe 2:24 ESV – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1Pe 2:25 ESV – For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

—————

special thanks to several older brothers who have preceded us to the Throne in Glory:   Watchman Nee, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Scofield, and  and Dr. Adrian P. Rogers.  Also Dr. Chuck Missler, Dr. Bill Giovannetti, and other teachers of Scripture who have had an eternal  influence upon thousands.


Responses

  1. […] ***See post about the difference between the human spirit and human soul and how your soul must be BROKEN before it can be perfected.  Old Souls and the Spirit […]


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