Exercise Your Soul

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Our spirit is not our problem. The born-again Christian receives a new spirit at conversion, that is just like Jesus’ 1 John 4:17, because it is the Spirit of Jesus. Our born-again spirit is always willing to do God’s will. It’s our flesh that is the problem.

The flesh, as Jesus describes it here, not only includes our physical body but also describes our soul. God has given every believer everything it takes to walk in victory, but “we have this treasure in earthen vessels”… 2 Corinthians 4:7. That is saying that our spirit, where God has deposited all of His power and glory, is locked inside our flesh.

That does not mean that we cannot tap into this divine source. As much as we will renew our minds and act on the Word of God, we can experience this divine flow through our physical bodies. However, just as we must use our muscles to increase in strength, we must exercise ourselves (soul, mind and body) unto godliness … 1 Timothy 4:7-8.

Prayer is one important way of exercising ourselves unto godliness, and is why Jesus admonished His disciples to watch and pray with Him.

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Fill Up With God

John 17:23 “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

God loves us the same as He loves Jesus. A true revelation of this will quicken our faith and allow us to walk in the fullness of God. God’s love is the key that opens the door to everything that God is. “God is love”… 1 John 4:8.

God’s love is not one dimensional. There is width, length, depth and height to it, which can only be comprehended through the revelation and knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Those who only have a superficial knowledge of God’s love are like a person who looks at a one dimensional picture of the real thing.

In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays for us to know the love of God which passes knowledge. How can we know the love of God if it passes knowledge? This sounds like a contradiction. The Greek word that is translated “know” in this verse is GINOSKO, which is a verb expressing experiential knowledge. The Greek word that is translated “knowledge” is GNOSIS, which is a noun denoting the act of knowledge. Simply, Paul is praying that we will experience the love of God which passes mere knowledge of it.

Since a true revelation of God’s love makes us full with the fullness of God, then a lack of being full of God must mean that we lack understanding and experience of God’s love. The end result of having understanding and experiential knowledge of God’s love is that we will be filled with all the fullness of God.

One In Spirit

John 17:21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Jesus is praying for all believers to be one as He and the Father are one.

This goes far beyond what many promote as unity today. Paul besought the Corinthians to “…all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”…1 Corinthians 1:10. This is God’s standard of unity.

This oneness among believers is what Jesus said would cause the world to know that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the greatest tool for evangelism that the church has. The only way that Christ’s body will be one as the Father and Jesus are One is through God’s kind of love. No wonder Satan tries to get believers to go at each others’ throats. We spend billions of dollars a year on evangelism through television, radio, conventions and crusades, yet, the world is not evangelized because the body of Christ is not united in love.

There is very little unity among believers today. This has occured over thousands of years and it probably won’t be fixed over night. We must strive towards unity but not be overwhelmed by the problem. All Christians have already been joined to each other through the body of Christ, and God the Father sees us all as His children. All divisions among Christians are made by man, not God. For a brief period of time, the church enjoyed unity on earth. Regardless of what strife and division has occurred, all believers are still one in Christ and will live in perfect oneness throughout eternity. We are now one in Spirit. We just need to experience that unity here on earth.

Matthew 6:10
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”

How To Experience Eternal Life Today

 John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

In order to fully understand what eternal life is, it is helpful to understand what it is not. Eternal life is not living forever. Everyone lives forever in either heaven or hell. Also, eternal life is not living forever in the blessings of heaven as opposed to being tormented in hell.

John 3:36
and 5:24 show that eternal life is a present tense possession of the believer.

Here, Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ.

As we have already discussed, the word “know” is speaking of intimacy instead of mere intellectual knowledge. Therefore, eternal life is having an intimate, personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son.

According to John 3:16, this intimacy with God is what salvation is all about. Forgiveness of our sins is not the point of salvation: intimacy with the Father is. Of course, Jesus did die to purchase forgiveness for our sins because unforgiven sins block us from intimacy with God. Sin was an obstacle that stood between us and God. It had to be dealt with and it was. Anyone who views salvation as only forgiveness of their sins and stops there, is missing out on eternal life.

Salvation is intended to be the way to come back into harmony with God.

Instead, it is often presented as the way to escape the problems of this life and the judgment of hell later.

Most non-believers are so occupied with their “hell on earth” that they don’t really think or care about their eternal future. They are fed up with religion and are looking for something that will fill the emptiness inside.

Only intimate relationship (eternal life) with our Father can do that.

Rejoice In The Lord Always

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

The world experiences joy and happiness in direct proportion to their circumstances. Bad circumstances produce depression and sorrow, while good circumstances produce joy and peace. That’s bondage, and does not have to be the case for a Christian. Our joy is not dependent on things, but rather on the person of Jesus Christ. He is our peace and joy.

The way we take advantage of this joy and peace in the midst of tribulation, is to have our minds and hearts stayed on things above and not on things of this earth. The invisible things of God are eternal while the visible problems on earth are only temporary. All the problems of this life grow very dim when we compare them to the glory of God that is ours through Jesus.

We can rejoice in the Lord always… Philippians 4:4, because rejoicing is an action, not a reaction to our environment. Joy is a gift from God that was given to us at salvation. It was placed within our born-again spirit and it doesn’t fluctuate or diminish; it is constant. The Lord has put the joy inside us and we are to “work it out” by choosing to obey this command in scripture.

We are commanded to rejoice “IN THE LORD.” Many people are not experiencing true joy because their joy is in their circumstances. That is, they are waiting to rejoice when things in their lives are going good, and that doesn’t happen very often. We are supposed to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

That means we are suppose to rejoice in who the Lord is and what He has done for us. He never changes… Hebrews 13:8, and His mercies and compassions are new every morning …Lamentations 3:22-23.

Be A Witness, Not A Judge

John 16:8 “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reprove sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is not our ministry. We are simply witnesses. A witness is not the judge or the jury. A witness simply relates what he has experienced, thereby providing evidence to the truth of something. We are to witness in word and deed, to the truth of Jesus being alive in us and let God be the one who convicts. We are simply to testify to what we have seen or to what has happened to us.

Some people in their zeal, have gone beyond the witness stage and have tried to bring people under conviction themselves. This is assuming the job that belongs to the Holy Spirit alone. This not only frustrates the witness but it drives many people away from God. We make a very poor Holy Spirit; therefore, we should stick to our job of being a witness and let the Holy Spirit do His job.

Jesus specified an orderly progression in the way we should witness. First we start in Jerusalem (i.e. where we are). Then we go to those nearby (Judaea).

Finally, we take the gospel to every religious and racial group (Samaria) throughout the whole world.

There are some very practical reasons for becoming witnesses in this way.

Jesus testified that a prophet is honored everywhere except in his home town among his family and friends. Typically, at home is the hardest place to witness. Starting with those who know us best will cause us to humble ourselves and give God all the glory. Also, if rejection comes, this tempers us and our witness, so that we will be more effective and more resilient when we go to the outer most parts of the earth.

Embrace The Holy Spirit

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

The Greek word translated “expedient” means “to be an advantage; profitable.”

How could any situation be more advantageous or profitable than having Jesus physically with you?

When Jesus walked on this earth in His physical body, He was subject to many physical limitations. For instance, He could not always be with every one of His disciples all the time. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He could. Instead of Satan getting rid of Jesus, 120 “little Christs” (that is literally what the word “Christian” means) came out of the upper room on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus taught His disciples as no teacher ever had, yet they had very little understanding because they were not born again. However, when the Holy Spirit came, He lead them into all truth and even showed them things to come.

The list of advantages of having the Holy Spirit in us as compared to having Jesus with us in His physical body, goes on and on. The advantages can all be summed up in that Jesus’ power is now complete…  Matthew 28:18, and no longer confined to one physical body.

There is no such thing as victorious Christian living without a moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day dependence upon the Spirit of God. Not only is the Christian life hard to live but it is impossible to live without the power of God Himself.

Expect Persecution

John 15:19 “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

We should not think it is strange to be persecuted. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”… 2 Timothy 3:12. We can actually rejoice because we are being persecuted for Jesus’ sake, and the Lord will be with us in the midst of the persecution. When we stand before Him, there will be more than ample reward.

Persecution is a token that those persecuting you are under conviction. They realize that they are not living what your words or actions are advocating and in self defense, they attack you, who they perceive is the source of their conviction. If you understand this, it makes persecution much easier to take. They aren’t just mad at you; they are convicted. When the gospel is presented in the power of the Holy Spirit, there will always be either revival or riot, but not indifference.

In the midst of persecution, Satan will try to convince us that the strife is all our fault. If he succeeds, then we back down and the pressure is off his followers. However, Jesus suffered continual rejection and persecution, yet we know that the problem was not with Him, but with those who rejected Him.

Jesus makes it clear that persecution is an inevitable part of living a godly life, so that we will not fall prey to introspection and self-condemnation when rejection comes. If our sinless Savior was rejected, then certainly we will be too. Don’t feel guilty or condemned when persecution comes. The Word strips people of the disguises they have been hiding their sins behind, and the result is persecution.

Our Life Is In Him

John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”

This is a profound truth, that is the key to bearing fruit, but it is so easy to forget. Because the fruit is borne on the branch, it is easy to credit the branch with the fruit, when it is the vine that drew the life from the earth and channeled it through the branch.

Likewise, since we are the branch through which the life of God flows, we sometimes think that it is our own holiness that produces the fruit. The moment we think that way, we are no longer abiding (trusting in; clinging to) in the vine and we will become fruitless if we persist in this mind set.

This is actually a great relief if the believer understands this and applies it properly. It puts all the responsibility on Jesus. Our only responsibility is to respond to His ability. In the same way that you have never seen a branch travailing to bring forth fruit, so all we have to do is labor to enter into His rest (trust and depend) and completely trust Jesus as our source… Hebrews 4:11. If we abide in Him, fruit will come naturally.

It’s our faith in what Jesus did for us that saved us, and our faith has to continue to be in Christ, not in ourselves, to maintain salvation. Our holiness, righteousness, and justification are gifts that we receive in our spirits through Jesus.

Just like the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found in the union with Christ.