New Wine for New Wineskins August 2018

By , August 1, 2018 8:28 am

First Things First (Part 4)

Remember, it is always important to put first things first because the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.

We have seen previously that a vision statement focuses on the future, whereas a mission statement focuses on the present. Jesus’ vision statement is recorded in Matthew 16: 18:

18 I will build My church, and the gates of hell (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].

Jesus’ mission statement – how he plans to achieve or fulfil the vision – is recorded in Luke 4: 18 – 19:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor; He has sent Me to preach deliverance [announce release] to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty [send forth as delivered] those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], 19 to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favours of God profusely abound].

Jesus is building his church – a victorious, prevailing, and overcoming church – through those who recognise that their freedom and purpose is embodied in the outworking of his mission statement.

That is why it is time to deal with the orphan spirit once and for all. The orphan spirit opens people up to accepting other spirits that deceptively offer security and comfort and success. But they are lying spirits. We are going to be looking in the next three parts of this teaching at three specific spirits that can gain entrance to our lives through the back door of an orphan spirit.

Religious tradition has left many of God’s children with an orphan spirit because they were taught that you never know what God might do, but that is not the nature of a Father who can always be trusted to keep his promises and fulfil his obligations. When Jesus spoke of the Father he never once referred to how much less we can expect him to do, but he always encouraged us to expect according to how much more he is able and willing to do.

An orphan is susceptible to anyone or anything that offers even temporary relief or sanctuary or provision, but someone who truly knows that they are a child of God is secure in that relationship and trusts their Father to always provide the best.

Last time we saw how tradition taught us that God wants to see our brokenness over sin but the truth is that the Holy Spirit comes to show us that we are already broken, and so he comes to heal us. Jesus said that he came for the sick because the sick need a doctor to heal them.

It is when we recognise that sin has broken us that we turn to God, and he says, “You are the son that I love, I am well pleased with you.” He doesn’t despise a broken spirit – he heals it. He doesn’t come to condemn us for our sin – he comes to convict us of how sin has broken us, and of how he has provided righteousness for us, and of the reality that the prince of this world – the enemy of our souls – has been judged.

All of the sin in our lives has been the result of our brokenness, and so our Father wants us to come to that realisation so that he can heal us.

It is vital to put first things first because the main thing is keeping the main thing.

Healed people heal people whereas broken people go on breaking people, and so if we try and minister when we are still broken we will either be too harsh and judgemental or too soft and sentimental.

Religious tradition – and even a lot of the revivalist culture – taught us that the only way to fix the sin problem was to be broken over our sin, but we can actually spend our time in an endless cycle of religiously re-breaking what has already been fixed. As I said last time, Jesus was broken for us – more broken than anyone has ever been or ever could be – and he is the once and for all sacrifice for sin that is forever acceptable to God.

1 Corinthians 15: 45 – 49

45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.


The first Adam sinned and we all got broken, and so all of our sin was the fruit of our brokenness. The good news is that the second Adam – Jesus – never sinned, and so he was qualified to be the sacrifice for our sin and to heal our brokenness.

Through the obedience of the second Adam we can now be born again – not with a second chance fallen nature inherited from the first Adam, a nature that must be kept in check by the law – but with a new nature inherited from our Father in heaven, a new nature that enjoys the freedom of a life in the Spirit.

Romans 8: 2

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

The Spirit of the LORD upon Jesus didn’t set out every day to expose and condemn sin, but to locate and to heal brokenness.

And so, first things first because the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, which is the falling short that results from not believing in the one who closed the gap, the one who removed our sin by taking our place and the punishment for our sin, the once and for all acceptable sacrifice.

Tragically, we in the church have often spent more time exposing and condemning sin rather than locating and healing brokenness.
 
The story recorded in Luke 15 that Jesus told to illustrate the Father’s unconditional love is so powerful because it shows the effects of an orphan spirit in two sons. One son’s orphan spirit took him far from home, and one son stayed home but still functioned from an orphan spirit. One son eventually returned home and was healed, but the son who never left home stayed broken.

The younger son who left didn’t realise that he had blown it while he was still on the journey away from home, or while he still had some of his inheritance left. He didn’t return home at that point and apologise for his bad attitude. He wasted everything with a reckless lifestyle and then finally when he had run out of options he decided to return home.

It was at that point that he formulated his prayer – “I have sinned….”

I = personal responsibility; have = ownership; sinned = specific to his actions. It sounds really good.

Luke 15: 22

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

But the Father. It would appear that the Father is not so much interested in our realisation and acknowledgement of our sin, but of our desire for reconciliation with him.

Listen to the Message translation:

22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.”

It is scarily enlightening to see the older brother’s reaction, as he is still intent on exposing the younger sibling’s sin and condemning him for it. He wants to re-break what has just been fixed.

A lot of preaching has tended to be centred on trying to break instead of fix, and on trying to expose sin rather than heal brokenness. As a result, the church can sometimes become about creating a facade and presenting an image that conforms outwardly to what is expected and acceptable, while all the time there is still so much brokenness that goes on to cause mayhem in all kinds of breakdowns in relationships, in marriages, and even in churches, etc.

Bible colleges and seminaries can turn out those into ministry who have attained a required academic standard – regardless of whether or not they have been healed on the inside – and so they will often go on to perpetuate the problems that already exist.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The older brother shows us that it is possible to be in the church and still be wasteful of and reckless with the Father’s wealth of resources that are our inheritance. The older brother never left home but he lived at home in the proximity of his Father with an orphan spirit and so he had no revelation of how much his Father loved him or of how much free access he had to everything that the Father had. This account that Jesus gave is the clearest message we could have that the Father’s heart is not to condemn us for our sin but to heal us of our brokenness.

When Jesus told the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery to go and sin no more it wasn’t a threat – he was revealing to her that now that her brokenness was healed sin need no longer be her master, that she was no longer a slave to sin.

I said we are going to be looking at three spirits that can be very destructive in the church and also in other arenas of life. We have to remember that demons hate all people – not just believers – because they bear the image of God. The thief always and only ever comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy.

I wanted us to look at the cure before we look at the disease. Dis-ease = a lack of ease.

 
Jesus said he wanted us to come to him and learn from him that living the life he created us to live and enjoy is supposed to be easy and light, not hard and heavy. The root of easy is ease = absence of difficulty or effort; absence of rigidity or discomfort; freedom from worries or problems, especially about one’s material situation.

I wanted us to look at the cure first because I want us to know that there is a place we can come home to in repentance and where there is healing through faith, so that we understand  that the Father’s heart is not to condemn us for our sin but to heal us of our brokenness.

First things first because the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

It is possible to have a misrepresented image of God the Father that suits and supports a religious or traditional agenda. Likewise with Jesus – God the Son. But when God the Holy Spirit shows up he represents himself, and he reveals the truth about the Father and the Son. We will either accept the truth that he brings or we will reject it, but we can’t remain neutral. The Holy Spirit continues the work that Jesus began as he welcomes home the prodigals unconditionally into a party atmosphere of celebration, where the broken is healed.

Is it possible that we may have been taken captive by or been affected by an orphan spirit? Do we think that we are no longer worthy to be called a son? Or do we think being a son is synonymous with being a slave? Do we spend our lives allowing the orphan spirit to cause us to see as broken what has already been fixed, or to disconnect us from the fullness of our Father’s provision?

We need to hear our Father’s voice, “You are my beloved son, the son that I love. I am pleased with you, and I am so glad that you are home, and all that I have is yours.”

You and I are a child of God – nothing can change that. But we still have an enemy who even though he is a defeated enemy will try and divert and distract and deceive us – an enemy who wants to use us to gain entrance to the church where he longs to create chaos that will limit our effectiveness in bringing healing to the broken.

So keep focusing on the cure.

You are my beloved son, the son that I love. I am pleased with you, and I am so glad that you are home, and all that I have is yours.

First things first, because the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.


More next time…

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