Commentary- Old Testament Churches
One of the things that has continued to concern me recently is the tendency of many, in the Church, to operate out of and Old Testament works mentality, instead of as Paul directed us, to live the Christian life the same we started it, by grace through faith (Col. 2:6; Eph.2:8). Did we receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are, we the Church, so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are we now being made perfect in the flesh? What many well meaning Pastors do, without realizing the consequences, is keep their people bound in Old Testament types and shadows, which although good for instruction, is not what we are to base our New Testament Christian walk on, unless of course we want to live under the law, and reject the Spirit of Grace.
While reading Ezekiel 18 just the other morning again I was reminded that I am no longer held accountable for my father’s sins, or for the sins of my ancestors. I don’t have to repent for them, nor am I under a curse because of them, because under the New Covenant in His Blood I am only held accountable for my own sins, my own actions. The Lord told the prophet in Ezekiel 18:2-3, that no longer would they use the following proverb in Israel.
“The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
We find the Lord in Jeremiah 31:29-34; telling the prophet the same thing. He spoke to Ezekiel, saying “But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” In both cases the prophets are of course looking ahead to ‘Messiah’s Day’ and the New Covenant. But somehow we still use Old covenant passages, such as Deuteronomy 5:9-10, as our standard for deliverance and inner healing meetings. These were very real and certainly very true in the Old covenant economy under the law, but certainly in light of of the revelation God gave Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and the New Testament revelation given to us of Christ, we certainly should not be living under those curses today. “For as many as are under the works of the law are under the curse,” and “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” We are no longer under the law, but grace if we are in Christ. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). What Paul is saying in Romans 6, is that sin does have power, but when your under grace the power of sin is broken. Sin has power but grace has the greater power.
Does that mean that we don’t pick up bad traits, wrong thought processes, bad habits, etc. from our upbringing, or from our sinful past? Certainly we do. But Jesus came to break the curse, to loose us from all the bonds that have enslaved us. He became a curse for us that we might be healed, and all the bondage that we were under is broken in Him. He came to destroy the works of the devil, in Him we have been delivered from the kingdom of sin and darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son.
We must embrace Him totally for what He’s done for us, and receive Him as our All in All. Fully repenting from all of our old lifestyles, being baptized for the remission of sin, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. These were the very things that Peter commanded on the Day of Pentecost, when those who heard his first apostolic address, asked, “What must we do?” These are the keys of the Kingdom, the basis by which all new birth must come to be a valid New Testament salvation experience. Remember these keys were not Peter’s suggestion, but a command. Most of us, myself viagrabuynow included did not have a valid experience when we first accepted Christ. I for one, spent many years dwelling in the wilderness, not having full deliverance from old patterns and lifestyles, because my mind was not renewed to the things of God. I never had the victory that was already mine in Christ. All this was as a result of improper birthing into the Kingdom, as well as not having five fold, ascension gifts teaching in my life.
That brings up another point that we see on the Day of Pentecost that is not often taught on, but these first believers were not only properly birthed into the Kingdom, but immediately found placement in the Church, the Body of Christ. They sat daily under the apostles doctrine, until the day came after Steven’s death, that persecution came upon the Church. Due to the persecution they went out, first to Samaria, then to the uttermost parts of the world as they knew it, teaching the Gospel just as it had been taught to them, while sitting at the feet of the apostles in Jerusalem. Until eventually it was said of them, “Those who have turned the world upside down, have come here too” (Acts 17:6).
A key to their success then was not only proper birthing, but also proper placement in the body, these new Christians had set under the apostles doctrine. The very men that Jesus choose to follow Him, were their teachers. These Apostles of the Lamb, these men Jesus had chosen, probably had just as many, if not more, hangups than most. For three and a half years they had followed Christ, sitting daily with Him, eating, drinking, sharing His hardships, sleeping alongside Him at night, totally absorbed in not only His teaching, but also His lifestyle. Daily they were being washed by the water of the Word, until in John 15:3, Jesus was able to tell them, “You are clean by the word I spoke to you.” Here I want to emphasize, that it is the Word that cleans, look at John 17:7, where in Jesus’ prayer He asks the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.” We don’t see deliverance and inner healing meetings as part of the New Testament pattern, but we do see the saints in Jerusalem in one accord, in the temple, breaking bread (probably sharing communion) from house to house. These early believers were being washed, cleansed daily by the washing of the water of the word, through the apostle’s teaching. We see much the same pattern in Ephesus as Paul taught daily for two years in the School of the Tyrant. Interesting to note that while Paul was teaching all of Asia was also hearing the Gospel message.
Today in our Pentecostal and charismatic assemblies people flock from all different types of backgrounds, some very legalistic, others from very social, liberal backgrounds. Many come for the excitement in our meetings, because they’re bored with where they’ve been. Few if any have been properly birthed in Zion. some have never been baptized, others having never received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit since they believed. Some thinking they’re Christians because they were born into a so-called Christian family, and sprinkled with holy water when they were babies. Many in our assemblies have only said a little Jesus prayer, never having fully repented, and on and on we could go. These folks, like most of us more mature saints, have wandered around in the wilderness, some for years, never having heard the Good News that in Christ they are already free, thinking that some day when this (miserable) life is over I’ll fly away. Most of us didn’t know, and they still don’t know, that we are to reign as kings and priest in this life, now! Not in the sweet-by-and-by.
When we get saved there should be a major deliverance in our lives when we enter into the waters of baptism. When we come up out of the water we should emerge, like Jesus, filled with the Spirit, but also speaking in tongues and prophesying, much like the twelve Paul baptized in Ephesus, in Acts 19:6. The new creation kicks in at that point in our salvation experience, not after we’ve been through new believers class, and a few months of close watch to make sure we’re really saved, before they’re willing to baptize us. Most of us have wandered for years with wilderness thinking, and no amount of deliverance, or inner healing will help us, until the gates of hell that is in our minds is broken, by the revelation of WHO H E IS, that He is in us, and we are in Him, and that without Him, we can do nothing. When our minds are renewed to these present truths, then we’ll learn that transformed minds produce transformed saints. There are no short cuts, no easy way, it’s the same for all, we must put our lives on the altar which is Christ, being not conformed to the world and it’s thinking, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds that we might prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. The perfect will of God for all of our lives is that we be conformed into the image of His Son, that is why all things that happen to us in this life work together for our good. God is using the circumstance in our lives, both good and bad, to perfect us not to destroy us (Rom. 8:28-29).
I am not saying we should never cast out demons, or have deliverance when it is necessary. We’re always going to have high maintenance believers, who are going to need all the spiritual help we can give them. But even if we cast devils out of these believers, or even minister inner healing until the cows come home, if they don’t renew their thinking, change won’t come into their lives, and in the end they will probably end up worse than before. And Yes, Christians can be influenced by demons, and we need to deal with that, but surely it should not be on an every week basis, as it is with many here in Japan, who go from this deliverance ministry to that, seeking some kind of normal life.
Especially when we know that righteous, peace, and joy are the norms, for normal Christian living. If we’ll renew our minds to the reality of His empowering presence in our lives, the need for these deliverance meetings will become fewer and farther between.
Am I saying these meetings are a waste of time? NO! Not entirely, if we’ll teach those being delivered who they are in Christ and the victory they already have in Him. If we disciple them and teach them Kingdom living, OK. But if we just have deliverance and no discipleship, then they’ll come back worse than before. Thank God, that He meets us where we are. He is so gracious to us, that even when our understanding falls short of Biblical truths, He still blesses us where we’re at. But there is a better way, and when we learn that all deliverance comes in Him, through Him, and was completely accomplish at the cross and resurrection event, then we’re going to be held accountable for that knowledge. God wants us to grow up, in Christ. There is no seven step formula for holiness, or three point sermon that will set us free, until we get the revelation that in Him we are free, we will remain in our bondages. We are to simply rest in His completed work. No way in our striving, our efforts can we ever attain to the perfection that is in Christ. but we can through developing our relationship with Him come to the understanding that the Perfect One dwells within me. I in and of myself can never be like Christ, but I can rest from my labor, my efforts, and let Christ be Christ through me.
Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 15:10, were basically this, “I am what I am, I do what I do by the grace of God.” Paul labored more than all the other apostles, yet he said, “Not I but the grace of God which was with me.”
We are to live out our Christian lives exactly the same way we came in, “by grace through faith.” We were saved by grace through faith, and everyday we are to live by grace through faith, not our effort, so we can’t boast of our accomplishments. It’s all in Christ, it’s all about Him.
Blessings from Naha. Jerry & Kazuko Sorrow
Naha City Church Ministries
Jerry & Kazuko Sorrow