Tonight's notes and quotes...
When Jesus walked this earth, which group of people did he rebuke most severely? It wasn't the sinful prostitutes, drunkards, or tax collectors. They were actually drawn to him and receptive of his mercy. It was the RELIGIOUS PEOPLE of the day that Jesus opposed. Have you ever wondered why that was? These were the people that the verse above addresses. They had set aside the grace of God and were trying to gain righteousness through the law. They had rejected Christ's work and were leading others to do the same. Jesus told them, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40 (The Foundation Stones, p. 66)
Self-consciousness comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Amplified Bible calls the tree of the knowledge of good and evil "the tree of the knowledge of blessing and calamity." God knows all things. He has known all things. He knew the horror of evil. He knew pain. We did not--until the tree. We didn't need to know good--we already experienced it daily--and we could have been spared the knowledge of evil and the pain that goes with it. God would have held it all and kept us safe!
The knowledge of good is far more dangerous than the knowledge of evil ... because the knowledge of good leads to living apart from God, and trying to do good without the wisdom of God leads often to evil. Seeking blessing without God's provision often leads to calamity. An example: All the wars going on right now are going on in the name of good.
The next time you read through Genesis, pay attention to the deception of the "Original Sin". What was Satan's main objective when he tempted Eve? It was to DISTORT HER thinking. When she began to doubt God's heart for her, she was quick to turn away from Him. In the same way we are confronted with lies about our Father every day, and most of us don't even recognize them. What has Satan convinced YOU of regarding God's heart towards you? If you feel condemned, ashamed, or inadequate in His presence, you have believed a lie. And that false perception is what drives you to seek out your own righteousness - hoping that someday you will be good enough to be accepted by Him. (p. 65)
What is my deception? Sometimes it's that God doesn't really want good things for me. Sometimes it's a subtle twisting of God's promise. Did God really say that? Surely He didn't mean it. He wants good things for you, doesn't he?
God's unconditional acceptance is ours right now. But it is only ours if we receive it as the free gift that it is. It is when we strive to EARN it that we end up with dead works.
Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (Romans 10:3 )
This verse refers to those who refuse to believe, submit to, and be credited with God's righteousness and instead seek to establish their own. Why, according to this verse, do people pursue self-righteousness? BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD. They do not know who they are in God's eyes nor do they understand God's heart for them. Simple ignorance of God's righteousness always leads to religion - conforming to laws and regulations instead of responding to God's love. (p. 65)
About Cain and Abel...
The truth of the matter is this: God did not create you and I to WORK for Him - but for a RELATIONSHIP! We must come empty-handed to God, seeking only to understand His love for us. Turn the fire of first love to God and not to working. God writes His law on the hearts of believers, and good works will spring forth as the RESULT (not the cause) of our righteousness in Him. (p. 67)
The Bible tells us that God sees only the righteousness of Jesus when He looks at His children. Imagine that. To Him, it is as if we have never sinned at all! Hebrews 9:14 tells us that the blood of Christ will "cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death" (dead works, as we have been calling them). His work in us is complete, EVEN IF IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT! If we struggle with these things, It is simply because we have believed a lie - about ourselves and about God. (p. 68)
... that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgement of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon 6 NKJv)
This verse tells us that when we choose to believe what God has said about us (apart from how we feel or what we see), our faith becomes effective. And it is here that God's creative power begins to work in our hearts to bring these very things to pass in you and me. But remember that it is YOUR CHOICE that God is waiting on. (p. 68)
Hmm... I'm having trouble with this one... NIV says:
I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
Maybe these mean the same thing but are spoken very differently.