Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Be Like Abe Part 4

 Be Like Abe Part 4


This week, we continued in the “Be Like Abe” series; examining grace and what it is that Abraham believed that God counted as righteousness.   Titus 2:11-12 focuses on how grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness. In Romans 7:9, Paul says that when law came, sin was revived. Some translations say that sin sprang to life. However, the Greek word that is used there, anazao, only means to revive. So that means that sin had to have been alive, was put to death and then was revived.

I believe that one way of looking at this relates to when we receive Christ and forgiveness  of our sin, we enter a life of grace by faith apart from the law. As we (supposedly) “mature” in the Lord, we are put back under law with all of the rules and regulations of being a “true Christian.” In doing so, we resurrect sin. Paul said numerous times in numerous ways that law magnifies sin and brings death to us. Law does not stop sin, but defines and magnifies sin.

Another related view of this statement in Romans 7:9 takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden. There were two important trees in the Garden – the Tree of Life that they were to eat freely from, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that they were NOT to eat from. “Knowledge of Good and Evil” sounds a lot like law in its goal of showing us how to be right before God by doing good and avoiding evil.  God told Adam in Genesis 2:15 that if he ate of the tree, he would surely die. God did NOT say that He would strike Adam down as punishment for his disobedience. He said that if he ate of that tree, death would come. Go back to the many times Paul equates life under the law to death. It is fruitless and does not produce righteousness.

For further evidence that this tree did represent life by law, we should look no further than what happened when they ate of it. The results were EXACTLY what happens when we live by law and fail (sin). Adam and Eve were ashamed, they covered themselves with fig leaves because they were suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, and they avoided God.  When you are not under grace, but law, when you sin you are ashamed and try to hide from God (as silly as that notion is). You will avoid Him until you feel you have paid for your sins and are once again worthy to be in His presence. Of course, our works never make us worthy, so we either never come back or we lie to ourselves by somehow thinking we’ve managed to produce righteousness.

Under grace, we feel guilty for our sins, but that grace draws us nearer to God for help in dealing with our sins, as opposed to separating  us from Him. Grace helps us understand that He loves us, and that love is unconditional. He doesn’t want you to struggle with sin.  He wants to help you overcome it. You can’t do it yourself!

 If we were to look at what I would call a timeline of law and grace, it would look something like this. At the fall, God placed a wall to keep man from continuing to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was an era of grace that lasted between Adam and Moses. This was the time that Abraham lived in. He could be considered righteous by only believing God.  Then when the Law came through Moses, that wall was removed. Man was freely eating of that law tree, and it was producing death. It continued to do so without restraint until Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the law, became a sacrifice for us and resurrected. This resurrected the wall that kept man from eating of that tree. We can still, by our own will, eat of it. We can reject the work Christ did and go back to eating of law.

Now, the exact opposite happened with that other tree. Man was kept from eating of the Tree of Life out of God’s mercy. Once man had the knowledge of law, sin and condemnation, it would have been brutal to live eternally. Cutting man off from that tree was not a punishment, but protection.   So, why did God put that tree in the Garden if He knew what it would produce? Why create it at all? Was God just playing some cruel game with His creation? This could be discussed in many volumes, but the very short answer is that He HAD to do what He did. Man could believe God at His Word – which is a demonstration that we love Him, or we could choose to disobey and NOT trust Him.  Love is not love unless there is a choice to not do so. Without the option of a choice to disobey, obedience is not genuine. How amazing is God’s grace and mercy, that even in our disobedience, He began to immediately make a way to overcome it.


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Be Like Abe Part 3

This week we continued our “Be Like Abe.”  We focused on the idea that accepting grace is what breaks the sin cycle.  2 Corinthians 3:6 emphasizes that law and sinful nature are one in the same, but the Spirit and grace work together in the same way.  Curse and failure comes in because of condemnation when we believe that good works are the reason for blessing, or lack thereof.

This week we began by looking at a couple of what I refer to as “yeah, but…” scriptures. These are verses that may seem to contradict what Paul has written in places like Romans, Galatians and Hebrews concerning grace and faith. Some call these other scriptures “balance” to the grace message. But grace does not need balance. Our interpretation may need clearer understanding, but it does not need to be balanced.  Additionally, God would not balance by contradicting Himself. The Word of God does not contradict itself. It is only our misunderstanding of it that causes supposed contradictions to appear.

In James 2:21-24, we read that being justified by faith, without works, is dead and useless. Does this contradict what Paul says about being justified by grace and faith alone? It does seem like it. Is this just one of those ways of “balancing” the grace message? No and no!  Again, scripture does not contradict itself. After the overwhelming evidence that Paul has presented in regard to righteousness by faith, we should look deeper into what James did and did not say in order to clear up the misunderstanding.

I agree with what James says about righteous works being important – but not at the place in the system that you may think.  In James 2:22, (in regard to Abraham) he says YOU SEE that his faith and his actions were working together. Verse 24 says that YOU SEE that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (emphasis added on the YOU SEEs).  In modern English we often begin a sentence by saying things like, “You see, I was at the grocery store…” But James did not write using a sort of slang or casual vernacular. He MEANS “you see”.   Can anyone SEE that you’re justified by faith alone?  No. They can’t see until your actions in life begin to reflect that you know you are righteous by faith alone.  They see you doing work not to become justified but because you ARE justified.    

Abraham was righteous in Genesis 15:6 when God says Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness, but WE SEE that righteousness in action in Genesis 22 when he is willing to obey God in sacrificing the promised child, Isaac.   Our works have nothing to do with our state of righteousness; however, no one else can see you are righteous until that righteousness inspires you to good works (and the good works I am talking about are not just keeping a list of religious rules). Doing that doesn’t make us stand out to the world. There is no supernatural occurrence when we don’t watch tv or go to movies.

True, grace-driven works are awesome. Abraham believed God and trusted God and was obedient to God out of his knowledge that God loved him and promised to bless him. So, when God asked for Isaac, Abraham had to know God had a plan, and, in case you are not familiar with the story, God did have a plan. God stopped Abraham from offering Isaac on the altar and replaced Isaac with a lamb (a picture of Christ).

That righteous work is still being talked about today. No one is talking about any of the Israelites who didn’t covet their neighbor’s donkey. Obeying the commandments is good, but it isn’t going to change the world. Actual acts that are bold and world-changing happen when we KNOW we are right before God, and that there is nothing hindering His power flowing through us!

When you truly know you are right before God, the works that you will do will be awesome. I dare say that the biggest reason we are not all doing such awesome works is that we don’t really know just how righteous God has made us by the blood of Jesus!  We do good works BECAUSE we are righteous, not in order to become righteous.

We also looked at Romans 4:4, which reflects law thinking.  Romans 4:5 reflects what Abraham did.  When we ask for something God has promised, we have to remember the answer is yes and then receive it as a gift.  We also looked at Galatians 5 as a reminder that the fruit of righteousness is through the Spirit and through Christ and not fruit of our own labor.

We also looked at two different kinds of righteousness. When the Lord took me to Genesis 18 and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in my study last week, I was initially wondering why. The first thing that occurred to me was how grace responds to sin. Abraham, who was right before God, plead with God to save as many people in Sodom and possible. If all he was concerned about was his nephew Lot, he would not have started by asking God to save 50 people.

 We contrast this with the story of Jonah, whom God sent in grace to warn the people of Nineveh to turn from their sinful ways. Even though his message was successful in changing the hearts of the people of Nineveh, Jonah still sat waiting for God to rain down fire on them for their sin. Law-mindedness is always looking for how to disqualify people from God’s favor. Grace is always hoping to qualify.

While studying that story in Genesis 18 another thought came to me. How would there be ANY who were righteous in Sodom? Abraham is the only one who was right before God. Hmm, I thought… maybe the Hebrew word for righteous in Genesis 18 was different than the one used elsewhere, and it was. The difference between them tells an amazing story.  The Hebrew word that was translated righteous in Genesis 18 (to describe some people in Sodom) was tsaddiyq (pronounced: sadeek,) and the word used in Genesis 15:6 to describe Abraham was tsedeqah (pronounced: sedaka).  In the Hebrew language, each letter contributes  to the overall meaning and/or context of the word.

The two differences between the Hebrew words tell the story. The third Hebrew letter in the word tsaddiyq is yud. Yud represents the work of man (and it is also the smallest word in the Hebrew language). In ancient Hebrew, its symbol was an outstretched arm, working. The word used to describe Abraham’s righteousness, tsedeqah, does not have a yud in it. Instead it has the letter hey at the end (all the rest of the letters are the same). Hey is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It represents the breath of God, and many agree it represents the idea of His grace, His very life being breathed into a imperfect human vessel.

 Now a picture of the Gospel comes into view. Abraham was pleading for the “good people” in Sodom. Those people who do really good things. But their works were not good enough. If not for the intercession of the one whose righteousness was by grace (to us: Jesus), they would have been destroyed along with the wicked of the world.  No amount of man’s works is enough apart from the intercession of THE righteous one. Hallelujah, we have that righteous one interceding for us!


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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Be Like Abe Part 2

This week, we continued the “Be Like Abe” series. We want to learn to be like Abraham, in that we are righteous only because we believe in God. Our own works and relying on law and rules for justification are dead and cursed, but life by faith in grace is blessed! (Galatians 3:9-10) 

Normal thinking (which should NOT be normal) is that the way to be blessed by God is through lots of obedience (and no disobedience), lots of prayer (loud and lengthy prayer), lots of fasting, and a whole lot of “do, do, do, do , do…”  Law living is a lot of do-do J  That same thinking says that if you are experiencing curse, it is because you sin openly or perhaps have some sort of hidden sin. That is how we explain the circumstance when someone who seems to be very faithful to God deals with the fruit of curse.  We believe it must be some sort of hidden sin.  But Jesus said in John 9, when the disciples asked if it was a man’s sin or his parents’ sin that caused him to be born blind, that it was not sin at all. The world is pretty messed up and terrible things happen – babies are born with defects and diseases.  This is not due to specific sin but the sinful nature of the world as a whole.  A note, the Greek language does not have punctuation….so if we add a period after the part about the sin not being from the man or his parents, then the meaning changes significantly and clears up a lot of misconceptions about this verse (of course this only holds because that change holds up against other scripture).

The enemy uses law thinking against us by convincing us to receive curses when we mess up, believing it is what is due us because of what we’ve done.  Many believers can agree that God wants blessing in their life, but they have that old, “normal” viewpoint on how to get it. The first thing to understand is that blessing is not stuff. Blessing CAN produce nice things in your life, but they are not the blessing.  They are merely fruit of living in blessing. Boiled down to its simplest form, blessing IS grace. You have a relationship with the God of this universe that you do not deserve and cannot earn. That is blessing! 

We are a vessel that God wants to pour His blessing into and see overflow into the lives of those around us, but law thinking sees our actions or inactions as the lever turning on and off the blessing faucet. We think sin turns off God’s blessing. So, when we know we’ve failed, we believe we are back under curse, and we accept curse “fruit” that comes our way.  

Sin DOES have a place in how and to what extent we experience blessing, but it is not at the faucet. Instead, sin or disobedience puts holes in our vessel. The grace of God ensures that the blessing continues to pour out, but if our vessel is full of holes, that blessing disappears, and we never experience it. We react by trying by our own actions to turn the faucet on – wasting time and energy doing something that has already been done.   

What we need to do is to get hold of grace and allow it to transform us – driving sin out at the heart level and sealing up the holes. When we do that, we become a finite vessel under an infinite faucet of blessing. Then, blessing overflows out of us and to those around us. Law living never even gets off the starting block because all of its energy goes to justifying self.  Romans 5:13 and forward emphasizes that we received salvation and thus God’s blessing is a gift.  A gift does not have strings attached and is something you can not and never could earn, but something you need to receive and open in order to actually benefit from.   

Picture yourself as a rose bush. If the whole plant becomes diseased, we will see ugly branches and leaves. We can continue to cut off all the ugly, dead parts, but the plant is still diseased – so the ugliness comes back. So, then, we could become even more aggressive with our trimming. But, guess what? The plant is still diseased and will continue to produce those ugly leaves and branches. That is the law / behavior modification approach.

 A more effective approach is the grace and life transformation approach. Grace heals the diseased plant at the root. It may still look a little ugly, but it is in fact far healthier than the diseased plant we keep trimming. Over time, the plant will become healthy and will thrive. We must have patience as grace does its work. If we (or law-minded people around us) become impatient, we will assume that grace does not work, it was just a license to sin, or that it needs a little law to really work.  Law gets immediate and visible results; however, those results are temporary, and the law work never ends. Grace changes hearts and lives and has everlasting results!


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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Be Like Abe, Part 1

This week, we started a slightly new series piggybacking on what we have been studying.  We are studying what it was that Abraham believed that made him right before God. That righteousness was the source of blessing in his life. 

In Galatians 3:9-10, Paul points out a contrasting viewpoint that believers can have that determines a life of blessing or a life under curse. Understand that, as a child of God we cannot BE cursed, but we can continue to live UNDER curse.  Paul says that those who live by faith will be blessed with Abraham, the father of faith. Then he goes on to say that those who rely upon observing the law are under a curse. He did not say that observing the law is a curse, but relying on its observance brings curses to us. What we rely on the law for is righteousness. That brings curse.  We are to rely on Jesus for righteousness.  I don’t even think Abraham “thought” he was righteous, but instead just relied on God and that that reliance was then “credited to him AS righteousness.”  We can’t un-see law, but we can look at ourselves differently and not define ourselves by law.  We have something Abraham doesn’t have.  We have the Holy Spirit to reveal truths to us and lead us.  The Holy Spirit can reveal more and more about grace to us in order that we can walk in God’s power more and more.  Notice also that God never rebukes Abraham for his mistake.  He just focuses on him receiving the promise later and how that happened.

Understanding this contrast helps us understand how we can be a believer but still live under curse. We may believe in God’s mercy. Mercy is what keeps us from getting what we deserve. His mercy pays the penalty for our sin. Our eternity is changed, praise God! We must also believe in His grace that empowers us to also get the blessing that we do NOT deserve.  In the blessing professed in Deuteronomy 28 we find that experiencing it is dependent on keeping the entire law – which cannot be done. So, we are disqualified from that very blessing. But then Jesus completed the law for us. If we are IN HIM, we are qualified for that blessing that we did not deserve.

As believers, we are supposed to be qualified to “boldly go before the throne of God.” We may, on the surface, believe we do, but, if there is any law thinking inside of us, we put ourselves back into our own righteousness that is NOT qualified to boldly go. We must know that we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, and in no way of our own, to be that bold.  Then we truly can boldly go.  If we are in HIS righteousness, it is as if it is Jesus before that throne. Then we make our requests known, based on the promises made in the Word, and it will be as if Jesus is making the request.  What rules are we relying on that may break our boldness in coming before God?  God’s promises are yes and amen to us because we come as Jesus and His righteousness and not in our own selves.

The word of faith movement in general has in the past put our faith in our faith, in our giving, in what we say or do, rather than in God and the righteousness of Christ.  All of this is like our train, but grace is the locomotive that makes it all move.  Otherwise, we are doing everything right, but it’s not coming to fruition.  Christ’s righteousness is what makes the promises available to us.  What is important is to completely remove our worthiness, or lack thereof, from the equation (instead of I did therefore I get, it is He did therefore I get). The enemy likes to remind you that you sin and fall short and to try to disqualify you from any of God’s promises, especially when we desperately need one. 

All of the curse that was part of justification by law was taken with Jesus to the cross. Galatians 3:13-14 talks about this. It quotes Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in stating that “cursed is every man who hangs on a tree.” Paul knows what this will mean to his audience, early believers in Galatia. That statement in Deuteronomy was referring to the fact that those who were hung on a tree were those guilty of the worst of the worst – murder. Making this statement says that Jesus paid the price for the very worst sin, and there is nothing you may have done that He has not paid a high enough price for.  This also says that God redeemed us so that we would have access to the promises and blessings given to Abraham, blessed because He believes in God and not because of what he does or does not do, like with Moses (thus the parallel list of curses for those who didn’t fully obey).    

The image becomes bigger when we realize the symbolism of the crown of thorns on His head when He hung on that tree. Thorns are a symbol of the curse. Thorns did not exist until after the fall of man. In Genesis 3:18, God tells Adam that the land will now be cursed and produce thorns and thistles. In Matthew 13, Jesus shows us that thorns and thistles are symbolic of the cares and worries of life. That was a major part of the curse that entered the earth at the fall.  In Hebrews 6:8 we find that law living causes our soil to produce thorns and thistles. Again, law living will produce cares and worry.

For this reason, even when Paul talks about the thorn in his side, I believe he is talking about sin, curse, and law. Many believe his thorn was a sickness, disease or ailment; however, God’s answer helps us understand a little bit about what the thorn could be. You see, God’s answer was that His grace was sufficient.  Grace is the answer to sin, law and curse.  The answer for sickness is healing, not grace.  Jesus never gives grace to those needing healing, so why would God do this here?  Paul was a Pharisee who lived his life, prior to meeting Jesus, not only by Mosaic law but by oral law and ordinances. He is the most profound teacher on grace we have ever seen, but I believe he still had to struggle to overcome law like any of us do. He also had to battle with other prominent believers who felt his teaching on grace was giving believers a license to sin (the same argument that gets used today), and that even Gentile believers should be required to keep some of the law. 

He asked God to remove this “thorn” and God said that His grace was sufficient. His grace is also sufficient for you to overcome sin and law as well. God doesn’t simply take away law mentality, though. We must renew our minds (Romans 12:2) with the Word on grace.  Finally, Jesus went to the cross with a crown of thorns on His head – literally hanging on the cross “under” the curse for us!

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No Condemnation Part 7


We finished our series this week, continuing to put on our “grace glasses” instead of “law glasses.”   We started in Hebrews 5, looking at how the writer puts Jesus as a priest (despite being from the line of Judah, not a line of priests) in the line of Melchizedek.  In verse 5, this verse suggests that these people are not acquainted with righteousness and are thus infants in the faith still.  If this was talking about our righteousness, is that a meaty teaching few understand (especially Hebrews steeped in law living)?  For them, it was an elementary teaching.  The advanced teaching He is speaking of is our understanding of grace.  We are programmed to live and judge others by law.  It takes tremendous time and study and meditation to change the way we think, speak and act.  We have to renew our minds to really grasp this.


This goes on to say that mature people by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  They have been trained by the law but as Titus suggests, taught by grace to say no to ungodliness.  They learn by the Spirit how to discern right and wrong.  He also mentions that elementary teachings include repentance from the acts that lead to death, faith in God, instructions about baptism, laying on of hands,  resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment (wow, those are supposed to by easy!). 

Let’s take these apart, starting with repentance from the acts that lead to death.  What are these acts?  Living by law leads to death.  Living for Jesus doesn’t mean we have to immediately stop sinning.  What we need to repent of is sinful acts and our tendency to live by law.  What about faith in God?  Verse 12 expands this further.  God was mad at the Israelites when they did not go into the Promised Land by faith.  Our faith is to be in God’s power and our access to God’s promises.   What about eternal judgment?  If we are in Christ, that judgment has already happened.  It is on Christ, and our sin has been paid for.  We are of course accountable to God for what we do, but that is a different issue.  What about “God permitting, we will do so…”???  Does that mean not everyone’s   meant to received it?  No, the “God willing” is with regard to who will teach it to those people.   The writer is hoping it will be them, God willing…..


Hebrews 6:4 is another difficult passage.  This is saying that if we continue now by law now that grace is available, there is no repentance by that means.  It means that if we taste grace and go back to law, we are subject to being condemned by our inability to reach reconciliation without the grace of Christ.  There is no salvation apart from Christ.  Jesus was crucified once, but if we reject His death and what it means by continuing to sin.  We disgrace Jesus by thinking it was not good enough to make us right before God.  Then it is as if we’re saying His death was not enough.  We don’t want to disgrace Jesus by minimizing what He did. 


Verse 7 talks about land that is blessed versus cursed.  “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it”—we are the land, and drink in the Word of God often.  Then we can produce a crop useful for the “farmer,” God.  The seed sown is Jesus.  So we need to be at church and also studying the Word personally in order to continue producing fruit.  We can’t just be around water, but also drink it in.  Drinking takes a willing acceptance of the input we receive.  If we continue to live by law, we are not receiving the seed of grace and thus don’t produce for God.  Notice that the land with thorns and thistles section does not say that God will curse us.  We bring curses on ourselves by living by law.  Thorns and thistles reminded me of the parable of the sower, where worry and deceitfulness of wealth choke out the seed of Jesus.  We actually produce these things in our life by living by law. 


Verse 12 indicates that living by faith and patience involves a lot of work.  Living by law is lazy (we follow certain rules given to us by others).  Living by grace takes hard work, and patience.  Look at the contrast in Abraham.  When he took the natural, easy way, it did not produce the blessing God promised.  But that is not remembered in the New Testament, only his faith, patience, and righteousness, for waiting and receiving the promise God’s way. His prior failure did not matter.  That sin no longer exists and wasn’t brought up again.  When Abraham waited patiently, He received the promise.  That is key for us.  We need to press into the righteousness we have in Christ, and let that create the fruit that will be useful to God.  If we continue to worry whether we are right before God, we will never get to doing things for God. 



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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

No Condemnation Part 6

Last Sunday, we continued the “No Condemnation” series. We finally got to the core of the connection between grace and faith – specifically grace’s part in experiencing answered prayer.  We began by looking at Matthew 6:33 – seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all those things will be added to you. The “things” are the things we are in need of – clothing, food, shelter. What we are being told is that we should be seeking His kingdom, or His way of doing things. His way of doing things is entirely connected to His righteousness.  The scripture is not saying to seek His kingdom and be righteous by not sinning. That would by YOUR righteousness. We have to seek after HIS righteousness. We will never accomplish truly great things in His kingdom in our own righteousness. We need an awareness and understanding of the fact that He made us righteous.

When we read this passage in its context (starting at verse 25), we find a common thread in Jesus’ analogies – birds and their food, and grass and lilies being clothed in splendor.  They do nothing to earn those things. They are simply God’s creation and are taken care of because He cares for His creation. Then, we are much more valuable to God than birds, grass or flowers.  So, then why doesn’t God seem to do a better job of caring for us? The key is there in verse 33. We must operate in His righteousness to be operating in the kingdom where He is king. He is not the ruler of our self-righteous kingdom and its “ways of doing things.”

We spent some time in Romans 14, looking at Paul’s admonitions regarding judging our brothers and sisters in the Lord over “disputable matters.” The reality is that everything outside of God the Father’s existence, and Jesus, His Son, being the only way to the Father, is a disputable matter. We may feel very strongly about our religious beliefs, and Paul’s point is that we should worship and act in ways that are important to us and as we are convicted to do. This means we are to seek God and do what is in our heart by the Spirit to do, but we also don’t judge others based on what God told us to do.  That’s the short summary of Romans 14.  What I want to zero in on is verse 23. It warns us not to condemn ourselves in our hearts by what we do.  We also aren’t to set up rules for ourselves that will then condemn us when we can’t follow them.  If you create a rule, and you believe that breaking that rule condemns you, it will. God does not condemn you. It says that you condemn yourself. That word condemn, in Greek, is krinos.

Then, in Mark 11:23, the famous “mountain-moving faith” verse, we find Jesus making a very bold and often misunderstood statement. First, context is important to understanding. Jesus had just entered Jerusalem during passion week. He had cursed a fig tree.  The fig represented condemnation. The fig leaf is the item Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves with when, after they sinned, they felt naked and condemned.  Then Jesus makes this statement. When He says that anyone who says to THIS mountain… the THIS mountain is the Mount of Olives. This is the place where, just a few days later, He will be sweating great drops of blood as he takes upon Himself the condemnation of man’s sin so that it can be taken to the cross. 

There is even more to His reference than that. In Hebrew, the name Jerusalem is a compound word – Jeru, meaning way of, and Salem, which is a form of Shalom or peace (health, wealth, peace and highly favored). The Mount of Olives separated Jerusalem from another town, Bethany. In Hebrew, Bethany means house of affliction or house of poverty.  So, the Mount of Olives, figuratively speaking, separated the house of poverty and affliction from the way of peace. But the picture gets bigger. When Jesus says we should not doubt in our hearts, the Greek word for doubt was diakrinos.  Remember krinos meant condemnation. Dia is a prefix that means “by way of.” So, Jesus is actually saying we need to speak to the mountain of condemnation that is separating us from peace and have not the way of condemnation in our hearts. This was also true physically.  On the Sabbath, there was a law at the time that said you were only allowed to move within your own city or it would be considered work.  The only day this changed, was Passover, the day Jesus made this statement.  On Passover, the boundaries of Jerusalem expanded so that people from Bethany could actually go there on the Sabbath.  The way of condemnation cannot go boldly before God’s throne, except through the cross of Christ. Only a heart that believes it truly is righteous can boldly go before God. When we boldly go before Him, we ask, knowing it is His power that will move the mountain and not ours.  It seems then that the most important mountain to be moved for us is condemnation. When we get it out of the way and truly live as the righteousness of God, His power is going to flow through us and empower us to accomplish God’s great work!

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