Transformation, Not Condemnation
I believe with all my heart that the Church today needs a word to make us realize that God is God!. We have not realized in the Church the depths of what Jesus said from the cross: "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they are doing." Many of God's people suffer continually under condemnation for things in their lives over which they can't seem to reach victory. These things have to be transformed by the infiltration of the Spirit of God into our soul-life. We all have God in us, but what we need is for Him to grow in us and to transform us into His image and likeness. We need never be condemned for the condition of our natural life; we just need to keep hungering after God and seeking Him until He comes fully alive within us. This will take care of our faults. We also need to realize that this is a process that takes time as Jesus, who is the author and the finisher of our faith, works in us to bring us fully into His plan and purpose.
Religion, by contrast, tells us that when we come to God, we know what we should do, that we must do only those things we know we should do, and that this then allows God to be able to bless us so that we can grow spiritually. But oh, I am telling you, we are so ignorant, and we are so out of the way, because we do not understand that today, as surely as God is upon the throne, He is saying, "Not guilty." You are not guilty. God would never bring you before Himself and remind you of your sin. I am sure you are familiar with verses that say such things as, "As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed the transgressions of My people. Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 8:12). Thank God that His people are beginning to get the message that they are not guilty! You are not guilty. You do not need condemnation; you need transformation.
Lets look again at Ephesians 4:17-18. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
I can assure you that we all fall somewhat into this category. If the Church were not blinded and alienated from the life of God received at the new birth, there is no way that the Church which we see with our physical eyes could be in its present condition. It is in that condition because for two thousand years the results of the work God accomplished at the cross have not been understood!
I have made the statement that there are men and women all over the earth today who are about to be loosed upon the Church. For the most part, they are men and women who have been totally outside of the system of today's so-called Christianity and are therefore unknown to many of Gods people. But, thank God, the Church is beginning to open to them. If we are honest, we have to look at the situation today and say of the two thousand years of Gospel preaching, "What has it produced? Not a whole lot!" Yes, people are saved and people are blessed, but God's full purpose has never been fulfilled by the institutional church. Gods purpose is to fill the Church with Himself and to build us up together into a habitation of God. "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:21-22).
One of the saints whom God has raised up to reveal His purpose for the Church is J. Preston Eby. He is one of those lights shining in the darkness. (Write to him; he will put you on his mailing list, and he does not charge for his materials. You will find his address in the back of this booklet.) I feel that every one of God's seekers needs to hear what this man is saying to the Church. The following is an excerpt from one of his recent monthly newsletters.
I tell you, God has men and women all over the earth with the message for the Church. Will you open to them? Because they are not religious, they will not condemn you, but they will minister life to you and cause you to grow up into Him. I am thankful that many of God's people are willing to listen to a message that will set them free, because to be set free, it takes the Spirit and the light and the word of God to break loose our mindset from religious tradition. And I know that every one of us likes to think that we are not religious. Almost every pastor I know who has a church says, "My church is not religious." Yet in every church I enter, without exception, I hear the sounds of bondage and religion.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
How many times have we heard that passage preached as a call to consecration and dedication -- preached in the messages across America on holiness and right living? And if we have the religious mindset, we'll hear this or read this and we'll say, "Oh my, yes! Lord, I present my body to You," but then we will have brought up into our consciousness all those things in our life that we know should not be there. And after all, this word does say, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy . . ." I used to say, "Oh God! I would love to do that." Oh how I would have loved to be able to go before God and say, "Father, I present my body to you, holy, unblemished and undefiled." I wanted so desperately to know the reality of the Scriptures. I wanted to be able to experience the heart-throb of God! Yet every time I would go into the Lord's presence, the light of God would begin to expose me, I would see all of those things in my life that should not be there and I would fall under guilt and condemnation.
You see, most of us havent been taught about these things. We haven't been warned that there is no way that you can enter into the presence of God and not have the light of God expose you! If you move into the presence of God and you don't feel your weakness, if you don't sense your inabilities, if you're not aware of the sin and the habits in your life, then you haven't entered into His presence. But just because the light of God exposes all those things it doesn't mean that we should fall into condemnation. The light of God does what it is supposed to do; it exposes all the hidden areas of your heart. You'll begin to see things in your life that even you did not know were there. But it is not for condemnation; it is for transformation. God will never condemn you. He has paid the penalty for every transgression and disobedience.
We need to spend time in God's presence to have Him reveal His heart to us. He said from the cross, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they are doing." They had just nailed Him to the cross! He was bleeding, He was dying, and He said, "Father, forgive them!" Could He possibly have asked anything in that moment which would not have been granted to Him? The very men who pierced His side and hung Him on a cross will one day bow the knee before the throne of God, and they will give glory to God. They put Him on a cross, but because they did that, the price for their redemption and ours was paid. Even though they did the most criminal act in the universe, they acted under the plan of an awesome, almighty, all-knowing God, who works all things after the counsel of His own will. And that is why He could say, "Father, forgive them; they don't know."
And oh Christian, I can tell you that you don't know, either. If you have sin in your life, if you have habits that you haven't overcome, and you fall under condemnation, you don't know the depths of Gods love! But how you need to know. And because of the condition of the system calling itself Christianity, there is not much forgiveness in the Church either, unless you have a strong will and a strong character which is able to put down those things in your life that shouldnt be there. Christianity as we know it today is only "the survival of the fittest". Those who are out of the way, those who have habits and things in their lives which they cannot overcome are not even welcome in many churches.
My brother Ron wrote a few weeks ago, and he reminded me of something. We have an organization today in the United States called "Alcoholics Anonymous", but the Church frowns upon it because they talk about "a Higher Power". For the benefit of those of you who know nothing about Alcoholics Anonymous, I am going to give you a little information.
First of all, it is absolutely impossible to be expelled from Alcoholics Anonymous if you have a heart that wants to quit drinking. They request that you have one desire in your heart, only one -- that you want to quit drinking. Now they don't require that you do that, they only require that you have the desire. And if you have the desire to quit drinking, you are welcome at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings anywhere in the world, and when you walk in they won't ask you what Chapter or group you are from; you will just be welcomed. And if you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and you come to a meeting after drinking, they will not throw you out. It is absolutely impossible to be expelled from Alcoholics Anonymous, if you have a desire to overcome. They have meetings several times a day, and their success rate is tremendous. You put their success rate up against the success rate in the church world, and they outshine it considerably.
We Christians do not understand that we inherited a sinful nature. We are taught it, but then we are condemned for acting like it. Those of us who have been regenerated do have a new nature. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:22-23, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." We are regenerated in our inner man, but that life in us must grow until it overcomes the law of sin and death. We have never been exposed to the truth that to stop sinning is a matter of growth and transformation. You can will to do what is right all you want, and you should, but until the Spirit of God grows up in you, you will continue to fall into sin.
Paul also says in Romans 7:18-20, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." The flesh is the carnal man. As long as we are living out from our carnal man we will always be brought into captivity to sin and death. Overcoming sin is not a matter of exercising our natural will. We must hunger and thirst after God. We must spend time in His presence every day so that His life may flow into our soul life and transform every area. Paul says here very plainly that if you are sinning, and you have a desire to please God, then it is not you that sins (not your new nature) but the sin principle that is still operating in your carnal man. The natural man will never improve: he must be put to death by your learning how to live in the Spirit. There are no "How to" books when it comes to living in the Spirit. You must spend time in the presence of God to be enabled to live according to His life.
I know I am treading on some dangerous ground here, but we think that homosexuals are homosexual because they chose that lifestyle. Or we think that a prostitute is a prostitute because of choosing that lifestyle. But when we were born, when we were brought into the world, every one of us inherited a nature from Adam. Adam sold you into sin and death! And it took me years to find this out. I used to go before God, and I would say almost continually, "God, I didn't ask to be born this way! God, I am just so eaten up with this stuff! I didn't ask to have the lusts of the flesh. Why?" I prayed every day. I would get up early every morning, and I would go out and seek God, and sometimes I would cry and say, "God, it's not fair!" I'd see Christians in church all around me, and they seemed to be so happy, and they seemed to be so free. (What little did I know!) But a lot of you can identify with this: If you are born on that side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that has a nature tending to do evil, and you want to be a Christian, the so-called "Christian" community will kill you. You don't have a chance as things stand today. But our churches are going to become hospitals.
There is absolutely no hope for you outside of finding the reality of Christ within you. You can love God and still be a failure at living the Christian life. Let me tell you something: One of the most miserable conditions you can ever be in (and many of you, again, can identify with this) is to have the love of God in your heart, yet basically you experience Romans 7:22-23, "I delight in the Law of God, but there is another law in my members bringing me into captivity to sin and death." I tell you, that when I met God in l969, oh, I delighted in Him! And I had no knowledge of what I should and shouldn't do, I just delighted in God. And for a time after I was saved, in the evenings I used to open my Bible, and I would just read and cry -- and I would have a cigarette in my hand! I did that until someone told me, "You can't do that and be in God's presence. You are being deceived. You are getting a false spirit, a false sense of peace; you cannot enter into the presence of God with a cigarette. You can't do it."
What a terrible thing, to tell someone they cant get to God unless they clean up their life! We were born with a nature that is both good and evil. That is why Jesus went to the cross. We are ignorant and out of the way. We don't understand. We don't know why we act as we do. I didn't know why I acted the way I did. I wanted God, but I wanted what I wanted. I couldn't help it.
Have you ever been addicted to something, but, no matter how hard you tried, you experienced Romans 7: "I find another law in my members that brings me into captivity to the law of sin and death"? If someone has that natural characteristic in them which loves the things they shouldnt, they cannot be a member in good standing in many churches that I know today. But if they are on the "good" side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then they are accepted. We really don't understand that what has been raised up out there calling itself "the Church" is absolutely antichrist. I'm not talking about people; I'm talking about the system, and the way that system has been set up is antichrist. A homosexual cannot be a member of such a church, a prostitute cannot be a member of such a church -- unless they change and clean their lives up. Someone might say, "Brother, don't you know that Paul said that you shouldn't even eat with someone who is in adultery?" Well, there is one thing I know in these days: I know the heart of God. I know what people need is not condemnation, I know what they need is not adjustment, I know what they need is not laws and regulations. What they need is to understand the love and the heart of God, because at Calvary the debt for sin was paid. God's people have been in bondage too long, thinking that there is something wrong with them, thinking that they don't really want God or they would be able to quit this habit or that habit. It just goes on and on and on.
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice and holy." In God's eyes, every one of you is most holy! How can we say that? We can say it because "Your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more." And, "As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed the transgression of my people." And you say, "But, . . . but I'm still sinning, and Im still doing things I shouldnt!" It doesn't matter, because when you understand God's concept of sin and His concept of Calvary, it will free you up from the guilt of just simply being who you are, and will then allow you the access into His presence which will bring to you transformation. I have been speaking this for years -- if the Spirit of the living God is never formed in you, so that He begins to grow up in you and be expressed in you, you will never change inwardly! And if you only change outwardly, it doesn't help you anyway, because outward conduct and outward change do not produce anything but a better outward person. But what God needs is for His people to understand that because they are the way they are, because they inherited that nature from Adam, they need to feel no shame, no guilt, and no condemnation. I inherited all of those things that I was in the natural from my father Adam.
There are a number of physical weaknesses in the human race which can be inherited, yet if somebody develops a disease, we don't condemn them, do we? Of course we don't. And I tell you, sin is a disease, and you can't help it. Can I help it if an illness develops in my body? (I'm speaking here in natural terms.) Can I help it, and am I condemned for it? When I go to pray, am I reminded of this disease and do I say, "Oh my God, I shouldn't have this!" and then fall under condemnation? But that is what we do with sin, not realizing that it is just the natural man. "I delight in the law of God, but I find another law at work in my members bringing me into captivity to the law of sin and death." And you say, "But Brother, do we always have to live there?" No. Transformation is the only thing that will cure the sin disease in your body. It is the only thing.
You can pray all day, you can read the Bible all day, you can do anything you want to do, and if it is simply done in the natural, if there is no contact with the living, energizing Spirit of God, there will be no transformation. Do you remember that years ago, before Jesus came, there were priests in the temple praying 24 hours a day for the Messiah to come? Yet when He walked among them, they didn't recognize Him. Prayer doesn't always help you. There is only one hope for you, and that is that you have a heart for God. That is the only thing that is going to help you. And if you don't have a heart for God, it is very easy to obtain. If you get around people who love God, you will just find yourself having a heart for God. (We need to learn the power of transference. Many of us who have been in the deliverance ministry have been taught in the past about the "transference of spirits". Well, let me tell you something: we need to learn about the transference of the Holy Spirit!)
When we begin to grow up into God, and transformation begins to take place as the Spirit of God begins to flow into all areas of our lives and bring transformation, it becomes very easy to live godly. It becomes very easy to believe God. Why? Well, Paul tells you, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." The good, the acceptable and the perfect will of God. We take a verse like that, and we can break it down and preach doctrines forever on it. But the key is to have a renewed mind to see that at the cross, because of the sacrifice, you were made a holy person. God would never look upon sin, and He need not, because He took the sins of humanity to the cross and into death, and they are no longer there.
Many people say, "That sounds like Christian Science. Are you saying there is no sin?" I am saying that God took it away, but merely seeing that there is no sin won't really help you. What will help you is simply to realize that you need God. And if you realize that your sin does not keep you and separate you from getting to God for the help that you need, that is "Christian sense", not Christian Science. In God's eyes there is no sin, and there is coming a day when we are going to realize that and begin to walk in it -- and then there won't be sin for us either. It was dealt with. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (the Greek word is metamorphoo, which means an actual transformation; it's the same word that we would use for a caterpillar that is transformed into a butterfly). Right now we might look pretty ugly, but there is a work going on. I can look back now, and I can actually thank God for those things in my life that caused me to seek Him. I don't care how bad the sin was; I don't care how deep the lust, or whatever it was that was in my life; those things were used by God to drive me to Him. There are multitudes of Christians on the scrap heap because they have never understood that they don't have to be any certain kind of person to get to God.
Let's look at 2 Corinthians 3, beginning at verse 2: "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart."
Now let's go on to verse 6: "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." I have heard many, many messages on that verse, yet some of the very pastors who spoke that verse could not help me when I went to them for help for my condition. "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter." Listen. He said, "able ministers of the new testament." Most of Gods servants today would say, "Oh, I don't minister by the letter." If we would just stop and think sometimes what is meant by these words, we would see that whenever you are ministering by the letter of the word you are ministering by the law.
I heard a message on "giving" a couple of weeks ago, and it was one of the best messages that I have ever heard. It was given by Dave Davis. He was ministering not the letter, but the spirit. He said that when it comes to giving in the New Testament, it's not a matter of trying to figure out whether I should tithe or whether I shouldn't tithe, it's a matter of hearing God! What is God saying to you?
For years, my wife and I have not followed a set rule or principle of tithing. God told me many years ago, "Don't try to walk in the spirit by the letter of the law, because the minute you try to put laws upon the people, the very thing that you're trying to get them to do, they will not do." They won't do it, and that is natural, because with the knowledge of the Law comes the bondage to keep you from performing the Law (Romans 7). But religion has made it sound so nice: "Our tithing is a part of our worship," and oh, I know that! It's a shame that pastors even have to talk and teach about tithing; it's a shame! Why can't we teach people, "I hear God and you can hear God also." And what is He saying to you? Is He saying to you to tithe? Then by all means tithe.
My wife and I, if I may use us for an example again, have given away our rent money. We have given away our cars. At times, we have given way beyond the tithe. But if you put people under the law, some of them are going to fulfill the law. They are going to pay their tithe and then think that everything else they have is theirs to do with as they want. Not so! You need to do what He says. "For God has made us able ministers of the New Covenant -- not of the letter." Pastor, you should not be teaching people how to tithe; you should be teaching people how to enter into the presence of the Living God. You should be telling people, "Don't come to me and ask what you should do. Don't come to me and ask if you should tithe; come to me and let us worship together. Come to me and let me help you enter into the presence where He is, and then do what He says."
I walk into churches and hear forty-five minutes of teaching on giving, sometimes in every service. Then, when I ask the pastor, "Why are you doing that?" he will say, "Well, the people just aren't giving; they need to be taught how to give." Let me tell you something, pastors: If you are pastoring a church and your people aren't giving, the problem is not your people. Hear me! We pastored at Fall Creek, Oregon, for three-and-a-half years, and I never asked people for money. I was still in the church system at that time, and I still went by some of the rules of the system, because I was still a lot more ignorant than I am today. But you know, I've always had that heart to give. And God sat me down for about four years recently, and I didn't minister anywhere to anyone, except on an individual basis, and He said when He released me to minister, "Always remember: I gave My very best. Therefore when you go into a church, when you go into a home, wherever you go, go to give. Try to give even more than you can receive."
God does have leadership on the earth today who will give. People tell me all the time, "Brother, it costs you money to make those tapes; and besides, if you would sell them, it would enable you to have the finances to fulfill God's will in your life." And I say, "Read Revelation, chapters 17 & 18, please," because the principles of Babylon, the principles of the world, the principles of our so-called Christianity are those of buying and selling, and the principles of the Kingdom are giving and receiving. I never tell anyone, "I won't receive from you." If you want to write me a check for a million dollars, I'll say, "Thank you, brother!" and I'll cry, and I'll thank God. But if you try to buy something from me, I won't sell it to you. It's not according to the principles of the Kingdom. Hear me, Church! Our churches have to be brought into Kingdom awareness and Kingdom living. If our churches were giving churches, rather than taking churches, we would fill them! We couldn't hold all the people! God gave His very best. So, Pastor, if your people aren't giving, don't blame the people.
If God wants to shut me down, all He has to do is to pull my finances away from me, and I can't minister, because I don't have anything to sell, I don't have any way to support my ministry outside of working physically. (We do that, but it's not enough to support a ministry. The most my wife and I can do together is to put about $200 a month into our ministry account to go toward producing the books and the tapes, but that is almost nothing.) So if I get crossways with God and He wants to shut me down, He can just pull the finances, and I can't minister. I would challenge every pastor and every minister: Let God do that in your life!
One of the key things that God needs to reveal to us is that the benefits of Calvary are ours regardless of our condition. I cannot emphasize this enough! If you are a prostitute, a homosexual, if you are full of lust, envy, pride, jealousy -- whatever it is, all you need is to learn how to touch God. But yet, because of our Christian teaching, we have thought that to be impossible. We can't be homosexual and touch God! We can't be full of lust; we can't commit adultery and touch God! But the truth is, if you are an adulterer or you are a homosexual, and you never touch God, you will never change!
It sometimes takes years for transformation to take place in our lives. The Apostle Paul says, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:6). The word "renewed" is anakainoo (Strong's 341: to cause to grow up, new, to make new). Thayer's says this means that:
This renewing is a process, not an instant change. No matter how carnal you think you are, if you will keep hungering after God, you will be renewed day by day. Everything in life takes time. First you have a seed, then a small blade, and eventually a full ear of corn. We are the seed of God. His seed is growing in the midst of our carnality, and eventually that seed of His life will grow and consume everything in us that is not of God. This is a work of grace, not a matter of self effort or natural willing. "It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy" (Romans 9:16).
As mentioned earlier, we have inherited habit patterns from our forefathers. The sins of the forefathers are visited upon the children for generations, and it's not a spiritual thing, it's a natural thing. Those things have to be transformed. (Grant you, in some cases it can be a spirit and be cast out, and you can be set free.) But in most of the cases, it is habit patterns which have developed, sometimes for generations, that you inherit. That's why I was full of lust; I inherited it just like a disease. And you know, we cannot receive anything from God except through the eyes of faith. If you are under condemnation and guilt, it's impossible for you to receive from God, because you feel that you deserve what you have. And again, nominal Christianity will teach you, "You deserve what you have -- look at what you are doing! You call yourself a Christian, and you are out there drinking and smoking and going to movies and doing all of those things." But you need transformation, not condemnation.
One of the first things that will help you is to have the revelation that God and man are one. And I want to explain to you just a little bit about what I mean when I say this, because I have been getting letters recently from people (and these people are not critical; they are people who love me and haven't known me very long, but who have come to love the ministry that I have). They tell me things like this: "You should never say God and man are one, because the New Age people and the New Age movement, and this one-world religious thing that is going on out there are saying some of the same things that you are saying. So therefore, if you use this terminology, you have to be careful, because it's New Age." But if New Age people are proclaiming the truth, if a Buddhist monk is speaking some truth, then do I not speak that truth because somebody will think that I am a monk, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a New Ager? I have to speak it, because it is true! God and man are one. This is all through the Scripture, but lets look at just a few verses (these are all very familiar verses, but again, we have not had revelation on just basic, Scriptural, practical things).
In John 15:5, Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Picture that in your mind. Look at a vine that has branches. Are the branches and the vine two separate entities? I don't think so; they are one. Now that does not make the branch the vine, but it is a part of it, and the same life flows through both the vine and the branches. That is why I say over and over again that I believe with all my heart that I and my Father are one. But I am not my Father. I'm not God! However, I inherited God traits from my Father, just as I inherited natural traits from my natural father, and I am a human because I have a human life. If indeed Jesus lives in me -- and as the Apostle Peter and others have told us in the New Testament, the Divine life and nature of God are in me -- then how could I not be one with God?
The problem is that we identify with the human side, because we are in that fallen, darkened state, having our eyes darkened, being alienated from the life of God that is in us. That is the only problem. Jesus said we must be born again, because there is a natural birth and there is a spiritual birth. And as the natural birth is earthy, the tendency of that natural birth is to always be dragging you downward back into the earth. But he that is born of the Spirit is spirit, which means that that part of you which is regenerated and born again is the spirit in you, and the spirit is always ascending and rising above. This is where the conflict comes in! The natural human life is always drawing down toward the earth, trying to pull you down, but your spirit is always wanting to ascend.
Another thing we haven't understood is that when you are born again you are as a little baby. I don't care if you are a hundred years old when you are born again, it is a spiritual birth just like a natural birth. But we take spiritual babies and we try to make them act like Father God! And they are just babies. Babies need only a few things: They need to be fed and properly taken care of. You cannot teach a baby about tithing, but you can feed him, and if you feed him properly, if you nourish your children properly, they may never understand the principle of tithing, but they will be givers -- oh they will be givers!
"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are" (John 17:11). How are Jesus and the Father one? The Apostle Paul tells us that the fullness of the triune God, the fullness of everything that God is, dwelt in a bodily form in the Man Jesus. Then Jesus has the audacity to pray, "Father, just as we are one, they are one." You see, if you have this revelation, your problems are over, but the biggest tool of the enemy today in Christian circles is fear; because, brethren, in the last days there are seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. If you are in that church system today and you are entrenched in that system, you have been seduced -- terribly seduced -- and you don't even know it. The deception and seducing came in even before the Apostles died.
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee [Note that it is the same way!] that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:20-21). Now we can't believe these words, because we look with our eyes at what's out there in the system of Christianity. There is no oneness! You may say, "Brother, I'm not in darkness," but are you a Baptist, and are you entrenched in the Baptist tradition? Are you a Lutheran, entrenched in the Lutheran tradition? Are you a Pentecostal, entrenched in that religious tradition? Then you are in darkness! Pentecost is over, and people don't even know it. What is being produced out there by that name for the most part is a sham. "Prophets" are coming through and revealing to almost everyone in the church things about their lives, and because the people are in darkness, they don't realize that this is a natural capability. For anyone who becomes spiritual, discernment is a natural thing. You can't be in my presence very long before I can discern you. But for me to take the discernment that I have of you and prophesy it back to you is not right. (I could say it a lot more harshly, but I won't.) I would love to have a whole room full of these "prophets" sometime, and I would like to ask them, "What would you do if God took that gift away from you? If you went into a church and you had nothing to offer anybody but the word of the Lord, how would you fare?" Now I realize that there are many prophets in the land, and that there are some who have maturity and some really do have a word from the Lord. But for the most part, it's a sham.
And we have heard another thing, which sounds so humble. I was taught as a young Christian, "Brother, be careful, be careful. Don't you ever touch the glory of the Lord. Don't you touch that." And one day I read, "The glory which you gave Me, I have given to them, that they may be one" (John 17:22). What is the glory? Most people don't know what it is. The glory of God is the expression of God. Wherever God is expressed, there is His glory. He said, "I have given to them My glory," and the same Spirit that was in the Lord Jesus is now in you and me! But we don't know it. Oh, we are taught it, but we don't know it. Our preachers wouldn't even want us really to understand it, because if we did, most of them would be out of a job! Do you know what my job is as a minister? If I am a leader, my main function should be to teach you and raise you up in your awareness and abilities of God so that you no longer need my services, and I can go do it elsewhere Where are the anointed men and women of God who are able to minister not by the letter but by the Spirit of the Living God, to write upon your heart and cause you to rise up and minister to one another? Most of Gods people have never had a proper vision of the Church. All we have seen is this in Revelation 17 (go read it, please): Mystery, Babylon the great, the Mother of harlots! And you say, "But Brother, there are precious, precious saints out there!" Yes, there are, and it says in Revelation 17 that Mystery, Babylon, that Mother of harlots, is decked with gold and silver and precious stones, which simply means that those are the characteristics of God. Gold is the Divine life and nature; silver is the redemption; precious stones means the transforming power of God. Yes, there are precious saints out there, but they have never had anyone to bring them out of the darkness and bring them into full liberty and liberation in the power of the Spirit. We haven't had many men in this age and generation to raise up the saints of God to minister to one another.
There is no condemnation in what I say here, but if you have been going to the same church for twenty years, ten years, five years, and you are still sitting in the chair listening to the same man preach, you are in darkness! And I don't care how much light that man has, because if we are able ministers, not by the letter but by the spirit, people cannot stay the same. Some of these big ministries have had the same people sitting in the pews for years listening to the same man teach the same message. If a man or woman is ministering by the Spirit they will be bringing fresh manna. A word of the Lord ministered by the Spirit will enter into your heart, and if you are hungry for God, it will nourish you and build you up. If, on the other hand, all you are receiving is head knowledge, you will think you are progressing, but your life will not change. Paul said to the Corinthians, "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart" (2 Corin. 3:3).
When we ministered to the Church in Fall Creek, I used to tell people, "I don't care what your problem is; please come and be a part. Sit down and watch your life change. And if your life doesn't change, I will never condemn you. I will never come to you and say you cannot be a homosexual, but you know what I will do? I will minister to you; I will pray for you; I will cry with you, and you will be delivered. You will be transformed by the Spirit of the Living God!"
Something good is coming. God has men and women all over this earth waiting to bring God's people the message. Bill and Elaine Cook are one couple. Larry and Betty Hodges are another couple. They are all over, and they have been counted unworthy by the Church. They have the riches, the mysteries of the Gospel to unveil, but it is absolutely anti-system. We are for people. We desperately say, "Oh God! Bring Your people out of bondage! God, bring your people out of darkness." It's not the people; it's that thing that they are caught in. And even most of the pastors have a good heart. They don't know; they are in darkness, too.
Another concept keeps cropping up out there, the concept the church world has that God is again going to raise up the Apostolic Church. Men are setting themselves up in authority, saying, "You'd better be wary, saints, because the days of Ananias and Saphira are coming back!" They want you to fear their authority. It is an absolute disgrace to the Kingdom of God for a man to exercise authority over you as a believer. One who has true spiritual authority would never exercise that authority over another believer. "The anointing which you have received abides in you. And you don't need any man to teach you, but that same anointing will teach you of all things" (1 John 2:27). That's the truth. Even if every word that I'm speaking to you is truth, you won't hear it unless you hear Him speak to you! You have to realize that within you is the anointing, within you is the moving, within you is the resurrected Spirit of the Living God, and He will speak to you! It doesn't matter what your condition in life is, whether you are a king or a prostitute, God will speak to you, and in His speaking is the transforming power to change you into a son or a daughter of God.
"Oh foolish Christians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth crucified among you" (Galatians 3:1). Paul is saying, "Don't you realize that Jesus Christ has been set forth crucified among you? Don't you realize that there is absolutely nothing that you need to do?" Now someone may say, "Well, Brother, I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified." My reply would be, "Yes, but along with that you bring all your rules and regulations, and your shoulds and your shouldn'ts. Jesus Christ crucified is the end of the message! There is not one thing that you can add to that to make it any better; that's the end of the message." Jesus Christ crucified, buried and resurrected, that is the Gospel, and that is what will change you and bring you life.
"This only would I learn of you: did you receive the spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:2-3). Have you suffered so many things? Have you suffered for so long in this bondage? Has it all been in vain? "He that ministers to you the spirit and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the Law or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:4). Listen. If I had to minister to you because of meeting the standard of the law, I wouldn't have a chance! If the qualification to minister is to be one who is fully transformed and in the likeness of God, I fail miserably. That is not it. It is because I have seen something of God, and because I have seen something of God, I have had that contact with the Spirit of the Living God that has energized me and brought some transformation in my life. That's what qualifies me to minister! It's not the result of going to a Bible school. William Law said many years ago that Christianity runs the Bible schools, thinking that they can put off Adam and put on Christ. That's not what happens in a Bible school. You go into a Bible school full of the Spirit of God, and you'll come out systematized. You'll be taught how to teach people to do everything but contact God, because the teachers don't know how to do that themselves. You will know how to do everything just as you should do it, but you won't know how to contact God in reality and in spirit. (Again, I have made a blanket statement; I am sure there are schools of the Spirit that are wonderful.)
"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse [Hear that! As many as are under the works of the law are under the curse.], for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continues not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law" (Galatians 3:7-11). You see, Christian, if you can quit smoking, if you can quit all your lust, if you can quit doing everything that you think you shouldn't be doing, you will be no better off, if you don't have the substance and the reality of God formed in your life. "The Law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them" (Gal. 3:12).
Notice this: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Galatians 3:13). I'm sure all of you could tell me what the curse of the law was. Basically, it was poverty, sickness, and death. Now why did the curse of the law come on you? How did you come under the curse of the law in the first place? By not walking according to the law! Because the law says that if you do all this, you will be blessed, but if you fail to do this or that, you will be cursed. The law was the best thing that God could bring to man at the time, because Jesus had not yet come and the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Man had to have a guide in his natural life to show him the difference between godliness and ungodliness. It was a spiritual law, but we are natural, sold into sin by Adam. The Law was to bring in the awareness of sin, not to condemn you, but to make you realize that it is impossible to keep the law. It says in Deuteronomy 28:15 that if you don't keep the whole law, if you don't keep all the words of this covenant, all of these curses will come upon you -- all of the plagues, all of the poverty, all of the diseases, all of the sicknesses will come upon you.
Then Paul says in the New Testament, "Brothers and Sisters, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law." Well what does that mean? That means that if I break the law because I am ignorant, I don't suffer the curse, because HHe redeemed me from it. He said, "Your sins, your iniquities will I remove. I won't even remember them." You can say, "Wait a minute. You are not ignorant if you are saved." Oh yes you are! Let me tell you something: If you are not somewhat in ignorance, if you are not in some blindness, you will not be living a life according to the flesh, and you will not have these habits and hang-ups in your life. If they are there, it is because you are in ignorance. Ignorance just means you don't know. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.
You say, "Brother, you are teaching a liberation Gospel." And I say, Hallelujah! Why are things like "Christ has redeemed you from the curse" in the Word? If we were walking perfectly according to the law, we wouldn't have to worry about the curse anyway. Paul says He has redeemed you from that curse, because if there are things in your life that shouldn't be there, if you have problems and hang-ups and lusts, whatever you are struggling with, Christ has redeemed you from receiving the curse of the law. Such are the people that need it, not the righteous. (I have never heard this Gospel preached in church -- never.)
"Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, don't you hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. He that was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh [the natural carnal person:] but he that is of the free woman, born of the promise, which things are an allegory. For these are the two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage . . . [Listen, and please remember this: Anytime you hear a man, and I don't care what his intentions are, who begins to teach to you the principles of the law, you have just left the Gospel and gone into bondage.] . . . for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and answers to Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all" (Gal. 4:21-26).
The Church of the firstborn is those who have been regenerated and birthed into the Spirit of the Living God. There is no law for you -- none! The only law that we need is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! As we have seen, the natural birth is always pulling you down; it is the law of that life, the law of the human life, that generates to bondage. The law of the religious system generates unto bondage, because they try to get you to live godly by telling you how to do it, and what you should do. But the Spirit of the Living God that is within each and every one of us is free from the bondage of the law. You are free to be who you are! And I'm going to say it: If you are a homosexual, you are free to be who you are. And if I were pastoring a church and you wanted to come to my church, I would say, "Please come!" The only requirement that I would ask of you is that you have a heart that you want to be transformed into His likeness.
Scripture says in verse 30 of Galatians 4, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman." Cast out the bondwoman. That is why Judgment is coming. Judgment is already beginning. You are going to begin to see that mystery harlot -- that Mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots -- begin to fall, because God has raised up men and women now who understand His heart and can bring righteous judgment to His people.
Remember what I shared with you before: "Our God is a consuming fire." There is a verse that says, "Who can abide in the day of His appearing, for He is like a refiner's fire and fuller's soap" (Malachi 3:2). And when God begins to shine upon you, the fire of His Holy Spirit will begin to burn within your being.
(Prophecy) And I say unto you that I will ignite within you the Spirit of the Living God, and everything that is in your natural character, everything that is antichrist, everything that would hinder you, when you by the Spirit of the Living God enter into My presence, will be consumed. I will release from the innermost being of My people the fire of the Living God. And I say unto you, that fire shall ascend, and shall burn every area, every avenue of your thought and brain, and that fire of my Spirit shall burn and burn and burn and burn. My Spirit shall burn out all of the dross. For you see, if you are cast into the fire of My presence, nothing will come out of that fire but the pure gold and silver and the transformation of the inner man. So I say to you My people, come unto Me. Come unto Me without any sense of fear or inferiority or condemnation. But I would say to you, come into Me, come into My presence. Realize that there is no condemnation, for on the cross of Calvary the debt for every sin and every disobedience was completely wiped out and annihilated, and today the God of the Universe would say unto you that you are not guilty, but you are set free. You are not set free to live according to the flesh; you are not set free to continue in your bondage; but you are set free to enter into My presence without any sense of fear, guilt or inferiority, because I have shed the blood. The blood of the Lamb that was slain from before the foundation of the world has paid the price for every disobedience.
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