Putting On Christ

word for July 7, 2010

podcast available

by Teri R. Williams


WEARING A RELIGIOUS COSTUME OR CLOTHED WITH CHRIST

    What’s the difference between “putting on Christ” and living a religious act? Many feel as if their relationship with Jesus is somehow not real because of all those who put on a religious façade. This causes some to mistakenly react with rebellion against the Lord or to become judgmental. The best way to respond to the “put on persona” of religion is to just to live free. Living free is the greatest influence and best message of freedom that you will ever preach.
    In our neck of the woods, a religious spirit has a pretty strong hold over perceptions of what is right and wrong and interpretations of what is “God” and what is not. I’ve also noticed lately that people who are under this type of pressure often lose their uniqueness and flavor. When you meet that person, you meet the person’s religious “persona”, a tasteless replica of every other churchgoer.
    Rather than loosing our unique identity, when we’re “clothed with Christ” we actually become more our true self. We discover who we are. The person we are created to be is set free. It’s not an independent spirit but an interdependent kind of life that is connected in relationship with others in real friendships. But being free doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it.
    A religious spirit needs other’s approval to feel acceptance. It can function through people who don’t even go to church. It’s an oppression that makes you feel like you will never measure up. This is the best picture I know of the law.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW?

    A religious spirit puts a spin on keeping the law that makes us see God as way too good and us as way too inferior to His goodness. The Word says that the law was given to reveal to us our need for a Redeemer, but it was never meant to replace the first Covenant that was given in order to restore relationship between God and man. This Covenant was made with Abraham – It was actually a promise to Abraham of the coming Redeemer. When Abraham stood on the mountain with his son tied to an altar, an angel showed him a ram caught in a bush. The ram was to replace Isaac on the altar –and Abraham saw it: the coming of the one who would take our punishment and our sentence of death. Abraham believed in this Divine Intervention and God called his belief--FAITH.

(Read Galatians 3)
Gal. 3:1-3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

    The Galatians were descendents of the Celts who lived in what is now Turkey. They were Gentiles who had come to know freedom through the Spirit. The word “bewitched” means to gain control over someone through demonic influence. Basically, it is being manipulated by Satan. Paul equates a religious spirit with demonic control. The Galatians had allowed themselves to be put under the pressure of the law, to keep rules, the “do’s and don’ts,” in order to be accepted by God.

Read Gal. 3:6-29  
Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness…27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    So what is the difference between being clothed with Christ and being clothed with religion? Being clothed with Christ is having the hope that the Redeemer has taken our place and that we are wearing who He is – He’s our “provision” for relationship with God.

WHY DON’T WE LOOK FREE?
    If we have a Redeemer, why do we struggle with the same things over and over and over? Why don’t we look free? First, God isn’t intimidated by our struggles but when He says it’s time to stop circling and move, we need to pay attention. There are consequences for remaining too long in the desert. When we ignore Him, we’re usually headed for a manifestation of our rebellion.
    I had an “open vision” as I was praying for our church body this past week that I felt was a word to us about our cycles of struggle. I heard the sound of something turning and then click into place. Then I heard the word “cog” (which I had to look up because I had no idea what it was).  

(Def.) Cog: one of a series of teeth on the rim of a wheel, for transmitting or receiving motion by fitting between the teeth of another wheel; a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism in order to change the speed or direction of transmitted motion; one of a series of teeth, as on the rim of a wheel or gear, whose engagement transmits successive motive force to a corresponding wheel or gear; a tenon projecting from a wooden beam designed to fit into an opening in another beam to form a joint.

    The next thing I saw was the cog in a watch and I heard in my spirit that there has been a shift, a move, and the shift would have a similar effect to that of the blast that brought down the walls of Jericho. I felt that walls are going to fall and we’re going to run in and tear down the enemy’s stronghold. The changing of the cog is moving us into a new gear. Also, I saw that we are the teeth in the cog that are being fit together. We depend on being in a new place of unity in order to make this shift and move into a new strength and freedom.

IT’S TIME TO PUSH OUT OUR SPIRITS
    I heard – “The shout at Jericho was their LAST DESPERATE SHOUT OUT TO GOD FOR HELP.” In the scripture that describes Jesus crucifixion, the Word says He committed his Spirit to the Father and breathed out his last breath. As that breath left his body, Jesus moved into a new place of authority over the enemy. When he reentered his physical body, he became the first of a new kind of warrior---a new kind of being that had never been created before.

NO MORE MANNA
Joshua 5:12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.

    A couple of significant things happened leading up to the fall of Jericho. First, the manna they had been gathering “free of charge” and at no personal cost just stopped coming. The desert was a hard place but they didn’t realize how much God had taken the responsibility off of their shoulders for a season. This is so often the case when we are in a difficult place. In the change from having manna drop from the sky, they would now have to work for their food in the place they were called to live in.
    Many run from one “movement” to another as they struggle through a dry place, a desert time. But there are places in the Spirit we’re called to stand in. This is where we’re to find our provision. The time of having it dropped on us is over. The space in the spirit that is ours is a place where we have to become responsible. We have to take responsibility to go to God ourselves for our daily provision of His love and grace.
   
GROWING UP
    Growing up is one of the most misunderstood concepts in church theology. Growing up is not about losing our childlike nature. When we were children, our lives were centered on ourselves. Growing up means that we begin to learn how to be free from our self-focused mentality. As we let go of self-centeredness, we actually find ourselves. Growing up is a discovery of what it means to be our true selves.

THE PROSTITUTE WHO KNEW GOD’S VOICE
Read all of Joshua 2:1-21 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there… 8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you…12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death."14 "Our lives for your lives!" the men assured her…18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house…21 "Agreed," she replied. "Let it be as you say." So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

    There are people who are trapped behind the walls of Jericho who can hear the Lord’s voice and are waiting to be delivered. Breaking the enemies hold is not only about freedom for us but for others as well.

TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, I WANT YOU TO GET CLOSER
    The other thing that happened just before Jericho was a strange encounter with an angel of the Lord.

Joshua 5:13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" 14 "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"15 The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

    Why would he tell him to take off his shoes if the place was so holy? Aren’t we supposed to back up and be in awe of God’s holiness? Doesn’t holiness speak of being untouchable? Then why was this angel of the Lord (who was actually Jesus) telling Joshua to COME CLOSER? He was not saying for Joshua to back away. He was saying LET ME FEEL YOU. TAKE OFF ANYTHING that keeps you from feeling me. This is an entirely different perspective on the “holy ground” concept but it sure makes more sense than “get barefoot but step away from me!”

A NEW KIND OF WARRIOR
    Jericho was the first place Israel came to after circling the desert for 40 years. They were a different kind of warrior than those who left Egypt and walked in circles in the desert. Everyone who was old enough to fight when they left Egypt was now dead except for Joshua and Caleb. The fall of Jericho was actually the first brake in a cycle of self-centeredness and rebellion.

Read Joshua 6…vs. 8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the LORD went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding…10 But Joshua had commanded the people, "Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!"15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 20 When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city…25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

TRUMPETS
    Warriors were to march before the trumpets followed by the Presence of the Lord’s covenant. Behind the ark of His Presence were the people followed by more warriors. The Lord always sends out the intercessor warriors before and after his people to prepare the way and to close up any opening from behind.
    The call of the watchmen is to agree with whatever the Lord is saying. Agreement is extremely important. The Word talks about the power of agreement. It’s not just random agreement --- It’s coming into unity with God’s heart.
    Following the Lord’s presence is more than listening to a teaching or spending time in prayer. It’s an experience in Worship. Worship isn’t about figuring out doctrine. It’s about love.
    The trumpets were to sound very time they marched around Jericho. Why trumpets? It was more about “blowing” out their spirit than about using a certain instrument. The breath was their spirit. They were pushing out their spirits. (The word Spirit simply means breath).

Leviticus 23:23 The LORD said to Moses, 24 "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.   

    After Moses received the Law, He instructed the people to celebrate certain times called “feasts.” Each of the feasts that Israel was commanded to keep was a representation of a spiritual work that God was going to do.
    We talked about Shavuot, or Pentecost, a few weeks ago. The names for this feast are - Zirkhron Teruah, "Memorial of Blowing" and Yom Teruah, "Day of Blowing." This feast always began at the sighting of the New Moon and follows Shavuot (Pentecost). The Feast of the Trumpets was viewed as the beginning of a process of judgment that would last until Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement.

Isaiah 27:13 "And in that day a great trumpet [horn of a ram] will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out of the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem"
   
    There was nothing really significant about a trumpet or shofar. Everyone had one. It was the telephone and the radio of the day. The shofar was everything from the dinner bell to the call to war. It was also blown on the first day of every month (Num. 10:10). But the ram’s horn could also represent authority---a ram’s horn was his strength, his ability to fight and defend his ground. The feast of Trumpets was a time to push out the sound of the Lord’s authority through their bodies.

Zechariah 9:14 "Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow go forth like lightening; the Lord God will sound the trumpet and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south"

    The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) had a dual function. (This year it’s on Sept. 8-18 followed by the Day of Atonement – Sept. 17-18 and the Feast of Tabernacles – Sept. 22-Oct. 1). The Feast of Trumpets was the call to repent (10 days of awe) with respect to the beginning of ten days of judgment. It was also a time of reassurance that the people they would be given a provision for redemption – a ram in the thicket.
    “Blowing” out our spirits is also the sound of an intercessor’s agreement with the Lord.

Joel 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near

CHANGING GEARS and ENDING THE PAST CYCLE
    Many of us have been going around and around and around – We’re frustrated. But the cog has moved into a new place and we’re moving to a new wheel, a new speed, and a new movement. It’s the end of the cycle.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

    This is what it looks like to grow up and to be clothed with Jesus. This isn’t about being run over by people. That’s not what humility means or what Jesus life looked like. Humility is living from your heart. It’s about loving God and letting His love move through your spirit.

NOW SHOUT!   
    It’s the end of a cycle. It’s time to add the sound of our spirit---our desperation---our scream--to the sound of the trumpets. The cycle is over! We’re called to live in Canaan, not to walk around in circles in our desert places. The only way out, the only way to break the cycle, is by the Spirit. When we push out our spirits, we are moving into this new place of freedom by the Spirit.

Teri R. Williams, 7/20/2010