I Am Not Perfect

1John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (NASB)

You know, there’s only one way a human being can be perfect — and that’s “perfect in love.” Somehow, it seems some of those who hear my messages  or read my blogs think that I’m saying they have to be perfect in the way natural people think of the word “perfect.” Perish the thought!

Oh, my dear friends, my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I’m not perfect as the world thinks of perfect. I am slightly overweight, and often over-eager and zealous to a fault, but it’s out of my love for Jesus. And there are times when I don’t communicate well (obviously). And there are times when I might misunderstand you. And there are times when something tumbles out of my mouth that I’d like to stuff back in there. Sometimes I’m like a Holy Spirit steamroller. But I don’t mean to be. I’m just EXCITED because of what Jesus has done in me, and what He wants to do in you!

You see, I love you, I mean really LOVE you, with God’s very love. That’s why I preach what I preach, and write what I write. I want you to discover God’s great gift — His Holy Spirit, by which He fills your heart with His very own love. Amazingly, He actually  pours out His perfect love in your heart, so you can love Him with His perfect God-love! The outcome of loving Him with His love is this:

You no longer want to sin against Him. So you don’t willfully disobey Him any more. And you can love people with that love!

That’s what the Word of God says. That’s what HE can do in you. Isn’t it glorious? So, I’m not saying you have to be perfect as the world thinks of perfect, OK? But I’m saying that the Word of God says Jesus came and died to take away your past sins AND change your heart entirely, so you love God with God’s own love. Oh, it is a wonderful “God thing” that only He can do! For heaven’s sake, don’t try to be perfect as YOU think of perfect, and try to do it on your own! It’ll never work! Oh, but agree with Him that you need His love to fill your heart so you will obey Him, that you need His love so you can love others with His love, so you can have His love pour right out of you, so you can pour out His love back to Him, and He can pour out more to you, and you can pour more back to Him, in a continual, glorious exchange of love!

Oh, it is WONDERFUL! It is ESSENTIAL for the church, too. You see, we can’t work Jesus’ works (John 14:12) unless we are doing them with the very love of God in our hearts. We’ll be sounding gongs and clanging cymbals. Very unpleasant! Very unproductive! LOVE (His actual love in your heart) is the means by which all gifts of the Spirit operate and all fruit of the Spirit is produced and comes to maturity.

So, it’s really pretty easy. Just say, “Lord, I don’t have Your love in my heart, because I’m still sinning against you, even though I’ve received Jesus as my Savior. I know Your love will come in and fill me if I ask You. Your Word says You give the Holy Spirit to Your children when they ask  you (Luke 11:13). I know that even after You have filled me with Your Spirit and Your love, You will continue to show me more and more, over my whole life, the depths of Your love. And you will make Your love show in me more and more. Fill me, fill me, fill me!”

See? Simple, but very hard to let go and trust that Father knows best. Do it — you’ll never regret it, and you will enter into a realm you couldn’t have dreamt or imagined.

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It Is Finished

John 19:28-30 (NASB): After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Resurrection Sunday’s just around the corner. I want to understand everything Jesus meant when He exclaimed, “It is finished!” Don’t you? The original Greek word for “finished” is teleo, which means completed, brought to an end, the debt paid. Surely, we praise God that the debt we absolutely could not pay, the debt we owed God because of our sin, was paid in full by Jesus Christ. That is very true; God so loved the world that He gave His Son. It was His one expression of love to everyone — whoever believes in Him, fully trusting in Christ’s words and His work on the cross, will be saved from the wrath of God, and enter into eternal life with God. Hallelujah! Christ bore the punishment we deserved. Amazing love!

But in verse 28, Jesus knew that all Scripture had been fulfilled. What Scripture? What else was “finished?” There are many Scriptures about what Christ accomplished on our behalf:

Genesis 3:15  The serpent’s (that is Satan’s) head has been crushed by Jesus Christ. His authority here is nullified, for all who believe in Christ. He has no power against us who know Christ intimately. Hebrews 2:14 says Satan was rendered powerless, and 1 John 3:8 says Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. What were those works? When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden and she and Adam ate the fruit, their sin (willful disobedience against God) separated them from their Creator and Father and doomed them to death. We also were separated from God and doomed to death, but if we believe in Jesus, He reconciles us to God. And what’s more, Jesus gives us power to go and sin no more, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is finished!

Job 19:25 You and I can say in fact what Job said prophetically — we know that our Redeemer lives, and that He will come, and that in our flesh, we shall see God. Indeed, Jesus reveals Himself to those who love and obey Him (John 14:21). And we will yet see God, in heaven! Hallelujah! It is finished!

Psalm 118:24-27 Oh, I tell you, this is the day, the day of salvation, this day that all Scripture was fulfilled! Glory to God! This is the day the festival sacrifice was bound to the altar — the day Christ was nailed to the cross. When Christ entered Jerusalem in the original Palm Sunday, the crowd sang this portion of Psalm 118. They soon rejected Jesus, but it had to be that way. Christ HAD to die for us. Oh, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! It is finished! Isaiah 44:23 says “Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!”

Isaiah 35:4-6 Oh, He has made streams in the desert! We were barren and dry, without life. But He died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and was glorified so we may not only drink of His living water, but so it will flow from our bellies like a raging river! Oh, it is finished!

Isaiah 35:8  A highway of holiness has been created. See that upright on the cross? That’s the way. Go there and identify yourself with Christ’s death. Don’t just say “Thanks, Jesus,” and walk away. Say, “Crucify me with You, so I no longer live, but You live in me! Do heart surgery, Lord! Pluck out my rebellious heart and replace it with yours!” Oh, it is finished!

Isaiah 53:6 Our iniquity fell on Christ. The word “fell” is more accurately translated “met.” He intervened for us. Our sinfulness met His sinlessness and we were reconciled to God the Father! It is finished!

Isaiah 60:1-3 Oh, the glory of the Lord rose upon Him in His flesh, but now it is upon us who know Him intimately! We are carriers of His glory, and kings will come to the brightness of our rising. He will have a church glorious (Ephesians 5:27), filled with God’s glory, His kabod (see Psalm 45:13), His weighty presence, so we may be His witnesses here. It is finished!

Isaiah 61 Glory! The captives have been set free! To what were we captive? Sin! It is finished!

Zechariah 9:9 Our King came humbly. He has come! It is finished! And we must come to Him in the same way — humbly.

Malachi 3:1 And the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to the temple. He wants to come to your temple, your body! He and the Father will come and make their abode with you (John 14:23), if you love and obey Jesus Christ (John 14:21). It will be suddenly, in an instant. You will be filled with Him! It is finished!

Romans 5:8 God’s love is this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is finished! Does God love sin? No, He hates it. But He gave us Christ, so we may turn from sin and stop sinning. The church does not teach this, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why not. It’s a powerful truth! Christ Himself said of sin, “Therefore if the Son shall set you free, you are free, indeed” (John 8:36). Oh, be set free! It is finished!

In light of all that Christ has finished, shall we continue to sin? Won’t our continued sin make God’s grace more evident? The Romans asked Paul that, in Romans 6. My dear ones, the church has mutilated the associated verse from Romans 5:20: “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” We use that to excuse our present disobedience, just like the Romans to whom Paul wrote. The grace that increased (past tense) was Christ; sin had increased (been made evident) because God revealed His moral law. Christians wrongly use Romans 5:20 as a mantra to “rationalize away” the sin they’re now doing.  As Paul says in Romans 6:2, “May it never be!”  For Paul continues, “How shall we who have died to sin still live in it?”

I tell you, beloved, we are in danger of losing our reconciliation to God if we continue to sin. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Paul exhorts the Christian Corinthians to be reconciled to God! They had fallen into many sins, they were infants in Christ, they were not filled with the Holy Spirit. Dear ones, on the cross Christ put an end to the sin you’ve done and to the sin nature you possess. Don’t reject what Christ has finished! Come again to the cross! Ask Him to fill you with God’s own perfect love, so you no longer want to disobey Him, but love Him with His very own love. Ask Him to take your rebellious nature out of you and replace it with the very nature of Christ! He will do it, He has provided for it, and if you will come, sin will be finished in you!

The Nine Lepers

Last night, Jeff and I were interceding for the church in our regular Friday night prayer time. The Lord took me to Luke 17:11-21, and 34-36. As I meditated on this passage and asked the Holy Spirit to help me pray it out, Jesus said to my heart, “The church is like the nine lepers.”

Think about it. The ten leprous men stood at a distance. Don’t we all stand at a distance when we are covered with the filth of our sins? But even though they didn’t approach Him because of their uncleanness, they called to Him, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They didn’t call Him by a Messianic title, but they recognized His authority by calling Him “Master.” They knew He was merciful. Don’t we all see His authority to forgive our sins and ask for His mercy, so we may be made clean? He commanded them to go show themselves to the priests, and they immediately started on their way. Don’t we do whatever He says, when we want Him to remove our sins? And as they were going, they were healed. Aren’t we, as we obey Him and repent? So far, I see that the whole church is like all ten lepers.

Starting in verse 15, something changes. One of the lepers sees that he’s healed and turns back, glorifying God with a great, intense voice! He runs toward Jesus, falls on His face (proskuneo, kisses toward Him, which means he worships Him), and gives thanks (eucharisteo, an expression of joy Godward). The rest simply continue on their way.

How many of us who are the church simply go on our way after Jesus has forgiven our sins? The nine lepers who continued on their way represent the vast majority of Christ’s church. We’ve been saved. We go and show others we’re clean. Then we go astray, each one to his own way. Jesus stands right where He was when He healed us, saying, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Of course, He knew in advance what was going to happen. He asks the question to emphasize that nine of them did not do what they should have done, had they really understood how much they were forgiven, how dirty they were. And the one who does understand is not even one of the “chosen people.” He’s a foreigner. He’s from the highways and byways, brought to the supper because everyone who was invited was too busy to come. In Luke 7:47, Jesus said to Simon the Pharisee, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

But there’s a remnant in the church that loves much because we know we’ve been forgiven much. We were foreigners, not a people belonging to God, but the Lord has made us a people. We’ve realized that we’ve been made clean. We’ve turned back to Jesus, glorifying God with a great, intense and loud voice! We’ve fallen at His feet, trying to get just as intimately close to Him as possible. We’ve assumed a humble position before Him who set us free. We eurcharisteo Him — we express joy toward Him, our God in the flesh!

What happened to the nine? They went on their way. So does the church. What happened to the foreigner who returned and gave glory, worshiped and expressed joy? Jesus commanded Him to stand up and go, and told that one leper, “Your faith has saved you.” So it is with the remnant.

I am praying for revival, for the nine to wake up, turn back, glorify God with great and intense voices, worship and humble themselves and seek intimacy with Jesus, expressing joy Godward, toward Him and toward the Father. I’m praying for them to be saved. Hear my prayer, Father, in the name of Jesus.

Jesus’ Hometown

Mark 6:4-6 (NASB) Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.

Many Bible scholars don’t catch the reason Jesus couldn’t do anything but a few “minor” miracles in Nazareth, His hometown. I’ve read commentaries that say it was unbelief that prevented the Son of God from working in His hometown. I don’t think that’s quite true, though unbelief was acted out in a way that made it impossible for Him to work in the lives of those who were filled with unbelief. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ve read some who say God positively cannot work in an atmosphere of unbelief. But I remember Jesus saying, “With God, all things are possible.” Was Jesus lying? God is not a man, that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). And if we can prevent God from doing miracles in a place, how do we explain the miracles done when the Jews came out of Egypt? They certainly doubted God many times and thought they were going to die, but He delivered them again and again, despite their unbelief. God does not change. Unbelief doesn’t stop Him.

So what happened in Nazareth? If you notice in Mark’s gospel, everywhere Jesus went there were crowds, even multitudes. The Holy Spirit inspired Mark to mention great crowds over and over again — except in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. In the place where everyone thought of him as just the son of Joseph the carpenter, there were no crowds around Him. They simply questioned where He “got these things,” that is, His wisdom and ability to do miracles. They didn’t fall at His feet and worship Him. They didn’t reach out to try to touch the hem of His garment.

I tell you that the reason Jesus could do no miracles in Nazareth is because the citizens of that town never came to Him, except for a few sick people. Those few who came, He healed. There were no crowds around Him in Nazareth. They didn’t come, because they did not believe. So the reason He could not do much was that hardly anyone came to Him. Indeed, He wondered at their unbelief! They never came to Him, thus their unbelief was acted out in a way that made it impossible for Him to work in their lives.

I tell you that Jesus wonders at the unbelief in His church today. He asked in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”

I believe that much of the church is just like Jesus’ hometown. We have a concept of Jesus and we’re stickin’ to it. He’s our Savior. We’re familiar with that part of Him, just like Nazareth was familiar with Jesus the carpenter. But don’t start believing in the dunamis (miracle-working power) of God! Savior is good. Miracle-working is too “far out” for us. Let’s keep things real quiet and orderly. Please — don’t bring in big crowds pressing in to touch the hem of His garment. We’d rather have a form of godliness while denying (720 arneomai, disowning, disavowing and rejecting) its power (1411 dunamis, miracle-working power, might and strength).

Just like in Nazareth, we do not see many true miracles in the church because the church rejects the miracle-working aspect of our Lord and Savior. They do not come to Him, because they are filled with unbelief. Therefore, He does not heal them in all the wonderful ways that Jesus heals.

There are a few in the church today who come to Him for healing anyway, just as a few came to Him an Nazareth. I’m one of them, even though in the beginning, I didn’t believe Jesus heals today. He took me on a journey that erased all my preconceived notions of Him. Then He completely healed me of MS, nine years ago next month. My church family, who loved me so much as an MS victim, was appalled. They did not rejoice when I announced one Sunday morning that Jesus had healed me. This was not the Jesus they were familiar with. They were very, very uncomfortable.

Did I forgive them for not sharing my joy? Oh, yes. They knew not what they were doing, just as I had no idea I had the hammer in my hand when Jesus was nailed to the cross.

Did I love them? After I was healed, I sought to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Father poured out His love in my heart, even to the point of overflowing! It was not pleasant to walk with them during that time, but I love them still today and will always love them. I love the whole church — the ones who claim the Word of God isn’t really His Word (there was a time when I didn’t), the ones who think Jesus doesn’t do miracles any more (there was a time when I didn’t), and even the ones who cannot see Jesus beyond His role as Savior (there was a time when I didn’t).

I forgive them, I love them, and I intercede for them. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit and I don’t want His church to be like His hometown. I’m praying for the church to honor Jesus, to embrace all of Him, to crowd around Him seeking His touch, to fall at His feet and worship Him and to come to love Him with His own love, so they may become very, very much like Him and thus glorify Him!

The Greater Light

Gen. 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

I gave an evangelistic message at a church on Sunday, a passionate plea for us to believe that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8.) It was a “testimessage” (that’s a message and a testimony combined). Hebrews 13:8 was the means God used to open my heart to be healed of MS nine years ago. Through it and other scriptures, the Holy Spirit used my pastor to show me that Jesus is still the Great Physician. Throughout my testimessage, I spontaneously praised the Father and Son, by the Holy Spirit who always exalts them. By the grace of God and for His glory, the congregation was greatly stirred and encouraged.

My husband recorded the message, and processed the recording that afternoon. In the evening, I listened to it. Jeff and I often reviewed our messages at the churches we pastored in Maine, as a means of improving our presentation of God’s Word. We always found it to be especially helpful when Satan came along on Monday morning and tried to tell us we missed the mark. Pastors, you know what I’m talking about.

As I listened to my message, I heard my voice go up and down. I heard by my words that I did not look at myself in my lostness as kindly as Christ did. Satan began his accusations. I cried out to the Lord in my journal, “I was almost out of control in giving my testimony. Help me to control my voice! I want all of what I say to honor You!” I began to doubt my motive for preaching. Was I prideful and self-confident, rather than leaning on Him? I wrote to Him that I must not let the devil use this. I knew my accuser’s voice, and I began to run from it. I asked the Lord to let His power shine forth in my testimony. I opened my Bible to Jeremiah 48:18 and wrote, “I sit on the parched ground, Lord!” The Lord responded from Jeremiah 48:42, that I am not arrogant toward Him, so 48:18 didn’t apply. The devil knows the Word, and tried to use it against me. But I continued to stand before the Lord and heard the voice of my Good Shepherd.

Satan wasn’t through yet, though. In our home, we have a large, open area that comprises the kitchen, dining room, and living room. I looked out the living room window, to my left. The moon was full and still shining. Then I looked to my right, and the sun was rising. I wrote in my journal, “The moon is losing its brightness because of the rising of the sun. The greater light You created is overtaking the lesser light. Let Your Son overtake the lesser light in me! Overcome and obscure and destroy any confidence I might have in myself. Do not let not that lesser light appear ever again, Father!” As the sun rose higher and higher, I watched the moon fade until it was invisible. I asked the Lord to make me invisible. Weeping, I wrote, “Amen. So be it, Lord.”

I went to Jeff and told him what I thought the Lord was showing me with the moon and the sun. He had a different interpretation. He said gently, “I saw the lesser light proclaiming the Greater Light. The lesser light is supposed to be there. God created it that way. Remember, the lesser light would not shine at all except that the greater Light illuminates it. The greater Light must have something to illuminate. He illuminated you!” I wept and wept, so grateful to the Lord that He had made His greater Light shine on His lesser light!

The Lord was showing me something wonderful — something all who speak God’s Word, and all who listen, must always remember. We who speak the Word are not perfect. We will mispronounce. Our diction, our intelligence, our oratorical skills may be inferior to others. We may not always perfectly interpret the Word of God, despite our best efforts. But remember this, pastors and fellow Christians! We are all lesser lights reflecting the Greater Light — the Father and the Son — by the power of the Holy Spirit. None of us will ever execute everything perfectly. So do not evaluate and criticize and judge and play favorites when you hear the messenger, but absolutely evaluate and test the message compared with the Word of God! And do not tear yourself to pieces, Pastor. You’ll never be perfect. God is counting on that, so His perfection can be seen in you.

Look to the Apostle Paul! The Corinthians were looking for great orators and intellects and comparing one evangelist to another. He writes, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1.) And he writes, “You are looking at things outwardly . . . For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.’” (2 Corinthians 10:7a, 10.) And yet Paul’s words and ministry are a gracious, God-given gift to all of us for all time!

Pastors who evaluate yourselves to pieces, and churchgoers who criticize and carve up your pastors, do not look at things outwardly! Is a lesser light proclaiming the Greater Light? Then Pastor, give praise to God, you are exactly in the condition the Lord wants you. When you are weak, you are strong. Glory in your weakness, as Paul did! And churchgoer, arise and shine, because the glory of the Lord has risen upon you (see Isaiah 61:1)! Rejoice and be glad in His presence, and receive His Light so you may also be a lesser light who reflects the greater Light! Hallelujah to the King!

The Ancient Paths

It seemed good to share with you what I’m praying about on this monthly “day of prayer and fasting” for the church. Last month, it was 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” No willful disobedience to God in one who is born of Him! That’s radical!  I share the second “monthly prayer and fasting” scripture so you can see the progression of thought that I believe is from the Lord: my first “monthly prayer and fasting” scripture was from John 17, concerning the true definition of sanctification. Our benchmarks of the sanctified life need revision, for it is the Lord who sanctifies us through and through — our nature the same as Christ’s nature, the sin nature dead on the cross and buried. Hallelujah to the King of Kings! Then it was 1 John 3:9 (and the surrounding verses), the test to determine in our own hearts whether we are filled with the Spirit or not.

The Lord led me to Jeremiah 6 this morning, and put a Holy Spirit “speed bump” on verse 16: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.'” I’m praying that the Lord leads the church back into the ancient paths. Immediately as I type this, the Lord reminds me of Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths [literally, “tracks”] of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The word picture is like a dirt road over which many wagons have traveled. Tracks (but not ruts, God forbid) form, and soon, the wheels of wagons traveling that dirt road automatically find and follow those tracks. Having studied the history of the “holiness movement” church, I see that she spurned the operation of the Spirit. The churches in that movement had grown rapidly up to that point, but began to decline shortly after that. Please know that I love the church. She is my family, and I love her even with the very love of God that He has poured out in my heart to overflowing! But we must stand and see (7200 raah, meaning “discern”) and ask for the ancient paths, for we have lost our way.

The church at large, as well as the those in the “holiness movement,” became afraid of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to the point where even today, some church leaders chastise people who are filled with the Spirit and operating in His gifts. I have seen it happen to my brothers and sisters and have experienced it myself. Please note that these Spirit-filled ones were operating in submission to their spiritual leaders when they were chastised. Those who have been crucified with Christ are submissive. Jeff and I checked with our denominational overseer when we were being considered as candidates for ordination; we would not have continued if he objected, but would have pursued ordination elsewhere. We cannot deny the gifts the Lord has given us, and we pray that the holiness with which He has filled us is evident. We do not magnify the gifts; we magnify the Christ who gave His church the Holy Spirit, and the Father who gave His Son that we no longer be under His wrath but forgiven and given life eternal, even zoe, the superabundant flow of the life of God here and now, and that we be given sanctification through and through, knowing Him and Christ and the Spirit with great and glorious intimacy! Glory!

In some ways, the church has become like the Pharisees whom the Spirit-filled Stephen admonished in Acts 7, saying, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” That may sound harsh to you, but I believe the Holy Spirit is very grieved by our rejection of all of Him — we’re OK with the holiness part in the “holiness movement” (though for the longest time, outward holiness was the order of the day), but we don’t want those gifts! We might lose control of things if they are manifested. But God is not a God of confusion. The Corinthian church misused the gifts because they were not filled with the love of God. But if we are filled with the Spirit, we are filled with that love and will operate the gifts in that same love. The gifts are gifts from God, and are for the common good, for the edification of the church. Yet I have seen congregation-led mutinies ensue when the Holy Spirit and His gifts are preached from pulpits.

I am praying for a great repentance and full embracing of all that our wonderful Lord sent to us. I pray we stand by the way and SEE and ASK for the ancient paths, even back to the days of the Book of Acts. May we humble ourselves and ask for the good way, the God way that leads to “God works!” May we humble ourselves and walk in this good way. O Lord, soften our necks and open our ears to hear the Word today, that we would find rest for our souls, that we might be revived as followers of You, that we may live for You, that we may be like shining stars in the universe, holding out the word of life in this dark world!

What Does Holiness Look Like?

John 17:19 “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”

I don’t know how many times I preached on Jesus’ words in this verse of His prayer before He was arrested, beaten and nailed to a cross. I spoke of how necessary it was for us to be made one with Christ and the Father, our natures changed to their natures. I spoke of how He prayed for our hearts to be filled with God’s actual love, and what effect that would have on the world. But Dan Bohi, an evangelist for the Nazarene Church, opened it up even wider than I had been able to see up to that point. Thanks, Dan.

What do we think are the characteristics of a human being made holy by the fullness of God, the Holy Spirit, indwelling him or her completely? Let’s look at what Jesus said about His disciples in these verses.

Here are some of the fine things that Jesus said of His disciples and says of us in verses 6-16:

– He has revealed Himself to them

– They were the Father’s and now are Christ’s

– They keep His Word

– They know all that Jesus has been given is from the Father

– They received and believed Jesus’ words which were from the Father

– They knew He came from the Father and was sent by Him

– Twice, Jesus says they are not of the world

We normally describe holiness/ sanctification by all Jesus said up to verses 17 and 19. The clincher is that they are not of the world – that’s certainly a description of someone who is holy, isn’t it? Not according to Jesus. Despite all of these wonderful truths about the status of the disciples’ faith and walk, Jesus prays for them to be sanctified. If they were already holy, He wouldn’t have needed to pray for them to be made holy.

Think about the disciples’ behavior up to this point. On the very night He prayed this prayer, they had entered the upper room for the Passover meal, arguing about who was the greatest. They’d been with Him for more than three years, yet John and James sent their mother to see if Jesus would let them sit on His right and left on His throne. Didn’t they understand that His kingdom was not an earthly one? Nope. They were still thinking in the natural. Set apart? They surely were. Holy as in sanctified, filled with the Spirit? Not yet.

Why did they (and we) need to be sanctified, filled with the Spirit? “So they may all be one,” Jesus prayed in verse 21. What does that mean? The disciples argued with one another, and they didn’t understand Jesus’ words. They needed Christ’s nature to replace their human, sinful natures and to open their eyes to the Word. His nature would give them oneness, the unity of nature among themselves, all of them having Christ’s nature, just as Christ has the Father’s nature. It’s a selfless nature, a self-giving nature, a nature that takes no thought of itself or its needs but dies to its self-interest so others may live. We must all be united in nature with the Father and the Son, Them in us and us in Them, but it won’t happen unless we actually become doers of the Word the Spirit-inspired Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2.

Why isn’t “somewhat holiness” (an impossibility anyway, but one which I hear from many Christians) enough? In the Word, something is either holy or it is profane and unclean. What are the consequences of people thinking they can be holy sometimes, or partly holy, or a little holy? Strife, division, angry meetings, political power plays. In the corporate world, those things are to be expected. But in Jesus’ church, His bride? No, never! They are to be the church glorious, filled with the glory, the love and the power of God.

Church, we have far too many “Jesus clubs” where Jesus is the mascot (poor Jesus!) and everyone gathers to hear the latest gossip and to take pot shots at the preacher. I’ve actually heard one church member say of a new pastor, “I think he’s going to fit in quite well here.” Do you see what’s wrong with that statement? If he plays by the club rules, he can stay. If not, out he goes! Folks, that’s not holiness, not in the least!

Out of Christ’s love for us, He prays to the Father for all of us who have all the fine attributes He described. He asks the Father to sanctify us, to make us perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Glory! Does that mean I will execute everything He asks of me perfectly? No way. I’m human. But that’s not an excuse to disobey God.

If I am perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect, it will require that He remove from me my soulish wants, my pride, my self will, my orneriness. If I will yield to His will and His command, He will take out my stony heart and give me a new one. The motive for all I do will be His love in my heart, filling it to overflowing. I won’t willfully disobey Him (I won’t willfully sin) any more. In verse 19, He says that’s why He was now going to set Himself apart on the cross.

What effect will we have on the world if we obey Jesus and ask the Father for the good gift of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13)? The outcome, in the last section of Jesus’ prayer, is that the world will believe that the Father sent the Son, and that the Father loves us even as He loves His Son. The world will know us by the perfect love the Father pours in our hearts til they overflow with it. And when we are filled with the Spirit, we will intimately know (ginosko 1097) the Father and Son, “by the operation of the Holy Spirit,” per Vine’s Expository Dictionary. And that is Jesus’ definition of eternal life!

Yield to God, my brothers and sisters. In view of God’s great grace toward you, expressed in Romans chapters 1-11, offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. It is your spiritual act of worship. The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Put away all your selfishness. Empty yourself of your glory, as Christ did. You must — He commands it!