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Rick Spinos has been a member since March 4th 2013, and has created 80 posts from scratch.

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Begotten son vs. adopted child

Begotten sons are not adopted children

begotten sonBegotten son or adopted child what exactly does it mean to be “born again”?  It is of extreme importance that we recognize the nature of the salvation that we have received.  Salvation is a work of regeneration, or in other words, we receive the very life of God.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  John 1:12

We are born of God.  We receive the power to become His sons.  We have been born again by the Spirit of God.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 1 John 5:1

When a sinner believes in the Lord Jesus, he not only receives salvation but new life from God. He becomes a begotten son, not just any son but a “natural-born” son.  If we are natural-born sons of God or in this case “supernaturally” born children, then how can this relationship be undone?

If you have a bad, rebellious and undisciplined son you could deny him in a court of law, but he continues to be your son.  An evil son is also begotten or born of his father.  He shares the same life as a member of the family.  The same occurs between God and us.  We receive the power to become begotten sons.  Even if we become disobedient and undisciplined we are still sons of God, it is a question of nature and relationship.  There is no way to change this.

The only way to terminate the relationship between father and son is through the death of one of the two.  We know that God cannot die and now that we have received eternal life, spiritual death has no power over us.

After Adam sinned, God placed a cherub with a flaming sword at the entrance of the garden thus preventing him from eating of the tree of life and living eternally.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” Genesis 3:22

Born again Christians today are the redeemed sons and daughters of God.  Today we eat of the true tree of Life, which is Christ Jesus, and therefore we receive eternal life and will live eternally.  This is a fact that we cannot change. This is the meaning of being a begotten son.

The truth is that we are more sons of God than Adam was.  God did not beget Adam.  Adam was God’s creature.  He was no more God’s son than Frankenstein’s monster was the son of Frankenstein. God created Adam from the dust of the earth, but Christians are born into God’s family as sons not just as God’s creation.

Jesus Christ was formerly the only begotten son of God.  Because of the cross, He became the first-born of many brethren.  The only way to enter into God’s family is through the new birth.  Because God begat us we are heirs of God.  God has no adopted children, He begat them all through the new birth by the Spirit.  When the Bible teaches about “adoption” as sons, we need to understand that the term did not mean adoption in the way that we understand it today.  The word translated in the Bible as adoption in modern English denoted the passage of a begotten son that formerly as a child had been treated with fewer privileges than a slave, but later on had become a mature son having full access to his father’s estate.  So once again, spiritual birth because of its nature is irreversible.  No son can become unborn!  No child of God can find himself out of the family. Once born into the family one becomes a permanent member of the family.  Whether distant or near, good or bad, grateful or bitter, God has all kinds of Children with all kinds of attitudes.

It is true that God has His pattern.  He expects His Children to reflect His divine characteristics, yet many do not, and the truth is that to some extent, all fail.  The Word of God teaches that he who claims to be without sin deceives himself and the truth is not in him (1 John 1:8 ).  It is very difficult for the religious mind to accept the doctrine of begotten son-ship. If our position as sons depended on our faithfulness and capacity to endure until the end, then God’s choice of metaphor, the symbol of the relationship between Himself and His people would have been tragically inadequate.  Only the God of Christianity reveals Himself as “Father”.  This is strikingly significant and even more so that you and I can become a begotten son of the eternal Father.

Responding to Divine disapproval

Responding to divine approval and overcoming reproof

divine disapprovalThe way that we respond to divine tests sent by God spares us of divine disapproval and determines the amount and quality of the development of our personality as well as our emotional nature and assimilated character. We have three options in how we respond to God’s testing of our lives, or in other words, one of three principles that we can choose to follow: the principle of divine disapproval, the principle of God’s reproof or the principle of  God’s approval.

Divine disapproval

In this post we will examine the first principle, that of divine disapproval which involves reaping what we have sown.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7, 8)

The story of Jacob summarizes divine disapproval. Jacob was a deceiver who was  later deceived. Even at birth, he entered the world hanging on to his brother’s ankle as if he was trying to be born first. From the womb, Jacob was already demonstrating his problematic nature. He was a competitor, ready to do anything necessary to get what he wanted to secure God’s blessing without caring about the means he had to use to attain his goals.

He used carnal and sinful means to obtain the spiritual blessings that he desired. Jacob was that “smooth operator”, a con artist that always took advantage of circumstances and people as he strived to gain the upper hand in everything to reach his objectives without concern with whomever he had to step over on his way. This is the principle of exalting our own self-interests above God’s divine purpose and process.

Jacob began by provoking his own brother Esau to promise to sell his birthright in exchange for a temporal fulfillment of his immediate physical need: a hot meal after a long day’s work. Afterward, with the help of his mother, he stole his brother’s precious blessing of the firstborn. In order to accomplish this, he also had to deceive his own blind father a very serious transgression that caused dire consequences to come upon him:

Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ (Deuteronomy 27:18)

As he devised one scheme after another finally, at least apparently, he was able to fulfill his objective. Getting everything that he wanted through manipulation and dishonesty, he set himself up for some very serious problems.

After Esau swore to take revenge on his younger brother, Jacob tried to resolve the problem in a very simplistic and cowardly way: flight. As Jacob fled, God confronted him saying, “Jacob, you cannot obtain my blessing through your own means! You can run away from people and circumstances, but not from me:

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” (Genesis 28:15)

Jacob’s behavior exhibited a serious character flaw. God made it clear that he would be with him and that eventually, he would have to go back and resolve the situation. Completely reproved, God sent him to the famous “school of brokenness”, for nothing less than 20 years in “pastor Laban’s seminary”. This turned out to be a prolonged and painful experience especially designed for those who think they are can outsmart God and are above the principles that govern the spiritual world. Jacob’s moral ignorance required severe treatment. This disciplinary “boot camp” is the method that God uses to confront our optimistic, cheating, sly and manipulative evil ways.

Laban is one of the worst models of leadership recorded in the Bible. He was a perverse father who coldly and cruelly betrayed his own daughter on her wedding night. Rachel had to wait seven years to marry her beloved groom and then on her wedding night, her father replaced her and put her older sister in the honeymoon suite!

With absolutely no scruples, Laban took advantage of Jacob by using and abusing his own daughters, throwing them into the moral arena of polygamy as always seeking his own financial interests. Laban embodies the greatest expression of those who strive to attain their own selfish objectives at any price. Therefore, Laban’s manipulative ways superseded those of Jacob. If Jacob considered himself a great con artist, Laban had a PhD in the art of deception!

Jacob cheated his own brother and thought that he could simply skip town and everything would be fine. God did not approve of his attitude, and for twenty years, Jacob had to reap the bitter fruit of what he had sown: a slow and bitter process of reproof. Through this process, he learned to see himself in Laban. Finally, he began to sanctify his motivations and rescue his identity.

The great and awful truth is that God has a Laban for each Jacob! Just call it the law of the mirror. God knows how to make us recognize who we are. Our greatest problem is not Laban who is outside of us, but the Jacob within us! We all need a “mirror”!

God began to excavate Jacob’s heart until he understood that he needed to return to the starting point and resolve the conflict that he caused with his brother. Independently of how much time has passed, we will have to return to the starting point where God first reproved us and retake the test.

After Jacob deceived his brother, he fled for twenty years to the back side of the desert far from his home. There he learned to finally accept divine correction. So he returned home, humbled himself and met with his brother, doing his part to restore the relationship. Only then, did God approve Jacob and restore his identity. His name became Israel: the name of the nation created by God. He perpetuated the promise of the coming Messiah, and in this way caused the fulfillment of God’s Word in his life.

We will all reap everything that we have planted. No one escapes reaping what he or she has sown. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption as a testimony to God’s reproof. If we sow to the spirit, we will reap life and peace as a testimony to his divine approval.

We must all face and resolve all pending problems in our lives that bring on divine disapproval. We can never escape the precise laws that govern the spiritual world. It doesn’t matter how well we are able to disguise our mistakes, or how far we are able to flee, we will be handcuffed by reproof. The best option is to return to the starting point, to the place where we lost that acts, no matter how painful it is.

Pride and shame

Pride and shame, boasting and isolation

pride and shameThe sins of pride and shame which lead to boasting or isolation have a devastatingly great potential to separate and divide Christians and destroy their fellowship. Believers plagued by these sins literally take the Lord’s Supper without discerning Christ’s body and for this reason as Paul said, many of them live in sickness and others even fall into premature death.

Pride and shame represent two polar extremes of carnal reactions that consolidate spiritual failure. These attitudes undermine our strategic attempts to “disguise” or “cover” hidden frameworks of moral reproof. In this way, the evil spirits behind these sins cause relationships to become intolerable due to the disgusting character of their victims chronic boasting or they literally cut their victims souls to pieces through the loneliness of isolation.

The principal motives supporting these lying behaviors are moral shame and pride. Some believers choose the path of obscurity making themselves almost completely incapable of reconciliation. Worse than any sin, is hiding one sin or disguising it.

Many excellent and able people who work in Christian circles in spite of all their potential and charisma unfortunately walk in hidden paths that enable evil spirits to enslave them in all types of scandalous sin. In spite of numerous opportunities that both God and spiritual leaders give these people to confess their sin and receive help, such Christians often develop a demonic ability to cover up their condition resigning to isolation or religious activism.

The vicious circle of pride and shame

Obviously in such cases the time always arrives in which the hidden sin comes to light. Even so more often than not, such people refuse to admit to the facts, which end up clearly manifesting themselves only after forceful confrontation with eyewitnesses. The saddest part in my opinion is not even the sin that becomes exposed whether homosexuality, fornication or some other scandalous sin, but the boldface, lying attitude that causes irreparable damage in relationships. There is no way to establish a relationship of trust since in these cases the truth is nowhere to be found.

One of the things that I have learned in counseling is not to place so much value on the sin that people bring to a counseling situation, no matter how scandalous it appears to be as long as those who share their problems are sincere and don’t lie. When someone begins to lie in counseling I would rather not waste any more time hearing what the person has to say.

Some two-faced people are true devourers of our precious time. They frequently try to transfer their responsibilities to us in a dishonest manner by failing to admit to the truth. Such people waste their own time as well as ours. My experience is that one of the main reasons why Christians fail to receive deliverance from many types of bondage to sin is that they are simply dishonest. They omit or lie about information that determines the effectiveness and the depth of the very process of their own deliverance. For this reason although they have gone through innumerable sessions of deliverance, many still fail to get free and will never see freedom unless they walk in the light and in truth.

One of the ways to discern God’s reproof in the lives of certain believers is by their rigid religious boasting through which they affirm themselves in search of recognition. Many people hide behind religious activism, positions of leadership or even ministerial performance to compensate for moral and emotional failures.

For example, some people present themselves as prophets. They speak in the name of the Lord but deep down inside their declarations are nothing more than carnal attempts to affirm themselves through feigned spirituality. They manipulate others in the attempt to gain spiritual respect. The result is merely a show of carnality. They try to compensate their spiritual failure by attempting to prove a position that they don’t possess. Such believers don’t tolerate the possibility of a ruined reputation. The apostle Paul rejected this attitude:

For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:18)

Putting up airs is tantamount to the explicit practice of hypocrisy and pride, sins that sear the human conscience. Believers who fall prey to these sins subject themselves to a sudden fall from an even higher position than they previously held before they positioned themselves through pride. Scandals are conceived by this type of behavior.

Many believers attempt to cover their failure and reproof through isolation. This can happen in very sinister ways. Such believers simply avoid fellowship with others so that nobody discovers the shameful and embarrassing situation that they have been hiding. This is a subtle path to apostasy. All those who abandon fellowship give evidence to their state of failure and reproof.

Occasionally we come across those who spiritualize their erroneous relationship with God by saying: “I don’t belong to any church! I don’t submit to any man, only to God!” The truth is that these people are spiritually sick perpetuating a legacy of spiritual failure and reproof! No one can belong to Christ and fail to be part of the body of Christ!

Others in much more sinister ways withdraw from fellowship saying: “Today I am not going to the church service to see if the pastor will notice my absence!” Instead of missing them, the pastor feels relieved and hardly notices that the person is absent! This situation can repeat itself, and in a short time, the person becomes completely isolated, disgraced and finally backslidden.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Pride and shame destroyed

The blessed consequence of walking in the light is a healthy fellowship with others in sincerity and transparency, which is also the basic requirement for resolving and purifying our sins by the blood of Jesus. The sins of pride and isolation sentence those who practice them to a state of spiritual failure and reproof.

Gratitude and prosperity

Gratitude and prosperity and the poverty of ingratitude

gratitude and prosperityIngratitude acts as a thermometer that measures our spiritual health. The lack of gratitude in our lives indicates the presence of areas of our heart that we have subjected to the evil one and have neglected to deal with responsibly.

Gratitude is the quality that establishes the precise dividing line between emotional prosperity and health and the poverty of misery. The Bible speaks of the poor in multiple passages. God made the poor, but God never made anyone poor. Ungratefulness causes a person to become spiritually and emotionally poor and miserable! In like manner, the misery of the ingratitude of the rich can become terribly worse than the poverty of the poor.

Gratitude or thankfulness is one of the greatest secrets of prosperity. All those who ungratefully murmur and complain have made a U-turn on the road that leads to prosperity and have begun a race down the opposite highway to spiritual, emotional and eventually material poverty. Many people cast themselves into misery and ruin because they repay good with evil, blessing with cursing and spit in the plate from which they eat. They act in bald-faced ungratefulness. This is one of the worse symptoms defining a life of reproof.

Almost all of us can think of people in our lives who we usually have to “carry on our backs” figuratively speaking. They are weak and dependent individuals who have learned to use their disadvantages to manipulate others. They are always in need of something causing us to feel obligated to redouble our efforts to meet their needs in goodwill. However, if we ever find ourselves in a situation where we cannot help them, they reveal their ingratitude by vomiting phrases such as, “You never help me! You always let me down!”

People cast themselves into all kinds of misery including financial and material poverty because of ungratefulness and betrayal. I remember several occasions when I lived in Brazil where young boys and teenagers who wandered about the parking lots of the city center asked shoppers for money in exchange for keeping an eye on their cars while they shopped. Several times when I would return to my car, the boys who allegedly watched it for me even though I did not solicit them to do so, would hold out their hand to receive “payment”. Whenever I would attempt to give them a few coins they would angrily complain and indignantly question me, “Is that all!”

Several times this left me indignant and instinctively I would snatch the money out of their hands telling them that if they had no use for it, I did! I began to understand how ungratefulness gives place to the spirit of misery. Many people destroy their own lives through ungratefulness and afterward want to destroy the lives of others with their criticism. All ungrateful people become critical people and every critical person becomes ungrateful as well. The truth is that whenever God reproves a person through the circumstances of life, eventually, that person will manifest this through murmuring and criticism. Irresponsible criticism is the vomit of ungratefulness.

All ungrateful people are blind to the good that they have received. They are unable to perceive the effort that others put forth to bless them. The truth is that ungratefulness transforms a person into a “bottomless pit” of need. Nothing is enough for them and that is why they are always dissatisfied.

Whenever a person’s emphasis is more critical than motivational, it is a symptom of the pain of inner hurt caused by reproof. The person sees no solution, only problems. Such people turn their focus onto themselves, thus when they focus on the problems and deficiencies of those around them with whom they live, they make a spiritual diagnosis and conclude that they are correct and the others are at fault and in need of reproof.

Flight response of the believer to God’s reproof

The danger of fleeing from God’s reproof

flight responseEmotionally wounded people tend to run away from situations and responsibilities. Flight is one of the strongest temptations to those who find themselves in the state of reproof.

Any situation of pain, whether physical, emotional or moral, invariably imposes the dynamic of flight response. The tendency is to seek relief and comfort rather than attempt to solve problems. Although this is a natural mechanism of self-defense, it can become dangerous, principally when we avoid treating an inner hurt, irresponsibly continuing to live on prevarications and palliatives.

As much as these flight responses of escape seem to alleviate a person’s pain temporarily, in the process the focus on the wound only gets worse, merely aggravating the perceived need for greater and greater doses of emotional narcotics. In this way, many become addicted and conditioned to flight.

Apparently it seems a lot easier to duck responsibility, avoiding any type of confrontation that threatens to call attention to the trauma. The wide an easy path is also the path that can be eternally long and heavy laden. By choosing the wide and easy path, we avoid the process of healing which only prolongs the state of demonic infirmity and oppression.

Flight response and spiritual defeat

As we join our fear to our flight response, we establish a dynamic that imprisons us in a state of defeat. Our flight response is the flip-side of God’s solution, the principle of unresolved conflicts. The more we flee the more we distance ourselves from the solution. Our flight response is the distancing of ourselves from the solution of our own spiritual life and situation.

Many people are stuck in a pilgrimage of a series of entering and leaving churches. Each time that a problem afflicts them, instead of acting in humility and maturity, they flee leaving a trail of wounds, destroyed relationships and closed doors. When God begins to lead them back to the point where he can deal with them, their greatest temptation is to give up and flee. Each time this happens, they abort the new opportunity for growth once again.

Because of their vicious cycle of flight, they never persevere in anything habitually avoiding the challenges that could turn their life around to a victorious and enjoyable spiritual experience. Many Christians in this condition readily change their “calling” according to their own convenience, which is nothing more than a subtle form of  our attempt to spiritualize the process of reproof and flight.

For these Christians, it is easier and more convenient to change churches than to face and definitively resolve the area that afflicts them. Obviously in each one of these moves, they carry with them contaminated spiritual baggage which becomes the voice of prophecy of new and greater difficulties. It is impossible to wrongly leave a place or situation without wrongly entering into another. The problem resides not in the places through which they pass, but in them.

Certainly, in order to realign themselves with the benefits of a life of freedom, these believers will eventually need to return to each one of these situations and resolve whatever has not yet been resolved.

Biblical examples of flight response

Moses is a classic example of such an emotional fugitive. In his irrational zeal to protect his people, he opened up a terrible wound in his own life by killing an Egyptian man. He concealed his deed and began to walk in darkness. It didn’t take long and he was attacked once again in the same area, now by a fellow Hebrew citizen. The situation traumatized him so much that it caused him to give up on everything, transforming him into a fugitive.

But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. (Acts 7:27-29)

Before he could free the people of Israel Moses himself had to be freed. When God, after 40 years asked him to return to Egypt, it wasn’t only for Israel’s sake, but also for his own benefit.

The return of Moses to liberate Israel from captivity in Egypt determined his own healing. Even though 40 years had already passed and God had already deeply dealt with him through “Pastor Jethro’s seminary” he needed to go back to his point of hurt in order to cease from being a fugitive.

Cain was another fugitive in the Bible. His story provides a sad scene that demonstrates the attitude of a fugitive. I am referring to God’s people who in no way are open to the possibility of exposing themselves in brokenness, admitting their mistakes and correcting what needs to be fixed.

Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. (Genesis 4:14, 15)

After God rejected both Cain and his offering, Cain’s jealousy became inflamed with respect to his brother because God accepted him together with his sacrifice. After receiving God’s warning concerning the dark motivations that assailed his heart Cain ended up murdering his own brother since he would not tolerate Abel’s success. However when God confronted him concerning his murderous deed he denied the act, and preferred to walk in darkness. No matter how God tried to bring him back into the light, he chose a life of lies!

Cain’s profile reflects a high percentage of people in the church who live in relational darkness, fleeing from the truth. Upon being tested and reproved by God, Cain became a fugitive and played the part of a victim. Instead of fearing the Lord he feared the responsibilities that he should have taken on.

For not knowing the heart of God, thinking that he would be overly strict, he decided to flee. It is in this way that many Christians abandon God’s divine plan for their lives and begin wandering through life like a homeless person! From that point forward, they no longer persevere in anything. They easily fall into self-condemnation: unable to forgive themselves having lost the ability to trust in the forgiving character of God. They become disoriented in life.

In the same way, we can mention the prophet Jonah, the man who was the quickest to flee from responsibility in the Bible. In Jonah 1:1, 2 we read about God call to Jonah to preach a message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. By verse three however, he is already running away:

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3)

Coincidentally, a storm began to ravage the ship on which he fled. From that comfortable place where he slept in the galley of the ship, he was thrown into the ocean and swallowed by a great fish that took him to the heart of the ocean depths.

Only then did he decide to pray! He finally yielded to the task that God had given him, changed his mind and returned to God’s original plan. After three days, the fish vomited him out on the banks of Nineveh where he finally fulfilled his mission.

Just imagine the condition he arrived in at the land of his calling, vomited by a fish, with an intolerable stench of fish guts! The fish was a type of divine submarine in which no sane prophet would want to travel! I hope that you don’t have to go to the place of your calling inside of a fish.

It is never a good idea to flee from the God’s presence. No matter how far we flee from what hurts us or leaves us feeling ashamed, eventually we will have to backtrack and return to the point of origin, where we arrive handcuffed by reproof.

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