I'm going to share with you two verses which describe an event that changed the course of human history.
Luke 3:21-22 says:
21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
It is fascinating that this event in scripture is the only one I'm aware where you see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit mentioned at the same time. History changed.
There is a definite transition in the gospels that propels the world from the limitations of Old Testament law to the revelation of New Testament freedom.
In Haggai 2:11-13 the boundaries of Old Testament law are clear:
11 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,
12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.
The point? Sin contaminated everything it touched. The only to be rid of sin was to go through a ritual of cleansing that only made you clean until something happened to contaminate you again.
Yet Jesus healed lepers, raised the dead and hung out with former prostitutes and evil tax collectors.
When Jesus heals the man with an infirmity of 38 years by the pool of Bethesda—He shows the rules on earth are changing. (John 5:4)
When Jesus feeds 5 thousand men and all the women and children with them with just a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish—He shows the world that there is a completely difference power source available now. (Matthew 14)
When Jesus walks on the water—He is really revealing that the power of God has returned to earth. (Mark 6)
Jesus changed everything.
In Isaiah 64:1 it says:
Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down ….
The Message Bible puts Isaiah 64:1 this way:
Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend ….
Luke 3:21-22 was the answer to Isaiah’s prayer!
…it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Spirit descended ….
Jesus brought freedom from Old Testament rules and regulations by fulfilling the law. Second Corinthians 3:17 in the Amplified Bible says:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).
As a body of believers, we carry the very presence of the Lord. We carry the ability to change a situation just because we walk into it … because we carry the very presence of God Himself. He lives in us.
However most Christians either don’t realize this power or don’t have confidence in what God can do through them.
I Corinthians 7:13-14 says:
And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
There is this bold and very interesting statement. What does it mean?
It means as Christians we bring the presence of God into a situation and wherever His presence is … there is the power to change sin … the thing which contaminates … into freedom in the Holy Spirit.
How Do We Become Transformed?
The very first thing that happens after Jesus’ baptism is He is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil.
Our Christian life mirror the lives of the Children of Israel.
1) We are all born in sin but delivered by God’s grace — which is why there is so much time spent on the story of God’s children coming from Egypt.
I Corinthians 10:6 says:
“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”
2) We must all go through the wilderness to be tried and tested to reveal what’s in our hearts. These adverse circumstances are designed to lead us to God for answers … thus we will be changed into His image.
Deuteronomy 8:2 says:
”Remember that for 40 years the Lord your God led you on your journey in the esert. He did this in order to humble you and test you. He wanted to know whether or not you would wholeheartedly obey his commands.”
3) We must obey the Lord if we want to defeat the giants and conqueror our Promised Land.
In Luke 4:3 in the New King James Version it says:
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Most of the time we hear about three temptations of the Lord but if we look carefully, we will see a fourth.
The devil said to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God….”
What did we just read in Luke 3? When the heavens opened, God Himself said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
In order for Jesus to win the victory … He had to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was who He thought He was… the Son of God.
Remember… Jesus set aside his deity and was born a helpless baby… the devil was letting nothing slip past his inspection.
In order for us to do what God has called us to do … we too have to know who we are. Do we “think” we are Christians or do we “know” we are Christians?
God designed and planned for us to be victorious and win others by showing others that the power of God is now on planet earth.
In Luke 7:11-15 we read:
11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
Again we read in Matthew 9:20-22
20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
In both of these scriptural stories we see Jesus touching the dead youth and bringing him back to life. Yet He was not contaminated. In fact, what we see is the Lord bringing a whole new option that had not been available before.
In the story of the widow we see that the presence of the Holy Spirit on Jesus allows healing to be an option that didn’t exist before.
This woman had probably heard that this man named Jesus was going around laying hands on the sick, raising the dead, miraculously making demons flee.
Or maybe she saw someone who she knew had been terribly sick but now was whole. Regardless, she realized the rules she was used to … had changed.
Jesus was showing us what is available for a Christian who lives and moves in and by the Holy Spirit.
Luke 3:22 says the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove. The Holy Spirit became Jesus direct line to the Father. He introduced the Spirit of God in His fullness.
We were called to carry His presence in the same way.
Paul outlines this progression in his prayer in Ephesians 3:16-18. This is from the New Living Translation:
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
There are 7 points we can learn from Ephesians 3:16-18 that help us understand how we can do what Jesus did on earth.
1) From His glorious, unlimited resources. God has everything at His disposal. Everything. There is no power greater or more powerful.
2) He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. God is not only willing … He is fully able to empower us with inner strength… it comes through the Spirit of God within us.
3) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. It is a progression. Once we’ve been empowered with the Holy Spirit … we learn to trust Christ more and more so we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The Message Bible says it this way: that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.
The Living Bible says: Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts.
As we allow the Lord control, we can become more and more of a channel of His blessing and power. Lots of Christians have the Holy Spirit but He is not always allowed to freely move about in all who have the privilege of His presence.
4) Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. This is all available through and because of our love relationship with God. God’s love is our source.
5) And may you have the power to understand. It has always been God’s intent that we understand how to spread His love here on earth.
6) As all God’s people should. It is God’s plan for all His people to function this way but not all are … isn’t it time to start?
7) How wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.We are assured that we can understand enough about God’s love to do the same miracles as Jesus did or Jesus would have never said we would do what He did and greater things than He did. It is all based on God’s love for us.
In Romans 14:17 Paul is explaining to the Roman Jews that the Christian life is totally different from the Old Testament law:
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The Kingdom of God is not based on meat or drink… those were rituals from the Old Testament law.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Kingdom of God is … in the Holy Spirit.
Acts 17:28 says: “ For in him we live, and move, and have our being…”
If we look at Luke 3:22 again, the first part of the scripture says:
“And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.”
As Jesus comes out of the water of His baptism, the Holy Spirit descends in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him.
Why would the Holy Spirit be characterized by a dove? If a dove lands on your shoulder and you don’t want to scare him away, than your every move is going to be focused on the dove.
If you are focused on keeping the dove on your shoulder, you will be way too busy to think about anything else.
We were designed to let Him live through us.
Galatians 2:20 tells us:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
If we are trying to live for the Lord, then our salvation is based on works.
The sooner we realize that we have no righteousness other than God’s, the more joyful and successful we’ll become.
Ephesians 2:8-10 in the Amplified Bible:
For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
Notice there is absolutely NOTHING we can do to be righteous. Our righteousness is based solely on the fact that we believed … had faith in … the fact that Jesus paid the price for us.
This is a fact we don’t need to forget.
In Matthew 5:25-26 Jesus says:
25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
If you read the verse before this one, it is the story of the man who is about to make an offering to God when he remembers an offense with another. Jesus said go make things right with the offended individual before you present your gift on the altar.
At first glance, this scripture doesn’t seem to make sense unless you are involved in a law suit but its implications are far more reaching.
Jesus says if it’s not settled before it gets the court of heaven, the one bringing the gift is going to lose every time.
This is a clear indication of how God looks at us when we bring on our own righteousness before the court of heaven.
The real accuser is the accuser of the brethren…none other than the devil himself. Therefore, Jesus says agree with your adversary. Now, that seems very strange to us but what the Lord says is true and this is how He means it.
When we do something wrong, our carnal nature wants to make rationalize what we’ve done and make an excuse. But the truth is … no matter how good we are …no matter how ‘righteous’ we live. It is not our righteousness that got us there.
That’s why it’s just smart to have the right answer when the enemy assails you. It doesn’t matter what sorry sin he whispers in your ear and reminds you that you’ve done. Agree with him and remind him, “it’s not my righteousness that makes me righteous… it’s God’s.”
Francis Frangipane, in his book The Three Battlegrounds, says it this way:
“Satan will not continue to assault you if the circumstances he designed to destroy you are not working to perfect you.”
Isn’t that the whole reason for your trials …to perfect you into the image of the Lord?
I don’t care how good we are or how clean we live. It isn’t our righteousness that got us here…it was God’s grace … pure and simple.
God will always uphold His scriptural principles.
I Peter 5:5 says:
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Jesus would never say … submit yourself to the enemy … but we can never justify our sin … we can only ask forgiveness for it and be careful we don’t rely on our own good works as a justification for deserving grace!
The devil’s been playing the blame game for centuries and that makes all of us relatively new life on planet earth no matter how old we are.
James 4:6-7 says:
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We are to be joyful carriers of the Good News who are so focused on the dove on our shoulder that we lose sight of ourselves because our heart’s desire is to please Him and hear His voice.
When Peter began to follow Jesus he was pretty sure he was the man for the job. All you had to do was ask him! But following his betrayal of the Lord … his own poignant wilderness experience, he became Jesus’ man as we see in this story of Acts.
When Peter began to focus on the presence of God, he became totally God’s man.
In Acts 3:6 it says:
6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
Verse 11 says:
11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
Peter was no longer his own man … he was God’s man.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freelygive.
Often, when God calls us to do something … we get so fearful and preoccupied with who we are … we forget who He is.
If we become so focused on God, we will forget about being self-conscious and God’s power can move through us freely. Just as God planned for us all along.
Ephesians 4:13 in the New International Version says:
“Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS