Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

The Real Argument ~ February 27, 2014

It is interesting what Christians fight over—what it is that divides God’s people into different groups and denominations. I can’t imagine that Jesus intended his followers be divided over anything, but here we are 2,000 years later with approximately 41,000 Christian denominations, according to Wikipedia.

 

One of the areas of dispute is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Some groups believe that the presence of Christ’s Spirit—known as the Holy Spirit—comes into an individual at the time of conversion. Others believe it comes with an experience known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with many other opinions landing somewhere in between. There is also a great deal of controversy on how much of this Spirit is granted to the believer.

 

Personally, I believe the real argument is not if He comes, how He comes, or when He comes. The scripture is clear on the issue that He does come! The real argument is more clearly found in our capacity to recognize His presence and the ability to draw upon that source of power once He is within us.

 

The fact is that if we are full of the world, we have little capacity for the presence of God. If we are consumed and controlled by “self” (the fleshly nature we inherited from the fall), we have little ability to access the Spirit within. Therefore, our faith is small, our strength is small, and our results will be small.

 

If that describes us, we will not know the power of His Spirit even though He dwells inside us. We will not be able to utilize this power when we need it, but will be overpowered by our fleshly nature. This applies to even those who have a great experience when being filled with the Spirit. It’s what we do with the Indwelling Christ that matters.

 

Jesus clearly said, “To Him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life.”1 Ever wonder what He meant by this? Overcome what? Could it be those who overcome their “self” –Satan’s representative in every human being? Those who deny their “self”? Those who crucify their “self” and put “self” to death? Those who overcome the power of “self” and allow Christ to reign in their lives? Could that be the overcomers Jesus is talking about? If so, then am I an overcomer?

 

I fully believe that it is this “self” we must overcome—and not the devil, his works, or even the world. Jesus did that!2 We have one thing to overcome in our individual lives and that is the “self” that sits on the throne of our hearts and rules what we do, what we say, how we act and react, how we spend our time, what we love, and what appeals to us. But Christ will not unseat my “self”—I must do it!

 

It is time the truth about “self” be revealed to our own hearts. We yield to its persuasion over us; we act as if it has some right to exert its ugly behavior as some honorable entity that doesn’t have to please God or adhere to His commands. After all, it’s “me” and I can’t help being “me!” Did I mention that “self” comes directly from the “father of lies?”3

 

We have been lied to long enough. Unless we face this truth, we will be deceived about who “self” is. Self is our enemy. Self is God’s enemy. We must not protect our self, not if we want to eat of the tree of life.

 

This might be a good time for a “self” test. Do my actions, words, thoughts, behaviors, desires, and loves line up with that taught and modeled by Jesus, or am I mostly doing my own thing? I can explain it away all I want, rationalize all I must, justify myself, my rights over and over, but when I stand before the Lord will my arguments hold up?

 

I do not want to wait until that day to figure out that I might be of the world and not really a follower of Christ at all.  Like it or not, I best get on with doing what Jesus said to do: deny my “self.”4

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget this all-important fact: He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me to help me do that very thing. Come on, Jesus Followers, let’s figure out this mystery of the gospel—Christ in me, the hope of glory.5 ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Revelation 2:7; 2John 16:33; 3John 8:44; 4Matthew 16:24; 5Colossians 1:27

 

The Biggest Winner! May 9, 2013

I can think of no better title to follow last week’s blog “The Biggest Loser” than “The Biggest Winner!” All of us like to be a winner—some more than others—but the truth is that we all want to WIN. From Super bowls to spelling bees, there is something in our DNA that causes our blood to pump a little faster when faced with the challenge to win.

 

Could it be that the DNA to win is passed to us from our Heavenly Father? After all, God is a winner and we are made in His image. In our natural life we will “win some—lose some.” But in the game that matters most—our spiritual life—all who follow after God can be winners. He intended for it to be so.

 

The Apostle Paul couldn’t have made this point any plainer than he did in Romans Chapter 8. Right there in the same chapter where we are unlocking the mystery of walking in the Spirit to defeat our flesh, we will also find God’s clearly laid out plan to make us winners.

 

Read the list of winning phrases below that Paul made about those who choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. These verses are bursting with life, hope, and victory! Read them slowly, letting each one soak into your spirit. These words have the potential to set God’s children free from the voices of the enemy that enslave us. Don’t brush over them as if they are old words. Let them become new words filled with power and life. As if you are reading them for the very first time, hear the Spirit whisper “Winner! Winner! Winner!”

Verse  1  ~ there is no condemnation

Verse  2  ~ has made me free

Verse 11 ~ will also give life

Verse 14 ~ are the sons of God

Verse 15 ~ received the Spirit of adoption

Verse 16 ~ are the children of God

Verse 17 ~ heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ

Verse 17 ~ may share in His glory

Verse 19 ~ the glory which shall be revealed in us

Verse 21 ~ the glorious liberty of the children of God

Verse 23 ~ the redemption of the body

Verse 24 ~ were saved in this hope

Verse 26 ~ helps in our weaknesses

Verse 27 ~ makes intercession for us

Verse 28 ~ all things work together for good

Verse 29 ~ predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son

Verse 30 ~ called; justified; and glorified

Verse 32 ~ freely gives us all things

Verse 37 ~ are more than conquerors

Verse 39 ~ [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God!

 

What a list! It cannot be stated any clearer, stronger, or more certain than that. These words—outlining God’s provisions for us—are positive, straight-forward, and power-packed! What else could we possibly want or need? Paul tops off this dissertation of God’s plan with some “go-figure” and “no-nonsense” questions:  Who can be against us?  Who can charge us?  Who can condemn us? Who can separate us from God? Easy answer: NO ONE!

 

To paraphrase in modern day language, this is what I hear Paul saying, “Give me a break! How can any of you be discouraged, defeated, worried, or condemned when you have God on your side? There’s not a chance that your flesh is going to win, not with all that He has provided for you. So take notice as to what you have been given, believe God is able, and declare that you are a Winner! Winner! Winner!”

 

Winning over our flesh is HUGE—it is, in fact, our biggest hurdle. It is the very thing that keeps us blind-sided, side-tracked, and confused. Yet, a HUGE problem requires a HUGE answer. Very soon we are going to unlock another mystery of the gospel that Paul disclosed to his readers. This mystery is for every follower of Jesus to see, grasp, claim, and put into practice in his or her own life. Good things are just ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

The Biggest Loser May 1, 2013

On the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser,” the biggest loser is the winner! Sounds strange, doesn’t it?  It reminds me of how the younger generation uses the word “bad” to mean “good,” or “hot” to mean “cool,” that is when “cool” means how “good” something is.

 

Apparently, we don’t always know what words are intended to mean unless the person using them explains it to us. That is certainly the case in Romans Chapter 8. Paul clearly stated that the biggest loser is the person who lives according to the flesh.1  If Paul had been living in our day, he might have pasted a big L across his forehead with his thumb and forefinger as he uttered the word “loser,” signifying that person is definitely not a winner.

 

According to Romans Chapter 8, I have two choices as to who runs my life: 1) the Holy Spirit, or 2) my loser flesh.

 

Jesus put it like this: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”2 I take that to mean if I choose option #1, I get life; if I choose option #2, I get nothing.

 

When am I going to get it—that my flesh is a Loser with a capital L? Why would I knowingly let a Loser run my life? Why would I let a Loser determine what I think? Or let a Loser control what I say? Why would I ever choose that? I wouldn’t.

 

Could it be that I have been conned into seeing my flesh in a better light? To believe that the desires of my flesh are actually OK? Have I been lured into thinking that my fleshy ways and ideas are not all bad? That they are just how God made me—part of my personality?

 

I wonder if the enemy of my soul has launched a brilliant scheme of which I am not apprised. After all, he is the master deceiver.

 

Paul told the Galatians, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap corruption.”3 There it is again—clearly not life. The enemy scoffs: “Loser! Loser! Loser! Triple Loser!”

 

I try to ignore his taunting—that I am helplessly enslaved to this flesh. I don’t want to be. And yet, I catch a glimpse of a different scenario in which I don’t have to be a Loser—I don’t have to settle there. Jesus and Paul said so.

 

“Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from of the Spirit will reap life everlasting.”4 I listen closely and hear the Spirit offering: “Life! Life! Life! Triple Life!”

 

How can I tap into that Triple LifeAbundant Life! How can I stop allowing my condemned flesh to rule and start letting the Life-giving Holy Spirit rule?

 

Great questions! How many training classes have born-again believers had on how to walk in the Spirit? Two, one, or maybe none! How many teachers courageously teach what it means to live in the Spirit? To be filled with the Spirit? Admit to knowing the third person of the Trinity and having a relationship with Him? Or confess to understanding the inner dealings, workings, and functions of the Holy Spirit? Who ever steps up and says like Paul, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ?” 5

 

The most natural thing in a person’s life after being born-again is to learn how to walk in the Spirit. Growing babies must learn to walk. Yet, many of us totter along through this Christian life, never learning to walk like Jesus walked.

 

Perhaps we have misunderstood, misinterpreted, or even underestimated this amazing promise of Jesus:  His Spirit living in us—through us—as us. Life! Life! Life!

 

I have tried a thousand times to transform my flesh by the power of the flesh. It hasn’t worked. I thank God that it hasn’t. I must grasp this one powerful life-changing truth as it has the ability to set me free from my works—striving to please God in my depraved, condemned flesh that can never please Him!

 

The glimpse broadens and I can see more. Even with disciplined and improved flesh, I am no better off. My only solution is the Holy Spirit living in me—through me—as me. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”6 No mental ascent to this mysterious arrangement will suffice.

 

My Holy House Guest tries to arouse me from slumber, from the things I must unlearn, and from this futile state of reigning flesh—particularly in spiritual things. He desires the best for me, and longs to show me how to let Him come alive in me. He yearns to know me; He yearns for me to know Him.

 

Feeling lifeless? The Holy House Guest is our answer. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Romans 8: 1-8; 2John 6:63; 3Galatians 6:8a; 4Galatians 6:8b; 51 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT); 6Galatians 2:20.

Other Related posts in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The House Guest, November 22, 2012

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Finally ~ the Solution to Our Sin Problem April 24, 2013

[I believe this is perhaps the most important blog I have ever posted. Even if you think you already know the solution, please read this anyway. It is a powerful concept that I believe has been overlooked or omitted from much church training. Read it slowly and ask to see it with new eyes. I apologize for its length, but its importance made that necessary.]

 

It is a gloomy picture—the one painted by the Apostle Paul—as he admits with honesty and candor the demise of living in the flesh, enslaved to its deadly longings. Its toxic hold on us is inescapable. There are no trap doors of magical illusions by which we can drop through, fly out, or break free. It is the unsolicited fate of every human being who has ever lived on planet earth—every offspring of Grandpa Adam and Granny Eve. It is our inheritance and it is real.

 

Paul strategically laid out the case for the wretchedness of man in Romans Chapter 7, and near the end of the chapter it is apparent that all efforts to escape this entanglement have failed. His final evaluation was a clear cry for help: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”1

 

Then, without so much as taking a breath, Paul makes a bold proclamation:  “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 2

 

Paul finally recognized that legally, by the finished work of Jesus on the cross, he was rescued from the pronounced judgment of a life controlled by the flesh. I stand right there with him, legally that is, and so does every other believer in Jesus!

 

In his next statement, with the official rescue already carried out, accepted and now declared, Paul lays out the reality of what we are left with thereafter: “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”3

 

With Paul’s “so then” we have a description of the war that ensues, and that will continue based on these two facts:  1) with my mind I serve God; 2) with my flesh I serve sin. That is my condition and yours, as born-again believers. But get ready, the solution to our predicament is just ahead!

 

Paul opens Romans Chapter 8 with some amazing news: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” 4 These are powerful statements. Let’s not miss any of it!

 

I have taken the liberty of removing the chapter break and paraphrasing what I heard Paul say:

“I have a horrific problem—I am a slave to sin and I cannot free myself. Who will rescue me from this fatal condition? Thank God, Jesus did! But even though I was rescued legally when I was born again and I now serve God with my mind, I still serve sin with my human nature. But listen up—there is a solution! Although the flesh is condemned, those of us who are in Christ Jesus (born-again) and walk in the Spirit are not condemned. Because of the fact that we are legally free from the law of sin and death, we can overrule our human nature by walking in the Spirit!”

 

Do you see it? Paul has outlined a two-part solution to being freed from the great sin problem we inherited:  1) our spiritual souls are legally freed from the curse of sin when we accept Jesus Christ, and 2) our physical lives are freed from sin’s control as we walk in the Spirit.

 

Both are provided through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 is rich with proof of this very arrangement. Life in the Spirit is the key to overruling our fleshly nature. That was the plan from the get-go—Christ would return to heaven and send a Helper, who would come to live in believers and empower them to overrule their fleshly nature.5

 

Many of us are born-again believers, but when we got to Romans 7:25, we made some mental ascent to this great truth, drove down our stake by faith and thought we were done. The problem is we were never taught how to walk in the Spirit. No one told us that unless we moved on into the provisions of Chapter 8, we would continue to live with our sin nature controlling us.

 

In Galatians 5:19, Paul clearly states this again: “I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Now let’s reverse it and read it again: “I say then, you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, if you walk in the Spirit.”

Jesus fully intended that every born-again believer be baptized in the Spirit,6 filled with the Spirit,7 empowered by the Spirit,8 and thereby enabled to live their life by the Spirit.

 

So what happened to Jesus’ intentions? We will examine. In fact, we have much to examine and explore about walking in the Spirit. Join the exciting journey ahead! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:24; 2Romans 7:25a (NIV); 3Romans 7:25b; 4Romans 8:1-2; 5John 16:7-13; 6Acts 1:5; 7Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 8Acts 1:8 (All other references are NKJ.)

 

 

A Hard Pill to Swallow March 26, 2013

I struggle to obey my Lord and repent again. I nearly think I am hopeless. Could God have intentionally made it this hard?

 

I doubt that I am the only one who struggles with this. Recently, in an online devotional, The Pursuit of Righteousness, Gary Wilkerson confirmed that I am not. He wrote: “God will not bless an effort to establish one’s own righteousness.”

 

Is that what I am trying to do when I attempt to discipline my flesh? Certainly, it needs to be done, but why am I such a habitual failure at doing it?

 

Could the problem be my motive? If I could do this thing—which obviously I can’t—I would become proud and say, “If I can do it, so can you.” But I can’t make myself righteous or keep myself righteous. A simple, true, cold hard fact!

 

Wilkerson ends with these words, “This calls for a repentant heart and brokenness—a humble acknowledgement that His power alone restores us to right standing.”

 

To be honest, I have gone in circles for years. My journals are written testimony against me. So why do I keep trying? How many failures does it take to make the point? Albert Einstein said it well, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

 

I can’t do it within my own power. Finally, there it is—a true confession, an acknowledgement of my utter helplessness to change myself. Depravity in a nutshell!

 

Depravity (dē-prav′ ə tē) crookedness; a depraved condition; corruption; wickedness.1

 

It just lies there in Webster’s dictionary, mostly unused and unwanted. It’s certainly not needed in the American culture—the land of plenty, of the educated, of the successful. This land where anyone can be all that they can be; the land of rights—individual, personal, equal—clearly the land of increase.

 

It is a hard pill to swallow—this word depravity. The flesh resists it with all the strength it has. The enemy of our souls will desperately try to talk us out of it—sidetrack us to somewhere else, anywhere else. Just don’t go there—not to depravity.

 

Yet, John the Baptist said this about Jesus:2

 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (KJV)

“He must become great; I must become less. (NIV)

“He must come greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (NLT)

“He must become more important, but I must become less important.” (ISV)

 

How much plainer must it be said? If we look closely with seeing eyes, one mystery of the Kingdom of God is opened to us. It’s the decrease that is so painful, so against the grain of our beliefs, our life-long pursuit for promotion. Yet, the clear call to Jesus’ followers is to decrease; become less; become less and less; and become less important.

 

We are so unaccustomed to the word depravity. It almost seems, well, you know—small—so undesirable, unattractive, and certainly not my desired destiny.

 

Think again. Jesus plainly told His followers their destiny: “Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”3 Or, “whoever wants to be great among you must become your servant.”4

 

Depravity has a message of great value for us. We just haven’t seen it. No one told us to look for it, as if it is a despised word. Even in Jesus’ teachings, it eludes the proud, the religious, and those who lord themselves over others. But it is there, a clear message tucked within this inverted gospel.

 

Depravity makes the cross more understandable—yet that kind of love so non-understandable. We couldn’t do it for ourselves, so for love, Jesus did it for us. Why do I keep trying to accomplish something I can’t do and not fully accept that which has been done for me—my salvation and my sanctification?

 

Seek depravity. Chase after it. Hunger and thirst for its value. When you catch a glimpse, ask for more. Don’t settle for a glimpse; plead with God to see it fuller still. Grasp it. Embrace it. It is a long-forgotten, overlooked word that renders great treasures to our Christian lives. ~Janie Kellogg

 

1Webster’s New World College Dictionary; 2John 3:30; 3Matthew 16:24 (NIV); 4Matthew 20:26 (NIV)

 

Other Related Posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels:  The Inverted Gospel – Archives – January 23, 2013; Just For Love It Was Done – Archives – March 20, 2013

 

Since Self is on the Throne March 6, 2013

“Take up your cross and follow Me,”

I heard the Master say.

But denying myself to answer Your call,

Is a price too high to pay,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Love my enemies; bless those who hate;

Pray for those who spitefully use me.

Surely, Lord, You don’t require that,

For much too vulnerable I’d be,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Forgive one another as Christ forgave me;

Your Word says this is a must.

But I was treated too unfair to ever forgive.

So You’ll not ask that of me, I trust,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

To him who strikes me on the cheek,

I’m to offer the other side.

Surely this doesn’t mean what it says.

Why, my “rights” would be denied,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Be kind and tenderhearted one to another;

Your Word teaches this, ‘tis true.

But to esteem others better than myself

Is much too difficult to do,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

You say I should learn to be content,

Regardless of my state.

Yet I’m striving to get ahead in this world,

For doing without I hate,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

On earth You made Yourself no reputation,

And that I can’t understand.

When worldly wisdom drives me on

To be all that I possibly can,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

There is no profit to gain the whole world,

If my very own soul I lose.

But dying daily seems barbaric to me.

Is there some other plan I can choose,

Since Self is on the throne?

 

I’m told in everything give thanks;

Grateful I’m supposed to be.

But Lord, can’t You see, this is not about You,

For this is all about ME,

Since Self is on the throne.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Note: Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “Who’s the Boss,” March 6, 2013

 

The New ME! February 27, 2013

There is a huge war going on and it’s not the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else in the world. Actually, it’s much closer to home. The war that prevails, that is the most concern to my life, is inside me!

 

Like most believers, I was taught that once I am saved, I’m saved; that Jesus loves me forever; and I’m on my way to heaven. Although assured of making it to heaven when I die, I didn’t expect it to feel like I’d get there by the skin of my teeth, the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, fighting every inch of the way. Why does it seem as if I am in a battle for my life?

 

Because I am—the battle for my spiritual life—the life of the new ME!

 

It was a joyous event when I accepted Christ and learned that my old fleshly nature had been overruled, dethroned, and replaced. Yet, while my fallen-from-God’s-intended nature is completely, officially, and legally no longer in control of me,1 I still have this ongoing debate with my flesh—the old ME!

 

The fact is I have an enemy that I didn’t have before I accepted Christ. Until now, my own fallen nature didn’t have to fight for survival since it was already in control. But now that I have a new life living on the inside, the old ME is trying to make a comeback. And the war is on—I am at war with myself!

 

Few Christians are prepared for the war they will inevitably face—the old ME verses the new ME.   In case no one spelled it out: self doesn’t die easy. Here is one very important fact has been left out of much Christian teaching: Now that I am saved, it’s up to ME to appropriate this life-changing truth into my everyday life.

 

But the Apostle Paul didn’t leave it out. In Ephesians 3:16 he prayed for me and you about this very thing. He prayed that “out of His (God’s) glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.”  That is the same inner being Paul described in Romans 7:22 that wants to obey God—that’s the new ME—the newly born-again life of Jesus.

 

But why are so many Christians struggling to win a war that has already been legally won? Not only are they struggling to win the war, some have lost battle after battle and have the scars to prove it. The casualties of this war are huge. Many Christians give up, drop out, and never expect to win the fight.

 

Consider this: How many Christians actually know how to defeat the enemy of their souls? Know how to put the enemy to flight? Bring every thought into captivity? Love their enemies? Love their neighbor as themselves? Submit to one another? Forgive seventy times seven? (Are you kidding!) Crucify their flesh? Turn the other check? Go the second mile? In everything give thanks? Need I go on?

 

My point is not to call attention to the failures of Christians. My point is this: By the way we live it appears this gospel isn’t powerful enough to do what the Bible says it will do. Do we believe in a powerful gospel or a powerless gospel?

 

The problem is not with our gospel—it with us—we have failed to appropriate (take, seize, adopt, usurp, grab) the very truth of the gospel we profess to believe.

 

Perhaps we have not yet figured out how to be strengthened with power through His Spirit that is required to win this battle with our legally dethroned, stubborn self, as Paul prayed we would.

 

I wonder if many modern-day believers even know this power is available. And if so, have they learned how to tap into it?  Be assured that God did not intend for us to be lacking in power. He made every provision for His children to live a victorious and powerful Christ-like, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled life.

 

It is time to unwrap and expose the truth about how to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. If you haven’t joined the journey, it’s not too late! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “My Faulty Default” – February 19, 2013