Category: Walking by the Spirit

The last days

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths,” 2 Timothy 4:3,4.

This time has come. There are preachers chomping at their bits to tell you anything you want to hear. If you don’t care to learn obedience through suffering, one will convince you that you can use the authority of Christ to change your circumstances. Another will tell you that you no longer have to resist the devil and wait for him to flee; you can now use the authority of Christ and bind the devil, or just command him to leave. Do you want to go further and be like the Creator? Some will go so far to tell you that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and you are to be an imitator of God, and therefore it is His will that you imitate Him and speak things into existence, just as He did in the beginning. Whatever you want, there is preacher somewhere who will twist scriptures in a way to suit you.

Many of these preachers are nothing more than motivational speakers, who appeal to the flesh and give it a temporary emotional high. They have formulas for nearly every promise. And none of their formulas require you to submit to Christ. On the contrary, their formulas are only workable if you raise yourself up to the level of Christ.

It’s sad, but true, that for every vulnerable lamb, there is a ravenous wolf waiting to pounce. And no-one is more vulnerable than one who begins to follow Jesus, only to shrink back at the first sign of trouble. To keep moving forward in troubling times, we must submit ourselves to Jesus, trusting Him to deliver us when and how He wants. We must surrender ourselves to Him 100%. This is not easy to do. When someone tries to do it and fails, and does not admit his failure, he begins looking for ways around his troubles. At that precise second, the second he begins looking for alternatives, he enters a realm of vulnerability, where the powers of darkness set their sights on him and begin assailing him with fiery darts. 

These fiery darts often come in the form of scriptures, much like Satan used against Jesus in the wilderness. And these scriptures most often come from ravenous wolves disguised as shepherds. These wolves concentrate on a few scriptures that appear to apply to your situation. They conveniently leave out the truth that these same scriptures pertain only to those who have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and are following Jesus; those whose desire is ‘not my will, but thine be done’; those who seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

These wolves are experts at putting the cart before the horse. They seduce people who have not given themselves 100% to Jesus, and teach them the tricks of the trade — declare this, decree that; claim this, claim that; speak life, speak things into being; move this mountain, move that mountain, etc. They teach the vulnerable anything and everything that will keep them from submitting to the authority of Jesus. They even claim that all Christians have been given the authority of Jesus, dissuading them from submitting to Jesus.  And they do this for the simple reason that they themselves have been deceived by the powers of darkness, and are now working together with Satan, preventing as many people as possible from submitting to Jesus. They have believed a lie, and, in effect, preach Satan, and call him Jesus.

These wolves in sheep’s clothing are not interested in the truth; they are interested in themselves; and God has given them over to their delusions. And believing their delusions are from God, they expound on them, thinking they are workers of God. These are the ones to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness,” Matthew 7:23. And those who fall prey to their delusions will suffer the same outcome, unless they repent and submit themselves to Jesus.

Some of these people know they are thieves deliberately preying on vulnerable souls, but most of them don’t know they’re wrong. They think they’re right because they call on the name of Jesus, and use His name. But, in reality, they are doing exactly what the devil tried to tempt Jesus to do — exalt Himself and claim His right to the promises that pertained to Him. The devil tried hard to tempt Jesus to put God to the test, thereby exalting Himself to God’s level, as did Eve. However, unlike Eve and these self-proclaimed prophets of today, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, and emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant. These ravenous wolves today teach people to do the opposite; thus, though they claim to preach Christ, they are, in reality, anti-Christ; this is the spirit of lawlessness that is engulfing the masses.

The lying spirit behind these false teachers is the exact same spirit who lied to Eve, telling her she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, whereby she became like God, knowing good and evil. It is the spirit who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It is the spirit who, if he can’t get someone to turn against Christ, will try to entice that person to raise himself up to Christ’s level. This spirit has been an enemy of the divine order since the beginning. He thrives on insubordination because he himself is insubordinate. He delights in disobedience, which springs from lawlessness; whereas, God delights in obedience, which springs from submission.

This is very serious. There is God, who is the head of Jesus; there is Jesus, who is the head of man; there is man, who is the head of a woman, 1 Corinthians 11:3.This divine order was established in the beginning, Genesis 3:16. Whoever resists this divine order is guilty of insubordination, which is likened to iniquity and idolatry, 1 Samuel 15:23. These wolves and their followers proclaim the opposite. They subvert scripture, undermining its very foundation, teaching that man is equal to Christ: man has the same authority as Christ; man has the power to speak things into existence; man can decree a thing and it will be established, etc. etc. etc.

Dear friends, Jesus will one day return to receive His bride unto Himself. She will be holy and blameless and beyond reproach. She will offer herself to Him in complete submission, her only desire being to please Him. She will be spirit of His Spirit and the two shall become one. No man who exalts himself to the level of Jesus, and no woman who exalts herself to the level of a man, will be a part of this holy union.

Sadly, there are countless numbers in our churches entangled in this mystery of lawlessness, spouting verses and verses of scriptures, unaware they are promoting the spirit of anti-christ. Most who have fallen prey to these lies have done so because of their own selfishness; but some who have fallen prey are sincere Christians who became caught up in this heresy because its followers use scriptures, having not realized that scriptures are the devil’s most often used ploy.

Satan is crafty, he is savvy in his use of scriptures; and it is only by the grace of God that we can overcome him. The mystery of lawlessness, which has been at work since the days of Paul, is now unfolding before our eyes; the man of lawlessness is at the door. We must be on our guard, while at the same time, caring for the weak among us, snatching them out of the fire. 

I have been asking the Lord for some time now to let me write an uplifting letter that might encourage His people. Last week I heard from the Holy Spirit that the times are such that I need to draw attention to the mystery of lawlessness and the sinfulness of some of the teachings being peddled today. I humbly ask that you please give prayerful consideration to the content of this letter.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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You cannot serve both

When I was in my thirties I thought about writing a book concerning the psychology of the cross. I wanted to point out the psychological benefits of each and every thing through which God leads His children; how intricately His designs and plans for us benefit us psychologically. I had forgotten about my wanting to do this until now; and I am now so glad I didn’t.

I have found there are some today who preach on the psychological aspects of the Word. They may mention the crucifixion of Christ from time to time, but very seldom. They also say very little, if any, about our responsibility to Christ. They mostly embellish the advantages of Christian principles. 

They lure people with their knowledge of the Word (some of them appear to have very high IQ’s). They expound on the Word with such ease that people think they must be walking hand in hand with God. But, in reality, they are using the Word of God as a means to an end, usually to attain an exorbitant amount of money. 

We must be aware there are those who preach what appears to be the truth, but their heart is not fixed on the Person of Jesus, nor the cross of Jesus. We will know them by their fruits. 

I believe those who use preaching as a means to attain riches would most likely walk away from preaching if their riches were taken away; for their hearts are not set on Christ, but on mammon.

“Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me,’” Hebrews 13:5.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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His Ways and His Thoughts

Many use the truth of the love of God as a means to become popular and/or for financial gain. They speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining advantage. They say things like, “God loves you and therefore wants you to be financially prosperous; He wants you to become like Him and speak things into being; He wants you to declare and decree whatever you want, or whatever you lack, etc. He loves you so much that He wants you to have all authority in heaven and on earth.” These people peddle Jesus as a sort of life-coach and a personal handyman who helps you get whatever you want and fixes whatever is wrong.  

People who listen to, and give heed to, these people fail to take into consideration Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Many think they are blessed when people like them and accept them, or when everything is going their way, but the Lord says we are blessed when people persecute us, and cast insults at us. We are blessed when we are poor, when we mourn, and when we are humble. We are blessed when we persevere under trials, etc. 

These people deliberately withhold facts, such as, when we ask God for more faith, we are also asking for trials by fire, for faith is tried by fire, 1 Peter 1:6,7; and if we ask for the will of God to be done in our lives, we are also asking for sufferings, for it is the will of God that we not only know the power of Jesus’ resurrection, but also the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, Philippians 3:8-11.  

The Lord’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. We, as Christians, must bring our ways and our thoughts into subjection to Him by denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Him. He is NOT our life-coach, or personal handyman, HE IS OUR LIFE. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We are not to USE Jesus; we are to FOLLOW Jesus. We are not to WIELD His authority; we are to SUBMIT to His authority. 

Please weigh these words on the scales of the Word of God.

Rev. Jon Banks

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The Simplicity of the Gospel

The first Adam was created in the likeness of God, and, having sinned, stained the likeness of God he had been created in. The last Adam lived a sinless life and offered Himself for the sins of the first Adam, and for all who had inherited the curse which he received. We are now to lay aside the old self [Adam], the self that inherited a sinful nature from the first Adam, and put on the new self [Jesus], the self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness in the truth, the self which now lives by faith in God and in His Son Jesus.

The old self is of the earth; the new self is of heaven. We are no longer bound to the sinful nature inherited from Adam, we have been crucified with the last Adam [Jesus] and born again and are now members of the body of the risen Christ.  We no longer live for the things of earth, but for the things of heaven, where our new lives are hidden with Christ in God. Our old self which was created in the image of God has been stained by the sins of Adam, and therefore must return to dust. Our new self has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth; that is, we are being renewed in the spirit of our minds as we lay aside the old self and walk in the new. We no longer walk in the sinful ways of the old self, but in the righteousness and holiness of the new. And we do this by believing and trusting in Jesus who is now our source of life; He is our vine and we are His branches. 

As Eve was fashioned from the rib of Adam, so also are we, the bride of Christ, being fashioned from the inmost being of Christ, the life-giving Spirit. Our new self is hidden with Christ in God in the heavenly places, in the kingdom of God, which is of heaven, and in heaven. “[We] have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer [we] who live, but Christ lives in [us]; and the life which [we] now live in the flesh [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us], and delivered Himself up for [us],” (Galatians 2:20).

We in this new creation have been made complete:  “For in Him [Jesus] all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him from the dead,” Colossians 2:9-12. We were crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and raised from the dead with Him.

As believers in Jesus we must deny our old self and press forward in the Spirit, and take up our cross, and follow Jesus one day at a time. We daily lay aside the old and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth,” Colossians 3:1-8. This is walking by the Spirit; this is denying one’s self and taking up one’s cross and following Jesus. This is pressing forward to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

We must never complicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should instead embrace its simplicity. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” 1 Corinthians 1:21. The foolishness of the message is its simplicity. To the world the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ is absolute foolishness. They see it as a crutch for weak people, a sort of psychological booster to get them by. But to those predestined by the will of God for eternal life (Acts 13:48) and called by the Holy Spirit, it is precious. Never lose sight of the simplicity of the gospel:  

The Word became flesh, lived a life without sin, was crucified and buried, preached to the dead, raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of God. And God, being full of grace and mercy, placed all believers in the Son, and now reckons them as crucified with the Son, buried with Him through baptism, and raised up into newness of life with Him. 

In closing, the Word became flesh and put an end to the fallen nature of the first Adam by offering Himself as a pure and sinless offering for sin, after which He became a life-giving Spirit. He now gives new life to all who believe in Him, and this, by the grace of God. “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” 1 Corinthians 15:45. And, “The first man is from the earth, earthly; the second man is from heaven,” vs. 47. The first Adam inherited death. The last Adam arose to eternal life for those who live, move, and have their being in Him. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.

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Crucifying the Flesh

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” Galatians 5:24. How do we crucify the flesh? The Bible is very clear on this subject. “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1Peter 4:1,2. We crucify the flesh by enduring the sufferings and by learning obedience. 

As we walk by the Spirit one day at a time, our efforts to be obedient begin to become a way of life; a life in which we find that our flesh has less and less sway over us day by day. This is not dying to Self, it is learning obedience, and growing as we learn. It is the Lord training us up in the way we should go, teaching us humility, reverence, and all other godly virtues as we grow up into Him, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

When we try to die to self, we place our attention on our shortcomings and sinful tendencies. This is not healthy to the Christian. As Christians, we are to think of good things, things worthy of praise. There is nothing worthy of praise in ourselves, so we must lose sight of ourselves and set our minds on things above, where our lives are. To do this, we rely on Jesus and walk by faith in Him. This is why He told us that to come after Him, one must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Him.

We are sanctified at the new birth, set apart to God, and made holy by the blood of Jesus. Our Father then begins training us up in the way we should go by leading us through various trials in order to test us, — “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…” 1 Peter 4:12. Peter exhorts us to rejoice in these trials for we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, (vs. 13). He also instructs us to endure by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us at the proper time, (1 Peter 5:6). He goes on to say that we are to resist the devil, our adversary, firm in our faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by our brethren who are in the world. And after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us, (vs. 9,10).

In speaking of things such as worldly chatter, quarreling, wrangling about words and wickedness in general, Paul said, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work,” 2 Timothy 2:21. How do we cleanse ourselves? We cleanse ourselves by turning and walking away from everything that pertains to ungodliness, and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. We both crucify the flesh and cleanse ourselves by living to God. And we live to God by faith that we were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and raised with Christ. It is through faith in Christ that we walk by the Spirit in the heavenly kingdom into which we were raised. It is through faith in Him that we overcome any and all things the evil one tries to use against us. It is through faith that we live and move and have our being in Jesus. He is all in all.

Paul wrote to some Christians who had been quarreling with each other, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” He immediately followed with, “AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. 

Paul was reminding them they also had been unrighteous, but had since become righteous by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. We all need to be reminded of this very same thing from time to time, otherwise we could end up like these Corinthians, allowing our old natures to creep back in, or, even worse for some, getting stuck in a predicament of trying to save ourselves by works. 

Please test what I have written by the Word of God, and not by what’s been handed down by man; for as the angel told Daniel, “…many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase,” Daniel 12:4b.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Slow to Speak

Our son was in a small Christian school for kindergarten and first grade. We had to take him out of that school because his first grade teacher appeared to have a less than loving attitude toward him. When she learned that we were pulling him out of the Christian school and putting him in a public school, she told him he would no longer be a Christian, but he would be a publican for going to a public school and he would go to hell. He was so concerned about being a publican and going to hell, my wife had to go to the public school with him and ask his new second grade teacher (in his presence) if he could attend a public school and be a Christian. Thank God the public school teacher was a Christian with a good heart and conducted herself as such.

This may seem like a small thing, but consider this, every day there are countless number of Christians who think and behave like the Christian school teacher did — they speak of things they don’t understand, and, at times, do so with judgmental, and “holier than thou” attitudes. Consider also all the false doctrines going around now, doctrines people have concocted without restraint of any kind, leaving others believing they speak for God. For instance, 

decree something and God will make it happen (this came about by people using their own understanding and taking a verse of scripture completely out of context); 

claim the promises of God (this began as a man-made tool to try to overcome a lack of faith); 

create things by the words you speak (this came from the word of faith movement started by some wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking to devour the masses for monetary purposes by giving them what they want to hear). 

There are many, many more false beliefs being preached, all equally harmful, and sworn to be true, by preacher after preacher, and layman after layman.

Those who teach these and other fallacies are on a collision course to be judged by their words, and it won’t be pleasant for them. God is not mocked. “For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life,” Galatians 6:8. We must always be careful when we speak to others about the things of God. We must never give advice to another unless we know our advice is born of the Spirit. Only then will it help someone. If we give advice that comes from the flesh, and not the Spirit, it will most likely do harm. We may then find ourselves on a slippery slope in our own Christian life for having harmed someone by speaking of spiritual things from our fleshly minds. Many continually go through struggle after struggle simply because they speak of spiritual things from their fleshly minds.

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment,” James 3:1. James continues explaining how hard it is to tame the tongue. This is something Christians should concern themselves with, for we will be judged by our words, and those who teach will receive a stricter judgment than all the others. If more Christians took James 3:1 to heart, there would be far less arguing over scriptures, and far less false doctrines floating around. We must be quick to hear and slow to speak. This is essential in the Christian walk.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Lest we be carried away

When I was still using my own understanding trying to learn the things of God I jumped on every Scripture I could find that resembled what was on my mind at the time. I also read many books written by Christians. Consequently, I ended up thinking things that were not true. It wasn’t until I learned to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word to me that I began learning the truths of God.

Many Christians today are still trying to learn the things of God with their own understanding. They jump from verse to verse, preacher to preacher, and book to book, trying to learn the things of God. As a result, their minds become weighed down with thoughts that often do nothing but confuse them. They end up trying this formula and that formula, hoping they’ll hit upon something that actually works. 

People who rely on their own understanding find themselves taking mental stands against anything that questions their beliefs for the moment. For instance, if one believes healing comes by claiming the promise, he will take a stand against any thoughts to the contrary. His struggle quickly erodes to a mind game, refusing even sound doctrine. In contrast, people who rely on Jesus listen from the heart, and, thus, never enter mind games, (nor do they claim promises from a holy God). 

 People who depend on their own understanding leave themselves open to the wiles of the devil and they end up, more often than not, fighting against the Holy Spirit, all the while thinking they are following Him. They blame the devil when they begin to doubt, when in reality, it is the Holy Spirit trying to warn them they’re heading down a wrong road. As a result, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit, they rebuke Him thinking He is the devil. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and leads them from one snare to another.

When we enter into the things of God with our own understanding, we lose sight of true faith. True faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is a matter of the heart; with the heart we believe, with the mouth we confess. If what we believe is not in our heart, it isn’t faith; it’s just our thoughts. We must keep our thoughts in subjection to the Lord, lest we be carried away by them. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Truthfulness

A friend called me yesterday to talk about some problems he was having. At one point I told him about times doubt would creep in when our son was going crippled and how I would immediately confess them to God and He would help me overcome my doubts. My friend said, “That’s because you didn’t own the doubts.” He went on to explain that someone had told him that, when we doubt, it is really the devil tempting us to doubt, and that we should take authority over the devil and rebuke him, and tell him to leave. So he was saying it wasn’t me doubting, it was the devil tempting me to doubt.

I told him that, on the contrary, I was most assuredly the one doubting; it was my mind entertaining the doubts. I did the opposite of what his other friend had told him, I “owned” my doubts. I confessed them to God and asked for mercy, and He, in turn, granted me mercy and grace abundantly, showering me with love and His understanding of why I was doubting. And because I was honest with Him He became my Rock, my Protector, and hid me beneath the shadow of His wings. 

I explained to my friend that our Father desires truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part He will make us know wisdom, Psalm 52:6. He doesn’t want us stumbling around fighting the devil like our lives depended on it; He wants us cuddling up to Him, casting our cares upon Him and taking refuge in Him. The Bible tells us that when we are harassed by the devil we are to submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from us. It doesn’t say we are to rebuke him or bind him or send him away. It says we are to resist him and he will flee from us. Peter said, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you,” 1 Peter 5:8-10. 

We must always be honest and truthful with God. We have a high priest who was tempted in all things as we are and He sympathizes with our weaknesses. We can now draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We don’t have to go before Him like mighty warriors in need of nothing. He would much rather that we admit our weaknesses, rather than blame the devil for them.

Rev. Jon Banks

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In His Body

Colossians 1:22-23 tells us that Jesus has reconciled us in His physical body through death, in order that He might present us to the Father holy and blameless and beyond reproach. We could not draw near to God while we were alienated and hostile in mind, and engaging in evil deeds. So God, in His infinite wisdom, placed us in Christ, that in the death of His physical body our body of sin might be done away with, as it is written, “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin,” Romans 6:6,7. We have also been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, (Hebrews 10:10). 

Paul tells us that we were foreknown by God, and that He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren, Romans 8:29. He accomplished this by placing us in Christ when He was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.

We were most assuredly in Jesus when He was crucified; we were in Him when He was buried; we were in Him when He was raised from the dead. This is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Christianity — “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God IN Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:10,11. We are in Him, and we have been in Him since before time when God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. And we were in Him when He was crucified, buried, and raised up into newness of life. We are now the body of the risen Christ and He is the head.

Through His sinless life, the giving of His body, and the shedding of His blood, Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities, and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them. He is now the head of all rule and authority. Jesus is now a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, no beginning and no end, and He has become the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. And having been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, He sympathizes with our weaknesses, and we may now draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, where we can receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ, absolutely nothing.

What a glorious and wonderful God we serve, full of mercy and compassion and lovingkindness, who sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice Himself, in order that we might be crucified, buried, and raised up together with Him, freed from sin and alive to the Father. We are forever in debt to the Father and Son. Thanks be to God that we will have eternity to praise and honor them.

In the most holy name of Jesus,

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Two Creations

The first Adam was born a mature man, given a commandment, and subsequently sinned. The last Adam, Jesus, was born an infant, trained up in the way He should go, learned obedience through that which He suffered, and offered Himself, blameless and without sin, as a sacrifice for the sins of Adam, the first creation. In His death the old creation, Adam, was done away with for those who would believe; and when He rose from the dead a new creation was born; that is, the body of Christ. There are now two creations, Adam and Christ, one of earth, one of heaven. Those who walk in the sinful nature of the old creation are of Adam, and those who walk in the godly nature of the new creation are of Christ. 

Romans 6:2b-7 says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self (lit. man) was crucified with Him, that our body of sin (the first Adam) might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

Even though our old self was crucified with Jesus, there still remains what is described by Paul as the principle that evil is present in us. We serve the law of God with our minds and the law of sin with our flesh, Romans 7:23-25. The flesh wars against our minds, making us prisoners of the law of sin which is in the members of our body. Paul then tells us we don’t have to feel bad about the evil nature that is within us, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For since we could not conquer the desires of the flesh on our own, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, Romans 8:3b-4. 

Therefore, rather than repenting continually for the evil within our bodies, and rather than beating ourselves to death trying to make it go away, we need only walk by the Spirit. For as Paul says, “So then, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if we are living according to the flesh, we must die; but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God,” Romans 8:12-14.

The principle of evil that is present in us will remain until mortality puts on immortality, but we don’t have to give in to it. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death,” Romans 8:2. We need only believe that Jesus has saved us to the uttermost, and in Him we have our salvation; in Him we have forgiveness of sins; and in Him we have deliverance from sins if we walk, not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, considering the members of our earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For we have died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:5,3. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please,” Galatians 5:16. 

“Now those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,’ Galatians 5:24. The flesh is the carnal mind; it is our human nature driven by animal appetites, or animal instincts. We crucify it by putting to death the deeds of the body with the help of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:13; and by faith in the Son of God, as Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me,” Galatians 2:20. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

We crucify the flesh by not allowing it to have its way, and by presenting ourselves to God to do His will, and His will alone. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace,” Romans 6:12-14. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers  to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul,” 1 Peter 2:11. 

As we diligently put to death the deeds of the body we find that we are becoming conformed to Christ’s death, Philippians 3:10. “And after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us,” 1 Peter 5:10. “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1 Peter 4:1,2.

Dear friends, the righteous shall live by faith, and that faith is in Jesus Christ who has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts, Romans 13:14. Let us follow our Lord’s example and learn obedience through the things which we suffer, from one trial to another, until we have persevered to the end. 

We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us; for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death, Romans 8:2. Let us conduct ourselves accordingly; let us lay aside the old creation, Adam, and walk in the new creation, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Jon Banks

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We must be careful when we counsel:

The night I was born again I found that I was in a brand new place, a place I had never before experienced. Everything had changed; I was literally in a new life, a new realm, that I learned later was the kingdom of God. After the night of my new birth, I walked in the sweetest fellowship with Jesus day by day. I felt so comfortable with Him in those days, and I knew He loved me. I knew it because He showed me by leading me daily in where I was to go, what I was to do, what I was to say, etc. I was happy, content, and felt at home in His kingdom. 

However, it wasn’t long before I started asking my pastor and others questions concerning things in the church that didn’t correspond with the Bible. Unable to answer my questions, my pastor began telling me I had to die to self. I was very naive and believed it was impossible for a man of God to lead anyone in a wrong direction. So when he said I was so bad that I had to die to my self, I believed him. I tried and tried, and before long found that I had lost my fellowship with Jesus, and had become miserable because I couldn’t die to my self; I didn’t know how and I could find nothing in the Bible to help me. 

I started talking to other ministers and almost without exception they told me I either needed to die to self, or be sanctified. I felt as if I was dealing with my step-father again. He had made me feel that I should apologize to people for breathing the same air they breathed, and the church made me feel I was not worth God’s mercy and grace. They made me feel that I had to go farther and get rid of my self because I was so bad.

What they didn’t understand was that I had already reached the place they felt I should go, a place of complete submission to Jesus, free of sin, and doing the will of God. I walked this way in the first two or three years of my Christian life. But apparently it wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did; I was supposed to be born again first, and later down the line I was supposed to die to self and be sanctified, and then walk in humble obedience to Jesus. That was the Church of God way, and I had done it backwards.

As I’ve said, I believed men of God were men of God, and that God wouldn’t let one of His men lead anyone down a wrong road, so I continued trying to die to self and praying to be sanctified, all the while racked with guilt for not being able to accomplish it. Thank God that after walking in a state of constant guilt for years, always longing for the walk with Jesus I previously had, Jesus began separating me to Himself. During this time He taught me the truths of His Gospel and I learned that I had been crucified with Him and raised into newness of life when I was born again. 

When He showed me this, I thought, ‘Of course, that explains why I was able to walk with Him in the heavenly places He had taken me to back then.’ The old me had already been crucified with Him, and the new me had been sanctified through faith in Him, and set apart to God by the Holy Spirit. I had been saved by grace through faith and was walking in the will of God in my early Christian years. I felt so stupid to learn I had given that up to follow doctrines of men. After this experience, I was never led astray again, for I had the privilege of learning from Jesus, and not from man. 

It may be worth adding that during all these years I was battling PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. During my first few years of being a Christian and walking with Jesus, these ailments didn’t bother me at all. When I began trying to die to self and become sanctified, the symptoms came roaring back, growing worse year after year. This was debilitating, to say the least. In addition to that, I had been taught since I was three years old that I was worthless, and should apologize for being here. Hence, I had no self-confidence and always deferred to others. 

Dear friends, I cannot stress enough the importance of being careful when we counsel people about God and His kingdom. Words alone can destroy a life, especially when repeating false doctrines. It is equally important to remember that it matters not where, nor by whom, we have been taught, for we are not to follow men; we are to follow Jesus, and the Scriptures testify of Him. Therefore, all must be verified by the Scriptures. 

In Him,

Jon Banks

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The other side of the coin

Years ago I was walking down a country road with three Christian friends. We were talking and joking with one another, having a good time. Just as we neared a clump of trees, I became unaware of our conversation and found myself engrossed with sounds unlike any I had ever heard before; the trees were praising God. One friend noticed that my mind had gone to another place, and asked me what was going on. I told him about the trees singing and praising God, but he couldn’t hear a word. 

Throughout my Christian life I have had experiences similar to this. Plants and flowers have spoken to me and birds have sung for me. And these things happen all of a sudden, out of the clear blue. Once I had been feeling bad for a few weeks and a bird told me I had diverticulitis. I asked my wife what diverticulitis was and she said the word didn’t exist, but there was a word diverticulosis. That same evening we found out that the bird was right and my wife was wrong, diverticulitis was a word; a day or two later the Lord healed me. —- Just for the record, I’m not saying birds are smarter than wives. 🙂

Yes, God has been gracious to me and given me these experiences, but recently He has revealed that things like these go on all the time; trees praise Him; birds sing for Him; the entire creation, having been subjected to futility, anxiously waits for the revealing of the children of God, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption. And just as we groan to be set free from our mortal bodies, so also, the creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth, that it also might enter the freedom of the glory of the children of God. And, until the day arrives when a new heaven and a new earth appear, the creation will continue to offer praise and adoration to the Father of glory, just as we do. 

So, why do I see these things when others don’t? I’m not sure, but I believe it may possibly be because I have PTSD. It is a known fact that people with PTSD have heightened perception. They tend to see and sense things that average people miss. They are more in tune with their inner being than the average person. This heightened perception shows itself in many ways, such as when one senses a threat. A person with PTSD will sense a threat long before an average person, and will sense it far more deeply than the average person. It also shows itself when one is hurt, or falsely accused by another. A person with PTSD will become overwhelmed with pain and doubt for days, weeks, months, or years, while an average person will just walk away from the situation.

A person with PTSD lives in a world of doubt, worry, helplessness, hopelessness, fear, aloneness, horrific nightmares and extreme mental anguish. But there’s a bright side to all this:  With the right treatment these symptoms can become somewhat controllable, relieving the stress. This is wonderful.

But there is one thing more wonderful than this: When a PTSD victim offers himself, or herself, to the Son of God, and walks with Him in humble obedience, things unimaginable can begin to happen. Because of the heightened perception resulting from the PTSD there’s a very good chance that person may see things that most people only dream about. The Lord might very well lead him, or her, down a path strewn with divine delicacies that are meant only for the broken; delicacies that can raise one to a place where trees praise God, and birds sing to Him, and flowers and plants know you by name; delicacies that, when tasted, reveal the deep things of God. 

Oh, dear ones who have been abused and cast aside, take heart, the sun of righteousness has risen with healing in its wings, its rays dancing upon a river of life from which you may drink. The good Shepherd stands on the banks of this river, His arms of the cross outstretched to welcome you, and lead you home. O, how blessed are you who are poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of heaven; how blessed are you who mourn, for you shall surely be comforted. 

May the Lord give you ears to hear when I say, “Your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom; you may dare look away from yourself and unto to Him; you may dare lay your cares at His feet, and follow Him; and as He leads you into His rest — you may dare refuse defeat — I tell you from experience — He weeps for you.”

In Jesus,

Jon Banks

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The Principle That Evil Is Present In Me

Because of the sin of one man, Adam, all mankind was sold into bondage to sin, (Romans 7:14); and having been sold into bondage to sin, we are incapable of controlling our sinful nature, as Paul says, “For the good that I wish, I do not; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish,” and then he says, “But if I am doing the very thing that I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good,” (vs. 19-21). In these verses of Scripture we find that there is nothing we can do to tame or control our sinful and carnal nature; it is beyond our control. We wish to do good, only to end up doing the things we don’t wish to do. In and of ourselves we are absolutely helpless; we cannot control our sinful nature. 

In verses 24-25 Paul continues, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” and, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” In Romans 8:1-4 he continues, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:  sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Jesus became sin for us in order that the sinful nature we inherited from Adam might be done away with, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In Romans 6:6-7 Paul says, “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” And in verses 17-18 he says, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

According to these Scriptures, there is only one way to be freed from the carnal and sinful nature, and that is to believe in the Son of God, that He is the Savior of your spirit, mind, soul and body and offer all four to Him as a living sacrifice, as vessels of righteousness. Our body of sin was crucified with Him, resulting in our release from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. Have faith in Jesus; He is a complete Savior; and we are saved to the uttermost.

We were crucified with our Lord Jesus Christ, my friends, and our sins and our sinful nature were both on the cross with Him. We are now to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, walking by faith in Him, not according to the flesh as we once did, but according to the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law, (Romans 5:16-18). Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, (Galatians 5:16). 

Never entertain impure thoughts, praise the Lord instead; submit to Him and he will deliver you because of your faith in Jesus. Our God is good, and His mercies are new every morning.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Jesus is the Savior

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

In accordance with the will of God, Jesus is the Savior and we are the saved. Touch not, taste not — rubbish — believe in the Son of God and you shall be saved. Consider yourself dead to the world, having been crucified with Christ. Enter the rest of God by believing in the One who conquered sin and death, and believe that He has become unto you wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. Rise above the lusts of the flesh and of the mind by believing the truth that, having forgiven us of our sins, God raised us up with Jesus, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. And He did this by the power of His might; the same power and might that raised Jesus from the dead raised us up with Him, to the end that we should be to the praise of His glory.

God has done all this with the kind intention to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. As did Paul, I also pray that the Father of glory may give to each of us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, so that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

Dear friends, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. We are in Christ by God’s own doing, not of ourselves, lest we should boast (I Corinthians 1:30), and Christ became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. In view  of this great salvation that has been bestowed on us, we must walk away from everything that hinders and encumbers us, including the sin which so easily entangles us (unbelief), and worship our Beloved Savior, giving thanks to God in all things and in all situations. We must refrain from arguments, whether they be with others, or within our own minds, and think only on things that are worthy of praise.

Let us lay down our pettiness and selfish ambitions, and follow the One who gave Himself up for us; let us worship Him with grateful hearts. In so doing I am confident the Lord God will bless us with all spiritual blessings that abound in Jesus, And He will do this because of His great love with which He loved us. We belong to Him; let us allow Him to shed His great love abroad in our hearts, that we might share His nature, and the nature of His Son, Jesus, in order that the light which once shone on the face of Moses may now shine in and through our hearts for His name’s sake.

If we walk this way, we are denying self; if we don’t walk this way, we are denying Jesus.

Rev. Jon Banks

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God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world

We who are in Christ are there for one reason — because God chose us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. We were predestined to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to God, the Father, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  And, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory, Ephesians 1:4-6;11-12.

I fear that many Christians think too highly of themselves, and it’s understandable; they’ve grown up in a time when Self has been elevated to a place of prominence. In today’s society wives are no longer taught to be submissive to their husbands, and people speed on a regular basis. My wife and I are constantly being passed on the streets and highways, and many times by cars with Christian bumper stickers. I want to both scream and cry every time I see this. It’s so sad to see a Christian doing this, and it’s also irritating. How dare they be so blatantly disrespectful to the Jesus I know, the One who took me out of darkness and placed me into His marvelous light, the One who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Why would, and how could, a Christian be so disrespectful to Him? I don’t understand.

Jesus teaches us to deny ourselves and obey God; He teaches us to become nothing, esteeming others above ourselves. What on earth has happened to the church? I see and hear Christians taking Scriptures out of context just to prove a point, or prove someone else wrong. I see them contradicting their elders and those who have been put in charge of them by God. And they don’t do it in a humble manner, but in a haughty manner. No wonder Jesus asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns.

My friends, the times we are living in are horrendous; we must redeem these times by looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We are IN Him; we are HIS body; His love should flow through us to every human being we come in contact with. We, of all people, should abide by the laws of the land wherein we live. We were not created for ourselves; we were created for God, that we might be holy and blameless before Him, and that we might be to the praise of His glory. 

Let us deny ourselves in ALL things, from our desire to feel special, or equal, to others, to our desire to satisfy ourselves by lifting ourselves above the law, and above authorities God has subjected us to. Let us BE Christians. We were chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined to adoption as children of God through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of God’s will. And we were predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Acts 13:48b says, …and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Beloved, it is beyond doubt that we have been predestined in accordance with God’s purpose, that is, that we might walk before Him, holy and blameless, to the praise of the glory of His grace, and that we might live with Him throughout eternity. May we govern ourselves accordingly, step by step.

Jon Banks

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