Monday, March 25, 2013

Key 5: Renewing Your Mind

Renewing Your Mind
In Key 4, we learned what we must believe about the Lord and ourselves. In Key 5, we will learn how to live out this freedom in Christ.  Our work in this chapter, and in life, is to believe the word of God and live within it.  Our work is not to try to change ourselves, improve ourselves, or esteem ourselves. The focus is not on ourselves, as much as it is on the One who saved us and the work He did within us.  We focus on the finished work of the cross and the fulfillment of the promises He made to us, which He accomplished in Christ.
Rather than starting from brokenness and asking God to fix you, start from the wholeness of your new spirit and move all your mental faculties to meditate on who we now are in Christ; a work accomplished by His death and resurrection and the miracle of your new birth. (Reading Galatians, 2 Corinthians 5, Ephesians 1-3, Colossians 1-3 helps these truths sink in.) This work of Christ has made you righteous and good, and that is what you are. You are not trying to be good, or trying to be righteous. Accept that God has made you righteous and good and move forward by faith with thanksgiving to the One who saved you and called you for His glory.
  If we are righteous beings, why do we still sin in the flesh?  Doesn’t that make us sinners still?  This question is answered by remembering that identity is formed by birth, not behaviour.  You entered into God’s family through a new birth, not because you did something good to deserve it.  You were dead in your sin and He made you alive. He conveyed you out of darkness and into the kingdom of His Son.  Your identity is set.  You are His.
God designed you as triune beings, with a spirit, a soul, and a body. Your spirit has been made completely righteous and holy by and before God. You are righteous. Fully. There is nothing you have to do and nothing you could do to become more righteous than you are.  God accomplished this through Christ and you have been given His righteousness as a gift of His grace. This is the good news of the gospel. This is who you really are in Christ, and who we all are as His children. As you choose to believe this truth, your soul and body transform; as you believe, your thinking and your behaviour will express the work of God within your spirit.
You have been saved by God, but you are also being saved by Him still.  Salvation means more than our rescue from sin and the wrath of God, though it includes both. Salvation means being made whole. God began His work in your spirit, in the inner core of who you are. He made your spirit whole and sealed it with His Spirit.  He will deliver you to Himself complete. You are saved. You are whole. Your spirit has entered eternity and dwells with God in perfection at all times. Your spirit has received the righteousness of Christ and all the law is fulfilled within it.
Your soul and body were not “saved,” but are being saved.    This is the process the Bible calls sanctification, meaning set apart to God or made holy. You are sanctified, in your spirit, and you are being sanctified.  You are holy in your spirit, and you are being made holy in our soul and body.  You are saved, and you are being saved. You are whole, and God is making you whole throughout your whole being, spirit, soul, and body.
Your soul and body still have sin dwelling within them and must be transformed.  The sin within your soul and body is what the Bible calls “flesh.”  The flesh contains habitual thought patterns of the world that remain in your soul. These thought patterns must be replaced with the truth of the new reality of your spirit.
Transformation happens as you renew your mind with the truth of God’s word and believe that word.  Transformation does not happen when you try to transform or change, but when you accept the change that has already taken place.  Begin from wholeness, not brokenness. Beginning at brokenness assumes the work of God is not complete or sufficient, that you must do something to get healed or whole.  Instead, begin at God’s word and His estimation of you. Accept what He says because He is always right. He knows what He has done in you. Right knowledge leads to right belief, which leads the experience of victory and freedom in our lives. Change and growth in your Christian life occurs as you choose to believe the truth of the gospel and live within this truth by putting your full weight upon the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross and in who you now are in Him.
As we live out our new creation life by faith, the life within us will transform into our outer life. The struggle we often face deals with the apparent inconsistency we see with what God says about us in His Word, and our thought life and our experience. He says we are holy, yet ungodly thoughts still come through our minds and we still sin in the flesh sometimes. God says we are new, yet we still think and do things the old way sometimes.  It’s important to remember that the inconsistency we see has to do with maturity, not essence.  Your essence is holy and set apart to God as His new creation made in Christ. You have been made new. The old is gone.  This is the real essence of who you are. This is your identity forever as His child, but you are not perfectly mature in all of your ways yet.  You must learn and grow. Change comes by believing and living within the transformation God has accomplished, not in trying to change. 
To our earthly way of understanding, this way of the spirit doesn't make sense.  Shouldn't there be something more we should do to change ourselves?  We are not trying to change ourselves because at the core we are new. We are seeking to believe and live within the change God has made.  We move from wholeness to walk with God, not from brokenness.  We move from truth, not our feelings about the truth.  As we focus our minds to the truth of His word, abiding within it and believing it with our heart, the thinking in our soul transforms and our behaviours will respond to the truth we believe. Our behaviours will begin to change and match who we are in the spirit. And these behaviours will be natural to our spirit.  It won’t be hard to change once we believe the change has taken place already.
I say then: Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.[1] Walking in the spirit means walking out who we really are by resting our full faith and assurance in the finished work God did within us in Christ. Apostle Paul is essentially saying, “Be who you really are in Christ.”  We cannot try to be holy.  We are holy, and we desire live holy lives.  We cannot try to be righteous, as a religion might imply. We have been made righteous by Christ, and we desire to live as the righteous beings we are. 
The order of this command is important. When we walk in the spirit, we will not carry out the lusts of the flesh. Walking in the spirit comes first, behaviour follows. Walking in the spirit means the same as abiding or walking by faith.  It means fully agreeing with what God says and living it out.  What He says does not always line up with our emotions, our sight or our experience at first.  In fact, His word can seem like foolishness to our soul.  As your soul accepts the reality that you are indeed new, you will begin to experience the newness of your spirit.  The feeling of walking in the spirit will follow your belief.  You will have joy and peace, and you will stop trying to change.  You will know you have been changed by God and you will have rest in your spirit. 
We always live out what we truly believe.  Our behaviour and attitudes expose our core beliefs.  This is why Jesus said to watch the fruit.  Fruit does not lie.  If you say you are new, but are still trying to make yourself better, you do not really believe you are new.  Admit and face what you actually believe. Be honest with yourself and others.  It’s not a shame to not believe everything the Bible teaches. No one believes everything in the Bible from their heart.  How do we know?  Because if we did, we would walk exactly like Jesus walked all the time!  He believed God at every point, in every way, perfectly and walking in power and light totally.  The shame would be to pretend that we do believe when we really do not. When we pretend or try to fake it, we fail to grow because pride stops us from admitting the truth.  Maybe we feel like we should know or should be something we are not, especially if we have been a Christian or in the church a long time.  It’s embarrassing to admit that we are not what we think we should be.  We can begin to look to what others think of us, rather than being more concerned about God growing us up in Him.  Admitting where we need to grow is part of the learning process, and healthy. Realizing weak areas in our faith compels us to talk to God about them and seek answers in His word as He teaches us and reveals more. It’s a blessing to become aware of areas we need to grow in faith.  And how do we acquire more faith?  Through hearing His word.
Jesus said “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”[1]  The Christian life is not designed to be hard. It is impossible in our own effort, when we walk after the flesh, but it’s not designed to be hard in the spirit. It’s designed to be easy and light if a person truly believes or rests in the Son. If the process seems hard to you and like a heavy burden, you are trying to change yourself, instead of believing and resting in the finished work of Christ in you.  Reading Galatians through a few times may help you understand.  Paul asked the question of the Galatian church:  Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by faith?  And do you continue in the Christian life by the works of the law or by faith? We are not the only ones who struggle with this question.  The early believers 2000 years ago struggled too.  We are created to walk in the spirit.  When we walk in the spirit, we live by faith alone, trusting the Lord that He has saved us, and is living out that salvation within us for all to see.
When God told us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, He wasn't kidding.  To the earthly mind of the soul, walking in the spirit seems backwards and feels wrong.  It seems illogical and feels uncomfortable to our soul.  Your soul wants to argue with it and recount all the reasons why you must still change yourself.  Your soul sees its own struggle and knows it is not fully transformed.  It wants you to identify with it, protect it, and work on it until it becomes the focus of your life, making you self-centred and self-absorbed.  Your soul wants to still have a life of its own and reign over the new you.  Your job is to not allow that to happen. The way you do this is by abiding in the truth of God’s word as He reveals and teaches it to you through the Spirit of God within your spirit. You wait on the Lord. He will teach you as you read His word.  He will show you the way and give you understanding. He has promised to do this, and He will do it.
What God says is true, even though it doesn't make sense to the soul at first. Remember Key 1?  Realizing God is who He is.  He is God and He gives correct information about Himself. It won’t make sense to your soul at first because your soul was trained by the earth. Your job is to retrain your soul as the Lord teaches you His truth and ways. Your soul must submit to you, not the other way around, because God defines your new creation reality and you must accept His definition as true.  The kingdom of God is your new reality.  Christ is your new home.
Though you were dead in your sin, He made you alive.  Though you were sick, He made you well.  Though you were broken, He bound up your broken heart by giving you a new one. Though you were captive to sin, He set you free and you are captive no longer. You are free.  You have been fixed, made new and clean by God.  You no longer need fixing. This is the reality and miracle of the Christian life.  You are His. Now all you need to do is grow up into Christ and that takes time and experiences that test your faith. You grow up into your identity, understanding more and more fully you He is and who you are in Him as you grow. You will begin to express who you are more and more, as He conforms you into the image of His Son.
God does not want you to spend your Christian life trying to fix yourself. He wants you to get on board with Him, on His mission, trusting and believing Him that the work He did in you and will continue to do in you is sufficient. God did not give you spiritual health for your sake alone. He did this for the Kingdom and the sake of His Name. If you are not healthy in your walk as a Christian, you will not have a voice for the Kingdom, and you will not be able to make disciples who are healthy This was the problem of the shepherds of ancient Israel. All they did was focus on themselves, trying to acquire for themselves and improve their lives.  They did not do the task God prepared for them to do.
When the Israelites failed to live godly lives among the nations, as we saw in Ezekiel 36, the surrounding peoples or nations did not desire to seek after God.  If we, as Christians, look just like non-Christians in the world, no one will seek after God because they will see no difference.  When people see non-sickness and people who fully function in a dysfunctional world, people praise God because they recognize what a miracle it really is!  It’s impossible apart from God!  Even non-believers recognize that.  As God heals the spirit of a human, people move to worship Him. 
Because of Israel’s disobedience, God made those astounding promises through prophets, promising to create a new humanity, a new Israel.  We are living within the fulfillment of these promises. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”[2]  We are this new humanity.  All He asks us to do is believe Him. He will do the rest. He wants us to be who we truly are as His holy children of light. If we know who we are, we will desire to live godly lives among the people He has placed us, so they might come to know Him and be saved. How do we know?  Because the new heart He gave us only desires what God desires and He desires that no person should perish, but that all should be saved.  He loves us!!
If we are holy beings, then why do we still sin in the flesh? How do we function as Christians, with a new spirit, but with a soul and body that still are influenced by sin?  The answer is faith. Even though you are healthy, your soul can still choose to live in an unhealthy manner, if you allow it to do so. God made your spirit healthy and perfect in Him. Your spirit has been cut away from soul and body through the circumcision of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit, so no sin can enter it.
Your soul has not been transformed yet.  Your soul houses your mind, will and emotions.  Think of your soul as the connector between your spirit and body.  With your soul you can choose to walk in the flesh or the spirit. Your body will obey what you believe at the soul level.  If your soul does not believe truth, it will do what it really believes.  If your soul believes the word of God, you will walk in it. But if your soul believes a lie, you will walk in the lie.  Your body will follow what you really believe at the soul level.
When the Bible speaks of the “flesh” it is referring to the independence or sin that still resides in your soul and body. Your spirit has been cut away from the sin in the flesh.  And your spirit has been sealed by God. So sin cannot touch your spirit ever, but it still seeks to influence your soul.  Think of the flesh like the grave clothes on Lazarus.  The cloths wrapping him are external to Lazarus, but they are still there and need to come off because they are hindering the newly resurrected man from living out this new life.  He has to be unwrapped and let go. 
In a similar way, your spirit must be unwrapped from the grave clothes that hinder it.  The unwrapping process is the renewing of your mind, and this is accomplished with truth.  The truth will set you free. From what?  From lies that seek to keep you walking in the captivity you once lived.  Believer, the flesh is not you.  But flesh is there with you and it lusts against you.  It seeks to rule over you. But it has no power over you any longer. You do not have to obey it’s lusts. In fact, you are commanded not to obey it.
You have overcome the flesh in Christ.  Your job is not to focus on the flesh and fleshly thoughts or lusts, but to focus on the truth of God’s word and abide in it.  Jesus commands us to abide in His word, and then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. How will we know the truth?  He will teach us. This is what a living disciple is all about. Learning from Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.  We are always going to learners. We will always need Him to teach us. We will never be to the point where truth will emanate from us as if we are the source.  Jesus is the truth. He is the source and will always be the source.  We are vessels through which He lives and reigns.  We need God, always and forever.  He will teach us, and the truth will set us free.  He never commands us to try to get free. Knowing the truth is deeper than intellectual agreement with knowledge. It’s the knowing of the heart. This knowing transforms our soul.
You have a whole new system called righteousness working within you in your spirit. Your spirit dwells in the unseen world where God is. Your spirit is always seated in the spiritual realm in God and receives commands from God. This is why your walk as a Christian is by faith. You cannot see God, yet you must live according to His will. To do this, you must listen to God and learn from Him, receiving food from Him through His Word. As you talk with God you will learn from Him.
You grow in faith as you fill yourself up with the word of God and believe what it says about you and your God.  You are learning to live as a whole being by faith alone, not by sight.  Your senses and experiences must all be filtered through the word of God. Your mind, will and emotions, which reside in your soul, have been aligned and trained by the world system. Throughout the years, this training has come through parents, schools, friends, TV programs, books, and a wide variety of sources all claiming that their view of reality is the truth.
As a new creation in Christ, you have come to know that only Jesus can define your reality and the reality of His created beings. You must now look at sight and senses in a new way. Sight and senses will try to deceive your true self and keep you focused on earthly things. Jesus said to fix your mind on the things above where He is.  He says to listen to His word. The word of God becomes a filter for your mind, filtering everything you see, hear and experience through God’s truth.
God has given each of His believers the gift of His Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit walks beside and within your spirit instructing and guiding you in truth. He continuously works from within you, giving you wisdom and understanding for the work He has prepared you to do.  He knows that you have been made new at the core, in your spirit, and wants you to live that reality out according to His will. God gifted you with the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit, so you can understand His ways and thinking.
What happens if you do sin? When you sin, this sin does not touch or defile your spirit. You are His child, born from above. You are in a permanent relationship with Him; He is your Father and you are His child.  Your spirit is sealed by the Holy Spirit and cannot become independent again. The Holy Spirit will you and will deliver you intact and blameless to the Father. This is the Holy Spirit’s job.
As a believer, sin does not cause you to lose your identity as His child.  Your identity was formed by your new birth, not by your behaviour and it cannot be lost by your behaviour. Just as your physical birth to your earthly parents doesn't change your identity as their child when you sin against them, your new birth cannot be undone because you sin. You do not lose your salvation. What is affected by sin is your fellowship with God. Your sin hurts God. It grieves His Spirit within you. You feel the conviction and correction of God until you submit to His rule in you.  This is evidence you are His.  So you repent. You  turn from walking in the flesh and you admit it to God.  He already knows, by the way. You admit you were believing a lie and you choose to now walk in truth.  You apologize to your heavenly Father and accept that you are forgiven.  He may correct you. He corrects His children. If God does not correct you, you are not His.  He will discipline you, teach you and move you into submission to Himself, much like the wild stallion we talked about in Key 4.  God will humble you until you and He ride together in the oneness, without any resistance.  In this oneness, there is joy and power as He works out His purposes on earth through your life.

[1] Matthew 11:30

[1] Galatians 5:16 (author’s interpretation).  Author’s Note: As Greek scholars realize, the capitalization of the words  is subject to the translator’s interpretation, since in the Greek language capitals are not used.  In this particular context of Galatians 5, we look at the context of this passage and it appears that Paul is talking about the spirit God has given a human being.  In this context, ‘spirit’ it appears that a small “s” for spirit is more contextually appropriate than a large “S” which would mean the Holy Spirit because Paul is discussing the spirit of a human being.  Our spirit is one with the Holy Spirit, and our spirit wars against the flesh.  The fruit of the Spirit of God is given to our spirit as a gift.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Awaken us, O God!

Do you desire to know God more deeply?  Do you desire to live a life that is passionate and alive and fruitful with the power of God?   Cry out to the God who can make this possible. He said He is a rewarder of all who call on Him in faith.  He said if you seek Me with your whole heart, I will be found by you.  He will allow you to find Him. He will allow me to find Him.  And when we do, He reveals His thoughts and heart in beautiful, challenging, timeless ways.  We enter into the experience of the holiest of holies where we live. We abide.

Oh God, stir within us, your church, through your Spirit.  Awaken our hearts and minds to seek you with all we are.  Enable us to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to be filled with your mercy for the lostness of lives around us.  Oh God, stir our hearts to beat like your heart.  Revive your church, God. Revive us. So we care less about what we have and do, than about who we are in you and obeying you.  Oh God, may be risk our lives for your sake, as the Apostle Paul.  Give us boldness and clarity in your message to stand firm on your gospel, revealed by your Spirit to our spirit.  

Oh God, there is one church.  One people who are the new creation you have made in Christ.  There are not many peoples, just one people, the people of God, born of the Spirit of God.  Oh God, you have made us one and we are one in Christ.  What momentum and power there would be if we walked together as one, in one mind, one Spirit, on baptism as your people.  Oh God, awaken us to be who we are.  Open our ears to hear your voice and to obey the call to live by faith.

Your heart beats to see the salvation of all those who will come to you in faith.  You desire that all people would be saved God.  And you call us to proclaim your truth, your gospel.  You will set people free from the power of sin and death and transfer them into your kingdom. You bring the dead to life, and enable them to enter eternal life in You.  O God, you are great and good.  Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness.  Thank you for your mercy and grace.  Open our eyes to stand up in you and obey you as you lead us out into the world with your message.  Make us bold, God.  Help us see clearly, laying aside all worldliness and accept only the holy life of a saint of Christ!

The power of the gospel: Salvation Army beginnings

God has allowed that I should be sick for these past four months. As I have been resting, I have been reading some biographies.  One I am just finishing is on the life of William Booth.  What struck me is that his ministry was focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It seems obvious, but in light of the social ministry of Salvation Army today, it wasn't clear in my mind how it all started.  William Booth was convinced that people could be totally sanctified,, spirit, body and soul. That they could dwell in the peace and power of God when they fully surrender to Him.  I believe He was talking and teaching about abiding in Christ and being who we truly are.  Of living holy lives because we have been made holy by God.  He focused on living out the new creation life in Christ!

The gospel he preached was powerful! Thousands of people came to Christ through his ministry and he called them to live as soldiers of Christ.  His meetings were gospel centered throughout most of his ministry until the ending years when he began to move more into housing people and meeting physical needs.  Whole cities throughout England were impacted by the movement of God through William Booth.  Crime dropped.  Police forces were not needed as much in many parts of England.  Eventually, opposition arose from the alcohol industry because they were losing business because of the radically changed lives of the poor.  City officials who were corrupt began to fight against Booth and his teams.  The persecuted the saints, but the revival just continued and grew.

Booth centred his work on the leadership of God and refused to give leadership to a man.  He refused to accept money that sought to control the work of God.  He chose to suffer hardship rather than compromise.

What would happen today if we had this same zeal for the gospel?  If we chose not to compromise even though the message we proclaim is not politically correct?  Even if it mean persecution and reviling at the hands of people who oppose it?  What is we proclaimed the beauty and fullness of the gospel, trusting that it is the power of God to all who believe, no matter who they are or what level of society they are in?  What if a wave of salvation passed over the country, through Canada, the US, and into the world?  What if so many people were transformed that the society would notice and the gambling halls and bar would lose business?

What would it take?  Who would we need to be to see this happen? To obey the passion of God within us that cries out for the salvation of mankind through faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ?  The simplicity and power of the gospel.  The gospel that is sufficient to transform lives.  Just Jesus. Just His truth and complete surrender to Him in all and every way.  Denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him?  Knowing that we have been crucified in Him, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. And the life we life we live to Him.

May we see revival come in the hearts of God's children. May our hearts accept the truth of who we truly are and understand the peace that passes all comprehension in the kingdom of God where we reign in Christ.  May the spiritual eyes of our understanding be enlightened to know the hope to which we are called.  The power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.  Teach us Lord Jesus. Open our eyes, Holy Spirit.  Lead us Father God into your heart.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Creating Passion

I am more and more convinced that clear doctrine creates passion.

When we know what to believe, and the knowledge we have received is from God through His word, spoken by His Spirit into ours, that knowledge, that truth, sets us free.  For years, I did not understand the gospel.  I thought I did and I tried to live with the understanding I had.  But that understanding did not produce the fruit of righteousness throughout my life.  I still wavered and strove to find something more. Something I felt was still missing.

I wanted abundant life in Christ.  The enemy came to steal from me, and to kill and destroy.  I wanted to have the life that was filled with the living water poured into me through Jesus Christ.  I wanted more than survival and mediocrity. I wanted passion and power to live victoriously and to help others do the same.  But I could only help others get to the level I was at.  And I was struggling.

When I began to cry out to God for understanding, and surrendered myself to listen to Him, He began to reveal His word in ways I had never known.  When I finally had ears to hear what the Spirit was saying, God opened my eyes to see His beauty in new ways.  I began to comprehend the  mystery of the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. The gospel, when believed, transforms life. Not only does it transform life, but it becomes the reality we live within at all times because through the gospel we enter into Christ and Christ enters into us.

We become one with the One was saved our souls.  We become one with God, because the fullness of God is in Christ and He is us and we are in Him.  All we need has been given. This is the reality of the gospel, and the new creation in Christ.  All the work is done for our salvation.  We have received all we need in the fullness.

When I finally understood, that God has made me righteous in Christ, not because of any "good" works of my own, but because of the perfect work of the cross and the resurrection, I ceased striving.  I accepted the word of God as true and rested within it, knowing that God had accomplished for me, for us, what I could never accomplish. He had made me holy and set me apart for Him forever. And nothing could change that.  He had made me new, and there was nothing needed to improve me any longer.  Yes, there is growing to do, but my identity was sealed by Him in my new birth.  My identity as His child, as a being who was made new and is holy and undefiled. Someone who is clean and pure and joined to Him forever.

I have been justified by God, by faith in His Son.  And I, along with all of God's new creation, have been made righteous because I have received as a gift the righteousness of His Son, who fulfilled all righteousness through His live, death and the power of His resurrection.  He fulfilled the law and the prophets, every jot and tittle.  He walked out life as it should have been in perfect obedience to the Father, fulfilling all that was required. And then He offered His perfect life, willingly laying it down for the sake of us all.  He fulfilled the wrath of God and judgement of death against us, taking all of our sin into Himself, and dying in our place under the wrath of Almighty God.  But death could not hold Him, for He had no sin of His own.  God raised Him from the dead and He is alive.  And we are alive in Him.

Once I accepted the truth of His gospel and stopped trying to reason it away because of emotions or experience, I began to experience the reality of the truth and lived free.  I ceased striving and I knew that He was God.  That He would be exalted in all the earth.  And I began to live within the reality of the new creation life in Christ that He made.  What joy there is in His presence!  What peace and power!  Not a power of our own, but His power flowing in and through His people to the praise of His glory and grace.  His work was and is sufficient for us as His people.

May we give up our intellectual reasoning and sit and listen to Him, to hear His heart and His reasoning through His Spirit within us.  To accept Him at His word and wait upon Him as He reveals to us what it really means.  He rewards those who persevere in seeking Him.  He willingly gives wisdom to those who ask Him in faith.  He gladly reveals to those who will listen to His voice and not trample underfoot the pearls He gives.  What a precious gifts to receive a pearl from God, to hear His heart in new and delightful ways.  What joy in knowing Him more deeply and understanding His thoughts just a little bit more.

I'm convinced that clear doctrine created passion and a solid, victorious life as a Christian.  If our lives are not solid, it may be wise to reconsider what we have believed.  The problem is not with God and what He has designed, the problem may very well be how we have perceived Him and His design.

Romans 6:5,6  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Galatians 2:20,21  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

2 Corinthians 5:17  17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.