Chapter 1 Getting Started 15
Chapter 2 Practical Instructions 35
Chapter 3 Laying the Foundation 48
Chapter 4 Understanding and Enjoying Your Salvation 58
Chapter 5 The Greatest Gift 77
Chapter 6 Becoming Spiritual 86
Chapter 7 True Repentance 100
Chapter 8 First Love 109
Chapter 9 Who is the Lord of Your Life? 117
Chapter 10 The Beginning of Wisdom and Knowledge 135
Chapter 11 God Sees in Fullness 159
Chapter 12 Practical Applications 177
Chapter 13 Questions and Answers to Help You 200
Closing Remarks and Final Reminders 217
God has authorized you to have an intimate relationship with Him and His Son. John 17:3 says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The word know means, “to know in a great variety of applications (absolutely) and with many implications…allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) know(-ledge)…come to know, get knowledge of, perceive…” (Strong’s Greek #1097). One root definition refers to the intimacy between a husband and wife. In other words, it means to know deeply and personally.
You may be familiar with this verse, but stop for a moment and meditate on it. You were given the gift of eternal life so you could know your Heavenly Father, Jesus your Lord, and the Holy Spirit who is your Teacher and Comforter. God longs for an intimate relationship with you!
Everything in this book is about developing a deeply personal relationship with the Godhead. This relationship has nothing to do with works, ministry or maturity. Your primary focus should always be on having John 17:3 working in and through your life consistently.
It is time to go back to the first works. I strongly encourage you to read this book as if you are starting over. Even if you are a seasoned, mature minister, go back and make sure the first works are established in you. Remember that your trust in Jesus is directly proportional to the level you have fallen in love with Him and know Him. When you love Him unconditionally, you will acknowledge Him in all your ways and obey Him because you trust Him with your whole heart.
You only trust God to the level that you love Him.
What to Expect
You should start to see obvious growth in your relationship with God as you process the truths in this book. Your ability to acknowledge God and obey Him should dramatically increase. Both your love for Him, and your trust in Him, should deepen. The process of old things passing away and all things becoming new should become a way of life as you continue to repent of the hindrances God reveals to you (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In the beginning, you should expect your basic communication, as far as direction from God, to come primarily through reading the Word. (A reminder: Be sure you are in the Spirit rather than the flesh when seeking direction from God.)
Allow the Spirit to show you what you should repent of. This includes sins of omission and commission: things you are not doing that you should be doing and things you are doing that you should not be doing. It is very important to process conviction properly through repentance, and repentance should take place in the presence of your Father. Do not be discouraged as you go through this. It is necessary and it is good for you!
The Proper Response to Conviction
Let me take a moment to restate what I said in the previous paragraph. Confession and repentance should take place in your Father’s presence. Do not allow satan to have any part of this process. If thoughts come to you to suggest that you are a failure and you will never be able to walk with God because there is too much wrong with you, you must rebuke this lie from satan.
Your Father loves you and He convicts you because He does not want sin to separate you from fellowship with Him. Jesus’ death is the provision for your sins to be removed. His blood is available to cleanse you at the moment you confess your sins.
If you believe you cannot walk with God
because there is too much wrong with you,
you must rebuke this lie from satan.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When the Holy Spirit convicts (convinces) you that you are guilty of a particular sin, godly sorrow becomes evident (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Its purpose is to lead you to repentance. When you are convicted, immediately repent of the sinful fruit that broke your fellowship with God and believe He will forgive you as He promised He would do. (Remember that trusting God means you believe He is trustworthy to do what He says He will do. This includes forgiveness!)
When you confess and repent, the godly sorrow you feel should immediately go away and you should move back into fellowship with God. His peace should return. Then you can ask the Holy Spirit to show you the reasons why you sinned and where the manifestation of the bad fruit came from. Because you are in His presence, you should be able to hear His instructions.
Meditate on each truth the Holy Spirit reveals to you. Ask Him to show you how to break the habit of the sins He exposes. Ask Him to show you directly or through the Word what is correct instead of what you were doing wrong. The process of moving from the carnal nature to Christ’s nature through repentance will be a continual process, and conviction will be more prevalent in the beginning. The more you repent, the more Christ-like you will become!
Before I go on, let me remind you that you must approach conviction and repentance in the Spirit. Godly sorrow is ordained by God to lead you to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). His goal is to remove any and every hindrance that keeps you from enjoying consistent fellowship with Him. His motive is always love! He convicts you because He loves you, and with conviction, He has made the provision for the sin and godly sorrow to be removed. He has promised to forgive you when you repent. However, if you do not believe this truth from your heart, you will continue to struggle with condemnation and will have trouble becoming free in your spirit after you have been convicted.
If you repent but godly sorrow remains, it is likely you do not believe you are forgiven. Matthew 9:29b says, “…According to your faith let it be to you.” Spiritual principles are always activated by faith, so if you believe you are forgiven, you are. However, if you believe you are not forgiven, you will not be. If you do not move back into God’s presence as soon as you repent, this is confirmation that you are not trusting God and His Word with your whole heart. (I suggest that you stop a moment and ask the Lord if this has been a recurring problem in your spiritual life.)
When I first began to walk with the Lord many years ago, I learned to be a fast repenter. When I was convicted, I immediately asked for forgiveness so I could move back into God’s presence. I chose to trust God and believe that His Word was truth. I have not wavered in this commitment for many years, and I am rarely out of God’s presence because I am quick to confess any sin God exposes.
I encourage you to look at this process from God’s perspective. Have the same goal He does, which is for you to stay in fellowship with Him. Be quick to trust Him and obey, especially when it comes to conviction. Become a fast repenter!
The Importance of Conviction
It is important to understand why conviction is paramount in the beginning. God is convicting you about sins that move you out of the Spirit. His goal is to do whatever is necessary to bring you closer to Him. He wants you to remain in the Spirit and be in a safe environment where you will grow up spiritually.
God says in Hebrews 12:5b-7 that He does this for us because He loves us. “…‘ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. ’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” This work should encourage you because it confirms you are God’s child. Hebrews 12:8 says, “But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” You should embrace the work of conviction and repentance. Embracing conviction will produce the greatest amount of fruit in the shortest amount of time.
Embracing conviction will produce
the greatest amount of fruit
in the shortest amount of time.
Each time you are convicted, a hindrance to your spiritual walk and maturity has been identified. Each one is a reason why you do not stay in the Spirit consistently. Conviction is an alarm to warn you that it is time to deal with a specific issue. Instead of viewing this as a negative experience from a fleshly point of view, look at it from God’s perspective. He convicts you so you can repent and remove another sin that hinders you from walking closely with Him. He does this because He loves you so much and does not want anything to separate you from fellowship with Him.
Conviction is a blessing! Yes, it is uncomfortable but what wonderful eternal fruit it produces! If you think about it, you will realize the negative feeling of conviction is merely your flesh reacting because it does not want to die.
Colossians 3:5 says, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” You may think you are not guilty of such blatant sins, but I would remind you that loving anyone or anything more than you love Jesus Christ is idolatry. Remember that God sees the fullness of what is in your heart and mind even if it does not manifest in outward behavior. Let the Holy Spirit examine your thoughts and the desires of your heart.
Allow God to have access to every area of your life. Do not set boundaries on His work in you. When it does not make sense to your natural mind, you must choose to trust Him. Remember that trusting God is a choice, not an emotion. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
God is making decisions for your life that will cause you to become a spiritual being and reach maturity. He wants you to fully enjoy your spiritual heritage. It is important that you do not waste time trying to understand God’s decisions from your human perspective. Simply choose to trust and obey Him. When godly fruit is produced, you will see the results of His work.
Trusting God is a choice, not an emotion.
A Personal Testimony
When I first began to know the Lord, I made the decision to trust Him completely with every area of my life. I decided to trust God 100% for an entire year. I knew that in that amount of time I could compare the fruit of Him being Lord to the fruit of when I had been lord. When I saw the good fruit His Lordship produced (long before the year ended), I gave Him my complete trust forever.
At first, it seemed everything God said convicted me. I did not understand it at the time but now I do. The most important thing to God was to close the doors in my life where satan could take me captive at his will (2 Timothy 2:26). These areas of sin had to be dealt with so I could have the communion and fellowship with God that I desired.
In the beginning, I did not understand how important the purifying of my faith and obedience were. God convicted me and made choices for my life without any explanation. It did not seem fair at the time. When I sought Him for explanations, His response was, “Do you love Me?” I replied that I did. He would then say, “Keep My commandments.”
Jesus gave us the standard for expressing love to Him in John 14:15. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” From that time on I decided to trust Him and obey Him for one simple reason: to show Him I loved Him. Everything became much easier after I made that decision. My love grew and my faith was purified. This accelerated everything else.
Do not get discouraged when God begins to expose multiple sins in your life! Before God can build the eternal things He wants in your life, He must first tear down the carnal, temporal things you have built. For a short season, it may look like you are going the wrong direction. Once the “old” is mostly cleared away in different areas of your life, the “new” will come very quickly and it will become much easier.
Many of God’s children never deal with His Lordship for the same reason many stopped following Jesus when He was on the earth. Jesus’ preaching did not make sense to their carnal minds, and they did not want to follow Him because it seemed too hard (John 6:60-66). But the disciples chose to trust and obey Him and they became the heroes of faith. So I ask you: What will you do?
Life Changing Scriptures
Two scriptures helped me tremendously when I first began to develop my personal relationship with God. Remember that my only goal was to know the Lord. I was not seeking for blessings, ministry or any other thing. I simply wanted to know God in a deeply intimate way. I wanted to hear His voice and I looked for ways to obey Him to show Him I loved Him.
Psalm 46:10a is a simple instruction; if you obey it, it will change your life. “Be still, and know that I am God…” Some of the words that define still are, “…abate, cease…(be) slack, stay, be still…” (Strong’s Hebrew #7503). You must learn to cease from your own labors and stay quiet before your Father. The word know includes the following, “to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a variety of senses…including observation, care, recognition…acknowledge, acquainted with…” (Strong’s Hebrew #3045). God wants you to personally experience an intimate relationship with Him.
James 1:19 says, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” If you want to know the Lord intimately, you must learn to listen attentively and be quiet! Many of your spiritual struggles will stop if you simply obey these instructions. Be eager to hear what the Lord says, and stop telling Him your preferences and opinions.
Listen attentively to the Lord and be quiet!
If you are honest, you will have to admit you have spent a portion of your spiritual life giving God instructions on what you would like Him to do or what you think He should do. He has been in control for eternity and He does not need your advice! When you begin to ask Him for directions then wait quietly as He speaks, you will find you can hear Him more clearly than you ever have. You will find that His peace and joy begin to flow over you in a new and deeper way.
The end of James 1:19 says, “…be…slow to wrath.” If you have struggled with Jesus’ Lordship for much of your Christian life, it is possible you are angry with God because of choices He has made or situations He has allowed in your life. This may be hard for you to admit, but I ask you to stop right now and ask Him this question: “Do I have buried anger and judgments against You for things that have happened in the past?” The answer may surprise you.
If you find you have anger or judgments against God, you must confess this sin before you go any farther. Spend time in God’s presence seeking answers in this area. Ask the Lord to forgive you for each sin you have committed against Him. Do not let satan minister condemnation to you as you confess. Your Father loves you and wants to forgive every sin you have committed against Him. (Chapter 7 explains how to repent in detail.)
Whatever you believe that questions your Father’s love, faithfulness, integrity or holiness is a lie. You may think you have evidence proving God is wrong, but if all of the evidence is presented, you will always be the one who is wrong. I make this statement based on what the Word of God says and my personal experiences.
Ways That Seem Right
James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” If you desire to know God and walk with Him, satan will not be able to seduce you with obvious evil. He has to use ways that seem right to you. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 say, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Remember: It is when you believe you are right but are actually wrong that you are deceived. Do not waste your time looking at areas that are obviously wrong. These areas indicate that you are in rebellion and should be easily recognized. They should be dealt with immediately through repentance.
The areas you believe are right cause the most trouble. If you are seeking a relationship with God but it is not working, your problem is that you are already deceived. You have to face this truth! You must constantly examine the fruit in your life to see how it compares to God’s Word and His personal revelation in your life.
If your life does not reflect what God says, something is wrong! Believe me, it is not God’s fault if you are not where you should be spiritually. This is why I will continue to encourage you to examine each fundamental truth presented in this book and ask the Holy Spirit to show you why it is not in place in your life. You will never change if you continue to make excuses.
The Danger of Spiritualized Flesh
On every critical point the Holy Spirit reveals to you, simply ask Him if you are, or are not, obeying that particular revelation. If you are not, stop making excuses. Ask the Spirit to show you why you do not or cannot obey. There are no excuses, only reasons. Reasons can be identified by the Spirit and can and should be eliminated through repentance. Let me remind you once again: Everything you get convicted about is another reason why your spiritual life is not working.
Remember: Every part of this work must be done in the Spirit, not in your spiritualized flesh. In spiritualized flesh, you develop good ideas from your natural, “religious” mind (from your lordship) rather than asking God what He wants you to do. If God commands you to do something, it can be done. If you cannot do what God says, the Spirit as your Teacher is eager to show you what hindrances are keeping you from obeying. He longs for you to have intimate fellowship with the Godhead. You can trust Him!
Do not try to process truth
through your spiritualized flesh.
It will never work!
There may be legitimate reasons why you cannot obey a particular command God has given you. You need to seek the Holy Spirit for revelation about why you cannot obey. You may have a problem with trusting God or your love may not be as pure as it should be. The Spirit will show you every reason why you are struggling and how to overcome each reason.
It is possible you cannot obey a particular commandment because it is not required at your current level of maturity. Do not make any assumptions! The father of lies (satan) loves to bring condemnation as an angel of light (John 8:44c, 2 Corinthians 11:14). He will tell you that you are a failure when it may be that God is not telling you to do a particular thing. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you exactly what you need to do.
Let me say this one more time: Do not try to process truth in your spiritualized flesh. Operating in the flesh always keeps a door open to satan. Pray a covering over yourself as you seek God about these matters. Submit yourself to God and resist the devil! He will flee from you (James 4:7).
If you continue to process truth in your spiritualized flesh, you will continue to be deceived. It is imperative that you stop doing this! If you continue to struggle with your walk and proclaim, “I have done everything I know to do and it still is not working,” then you must face the fact that you are deceived.
The only way to stop deception is to humble yourself before the Lord and confess your sin. When you have repented and are confident you are in the Lord’s presence, ask Him to show you the ways in which you operate in deception. Your Lord longs for you to be close to Him and be free from the deceptions of the enemy. Repent of every problem He exposes. Trust Him to show you how to be free from the lies you have believed.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Keep it simple! It is time to work on the foundation of your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As you willingly submit yourself to the Lord who loves you, He will show you every hindrance that is keeping you from having the relationship with Him that you desire and the spiritual maturity you have been longing for.
God’s Laws and Exceptions
God’s kingdom is a kingdom of order. He created the laws of His kingdom. Many blessings and benefits result when we obey Him. There are also penalties and losses for disobeying His commands. Only the one who makes and enforces the laws can change or make an exception to them.
If God chooses to change one of His laws then whatever the law was before is no longer binding. For example, His laws changed from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, sacrifices were required to cover sin and there were numerous laws that had to be followed. In the New Covenant, Jesus fulfilled the Law. We are now made righteous through faith in Him instead of obeying the laws of the Old Testament (Hebrews 8:7-13).
If God chooses to make an exception to one of His laws, for whatever reason, it does not change the law. No person has the authority to change or make exception to any of God’s laws. When we break God’s laws, we sin. The Bible explains the penalty for breaking God’s law, and the exception to the penalty, in Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death (the penalty of the law), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (the exception to the penalty of the law).” 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive usour sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess, God makes an exception to the law and does not penalize us for our sins. This is grace, God’s unmerited (undeserved) favor.
Gifts with Conditions
As believers, we have been given a great heritage by the grace of God. There are many gifts and opportunities available to us to become vessels of honor in our Father’s house (2 Timothy 2:21). Many of God’s gifts to us have conditions, and many opportunities require that we qualify for them.
I believe the greatest gift God gave us was the gift of eternal life (John 17:3) and the new birth. The privilege to know the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in an intimate way is available to every Christian, but there are conditions we must meet to enjoy this gift. Jesus must become your first love and the Lord of your life for this gift to manifest as it should.
John 14:15 and John 14:21-23 explain the conditions you must meet to enjoy a deeply personal relationship with your God. Verse 15 says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Verses 21-23 say, “ ‘He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’ ”
You cannot get to know God if you do not spend quality time in His presence. Fellowship with Him will be greatly hindered if you do not obey Him from a loving heart. As you obey and trust Him, your relationship with Him will deepen. As it does, God will give you multiple opportunities to serve Him.
Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” When God calls you, which means He gives you the invitation to serve Him, the Holy Spirit is released to teach and prepare you. When you qualify through obedience, you are then chosen, which means you are accepted. Once you are accepted, God begins to train you in His school, and He anoints (authorizes) you to function in the work He chooses.
If you are faithful, then He will give you more opportunities to obey. Remember: To whom much is given, more is required (Luke 12:48b). God’s ultimate goal is for you to qualify to rule and reign with Him in His kingdom for eternity. All of these opportunities are given to you by grace through faith, and it is not based on any qualities you possess.
Ask the Lord to answer the following questions:
- Do I enjoy the gift of eternal life in a limited way?
- Do I process conviction in the Spirit or in the flesh?
- Do I consider conviction to be a blessing?
- Do I obey Proverbs 3:5-6?
- Do I operate in spiritualized flesh?
Spend time meditating on Psalm 46:10a and James 1:19. Ask the Lord to show you if you obey these scriptures; and if so, to what level.
Reference Verses for Chapter 1
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2 Corinthians 7:9-11
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
…According to your faith let it be to you.
“...My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
2 Timothy 2:26
And that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
Be still, and know that I am God…
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
…there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
2 Corinthians 11:14
And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 2:21
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
If you love Me, keep My commandments.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
For many are called, but few are chosen.
...For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.