Faith, Redemption, Salvation, Holy Spirit, Works, etc...

"..all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.."

"...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"

"...Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."

"...All of us also lived among them (people) at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus... ...For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
Through Faith:
According to the passage above, it is by an individual believing (faith), that one can personally access the life-giving, hope-giving truths of the one true God. It is the secret place in which anyone can be guilt-free, depression-free, anxiety-free, addiction-free, fear-free, etc. etc.
Heaven, its life, peace, glory and eternal hope is infused into people now, today, through the doorway of faith in Jesus.

Where Jesus says "whoever hears my word" in the passage above, the word "hear" implies (according to pulpit commentary) one who allows the thought to "penetrate their nature, (one who) hears and understands, hears and acts accordingly." He further says that He who "believes in the one who sent me has eternal life." The word "believe" here means to believe in a person more of in the sense of when we would say "I believe in you" as an affirmation of total trust in the person's character, their ideas and pursuits - that they are valid and virtuous and will result in success. (When we fully support a political candidate for instance, we might say that we believe in them.) It's not just that we would believe in the existence of that person or even (just) that we believe that the claims they make are valid. It is a giving of one's total trust in everything that person is.

The cool thing is that when a person (take you or me for instance) through a moment of revelation, has the ability to see the truth of Jesus and of his forgiveness for us personally (this ability is given by God also), at that moment that person is transferred from a state of death to a state of life. The death state is the state which we are normally accustomed to, and it is one in which we 'naturally' live and are born into as human beings descended from the sin-infected Adam. In this state, there is a limit to our lives, there is disease, there is lack of resources, and we are subjected to and limited by the laws of this earthly realm (the one which was cursed), and we live under a looming expectation of approaching death and judgement with an inward void which is our separation from God. This is the condition of every person since Adam. Isn't that awesome!! No, it isn't. And people know this. We have sayings to capture the essence of it - “s--- happens and then you die" just about sums it up accurately. And no matter how positive a person is, unless they have the real hope of dealing with the problem of death, our transgressions against God's law, and our state of unholiness approaching a holy, perfect God, they're just living in self-delusion.

Fortunately however, as the above verses indicate, Christ came to transfer us from that state to the state in which death does not exist, and immediately we are transferred in thought, spirit, emotion, body - to that place when we attain revelation of Jesus.

Favor of the Father
And it is when we live our lives in view of the revelation of God's love toward us as individuals that transformations of our entire being are brought about. When we live in view of God's acceptance of us - we are at peace with God, and we can then live, act, think, and speak from a place of strength, hope, and courage, with a positive outlook on life (even in the middle of negative situations/people and awareness of even of our own short-comings) and living without the weight of condemnation, guilt and fear of judgement that is the normal human condition apart from knowing of Christ's forgiveness.
This salvation truth however, is more than just an intellectual assent to the facts surrounding salvation. It is that God HIMSELF, in the form of his Holy Spirit, comes to reside with and in us - bringing present-reality affirmation to us ("The spirit testifies with our Spirit that we are Sons of God").

The actuality of our daily Christian life if usually not lived fully in those revelations, at least all of the time. And this brings me to the point: We have an enemy that seeks to use the lies of the culture/world, which is under his control – and we have a flesh nature inside a body we are given – and these fleshly desires need to be put off and subdued, through the power of the holy spirit (fortunately, He's also in our bodies!)... But the effect of this confluence of forces is sometimes a turmoil in which we feel like there's a war taking place – and we are the main battlefield.
The culture, the old nature, patterned after our flesh desires, and the enemy would seek to delude us into accepting a 'reality', a 'norm', a 'standard' which is less than what God wants for us – which is nothing less than total freedom from all the entanglements of the flesh nature and all the lies of the enemy concerning ourselves and our position of perfect acceptance in God. He would blind us to the truth path which God has laid out for us – this path leads to our purification and our fulfillment in this life. These forces would get us to accept “religious” ideas and other 'waves of doctrine' which have a sense of truth but which fall short of the radical total faith in the grace of God – and would seek to get us into a works-based mindset and into allowing old patterns of thinking and acting. The Holy Spirit inside us, works to rid of us the flesh-based patterns of thinking/acting and it is through our active pursuit and participation in the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading, that we “renew our minds in order that we can discern what the Lord's will is” (Rom 6)...
What are the things which hold us back?
Paul says that the acts of the sinful nature are obvious:
“...sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like..” Any of these remaining in regular force in our lives may mitigate the work of the Holy Spirit within us, getting into a rut of not doing Christian disciplines can from renewing our mind into God's truth - any of these is able to influence our thinking and feelings - and we allow fear, doubt, depression, etc. to block the light of God's truth in us - like a cloud blocks the sun.
“When we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have communion with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.”
Psychology examines effects, Biblical truth examines behavior.
We can't get away from the fact that the Bible holds people responsible for what they do. At the same time however, the Holy Spirit promises us power to overcome even the most entrenched “acts of the sincful nature” which are seemingly sometimes so deeply embedded in our beings that we have (wrongly) come to think of them as part of who we are. This is a great lie that, together with the idea that whatever feelings/desires/impulses/personality tendencies a person has immutably define who a person is, now and forevermore – have brought great delusion and destruction firstly on our culture, but also on the church. Christians now believe more than ever that certain things in their behavior are unchangeable aspects of themselves – and they therefore conclude (wrongly) that God will accept them without the removal of these things.
These ideas have consequently led to the (incorrect) perception of God as a big barney in the sky – a cosmic orb of total acceptance, devoid of .. The only problem is that this is a lie.
“Without holiness no one will see God”.
Holiness is not about robes and incense and
We actually feel and know the presence of God's Spirit in and around us, and know, in a tangible way, that God - and his peace, power, and clear-thinking, are with us. (Some Christians believe it's wrong to 'feel' God or to rely on this 'experience', but this is clearly not a Biblical view, as the NT Christians were told ... Clearly, John says that believers should base their assurance for God being with them in this."...this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us..."
Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit produces very positive emotions and character traits (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control))
"...Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come...."
And it is often the case that the enemy uses our own negative feelings against us (to cause doubt about our actual salvation and to get us focused on our failures, negative situations etc.) and that some have more 'faith' in those negative feelings than those brought about by the Holy Spirit's presence (more on this later).

So what should I believe? First forgiveness: Ephesians 1:7 says:
"In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us..."
This is saying that all offenses we have committed against God and those which were committed against us are null and void..The punishment and rejection by God of us for all those things are done away with because of Christ. He took them for us.

Is this really my issue?
In the book of Matthew, four guys lowered their friend, a man totally bed-ridden for years - down to Jesus - clearly they were asking Jesus to heal the man.
But Jesus, who had been teaching and healing everyone who was sick, said, "Take heart, you're sins are forgiven"... Why did Jesus say this? The man (as far as we know), wasn't asking to be forgiven, he was asking for an answer to his current, most pressing need - sickness. And besides, (we might think), how much sinning can a bed-ridden sick man do? But I think that we often call on God for an answer to any number of issues that are pressing on us: sickness, emotional problems, finances, etc. but we may ....and of what th.. notice above that it says "freely given us".. But Jesus continued, saying to his accusers (the religious elites of the day):
"Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?"...
In this Jesus is implying that forgiveness and healing are synonomous.. that forgiveness - freedom from guilt, feelings of inferiority, and ultimately the fear of death and it's impending judgement - opens the door to God.. and in God is restoration, reversal of the curse and it's effects - including disease, etc. Hitting Home:
Now it is clear from scripture that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Yet the whole world does not benefit from this unless as individuals, they come to see it and accept it's truth for them. Then, the life-transformation and redemption which comes through Jesus can happen for them.

But the same is true for us. If we have revelation (or part revelation) of a truth of God's word at a given time, we may lose site of that down the road in our Christian life.

At the moment truth 'hit's home' to us, when his Spirit "opens the eyes of our understanding"(see below) to this reality, things in us immediately change - psychological and emotional and spiritual changes: guilt is lifted off us, heaviness is broken, oppression and depression lifts, fear leaves, hope comes, outlook changes. Change happens in every aspect of our life: Physical, emotional, spiritual. It is because the root cause of the "blockage" to God's truth has been removed - and all the things that accompany it can now flow (back) into our life. It is the enemies goal to create blockages to God's truth in our lives. Truth is truth - but until and unless we 'get it', it has no effect in our lives. Jesus said: "...Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" , in other words - until a person sees truth for what it is, it remains of no effect for him. Paul understood this and this is why he kept praying for his church converts: "I keep asking that the God....may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."

Though he was writing this to believers, his message was still that they would know the hope to which they were called, etc etc, and that this knowing was (only) accomplished by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation which God would give and has given in the Holy Spirit.
The message of Jesus has been doing this same transformation for 2000 years and will continue to do so for those who accept it.

So it is through the Spirit of God (inside all believers) revealing wisdom and understanding to us in our minds and inner beings that we come to know God and that we are able to access the benefits of belonging to him - it is through revelation of that truth to us that we come to understand all that means, including God's total forgiveness of our past sins and his realtime, here and now power to transform us into a new person. There is no greater hope in this life that what God has already given: eternal life and a rightful place in inheriting all the riches of his kingdom that he freely gives to us.

Losing Sight:
: There are a number of ways we Christians can lose sight of God's grace, our salvation experience, and/or the "simplicity of believing" in Christ, and of those great things which "freely belong to us In Christ".
We can get discouraged, disillusioned, shipwrecked by falling back into old habits, etc. The enemy (yes, we have an enemy), also seeks to wreck us in a number of ways, including casting doubt on our salvation or making us believe that it is not totally by God's grace but by our effort - that state of perfect acceptance by God and of freedom in Christ (we are no longer slaves to sin/fear because of Christ) through doubt, fear, and guilt, and/or by getting our thoughts and emotions involved on 'things below' - on negative situations, on the state of the world, or ourselves - getting us to be introspective and point out our flaws (which are part of our old nature who has died). But regardless of all of those things, truth remains truth. And the state of our salvation remains the same - Jesus seated us with him, forgave us all our sins, gave us all (good) things as an inheritance, and perfectly loves and accepts us.

If the enemy can get us to doubt those truths of our salvation, he would also likewise get us diverted into a works-based mindset where we are now striving to attain God's grace and favor through our own performance (however each of us may measure that), and instead of seeing and remembering our true place of God's perfect forgiveness and acceptance, our salvation by grace alone, and our identity as Sons/Daughters of God, we start into an endless cycle of performance-based religion which inevitably misses the grace of God and leaves us feeling weak, inferior, and like a failure. (Peter says in II Peter 1:9 that we can actually forget that we have been cleansed from our past sins).
It is here that a lot of Christians lose faith in God's ability and his word to restore them. They resort to human thinking, psychological philosophies, etc which have nothing to do with the new creation and the promises of life, hope, peace, and power which is brought only through the holy spirit. These ideas minimize faith in God and magnify human intellect and reasoning in trying to understand and 'resurrect' the old (dead) man.
Lost site of his cleansing Those who see would become blind
What were you thinking?? Collossians 3:1 "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
The oppressor and the negative forces in our world would seek to cloud our minds from this transforming truth - because it is in the revealing - the knowing - of truth that freedom and transformation happens.
It is truly a battle today just to ignore, delete, drown out, evade, and otherwise nullify the constant barrage of cultural inputs: the news, entertainment media, the tv, the internet, the fb, etc etc. all seek to invade us with a worldview, a philosophy, an idea.
Startling New Finding: Most TV's have an off switch
We have to continue to 'strive' to attain, retain, and maintain the mental and spiritual clarity and confidence we first had (hopefully, at least on some level) when we received Christ and of our state of perfect acceptance by God and of His total forgiveness of our sins. It is a sometimes a challenge to focus on being centered on Him and in the peace of the Holy Spirit within us during all phases of our day. But, knowing that we have an enemy and that we live contrary to the world which is under his control, did we expect it wouldn't be? If we downplay the importance of our spiritual battles, our adversaries will win. What we don't believe in CAN hurt us. And if we are not aware that the mind and heart are the central battlefields we are to engage in, we will end up losing the battles. We will find ourselves in spiritual depletion, overtaken by situations, sick, depressed, etc. and finding ourselves mouthing the empty philosophies of our broken world, instead of the promises of God, given to us to maintain a winners position over all of these things.
In this place of knowing who we are as belonging to God, we are confident and at peace with ourselves and with God - in a state of strength and assurance - and it is from this mindset that our faith can motivate us to live and act toward others in a positive, love-based worldview. Contrast this mindset with one of agitation (eg, over the state of the world), or militancy(eg, fighting the wrong enemy in worldly ways), or fear (eg: of judgement/rejection), or despair (I am not accepted by God - my situation has overtaken me - maybe I'm not really saved or good enough for God).
In truth (not our present reality, but in God's reality), nothing can shake the confidence, peace, and hope, which is borne out of a correct view of our position in Christ. Romans 5:1 says: "...since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God..."
It is 'normal' - in other words, God's will, for us to have confidence and a winning mindset. Our present reality (circumstance, contrary emotions, entrenched strongholds of thoughts/negativity etc which have not yet been subdued/removed) battles against this mindset. But we are able to persist and overcome present circumstance with the unchanging truth of God. This takes effort. Remember, we don't meditate on God's word, read his word, declare his word because we're trying to make it true for us. We do all of those things because they are already true for us. It is the 'stinking thinking' of the old nature (that may feel 'right' and natural because we have lived in it for so long and/or because the world around us is living in it and because the enemy lies to us) which is the lie. It is then a matter of daily conforming our minds and actions to the 'true' reality and rejecting the patterns/thoughts etc that are part of the old 'reality'.
It is a lie that 'life sucks and then you die'.
It is a lie that we should get agitated because of the world situation.
It is a lie that 'we won't know everything until we die'
It is a lie that we are struggling along to cope. When God has made us more than conquerors in Christ.
Furthermore, if the world ends, we are looking to God's promise of a new heaven and new earth where we will live with Him. If we die, we go to be with Him. If we are afraid of judgement and fearful of condemnation for our shortcomings, we believe in God's word - that He has forgiven us and that there is no condemnation for those in Him. Make every effort to strive to enter into his peace. The striving is to stay in the revelation of all of this. And this is not on our own - it is God's spirit in us who is working in us to bring this about.
In Galatians Paul says: "...again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?" The contrast here is between a works-based (trying in our own ideas and efforts to be good enough - striving to be a good person, trying to be the perfect mom, employee, etc etc.) and receiving and believing in God's strength to be the new creation he has already made inside you through His Spirit - this is the power in us which is different than the power of our own self-striving - which is imperfect and destined to fail because of the 'infection' of our sin-nature. And it is the difference between night and day.
The battle therefore is not in striving to do better, it's in striving to believe.. and to stay in a position where we receive revelation from the Holy Spirit (in us) of who we already are, and what things we already have. "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened so that you would know the hope to which you were called, the ...riches of "
How? How do I stay in belief (faith) in a world which tears it down, in a culture which screams a belief-system opposite of God's way - self-fulfillment, materialism, indulgence, denying the reality and relevance of spiritual truth - in a world where invisible spiritual forces seek to rob the word God implants in us. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. Read, meditate, focus on the word. "your word have I hid in my heart", "if you abide in me and my words abide in you", "My words are life"... And, similarly, it is allowing the Spirit of God (who is now inside you) to control you, it is obeying it's promptings, stirrings, ideas and thoughts - in order to eradicate habitual sin and destructive patterns of living. It is through His power you can do this if you decide you want to and you persist in it.
Complicating it:
We have so much knowledge that seeks to analyze our issues, define our problems from a worldy mindset. We overlay our culture thinking onto the gospel, or more accurately, try to accept and overlay the truths of the gospel over top of our own (incorrect) understanding of human nature, personality, etc.
The DUH test: Have you read the word today? Are you a member of a Bible Study? Do you have a person or persons who will pray for you about personal problems? Do you go to hear the word of God and worship regularly? Do you coddle cultural influences - have idols which regularly infuse you with cultural frivolity and vain ideas rather than God's truth?
If one or more of these is missing, follow the instructions below: 1. Say "DUH!"
2. Start doing whichever thing you are not doing.
3. If things don't get back on track, then go see a psychologist, read a self-help book, ...

The goal of God's spirit in us then is doing away with the things which cloud our vision and which run contrary to the new creation which God has formed in us. It is in us learning, by the Spirit's guidance and power, to do away with the parts of our old (dead) nature and to become aligned and centered in the power of God's Spirit in us.
Galatians 5:16 says:
"So I say, walk (or live) by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (the old us). 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateverc you want....."
"...19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God..."
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
Since receiving Christ, we have a conflict of forces now in us - but if we, through God's Spirit, subdue the old habits of the dieing flesh (the old us), we will live in God's life and peace.
Stay in a state of active thankfulness to God.
-- But whatever the reason, we and instead live and act in the thinking of our old nature and of this world (even of religious ideas which miss the reality of God's grace and the all-completed work of Christ), we are likely to "default" to living just like everyone else - putting our hope and setting our hearts on (relatively) meaningless things: our job, our money, our spouse, our family, our vacation, etc etc.