Tag Archive: Self



Galatians 3:23-25, “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”

image

Paul declares that the law, which revealed our inability to be in complete compliance with the law and/or God’s nature, was added so that mankind may see their need for Christ. The law was the birth pains, through which the wonderful promise made known to Abraham became manifest and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, through whom we, in faith, become righteous before God. There is a paradoxical nature within the law concerning both it’s goodness, it being from God and representing holiness, and while at the same time being a burden unto man, for the law condemns and in the law itself, there is no hope, for all have violated the law.

image

Furthermore, the strict obedience to the law, can in fact break the law. Again, this is rather paradoxical, but we can reconcile these seemingly contradicting aspects, not by the law, or through man, but rather in Christ. Some, like the Pharisees, held the law to such a strict standard, that they idolized the law above faith in God, thus breaking the law, of which they claimed obedience. It is possible to worship the law itself and forgetting about the conditions of faith that are proclaimed all throughout the scripture. This is not to say that obedience to the law is bad, for this same law is now upon our hearts, but rather by faith, the law becomes represented through our relationship with Jesus. We do not develop obedience in the law and then acquire faith, it has been designed and purposed by God that it be the other way around. This is implicit in the law, but man lost focus as he put his faith in the commands rather than the author.

image

Realize we still run the same danger today. When we approach the word of God, we need to approach it in and through our relationship with the Spirit, otherwise the Living Word, loses that necessary condition of faith. This is a lesson I need to consistently keep in the forefront of my mind when approaching the Word of God. I study the word, but I have come to understand that the Bible itself can’t save you anymore than the law provided salvation. There are numerous atheists and deists who know the Bible better than some Christians do. Thus, we find that what is contained in the word is a path to Christ, but if we look at the words alone, we are missing the point.

image

I myself love studying the word, but I also love extrapolating the philosophical points behind the Scriptures. As I have stated before, the enemy and the self, can take even the best intentions and askew them. Thereby, there was a time when I saw that my study of the Scripture wasn’t as God has intended. We are to not seek the philosophical points behind the Scriptures, but rather seek God and we should direct our hearts to developing a deeper relationship with Hm. We shall not forget this, for to do so, we are the same as those who study the law, and forego God. We should let the Spirit speak to us through the word, for our study is not study alone, but rather communion with our Lord, and we need to pray and be open unto this while we approach the Word of God.

image

Likewise, man forgot this aspect when they approached the law. They strove to be in compliance with the law, and forgot about the faith represented in the law. All the great men and women within the Old Testament understood this point, that the law reflected our noncompliance, and thus they were brought to faith and reliance on God and His promises, rather than just to the law itself, which again trespasses against the law, for it can idolize the law in a sinful manner.

image

So in Christ, we have a new revelation of faith that we can rest our reliance on. This was purposed from the beginning that the reconciliation between the law and faith, along with justification, would rest on Jesus Christ. Since man mistook the law and did not come to God in faith, He has now revealed a more present object upon which our foundations of faith are built, His Son. In addition, the law showed our great need of the deliverance that God had promised prior to Abraham, and this was purposed to draw men unto the promise by faith. Now, by the new covenant, the promise has been fulfilled and we eagerly await those promises from God that are still yet to come.

image

Advertisements

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

Photobucket

In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Photobucket

Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

Photobucket

Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

Photobucket

It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

Photobucket
Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

Photobucket

The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

Photobucket


“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

Photobucket

"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

Photobucket

Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

Photobucket

Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

Photobucket

In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

Photobucket

"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

Photobucket

"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

Photobucket

Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

Photobucket

Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

Photobucket


“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows.” -2 Corinthians 12:2

Photobucket

It should be no secret to those who follow the Lord that there is indeed a supernatural aspect to our faith. The deeper our relationship with the Lord becomes, the more this is manifest within our lives. It does not follow the common course of things, causality and physicality, but rather surpasses it and our mystical (not in a pagan sense, indeed the word actually has its origins in Christianity) relationship with God becomes apparent.

A person who chases after these experiences alone, however, is in extreme danger of practicing that which belongs to the occult. Man should never initiate such experiences, but let them come at the Lord’s bidding and when He sees fit to make them manifest, and to what degree.

There are numerous supernatural manifestations that can occur when one is in the Lord. These range from prophecy, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, and even hearing, or speaking, directly from the Lord Himself. It should be mentioned there is a dualism concerning such things, for the occult has similar practices, but there is one major difference, one is perpetuated by man, the other by the Lord, and manifest in man or nature.

Photobucket

Paul, no stranger to the miraculous, recounts the story of an unnamed man who was caught up to the third heaven. This, “Third Heaven,” doesn’t indicate that there are separate layers of paradise, but in this account, it suggests that wherever this person was taken, it transcends the upper atmosphere of the earth, the surpassing heaven, the firmament of the cosmos, and finally into that supernatural realm which is the dwelling place of God. What is therefore concluded by the mere existence of this third heaven is that it trumps all that is physical.

Photobucket

Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t know if this person’s experience was in the body or independent of it. The interesting thing about this, among others, is that regardless, in Paul’s mind, it neither adds nor detracts from the reality of the experience. To Paul, either way, it doesn’t cease to be any less real.

There is a phenomenon some experience called, “waking dreams.” Though it has it’s ungodly representation in the occult, Christians too have these experiences, from God, where they neither know if they are awake or dreaming, or if they are of the body or a part from it. The question becomes if any of these categories negate the reality of the experience? My conviction is that it doesn’t necessarily follow that these encounters are any less real than the physical ground we walk on. In fact, they may represent to some degree true reality.

Photobucket

As I have stressed before, the occult has similar practices. Apart from who initiates the experience, is there any way to tell one from another? I am convinced that there are some guidelines we should look to when approaching the subject.

The first is, who does it glorify? Realize the Lord does nothing arbitrarily and without purpose. For instance, He wouldn’t lift you up to the third heaven just to satisfy some personal curiosity you may have concerning it. Rather, the experience will be for not only your benefit, which is apparent by the mere personal nature of the experience, but the Lord will use it in order that you be a testimony before man. Thus, it will be to His glory.

Photobucket

Second, where does it lead you? If one is led to a place of darkness apart from God, or if the experience makes you focus on the self, then one is in terrible danger. If such an experience leads one to become boastful of their own abilities to produce such a supernatural experience, than one can reasonably conclude it is not from God, and if it is not from God, than one is being deceived.

Deception wouldn’t be called such if it didn’t have the ability to put on a guise of something true and lead people astray. That’s why it is so effective. One should pray for discernment in the Spirit and protection of the Lord, that such deceptions may not lead you into believing a lie. We need to realize that the Great Deceiver never created anything himself, he only perverted those pure things that God set in place. Thus, there is a dualism about such things, the proper, and the sinful, or improper.

Photobucket

If an experience produces fruits of a Godly nature, and it’s in perfect alignment with the Spirit and nature of God revealed in His scriptures, than one can induce that it’s from God.

Yet, on the antithesis, if an experience produces fruits of the self, pride and encourages sin, and leads people astray, along with not lining up with scripture, then one can deduce that it is not from God. Yet, it should be said that we need discernment in the Spirit, for the Spirit is capable of understanding the supernatural, while our minds are inept at knowing such things. Remember, such false supernatural occurrences are due to the actions of man and not the will of God.

Photobucket

Finally, realize our God is not one of confusion. Chances are, He won’t let such experiences in your life, that are of Him, until you are ready. However, as we grow, use the faculties the Lord has given you, along with the weapons of righteousness, that in these supernatural manifestations, if they indeed occur, you may not be led astray.

Photobucket


2 Corinthians 7:8-10, “For even if I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it—even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a little while. 9Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.”

godlysorrow

There is, of course, much discussion concerning the “letter” or “epistle” referred to by the apostle Paul in verse 8. There are at least five theories concerning the biblical etymology and development of the books known today as 1 and 2 Corinthians. These theories are discussed in the NIV Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible. The NIV Study Bible tells us:

“Some think Paul here refers either to 1 Corinthians or to 2 Corinthians 10-13, but more likely he refers to a letter now lost that he wrote shortly after his ‘painful visit.’” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

This “painful visit” is mentioned by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:

2 Corinthians 2:1, “So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.”

Philip E. Hughes continues:

“This former visit could not have been the one he made to Corinth at the time when the church there was founded in response to the preaching of the gospel. Therefore he must have paid a second visit, which is confirmed by [2 Corinthians] 12:14; [2 Corinthians] 13:1.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Epistle_to_Galatians_Illuminatad

These aforementioned verses read:

2 Corinthians 12:14, “Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.”

2 Corinthians 13:1, “This will be my third visit to you. ‘Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”

Paul, therefore, is stating that his visit to the Corinthians is to be his third. His first visit was apparently the founding of the church at Corinth itself, so we have a “missing” second visit. Concerning this the NIV Study Bible says:

“The second visit probably took place between the writing of 1 and 2 Corinthians, though some hold that it occurred before 1 Corinthians was written.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

download (1)

So, we can already see that there is some disagreement in when these lost letters of Paul were written, how many there were, and if indeed the letters in some way corresponded to the visits themselves. The Life Application Study Bible takes another stance on the issue.

“’That severe letter’ refers to the third letter (now lost) that Paul had written to the Corinthians. Apparently it had caused the people to begin to change.”Life Application Study Bible

“Paul visited Corinth on his second missionary journey and founded a church there. He later wrote several letters to the believers in Corinth, two of which are included in the Bible. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is lost.”Life Application Study Bible

The Life Application Study Bible cites that this lost letter is referenced in a passage in 1 Corinthians 5:

1 Corinthians 5:9-11, “When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.”

The Life Application Study Bible continues to explain:

“[Paul’s] second letter to them is our book of 1 Corinthians, his third letter is lost.”Life Application Study Bible

P46

The Life Application Study Bible cites that this additional lost letter is referenced in a passage in 2 Corinthians chapters 2 and 7:

2 Corinthians 2:6-9, “Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. 7Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 9I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions.”

2 Corinthians 7:12, “My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us.”

The Life Application Study Bible states:

“[Paul’s] fourth letter is our book of 2 Corinthians. Second Corinthians was written less than a year after 1 Corinthians.” –Life Application Study Bible

“Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to deal with divisions in the church. When his advice was not taken and their problems weren’t solved, Paul visited Corinth a second time. That visit was painful for both Paul and for the church [2 Corinthians 2:1]. He then planned a third visit but delayed it and wrote 2 Corinthians instead. After writing 2 Corinthians, Paul visited Corinth once more.” –Life Application Study Bible

Despite what one may conclude about the letters to the Corinthians and the existence or, rather, non-existence of missing letters, it is apparent that when one comes to Christ we feel sorrowful for our sin, of that which was manifest in both the old creation and the new. Sorrow can imply that we feel remorse for wronging someone, God, man, or even self, and this sorrow becomes known and abundant once our eyes are opened by Christ. For in that moment we, in our hearts, know how we were supposed to act if we were indeed obedient in the Lord. Yet, it is because of this disobedience that Christ had to be nailed unto the cross, that we may have forgiveness of our trespasses. Once this is made clear, Godly sorrow envelopes us, but for the purposes of repentance, rather than a means to drive us into despair. This is where sorrow of the world leads, despair, hopelessness and eventually death. Not of the body, for everyone goes through that, rather the death of the spirit. The true death where there is no hope.

damned

Despair has several like traits, but in my own personal observation, it seems to multiply burden and with an overwhelming feeling of sorrow, this makes hope in one’s life crumble into dust. In this position many slip down the well-worn worldly path towards self-destruction and/or become allied with the enemy. There is an ecclesiastical meaninglessness to life, which makes one focus on the Lord, and there is a worldly meaninglessness that makes one focus upon the self. In regards to the latter, they seek not to protect the self, but rather engage in actions of carnal gratification which eat at a person from the inside out, until they are just a shell of what they might have been, tragically spending all effort in chasing after material rather than the eternal.

Christians, of course, are not granted a lifetime without hardship when coming to the cross. In fact, there are many throughout history, also in contemporary times, that have experienced greater hardship due to their suffering which is directly related in the sharing of the message of reconciliation, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Great persecution and martyrdom still occurs to this day, despite the gospel of “tolerance,” the world supposedly subscribes to. More on current examples of martyrdom and persecution, check out, “The Voice of The Martyrs” site.

Yet, there is a vast difference between the hardship of those in the world, and the hardships of those who belong to Jesus Christ. It’s not found in the nature of the hardship, but rather in the response. The world under hardship lacks hope, while those in Christ have it in abundance and there are several ways our hope is apparent.

sidewalk

With Christ we have the hope in Him that He cares about us and our daily lives, and indeed this is truth. We pray that He will strengthen us, lift us out of such snares and the painful circumstance we may find ourselves in and put us back on our feet. Furthermore, we know that when we pass from this world, the problems that confront and confound us here, will cease to be on the other side of eternity, where we will truly live.

Godly joy stems from these things which are some of the cornerstones of the faith and experienced in all Christians, as well as the faith and love that the Spirit instills and perfects within us. Yet, Christians are not immune from breaking away from this hope and grace to chase joy and happiness in the pleasures of the flesh. I myself am guilty of this very thing.

Besides being apart from Christ, one of the problems with this strategy is that you will never come to a place of fulfillment. In fact, you may desire more and more, chasing after “new” experiences, but never realizing how similar those experiences are. Eventually you come to a point where you gain exactly the opposite of what you were looking for: despair. Trying to choke out the feeling of despair by worldly means brings one to the point of calamity, and it is only by Jesus Christ that one can be pulled back from the edge of the precipice.

cliff-edge

True joy is found with Christ Jesus, who offers it freely to those who follow Him. Christ went through that feeling of despair as He was beaten and executed that we wouldn’t have to. Christ offers us a way back from the tomb of despair, that our lives may have meaning, and in that we may have joy.

fearless


“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” -2 Corinthians 6:1


The Bible gives those who live according to their godly faith several names and/or titles. When we reflect on these titles, it can give us a deeper understanding of the nature of our relationship with the Lord (see my note concerning Romans 1:1, “On The Names of God and The Names of Man”). Paul offers up an additional title, one of “co-workers.”

The purpose and work of God is clear in the scriptures, to bring those who do not know His Son to the cross to partake in the gift of salvation. It is not only told in the living word, but this mission is evident in our hearts. We should strive to set a Christ-like example and share what He has done amongst our brethren, and for our brethren. Christ completed God’s will by going to the cross, and thereby opened up the door to salvation for us, that we would work in accordance with the Spirit to lead others to that very same door.

There are two choices in life. You can either work for the self and darkness, or you can work for the light, that is Christ. Who is it you work for and fight against? Do you work for the enemy and fight against God, or do you work for the Lord and battle continually against the enemy? One means you are a co-worker and sharing in Christ’s glory, while the other means you are in desperate need to come into that glory which is manifest at the cross and He who hung upon it. If you believe in Christ, but not on Him, or maybe you dont believe at all and are fighting constantly against Him, I pray that you would be led to and walk through that door, where you will be given the gift of salvation and reconciliation by your faith. You are always battling against something, so choose to fight against the enemy and join the army of the Most High who is forever praised. Amen.


“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” -Matthew 7:16

PhotobucketAs we travel along the busy thoroughfare we call life, we form many ideas and opinions of those we encounter along the way. A popular response from people when they suspect our opinion, or when we offer a rebuke of their sin is, “Don’t you judge me!” Usually, this is not so much to do with those who offer the conviction, as it has to do with the person who feels they are being judged. When we rebuke someone due to their lifestyle or actions in accordance with the Lord’s urging, it’s never comfortable. We should know this from experience.

Now the scriptures also tell us that we should not judge, so the reconciliation between what is proper and what isn’t takes some discernment through a relationship with the Lord. For instance, we shouldn’t judge on an issue we ourselves are indulging in, lest we become hypocrites. The word hypocrite I feel is immensely overused. Understand that we can convict and hold each other accountable while still struggling, for we all are sinners and in such contexts not only should the truth be shared, but also our own shortcomings in a particular area, whatever that may be. These urgings, through the Lord produce accountability and victory. If we gain a victory through Christ, convict others, and later stumble, this isn’t hypocrisy, though we by sinning are certainly in error. Hypocrisy is when one willfully engages in their iniquity, not holding themselves to a particular standard, but at the same time, holding others to it and judging them due to that same error evident in their own life.

Photobucket
Of course we need to judge, for if we didn’t how would we know a good situation from a bad one, or a person that will forward our lives and faith in Christ as opposed to hindering it? It’s apparent that when applied as an absolute, even our judicial system would collapse in that we couldn’t hold each other responsible for their actions, nor would there be such a thing as guilty or innocent in a court of law. We need that discernment, to know when it is appropriate, lest we fall more often and find ourselves in a place where we could very justly be cut down and thrown into the fire, or even lead others to such a place.

Photobucket
Although this verse talks explicitly about false prophets, we can implicitly find plenty of truth concerning how we must view others in general, in order that our walk with the Lord may be protected. Men, and women, are masters of deception. It’s unfortunate, and although we want to sometimes trust everyone, especially when a person evokes the name of Christ, the previous verse, Matthew 7:15, makes it abundantly clear that all that claim Christ, don’t necessarily belong to Him.

Photobucket

False Prophet Manasseh Jordan, who along with his father, E. Bernard Jordan, not only claim him to be a prophet of God, but God Himself.

How do we recognize them and protect ourselves? Jesus tells us that we should look to the fruit that people produce. Not just those wolves who claim the name of Christ, or even have a lofty position in the Body of Christ, but this can apply to anyone.

Photobucket
Sunday and Monday, I didn’t post due to a exciting day I had at church and a couple days in which I was in close fellowship with great friends and those in Christ. I wrote the first part of this article and attended afterward, for a time, a conference at a local church. I also got hands laid on me and got a few prophecies revealed to me as to the direction my life is going in Christ. Yet, as exciting as it was, I also found myself somewhat skeptical of the abilities in the Spirit, which some professed, by mere action, to have been granted.

Photobucket
I was plagued by the question of whether or not I was in the right by being skeptical of such things? Was I being too judgmental. In all honesty and simplicity, I trust in the Lord, but I don’t trust in man. Now, as I begin to finish this article, and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me at the time of these prophetic occurrences, I realized that just a half-hour prior that the Lord had already answered the question I would later pose to myself. I was informed by a person very dear in my life that supposedly this happens quite a lot to me, and I, of course, praise the Lord for his timely response concerning my constant questioning.

Photobucket

By the verse, and indeed those surrounding it, in correlation with the questions that were raised in my heart, it is apparent that skepticism concerning the gifts of the Spirit and those who profess to have acquired them, is both a good thing and a bad thing. In one sense it protects us, and in another it may hinder us. Personally, I believe that within my life time I have had the skepticism affect me in both aforementioned ways and I have stumbled and engaged both extremes of the spectrum.

PhotobucketOften times our skepticism is due to our lack of experience in experiencing something someone else testifies to encountering. Even if we witness it and we haven’t experienced those particular manifestations, those who have, or those it is evident in, can seem strange or to an extent, crazy. Therefore, we may come to the false conclusion that it is faulty or feigned. Though such a conclusion can sometimes be correct, other times it can seriously detain us from learning or experiencing something, especially when concerning our walk with the Lord. In fact, we see many who are so skeptical that the mere idea of God and experiencing Him, is so silly that they consider it some form of mental illness. The fact is, perfectly sane and brilliant people experience God all the time, but due to the skeptics unwillingness to accept God, it’s improbable they will experience God in a life changing way, for they are already surrounded by Him, but fail to recognize because of the hardening of their hearts and skepticism (among other things).

Photobucket
Yet, on the other hand, those who are completely non-skeptical run the danger of being led astray by falsehood in the name of Christ. This, too, I have experienced. In my example, God and His interaction with us, and even my salvation, was determined by an emotional response. That is, when one has an emotional response to God, this alone determines God’s presence, His power, and to what degree we experience Him. Some will also say without such a response, one ceases to be saved. Not only do some say this, but you begin to say it in yourself, and you equate God and your salvation with that emotional response. Having an emotional response concerning the truth of the Lord and His sacrifice is blessed, but seeking an emotional response in and of itself to experience God is not, for though we may fool ourselves, it is not based on God.

We are emotional creatures, but our relationship with God isn’t determined by emotion. There are times your heart swells and there are times where you feel God is absent, but the latter is never the case. God is always there, through all emotions or none at all. I myself have yelled at God, cried to Him, and laughed in His company. Yet, there have been times where I didn’t “feel” anything. When I was ensnared by this particular brand of  falsehood, I produced the emotional response of my own accord and spoke for the Lord without His urging, but fooled myself that it was indeed from Him. There lies the danger.
Photobucket

If one has fooled themselves or been fooled that a relationship with God is a strict emotional one, then they will chase after that emotion, looking to that emotion rather than the Lord Himself. To worship an emotion is idolatry, and before you know it, your worship may forgo the Lord altogether. Don’t misunderstand, there are times when emotion is included, absolutely! Yet, there are also times the Lord tests us by pulling away. Is faith really faith if you need that emotional response? It’s much easier to be obedient in emotion, but can you follow the Lord without it? This is a test we are all put through at times. As our relationship with our earthly parents attests, we eventually need to go out from under their wing and live according to our own devices to make it in the world. In the same way our Heavenly Father may pull back in order to see how we do, and if our faith can withstand the test, that we may be ambassadors for the Kingdom.

Photobucket
When one relies on emotion, it is more based in self than God. Emotion can fool you, and we have the ability to fool ourselves into an emotion. I pray, dear reader, that the Lord may utilize it for His glory in you, but keep it too from ensnaring you. This all being said, how do we know if we are in danger? This answer isn’t a simple one and requires God’s urging and truth to be given unto our hearts.

Do not be fooled by the self, for even the positive good intentions in your life can have a negative effect and hinder you. Be wary of this always. Look to motive in yourself and in others for insight on whether your or others are in danger. Do not let your skepticism steal your joy in the Lord. God does amazing things everyday and such things He wants us to rejoice in. So, keep in The Word that you may be discerning when falsehood is manifest in someone. If it doesn’t follow The Word, then it cannot be of God, because God cannot contradict Himself.
Photobucket
In order to determine the fruit one bears, one must have fellowship. We can see a gorgeous piece of fruit from afar, but looks can be deceiving. We have no way of knowing whether or not, by viewing at a distance, if that fruit, say, contains a worm, or is sour or bitter. Thus, it comes down to a discernment through God, Prayer, the Word, and an intimate knowledge, through relationships, of those who claim and are in Christ. There are those who have been tragically led astray that will come upon your doorstep one day and make it seem as if you are of like spiritual faith, but that’s a means to ensnare. If you were to  get to know them you’d find their Christ and yours to not be one in the same. One should not assume on mere superficial appearances, but get to know one another. We have been called to develop relationships, so let us do so that we may gain trust in one another in like faith, mutually encourage each other, and protect one another from the skepticism that steals joy and promotes falsehood.

Photobucket
Again, do not let your skepticism steal your joy, for whoever you encounter and however the Lord is present in them, realize that they are mere men. Yet, God manifests himself in a variety of ways. Be open to this as well and never let your skepticism hinder you from growing with the Lord, or leading someone to Christ. We all have our comfort zone. Understand that discomfort can come both from the enemy and your preconceived notions. We all like the churches we feel most comfortable in, but this may only hinder you from doing God’s work and growing in the Lord. Don’t put limits on God. Be skeptical of man, but never in God. Look to the scriptures, pray, and get to know your brothers and sister in Christ, that you may know to a full degree the fruits of their Christian labors.

A friend of mine told me that skepticism is based in fear. He can’t be more right. Yet, at times, fear can keep us from being caught up in something that may be ungodly, despite its appearance. If there is good fruit, if by friendship and communion, you find them to be trustworthy, if they follow the same Word, then do not let your doubt steal your joy, for gifts are presented to some, but not to others. Never through your skepticism come to the point that just because it’s different or uncomfortable, on that alone, draw the conclusion that it isn’t from God. Again, never be skeptical of God, but be wary of man, who even in the name of God can distort His eternal Name.

Photobucket

%d bloggers like this: