Jesus said Come, Follow Me!
Chapter 6 Ė Christís Holy Spirit Led Body
When Jesus walked upon the earth in the flesh, He was limited in what He could do. He could only minister to so many people at a time or be at so many places. Jesus said it was to our advantage that He go away (Jn 16:7 & Jn 14:28). Not only did He give Himself as the unblemished Lamb to be sacrificed for our sins and bring opportunity for reconciliation to the Father, but He also brought about a more perfect way in which those who would follow Him could walk therein. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to give us more perfect access (Eph 2:18). The Spirit is not limited in time and space. This chapter will consider the vital role the Spirit has in conforming us to Christís image. Through the Spirit we have access to Godís wisdom and Christís direction all the time (1 Cor 2:10, 16). The Spiritís role is so vital that we cannot walk in Christ apart from the Spirit. Galatians 5:5, "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."
John 1:6-8, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." John the Baptist was a prophet sent to prepare the way for Christ and did accomplish his purpose (Jn 10:41). Luke 1:15, "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." John operated in the Spirit of Elijah and was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb (Lk 1:17, 41, Mal 4:5). The Holy Spirit provided the authority, boldness and words for John to speak to be the witness God ordained. Luke 3:2-3, "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." The Word came from God and not from the religious leaders or their system (religious schooling) and that word was to "repent." Ezekiel also specifically spoke Godís Words (2 Chr 36:12, Ez 3:1-4, 11:5, 16:17) as did all the prophets (Deut 18:18-19, Moses Ė Num 11:24-29, Is 63:11, Jonah Ė Jo 3:2). A true prophet always speaks Godís Words as per the Holy Spirit (2 Pt 1:21).
We read in Chapter Two that Jesus was filled with the Holy Ghost (Lk 4:1). Christ was justified in the Spirit (1 Tm 3:16). Christís wisdom, understanding, knowledge and counsel were of the Spirit (Is 11:2, Jn 7:38-39). The Spirit leads us to obey God. Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Jesusí desire is for His body (the church) to also be filled with this same Spirit. Christ said, John 3:5-6, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." To be born of water is referring to the baptism of repentance and this is what water baptism is symbolic of. This is the process discussed in Chapter Four whereby one is broken before God, forgiven, born again or converted and given Godís nature (Eph 4:24). Water is representative of Godís Word Ė we are to be washed in it (Jn 15:3, Eph 5:26). The Word is from God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tm 3:16) Ė it stands for ever (Is 40:8). The Word of God purifies us. 1 Peter 1:22-23, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." The Word will make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ (2 Tm 3:15). We obey the truth, which is the Word, through the Spirit (water and Spirit). The Spirit unfolds Godís Word so that we can understand and apply it in the right manner. This water of the Word purifies us: Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Purifying is taking away all our wrong attitudes and giving us a heart to serve God. Jesus said: John 15:3, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." The miracle of the new birth takes place only in obeying the truth (Word) not just hearing. The Word must be accompanied by the Spirit to bring life Ė to change our hearts and attitudes. Those who have the Word but not the Spirit will not manifest this change of heart and attitude toward God. This was demonstrated by the religious men of Christís time. They had the Word, but their hearts were far from God. 1 John 5:8, "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." These witnesses are the Holy Ghost, The Word, and Christís sacrifice - the giving of His very life (Godís plan: forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God through Jesus). 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our salvation is through faith and sanctification (becoming like Christ) through the Spirit by belief in the Word (loving, accepting and applying the truth).
We are forgiven and our sins are covered by Christís shed blood (Col 1:14, Eph 1:7). The life is in the blood and Jesusí was poured out for you (1 Jn 5:11-12). Being born of the Spirit is that empowerment to live holy and righteous before God (Lk 24:49, Jn 1:12, 1 Pt 1:2, 5). This is referred to as "baptism of the Holy Spirit." John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for Christ, said: Matthew 3:11, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." We are to be led by the Spirit daily, having died to self (repented) and having been forgiven by Christís shed blood.
We need a Comforter
Jesus said, John 16:7-8, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" The Holy Spiritís manifestation was so necessary that Jesus said it was better for Him to leave such that this could be accomplished. The Spirit will convict us of sin and wrongfulness, lead us to righteousness, and will convince the world of its fault (make manifest) before God. For any of this to be meaningful, we must freely choose to obey. Jesus (in the flesh) could not physically give everyone such personal attention. John 15:26, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:" Jesus sends the Spirit to us so that we can have the ability to follow in His steps and be conformed to His image. Christís image (in the flesh) represented the image of God that man was created to be. We must be reconciled through Jesus to the image of God under His authority. John 16:13-15, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." The Spirit will guide us to the truth, meaning the correct knowledge, attitude and application of Godís Word. Without the Spirit the Word is as a sealed book Ė we do not rightly understand it, for there is blindness. We must pray that the Lord will open our understanding of the scriptures (Lk 24:45). As we travel "the way" of Christ (Jn 14:6), the Spirit unfolds Godís Word in knowledge and application in our lives. The Spirit will write the epistle of Christ in our heart (2 Cor 3:3). Godís Word is truth and it is eternal (Ps 12:6, 119:160, 1 Pt 1:25). The Spiritís direction will always agree with Godís Word because He testifies of Jesus who is the Word (Jn 17:17, Js 1:18, 1 Pt 1:25). God has given the Spirit to us through our faith (Gal 3:2). The Spirit cannot be earned or merited through our good works or keeping of the law (must have love and devotion). Man does not control the Spirit in anyway. Religious error quickly manifests itself when the Spirit is absent. Man cannot know God or serve Him apart from the Spirit. God has sealed us with the Spirit in our hearts: 2 Corinthians 1:20-22, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." Notice that these verses bear witness of the full Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Ghost). The Spirit will lead and instruct us, if we follow and obey (Acts 5:32). Psalm 86:11, "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name." Understanding of the mystery of Christ (the inspired written Word of God) was revealed to the Apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Mk 12:36, Lk 1:67, Eph 3:4-5, 2 Pt 1:21). To understand and apply Godís Word is to live within His will freely (purposes). Jesus must receive the glory and the Spirit will direct us to Christ.
Knowing the Truth of Godís Word
John 14:26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." If we truly want to know Godís will and desire to perform it, then the Holy Spirit will ensure that we understand it. The Holy Spirit searches and reveals the deep things of God and we thereby have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:10-16). Conversely, if we seek our own will in any way then we will not understand Godís will. Godís truth is a mystery Ė hidden wisdom to those who are prideful or fleshly (1 Cor 2:7), yet will be understood by those who are humble and childlike (Mk 10:15, Lk 18:17). The kingdom will only be revealed through the Holy Spirit and never through manís wisdom (1 Cor 2:13). The Holy Spirit gives truth of understanding Ė He is the Spirit of truth (Jn 15:26, 16:13)! Seeking of your will is seeking the flesh. Dying to your desires and will to seek God is seeking the Spirit. These things are as foolishness to the fleshly (1 Cor 2:14). When the flesh is active it will always seek its own and exalt itself above all else. God will not serve our flesh.
Have you ever noticed how different people can look at the same verse of scripture and come up with very different interpretations of the meaning? A personís perspective may be biased based upon various reasons such as denominational/religious doctrine (doctrines of men), the way they were brought up or taught (traditions of men), pre-conceived notions, or perhaps a cherished lifestyle. In other words, scripture tends to be examined in light of the individualís desired outcome or prior knowledge (2 Cor 2:17, 4:2). These things interfere with Godís will and are idols in your heart. If the desired meaning is not clearly apparent or is in doubt, then justification is sought. Offensive scriptures are downplayed and desired ones are emphasized. The Word becomes tailored to meet an end. These look at Godís Word through the eyes of the flesh. We must examine Godís Word through the Spirit. The flesh desires that which is contrary to the Spirit (Gal 5:17, Rm 8:4-5). The flesh will not desire to deny itself or make sacrifices. If the truth is not approached with a pure heart and right motives then it is of no use to know it. If the truth says to deny yourself and take up the cross, yet you are not willing, then the truth is of no value to you. Many handle Godís Word as a buffet of suggestions to be picked and choosed from, given a changing appetite. They do what is right in their own eyes (Deut 12:8) - but never see it that way (blindness).
Men find all sorts of ways to justify their errors or desired beliefs. They will take Godís Word and say this doesnít apply because it is in the Old Testament (Mt 14:52); or this does not apply because it was only meant for the Jews; or this was only for the early church or during apostolic times; or this is only symbolic; and on and on. Jesus brought the truth, but man prefers his opinions. The truth will deny the flesh and this is the issue! Rather than accept and live within the truth, man will alter the truth to fit his opinions and assume that God is in agreement or will see things his way. We must understand that our "opinions" will always equate to "doing what is right in our own eyes" and will strengthen (feed) our flesh (Deut 12:8, Jud 17:6, 21:25, Pv 12:15, 21:2). Our opinions will be judged by Godís Truth Ė and they better be in agreement (Jn 12:48). Godís Word is eternal and never changing (Js 1:17). Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." What God said in the Old Testament absolutely continues to apply within the context it was said (Mt 13:52). God has been very clear and consistent throughout the Bible that man is to love, obey and serve Him with a whole heart Ė to cleave to Him (Deut 11:22). Anything short of total surrender to the will of God and a life of abiding faith (in Jesus) is rebellion and sin. Nothing has changed including the fact that man manipulates to have his will prevail in keeping with his fallen nature (2 Cor 2:17). Those who love not the truth of Godís Word and use it for selfish ends have judged Godís Word as unworthy in favor of their own or anotherís. What will happen to those who reject Godís truth? Acts 3:23, "And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet (Jesus, as per v. 22 and Acts 7:37), shall be destroyed from among the people." These despise Godís Word (Pv 13:13, 2 Cor 4:2). Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice and "follow" me (Jn 10:27). Consider: Psalm 95:7, "For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice." We must hear Jesus and not what we want to hear.
What is the correct way to examine Godís Word to accurately understand Christís doctrine (teaching)? How can we know the correct context and application of the scriptures? John 7:16-17, "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know (understand) of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." The fundamental condition for obtaining spiritual knowledge (truth) is a genuine heart-desire to carry out the revealed will of God (Ps 25:14). Proverb 28:5, "Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things." God will give understanding (Pv 1:23, Lk 24:45, Mt 13:11) to those who will do His will (desire to know and perform His will), they will understand and thus know His doctrine Ė This God promises! These will be taught of God (Jn 6:45). Knowing means intimate knowledge that leaves no doubt (consider: Jn 17:21, 23, 26). In order to know and apply Godís will, we must totally put our will aside, you cannot have both (who will be Lord?). When we put our will (or idols) aside (doctrines, traditions, likes, dislikes, etc.), then our heart is ready to receive His will (Dan 9:13). If we truly want to know Godís will, then we will DO IT (this is a must, Js 1:22) when given the truth, because our heart genuinely seeks to please Him (Ps 25:5, 27:11, 119:12, 33, 143:10). Psalm 86:11, "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name." To be taught of God we must be meek and fear Him (Ps 25:9, 12, 14). As we do/perform Godís will, our eyes will be opened to the understanding of His Word. Christ said, "to those who hear more will be given (Mk 4:24)." Jesus also said: John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Scriptures reveal that when Christ came the people would not receive Him, meaning that they did not take to heart the things which He said. His will must become our will. This always results in self-sacrifice on your part (denying the flesh). Christís love was sacrificial and we must reciprocate (itís a relationship). If you love not the truth and will not die to self to conform to Godís will (Christís image, Rm 8:29) then: 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Many claim salvation through the blood of Christ, but they received not the love of the truth. So they have blindness of heart (Eph 4:18-19). To see the truth, we must first turn from our iniquities (Dan 9:13). To be self-serving and holding onto the things of men is to reject Godís truth in favor of your own or another manís, usually to satisfy the flesh (carnal nature). Notice the verse (Jn 7:16-17) said doctrine (singular) and not doctrines (plural). There are not many teachings or many paths as some might have you believe. Many want to see God as their own image of the way they think He should be. God is not the image of man (those who rebel see things opposite Ė as the devil)! They create their own golden calf and make sacrifices to it! The Holy Spirit will bear witness and teach those who will embrace truth (John 14:26). God sends those who love not the truth a strong delusion such that they believe their own error (strongly consider this).
God will confirm our own idols back to us if we love not the truth. Ezekiel 14:3-5, "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols." Do you see the magnitude of these verses? When we approach God with idols in our hearts (favorite doctrines, beliefs, notions, traditions, justifications, self-centered wants) or for any reason other than to know the truth (even if it disagrees with our entire understanding, doctrines and traditions) and to live within that truth, then God just confirms our own error back to us according to the multitude of our idols (2 Thess 2:11). God Himself deceives those self seeking prophets (Ez 14:9). God validates what we want to hear because we reject His truth (Ez 14:9-10). Our own error becomes a huge stumblingblock (of iniquity, Ez 14:7) that we now suppose God endorses. This becomes the strong delusion that is believed and accepted as truth. We have no real use for the truth, only validation of our opinions. God doesnít force us to hear the truth, and if weíre not seeking to follow it there is no benefit anyway. God says of these: Psalms 50:17, "Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee." We know that those seeking Godís will are being led in the path of righteousness unto holiness (Ps 23:3, Pv 8:20, Lk 1:74-75, Rm 6:19, 22, Eph 4:24, 1 Thess 4:7, Heb 12:14) Ė we are blessed in doing so (Ps 128:1). Where are those who seek SELF being led? Psalms 125:5, "As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the LORD shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquityÖ" Do not enter the path of the wicked or go the way of evil men Ė they stumble all the way and are an abomination to God (Pv 3:32, 4:14, 19, 15:9) Ė theyíll be cast down (Ps 147:6). There is no peace for the wicked (Is 48:22). You will be supernaturally led down the path you choose (most likely supposing whichever to be in Godís will). This happened to Ahab and Jehoshaphat in 1 Kings Chapter 22 (also 2 Chr 18:19-22). These men wanted an affirmative answer for their way, so: 1 Kings 22:23, "Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee." The kings received the answer they wanted to hear (2 Chr 18:11), but it was to the undoing of Ahab (wrong path). God doesnít tear down the idols that are in your heart, they are there because you want them to be. You have set them up of your own free will and you defend them. The result is: John 12:40, "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." God will not force you against your will. Godís truth is eternal and will remain whether you choose to believe it or not (Ps 119:160, 1 Pt 1:25). If you seek Godís truth to perform it, then you will receive it as you obey. If you seek confirmation of your own idolatry, you will receive such confirmation to your own demise Ė Perhaps God will not even be inquired of by you at all (no answer, Ez 20:3). The religious, who seek God through the flesh, have never understood this. These sought God not through faith. Faith being love, obedience and denial of the flesh Ė such as was demonstrated by Abraham. God responds to us in like manner: Psalms 18:25-27, "With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks." Do you reject Godís truth? By mercy and truth iniquity (sin) is purged (Pv 6:16-17).
There is only one solution (continuing from the verses above): Ezekiel 14:6, "Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations." We have to repent and then start seeking the truth Ė we must love the truth, it sanctifies (Jn 17:19). Psalm 119:167, "My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly" AND Psalm 119:174, "I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight." We must apply the truth and live within it. Psalm 119:133 , "Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." Many religious men seek God to confirm their own idolatry (doctrines and traditions) and God answers them with what they want to hear according to the multitude of their idolatry. Do we not see this demonstrated in the multitudes of religious denominations today? They all differ, yet they are all sure they are hearing from God. Many just suppose there are many paths to God, but this is in total biblical error and these religions/factions contradict (oppose) each other. Failure to embrace truth becomes a mighty stumblingblock. Many religious institutions have a mixture of truth and error and this is confusion. Israel mixed their worship of God with Paganism and idolatry Ė so do the religious of today (Jer 7:7-10, 18). Jeremiah 7:19, "Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?" Anything apart from the truth is confusion. Confusion is instability and not a firm foundation. Many religious factions seek to unite, but this is only accomplished through tolerance and not truth.
When we embrace Godís will, He reciprocates: John 14:21, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." AND 1 John 3:22, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." As with any relationship, love is mutual (two sided) and there is union and communion with each other. 1 John 4:19, "We love him, because he first loved us." As we sincerely love and obey Christ, God gives us intimacy with Himself within proportion to our effort. Prayers get answered and because we are doing His will they are asked with right intent (not asked amiss, Js 4:3). Oh man, do you see God as your own image of Him? God will not be boxed in by your own religious interpretation of Him. God will not be confined by doctrines of men. God is not answerable to men nor does He serve man. He is the great "I AM" and you cannot even comprehend such. Submit, have fellowship and be led.
To correctly obey God we must serve in Spirit and in truth. God defines His very Word as truth. Psalm 119:160, "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever (also 1 Pt 1:25)." We read this Word and apply it to our lives as led by the Spirit. The Bible says that we are to be "doers" of the Word and not hearers only (Js 1:22). Hearers are not justified before God; doers are justified before God (Rm 2:13). When we become doers of Godís Word in seeking His will and not ours, then God will make sure we are "understanders" of His Word and purposes (Ps 119:12, 169, 28:5). They that seek the Lord understand all things (Pv 28:5). That means that you cannot just sit in religious services and hear the Word and agree with it. You must be actively applying the Word to your life daily Ė living it! This becomes a "Living Faith." However, the elders, chief priest and scribes knew the Word of God and also applied it to their lives but fell short. They did not mix the Word with faith (Heb 4:2). This is why we must also live in the Spirit. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." Simply following a list of doís and doníts will fall short of Godís desire. God will hold you to your list and youíll be lacking (Gal 3:12). We must be taught and led of the Spirit how to correctly live out Godís Word with correct motives (attitudes) from the heart out of love. Romans 7:6, "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Does this mean that God is more lax in our obedience to Him? No! It means that: we cannot fulfill the law on our own (with our abilities and motives); and we must have the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us too voluntarily (out of love) uphold the intent of the law Ė our heart must change! To simply follow the law with no real love and devotion to God misses the point. Many become servants to the law rather than servants to Christ (He is Lord). The law points out our sin, failings and inabilities (Rm 3:20 & 7:7). Galatians 3:24, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." When we see our great need and submit to Jesus, He gives us the ability through our faith to live correctly for Him. Romans 8:4, "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." We are definitely being led in paths of righteousness for His namesake. Galatians 5:18, "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." The law is not made for the righteous, for they are a law unto themselves with hearts toward God and pure motives, the law is for the disobedient and rebellious (1 Tm 1:9, Rm 2:14-15). Those who love God are willing to follow Godís commands because of their love for Him. They do not have to be forced to do such.
John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." If we attempt to understand Godís Word apart from the Spirit we will fail to understand the truth. The flesh profits nothing (Jn 6:57). The flesh wants its dominance and will interpret Godís Word in that disposition. The flesh wants to live in darkness yet profess to be in the light. The Spirit works on us to completely change us - our attitudes and desires. The flesh does not want to be changed itís a hindrance, a stumbling block and will keep us from truly coming to Christ. The flesh will see Godís love, forgiveness, blessings and grace, but will not see self denial, sacrifice, obedience, forsaking worldliness and crucifixion of self. The flesh does not want to forsake anything, it wants to accumulate. Since the beginning, men living in the flesh have interpreted Godís Word into all manner of erroneous doctrines. Men can be led to follow many a doctrine when the flesh is soothed and pacified and emotions are enticed. We may profess, but will we follow? Jesus said: Luke 9:23, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Jesus also said whosoever does not bear his cross and forsake all that he hath and come after cannot be Christís disciple (Lk 14:27 & 14:33). This is not a message for the flesh and is rarely preached in context. Only when we allow the Spirit to quicken will we see the truth and have life. The Holy Spirit regenerates! When we die to ourselves and seek Godís will, we change into something beautiful like a seed planted in the ground or a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
When we are given truth we must respond appropriately. Many people might agree with or accept a truth of Godís Word, but this is not sufficient. We must take the truth we are given and apply and demonstrate it in our lives. We can agree with righteousness and understand righteousness, but that does not make us righteous. When first approaching/coming to the Lord, some may initially offer a blanket statement (cover all) of repentance for past sinfulness. This may be sufficient for that moment, depending on whether or not you truly understand the nature of your transgressions. However, sooner or later (depends upon you), the Holy Spirit will bring up representative sins (for your past transgressions) or the actual sins (instances) themselves for you to individually grieve and repent over. Once the sin is properly dealt with, there is deliverance (assuming you forsake it). You see, we often are blinded to sinful aspects of our lives and these things must be dealt with as the blindness is lifted. We must be cleansed from all sin (1 Jn 1:7). When we realize a present or past sin, we must grieve, repent and forsake. The fruit of our repentance will be manifested in our actions (Lk 3:8-9). Obedience requires a sacrifice and a self denial on our part. Obedience itself is superior to sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22), but is often implemented through sacrifice. We submit, yield and place our trust in God and obey. Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." We must be willing to obey even when it requires personal surrender or great inconvenience (Job 13:15). Is this not following in the steps of our Lord and Savior who constantly sacrificed for us? Put all your cares upon God and have faith. 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
When we apply Godís truth to our life and live it, our eyes are opened to ever increasing knowledge and truth. If we are faithful in little, we are faithful in much and are trusted with greater riches (Lk 16:10-12, Mt 13:12). We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Our action or obedience proves our faith (Js 2:17-18, 20, 22, 26). 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." As we live out Godís Word in obedience to the direction of His Spirit, and sacrifice, we are bit by bit, faith to faith, glory to glory, changed into Christís likeness. Romans 1:17, "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Each time we obey God (regardless of personal cost) and forsake our rebellion, we become more like the image of Jesus. We are then traveling the narrow path. We are leaving the darkness and coming into His glorious light. To remain in the darkness is most assuredly rejecting the light. To be unfaithful in the things of God is to lose even that which you have and not to be trusted in true riches (Lk 16:10-12, Mt 13:12, 25:29).
If we reject Godís truth then He will hide Himself from us (blindness of understanding) Ė this is shown in John 8:30 through John 9:41. Jesus was speaking to a group who believed on Him (Jn 8:30-31). When Christ shined light on their darkness (iniquity, evil nature), they rejected His Words (Jn 8:37, 43-47), and lashed out at Him with demeaning slurs (defended their corrupt nature, Jn 8:48). These men even took up stones to kill Jesus (Jn 8:59). During the midst of this confusion, Jesus hid Himself from them, yet stopped and ministered to a man who was born blind (Jn 9:1). The Father decided whom He would reveal Himself to (Mt 11:27). This man received Christís instruction and obeyed (Jn 9:7). As a result his eyes were both physically and spiritually opened (Jn 9:11, 38). The religious were seeking God, yet did not see their own iniquity and could not humble themselves (fleshly, proud) and accept Jesusí graceous Words. The blind man was not seeking God, yet had a humble heart and a willingness to submit and obey. God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom He will have compassion Ė it is God who shows mercy (Rm 9:15-16). Many who seek God, will seek Him in a way of their own choosing and for their own purposes and will come away lacking. Some will make great boasts until their flesh is inconvenieced. The men Jesus was talking to said Abraham was their authority (Jn 8:33-40). They also said they were Moses disciples (Jn 9:28-29). They were rejecting Christís precious Wordís for their doctrines and traditions developed from their incorrect interpretations (Jn 8:39-40) of Abraham and Moses. Jesus said: John 10:8, "All (people, places, things, etc.) that ever came before (put ahead of, higher in priority) me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them." Whenever we elevate anything above Christ, we are robbed of the truth of His Words. John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Those things placed in importance above Jesus (even your religious endeavors) rob you of the life of Christ Ė the light of His Word. You will never understand it. Jesus stated: John 10:9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." Our life is found in Christ!
We will Obey!
Many will be glad to obey God assuming He tells them what they want to hear (fleshly doctrines). Such was the case with the Israelis that remained in the Land after Babylon had devastated the country and killed or carried most away captive. Jeremiah 42:1-3, "Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do." Jeremiah told them that he would seek the Lord and hold nothing back that the Lord required of them. Jeremiah 42:5, "Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us." Jeremiah came back to these men and spoke the words of the Lord. God wanted them to remain in the land, but they wanted to flee to Egypt. These men feared the Babylonians would come back and kill them. They wanted to seek security and provision in man (Pharaoh) rather than God. Jeremiah 43:1-2, 4, "And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, even all these words, Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there. So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah." God didnít speak what they wanted to hear so they blamed Jeremiah for speaking lies. The "proud" will never find the Lord for He hears the "humble." They went to Egypt and God brought their fears upon them and they were destroyed (Is 66:4). Many religious people today will do the same. They will love not the truth, but rather the darkness and will seek out those who tell them what they want to hear as "thus saith the Lord." Jeremiah 6:10, "To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it." The truth will require trust and faith in God (and sacrifice) and will not appease the flesh. Most will trust and seek security in the flesh. 2 Timothy 4:3-4, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
The Holy Spirit is Vital
We have read that the Holy Spirit is to be our (followerís) comforter sent from God who guides, teaches, glorifies Jesus, and convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit dwells within the believer (2 Tm 1:14, Jn 14:17, 1 Cor 6:19). The Holy Ghost also helps us pray: Romans 8:26-27, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." The Spirit edits those selfish portions of our prayers to conform them and us to Godís will. We must understand that everything eternal revolves around Godís will. We must stop looking at the temporal. If you are strong willed then you should start praying for God to break your will in whatever way necessary and make you humble. The Holy Ghost empowers or strengthens us to do Godís will, but we must desire it (Lk 24:49, Acts 4:31, Rm 15:13, 1 Thess 1:5, 1 Pt 1:2, 5). Ephesians 3:16-17, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love." Our own strength will quickly fail us. Ephesians 3:20, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." The Spirit fills us with love, joy, peace, and hope (Rm 5:5, 15:13). Jesus dwells within our hearts through our daily walk of faith which is our demonstrated love and obedience to Him.
Itís just not possible to live on earth as we should without being filled with the Holy Ghost. Galatians 4:6, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." The Bible contains many accounts of those that were filled with the Holy Ghost (including Jesus) Ė Isaiah 63:11, Mark 12:26, Luke 1:41, 67, 4:1, Acts 2:1, 4, 4:8, 31, 6:3, 5, 7:55, 9:17, 10:44-45, 11:15, 11:24, 13:9, 52, 19:6, and Eph 5:18. We are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Giving into the will of the flesh and living a life of self grieves the Spirit. Seeking temporal worldly things grieves the Spirit. The Spirit leads us to die to self and become like Christ. Are you being led?
Yielding to the Spirit
By nature most people are complacent and do not like change. When we yield to God, he wants to conform us to the image of His Son (Rm 8:29 & 14:17). The Holy Spirit works on us to meet that end Ė to grow and mature us. The process is often very uncomfortable to the flesh (flesh is denied). There are peaks and valleys, trials and tribulations and much SELF denial. The flesh must become subservient to the Spirit. The flesh does not want to deny itself; the flesh does not want to love its enemies; the flesh does not want to forgive; the flesh does not want to yield to Godís will Ė it prefers itís own. So if one is not following the Spirit, one does not grow, is in rebellion and falls back. The flesh becomes dominant and rises up in rebellion to Godís will. The flesh (carnal) wants to live in a way that satisfies self and not God. The main point is: If you are not being led of the Spirit then you are living apart from Godís will in rebellion (opposed) to Him. Then your purposes involve satisfying the flesh no matter how subtle it may seem. To reject the Spirit is to reject Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:22, "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 1 John 4:13, "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."
Flesh or Spirit
Romans 8:13, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live." We are to deny the flesh and feed the Spirit. Living in the flesh is doing those things that are contrary to Godís will, such as worldliness, and putting self above God and others. So what do you suppose happens when one constantly feeds the flesh and neglects the Spirit? This could be as simple as eating more than you require to seeking selfish carnal entertainment rather than God through His Word and prayer. The possibilities are endless. The flesh wants what it wants when it wants it; the Spirit is sacrificing and patient. The flesh wants to do what is right in its own eyes irregardless of others; the Spirit denies itself for the benefit of others (love). The flesh takes; the Spirit gives. The flesh exalts itself; the Spirit is humble. The flesh wants to control; the Spirit wants to set free. Galatians 6:8, "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." We must examine ourselves and determine what our interests are, where we spend our time, which direction are we heading? Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Notice you must be "in Christ Jesus" and you must "walk after the Spirit", for such there is no condemnation. If you are sowing to the flesh, then do not assume Godís grace allows it. Christís death was a precious thing and God will not be mocked (Gal 6:7). Those who "profess" Christ yet live in the flesh, and possibly do not even give thought to the fact that they are fleshly, are greatly deceived. Galatians 5:16-18, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." The law kills because it forces us to obey. This type of obedience is out of fear or compulsion Ė love is absent. The Spirit brings life because it compels us to willingly and lovingly obey through the heart (2 Cor 3:6). The Spirit is leading to holiness, and conforms us to Christís image.
Not Just in Word, but in Signs, Wonders, and Miracles
Hebrews 2:3-4, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" The gospel is powerful and is confirmed by God through His means when we are serving His purposes (Acts 14:3). This is what separates the truth of God from just another philosophy of man or doctrine of demons. This chapter opened with the revelation that Jesus was filled with the Spirit and power and thereby performed wonders (Acts 10:38). Consider what was said of Jesus: Luke 4:32, "And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power." Christ is our example and He told us that we will do greater things (Jn 14:12). Notice what the apostle Paul says, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." When we are speaking Godís Word in His will, He bears witness with signs and wonders (Heb 2:4) - Itís powerful! 1 Corinthians 4:20, "For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." What have followers of Christ done through the ages? Mark 16:20, "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." Jesus gives the authority (Lk 10:17-20): Luke 9:1-2, "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." John the Baptist (while enduring a low point in prison) sent disciples to Jesus to confirm He was the Christ (Lk 7:19-20). While they were in Christís midst, He cured many people of infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight (Lk 7:21). Jesus told them, go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached (Lk 7:22). The signs and wonders confirmed (authenticated) Christís ministry.
Paul once said: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Paul didnít try and use witty persuasive arguments or rely on all his pharisaical (religious) learning (Rm 15:19). Paul was not a motivational speaker. Like Jesus, he spoke Godís Words as he was directed by the Spirit. If our faith stood in manís wisdom (doctrines), then it would be subject to change every time someone more intellectual or cleverer came along. Manís wisdom is opposed to Godís. Godís Word is life, powerful and it does not change. Our Words are death and void of power.
We look to Godís Word through His Spirit for what we are to say. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." Jesus has given us His Spirit to teach us. Many in the religious world have rejected the teaching of the Holy Ghost in favor of manís wisdom or their own. Many attend seminaries or religious schools to earn degrees and philosophize about the things of God. They then presume to become our teachers and error is advanced. They are ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tm 3:7). This is because God said, you will do it His way. To truly understand Godís wisdom, we must reject our own. The things of God are spiritually discerned and are otherwise unknown (1 Cor 2:14). God will reveal Himself to one that is humble, broken and childlike, but these things that God reveals, the learned man will never see (Mk 10:15, Lk 10:21) Ė making wise the simple (Ps 19:7). Manís teaching is not necessary (even detrimental) for one who is yielded to God and seeks to know Him. This is not to say that the Spirit does not speak through men that are yielded to Him to others. Godís Spirit will be this oneís teacher and much of the teaching will be lived out and reinforced daily as applied to oneís life. God has established the process whereby we may know of Him. All teaching will come from His Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder that the religious schools of man have strayed so far from the truth of Godís Word? Heresies, apostasies and all manner of erroneous doctrines abound. When we try to reach God our way (manís), then our eyes are blinded and our ears are dull of hearing and confusion reigns. The Lord looks for the humble with a heart yielded to Him. Oh man, when will you humble yourself and seek and obey God as He has prescribed. The apostle Paul counted all his extensive religious teaching as loss (dung), and depended on Godís Spirit to teach Him (Php 3:7-8). Jesus never had any formal religious training (Jn 7:15), but depended on the Spirit for knowledge (Fatherís Words). Jesus is our example and we must follow in His steps. The wise will consider Christís flawless perfect life and take note!
Pentecost Ė Establishing the Body of Christ (Church)
What event inaugurated the church? The answer is Pentecost. At the time of Jesusí crucifixion, His disciples were still not ready for the ministry. They were unable to follow through on their own claims not to deny Christ to the point of death (Mk 14:31), and they forsook Him (Mk 14:50). Just after Jesusí death, they were hiding away scared for their own lives (Jn 20:19), when Jesus appeared in their midst, encouraged them and provided needed strength: John 20:22, "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." This was a needed measure to endure until the fullness came. Jesus also told them: Luke 24:49, "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." The promise was the Holy Ghost (Baptism of - immersion) Ė the same power that Jesus walked in. This is why a believer and hence, the Church MUST have the Holy Ghost: Acts 1:4-5, 8-9, "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Jesus spoke of the need for the Holy Spirit just before His bodily Ascension to heaven. We must take note of the importance.
The revelation of the coming of the Holy Ghost was Christís last earthly words to His disciples who were to form the core of His church (Ekklesia). When Pentecost fully came, they were all gathered together in one place: Acts 2:4, "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." The Spirit turns timid men into bold witnesses for Christ: Acts 4:31, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness" (Also Acts 9:29, 13:46, 14:23, 18:26, 19:8). What a difference! Peter and John who had been hiding from the religious, are filled with the Holy Ghost and speak boldly. Soon they are brought before the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees: Acts 4:13, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." This was Godís doing and not manís. Our own strength would quickly fail us under persecution. God is the difference!
Jesus had given His followers the complete gospel. After His death, for fifty days, there were no recorded conversions. Immediately after the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples at Pentecost (on the very same day), three thousand souls were added unto them (Acts 2:41). This was certainly confirmation of Christís Words concerning the Holy Ghost. This was the establishing of the body (Acts 9:31). The Spirit is life; the flesh is death.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all believers and is very necessary. Evil religious men try and rob disciples of this precious gift by telling them it is not for today and was only for the apostles and early church or they point out the many abuses done by others that are attributed to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said of the religious of His time: Luke 11:52, "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." If you do not have the Spirit, then you are not Christís. Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." These religious men desperately need the Holy Spirit to bring life to their dead institutions that are full of the works of men. These men need to be renewed by the Spirit to see Godís truth. This is a vital topic and is the primary reason the religious institutions have erred in so many ways. The life of the church is the Spirit. There are two needs we all have. The first relates to the past, which is the forgiveness of our sins. The second relates to the future, which is ability to live a life that pleases God. Man through his own abilities or inabilities cannot meet either need. Our first need is taken care of by Christís sacrifice. The second need is taken care of by the power of Godís Holy Spirit working in our lives. The New Testament opens with two promises: "He will save His people from their sins" (Mt 1:21) ĖAND- "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mt 3:11). Is your new born again birthright important to you? Then lay hold and donít be as Esau who despised his (Gen 25:34, Heb 12:16-17). God gives us "gifts of power" through the Spirit so that we can serve Him effectively in building up the church as the body of Christ. He is the One however who determines which gift each of us should have (1 Cor 12:11).
Realizing the Importance
Genesis 25:29-24, "And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright." Clearly, Esau being the firstborn, had no regard for the importance of the birthright to the promises God made to Abraham (and Isaac). Jacob saw the importance and sought Godís promises. Esau traded the blessings of God for a momentary carnal fleshly desire. He rejected Godís purposes for his own will just as Adam had done. This was total disregard for God. He chose the way of the flesh over the Spirit. However, Jacob was willing to deny his flesh for the Spirit through his sacrifice. He gave up the things of the world for the blessings of God. Romans 9:13, "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." God was not pleased with Esau: Hebrews 12:16-17, "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." Let us not despise the things of God and His rule in our lives. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit sent from Christ (Jn 15:26 & 16:7). The Holy Ghost will lead us to die to the flesh and conform to the image of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God (Acts 5:32). Christ says: John 14:15-16 "If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." Notice the word "and." If we obey Jesus, He will give the Holy Spirit. God is obeyed through our faith. Galatians 3:14, "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Therefore the Spirit is given through our obedience which is our faith. Will you reject Godís promise for the desires of the flesh? Many will seek the things of the flesh to satisfy self and love not the truth of God. The world says eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die (Lk 12:19). Those who seek God, die today, for they live in Christ (Mk 8:35, Col 2:20, 3:3).
The church at Jerusalem had been established with Jewish believers (after Pentecost). The Jews had always looked down upon the gentiles (non-Jews, uncircumcised) as unclean and therefore had no relations with them. The Lord was about to change all this. The Spirit brought two men together, Peter and Cornelius; each had a separate vision from God (Acts 10:1-3, 9-10). Cornelius was a gentile with a heart toward God who sought to do His will (Acts 10:2). Peterís vision was repeated thrice for certainty and through the course of events was interpreted to be the opening of the kingdom of God to the gentiles. Peter was directed of the Spirit to go to Corneliusís house (Acts 10:19-20). Cornelius had called together all his kinsmen and friends and were awaiting Peterís arrival. Acts 10:34-35, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." This was a significant event and was orchestrated by the Spirit and not man! Peter presented the gospel to the gathered gentiles. Acts 10:44-45, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." Peterís vision was convincing, but the event which declared the truth of Godís purpose was when Peter was bade of the Holy Spirit to preach to this gentile gathering during which time they were spontaneously filled with the Holy Spirit. This was undeniable!
The point here is that this event would never have happened if men were leading the church rather than God. Manís prejudices would have maintained separation rather than the purposes and unity the Spirit was establishing. This was not an easy thing for the flesh to accept. Peter said, Acts 10:47, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" Baptism in water and the baptism of the Holy Ghost are two separate events (Acts 4:31, 19:1-6). We are told in scripture how many had believed and were baptized and later Peter and John came to them and laid hands upon them that they might receive the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:12-18). In the previous account the people were first baptized with the Holy Ghost and then later with water. The point is that there are two distinct events here. There is no doubt that one receives a measure of the Holy Ghost upon water baptism, but the fullness is separate and distinct event. John the Baptist had earlier proclaimed, Luke 3:16, "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." It is important to note that baptism with the Holy Ghost is stated as a necessary thing. Any true follower of Christ will quickly tell you that the Spirit is vital to His walk. We must pray for the filling of the Holy Ghost (Lk 11:13).
Peter now had to explain to the Jewish believers that the Holy Ghost had been poured out upon the gentiles. Given the Jewish doctrines and traditions, and a history a prejudice, this would not be an easy task. Peter explained about the vision and the Spiritís leading: Acts 11:15-18, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." This was a hard thing for a man to accept, but the Spiritís involvement and Godís will was undeniable. Fortunately these men in the early church were focused upon Godís will and not their own. This was a major event in the forming of Christís church (body) and was directed by His Spirit. The Jews and gentiles did have to work through many issues involving faith verses religious observances and customs, but the Spirit was leading (Acts 9:31). Had this happened today there would probably be one more new religious denomination. Notice the verse says repentance unto life. Until will see our great need for Christ, humble ourselves and seek His will, there can be no life.
Ye are the Temple of the Holy Ghost
God once dwelt among Israel in a tabernacle (tent) in the wilderness. God then dwelt in a temple in Jerusalem until Israel rebelled against God through idolatry (unfaithful). God now dwells in a new temple; do you know where it is? 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Wow! Its not about a brick and mortar building or religious institution, God dwells within each member and the corporate body: Ephesians 2:20-22, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." It doesnít matter where the body meets as long as there are two or three present: Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." It doesnít have to be a religious building! Buildings and structures are the things of man. Changed hearts are the things of the Lord. We are to serve Christ everyday through the temple of our body as led by His Spirit. When do you have services? Ė Everyday!
Jesus was in the temple and had chased out those who bought, sold and changed money. John 2:18-21, "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body." Jesus revealed something very profound; The Spirit of God dwelt in His body (temple). If we are Christís, then the Spirit dwells in us. What modern religious institution can top that? He that hath an ear to hear!
Consider this: 1 Corinthians 3:17, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." Defiling the temple (smoking, drinking, drugs, foul language, pornography, etc., Eph 5:18) will stop your being "filled with the Spirit." 1 Corinthians 6:19, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" As previously stated, you must die to self. The above defilements and bondages result from self. Jesus Christ came to set us free from such bondages, not to have us live in them. John 8:34, 36, "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Followers of Christ are not to be entangled or in bondage to darkness and not desiring freedom is an indication of oneís true nature. Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." We are to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good (Rm 12:9). We are told throughout scripture to cleave to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:16, "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The temple is you, idols could be television, money, self, possessions, personalities, etc. If you want to be filled with the Spirit, these things must become non-important and released.
Purpose of the True Church
The true church is the Ekklesia or "called out ones" and are those who have been called out of this worldís systems to be Christís witnesses on earth. We are pilgrims and sojourners in this world waiting for eternal reconciliation and habitation with God (Rev 21:3). We have died to our old sinful lives and desires, and now serve God in love and newness of life (faith) to perform His will (Rm 6:4, Col 3:10). God rules and reigns in our hearts (Col 3:15). We have laid down all weapons of resistance and rebellion toward God and have humbly submitted ourselves to His purposes - for thy will must be done on earth (and in our lives) as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10, Lk 11:2). We realize that Godís will is supreme in heaven and that it must also be in our lives if we hope to be with Him eternally. We recognize that God is our hope and provision. We love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength (Mk 12:30). We receive at the end of our walk of faith, the salvation of our souls (1 Pt 1:9, 1 Thess 3:8).
The church is not a building or an organized institution of man. The Ekklesia are those individual followers of Christ that form a corporate body with Jesus as the head. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 20, 27, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many. But now are they many members, yet but one body. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." Ephesians 5:29-30, "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." Each of us is important and known of Christ as we continue in a very personal relationship with Him (Jn 10:3). 1 Peter 2:5, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." The Ekklesia is to be one just as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn 17:11). John 17:21-23, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." We will be one with God and fellow believers OR one with the world, but not one with the world and God.
We follow Christ on a narrow path and become bonded to Him through the likeness of our sufferings (we are made partakers, 2 Cor 1:5-7, Php 3:10, 1 Pt 4:13). As we follow our faith is tested, tried, refined and purified such that we become as our Lord. We learn patience and mature through this process.
Followers of Christ are to be likeminded in Christ Jesus and as such are to be united with no divisions (1 Cor 1:10, 2 Cor 13:11, Rm 12:16, Php 1:27, 2:2, 1 Pt 3:8). We must strive for unity in the Spirit (Eph 4:3). This can only be accomplished through submission to the Holy Spirit and being guided and taught truth by Him. The Word of God is to dwell in us richly (Col 3:16). Believers are to edify, exhort, encourage admonish, and teach one another, each having been filled with the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 5:11, Heb 3:13, Rm 15:6-7, 13-14, Col 3:16). Edifying is to teach and persuade each other in faith (truth) and holiness. Exhort is to embolden, cheer and advise. Encouraging is to inspire and give confidence in strength of mind. Admonishing is to instruct and direct; warn or notify of a fault; to reprove with mildness; and counsel against wrong practices. Each member of the body of Christ is given gifts as determined by the Holy Ghost to support all other members (1 Cor 12:4-7, 11). Romans 12:4-5, "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." We provoke each other unto love and to good works and are good stewards of all Christ has entrusted us (Heb 10:24, 1 Cor 4:2). We Confess our faults one to another, and pray one for another, that we may be healed (Js 5:16). We are to have fervent charity among ourselves and use hospitality one to another without grudging (1 Pt 4:8-9). We are not to use our liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God (1 Pt 2:16). We exhort each other to fight the good fight of faith, profess Christ boldly before men, and lay hold on eternal life (2 Tm 6:12). The body is to warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men (1 Thess 5:14). We are to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3). We are to be merciful, kind, humble in mind, meek, and longsuffering; Forbearing one another and forgiving one another as Christ forgave us (Col 3:12-13, Eph 4:32). The basis of our fellowship is life in Christ as demonstrated by our heart to serve Him and follow in His steps. The Holy Spirit will be leading us in this regard and some may have less understanding (maturity) than others. Therefore we must not look too hard at understanding, but more thoroughly for a changed life and heart for God. Understanding will come if the heart is right and one is being led and taught of the Spirit (Rm 14:4, Eph 4:15).
Believers should find refuge from the world in the body of Christ. The body should be encouraging one another to live holy and righteous. Iím not talking about church trips to the beach, ski vacations or covered dish suppers. Iím talking about dying to the things of the world Ė the worldís knowledge, methodologies, pleasures, etc. We must be seeking the Lord and His perfect will with all the ability we have and praying likewise for others (Col 4:12). We must be conforming to Christ in a world that is antichrist Ė we all need such encouragement. We should strengthen the weak. All should be discipled to maturity in the faith to be able to stand on oneís own and instruct others. We must be separate from the world, yet united in the truth of Christ (2 Cor 6:17). The church will tell each other to die to the flesh and live for the Spirit. Colossians 1:10, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."
Believers have a duty to correct one another in love according to Godís Word (Ez 33:8-9). 2 Timothy 4:1-2, "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." There is a time to reprove and rebuke. Luke 17:3-4, "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." If a brother is in sin then we must tell him, not for the purpose of condemnation, but so that he may seek repentance. We must forgive our brotherís trespasses. If one cannot take reproof or rebuke from Godís Word, then they love not the truth and wish to live in darkness. Generally when one is corrected, their first reaction is to lash out at the corrector in self defense. Our attitude toward correction should be humble and meek. If we truly love the truth and seek the light, then we will listen to the concerns and search the scriptures to see if they are true. We will also fall on our knees and pray to God while examining our own hearts. If we are violating Godís Word then we must repent and turn from our sin. If we are violating someoneís opinion or the will of man, then the basis of rebuke or reproof may have no merit. We should seek peace with all men if possible as long as we do not violate Godís Word and purposes. Keep in mind that those who give correction must be able to take correction. If we are truly dead to self, then feelings and emotions should not be the issue (BIG issue for those in the flesh). The issue is walking righteously before God and not offending or causing others to fall as a result of our fault. Some will reject the truth and choose the darkness (Jn 3:19-20). 2 Thessalonians 2:10, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." We must love Godís truth and live within it, for it is our salvation. Jesus is the Word which is the truth (Jn 14:6). We must come to the light that our deeds may be reproved. John 3:20-21, "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." Perhaps those who will not accept righteous correction will justify their evil: 2 Timothy 4:4, "And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
There is a biblical process for correcting a brother with a fault when he falls into sin/ worldliness/idolatry and his fruit is visibly rotten (Lk 6:43-44). We must correct each other in love because we do not always see our own sin. We must admonish the brother (notify of a fault; to reprove with mildness) privately at an appropriate opportunity (Mt 18:15). If one flagrantly (openly, deliberately, unashamedly, brazenly) sins then we are to rebuke them before all as an example to others that they may fear (1 Tm 5:20). We must do so with the Word of God and not speculation or our own opinion. To judge of our own knowledge of good and evil would be in error and exalting our will over Godís. Godís Word (will) must be the only basis for judgment and is the extent of our authority. If the brother in error will not listen, we should take others to establish truth and if he will not hear, bring it before the church (Mt 18:15-17). Then what? Titus 3:10-11, "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." Jesus said, "Let him be as a heathen" (Mt 18:17). 1 Corinthians 5:11, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat (have social relations/fellowship)." We do not socialize with those who knowingly live in error. Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Religious institutes have many such people and they go uncorrected. These will infect the body and spread evil. Everyone has a "judge not lest ye be judged" attitude. Many rightfully do not judge because they are equally guilty (Rm 2:3). We are not judging the personís eternal condition before the Lord, just the sin. If we identify anotherís sin, then we best not be guilty of the same (Mt 7:2). We may not pass judgment upon what is in a personís heart or on their eternal state. We may not pass judgment upon anyoneís relationship with God. We have not been given such authority and do not have the capability to render righteous judgment in this area. We can judge sin by Godís Word and reprove individuals to seek repentance. To see a brother in fault and not say something could have eternal consequences for him and affect those he influences.
There was evil in the church at Corinth and Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 5:2-3, "And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed." 1 Corinthians 6:3, "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" (also 1 Cor 5:12-13). We must put away evil from among ourselves. Youíve heard the saying one bad apple spoils the whole barrel. Sin cannot go unchecked. Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Showing love is also correcting (just as a parent with a child). True love informs of a fault, false love ignores it.
When one endeavors to live righteously and holy before God, one must guard against the tendency to look down upon those who are less than enthusiastic in their walk. This is unacceptable to the Lord. Consider this example: Luke 18:10-14, "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Notice that the Pharisee prayed to himself and the prayer was "I" centered. All of these religious works that he named were of no value because his heart was not right before God. This man looked down upon others and this does not display Godís love. The sinner had no religious works, but his heart was broken and honest before God. He was truly repentant and this is what God desires. The works will follow a changed heart Ė if not, the heart was not changed. No matter how righteous we think we are, it is but a filthy soiled garment compared to the glory of Christ. Our hope is in a heart toward God and intense desire to do His will Ė to have relationship and identify with Him.
This is further illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32). A father (representative of God) has two sons. The younger asks for his inheritance, goes far from his father (out of his will, rebellion) and spends all on riotous living (worldliness, sin, self). He is out of the fatherís will and lost (dead Ė Lk 15:24). This son suffers the fruit of his way (hits rock bottom) and becomes destitute (without hope) and starving (spiritually). The son repents (changes direction) and returns to his father and pleads for forgiveness and to serve under His authority (submission, yielded). The father runs to the returning son in great love (God has great mercy on those who confess their wickedness and repent Ė Ps 86:5). The father rejoices that this son who was lost (spiritually dead) is now found (salvation). The older brother is not so happy. He wants justice rather than forgiveness. He thinks of himself rather than being joyful in the salvation of his brother and would not share in his fatherís happiness. The father tells him that his place is secure and he must also long for the lost. We must always remember the great mercy that God has had on us when we look upon others. Our joy is in the reconciliation of another Ė goodwill toward men.
How Should I Worship God?
Jesus best explained Godís expectations of us in His explanation of His parable of the seeds: Luke 8:15, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." This verse ties together being "Born Again" (converted Ė Jn 3:3, Eph 4:22-24) whereas God puts His laws in your heart and mind (Heb 10:16); obedience to God (Heb 5:9, 1 Jn 2:3-5, Lk 11:28); love (Mk 12:30, Jn 15:9, 1 Cor 13:2, 1 Pt 4:8); and abiding in Christ and thereby producing fruit (Jn Chap 15) namely: John 15:5,8, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." So let us remember: Lamentations 3:25-26, "The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."
John 4:23-24, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. What is in Spirit? John 14:26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." AND Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." For this purpose: 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image (Christís) from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." What is in Truth? John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Recall that Jesus is The Very Word (Jn 1:1-4), John 17:17, "Sanctify them (set apart) through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 8:31-32, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:51, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
Therefore: We must read Godís Word and be taught and led of His Spirit, and Live-It! The Holy Ghost will unfold Godís Word to us such that we understand it. This is accomplished as we apply that which we have learned. This is everyday and is your new life in Christ Jesus. Unfortunately, many are instilled to believe that worship of God is just attending religious ceremonies and being told what to think. This isnít a doctrinal list of doís and doníts; this is a loving obedient daily relationship with your Lord Ė an actual walk up the narrow path.
When you are truly converted and become a new creature, all things become new (2 Cor 5:17). Your heart changes and you take on the nature of God (His outlook). You are delivered from the kingdom of darkness (and its bondages) into the kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13). You start seeing things from Godís perspective rather than that of fallen man and your whole world view changes. The Lord fills you with joy and your desire is to serve and please Him from the love in your heart (Eph 5:2). You want to give Him your all. There is peace and freedom from all the imposed requirements/obligations of man (Mt 11:29-30, 1 Pt 2:16). You do not serve out of fear (hell), obligation, tradition, habit, peer pressure, emotion or gain. When you have truly experienced God in your life you do not seek to justify the least amount of effort on your part needed to secure and sustain salvation Ė No, No, No! You do not avoid sacrifice. You do not examine the limits of Godís mercy and grace. In other words you do not use Godís longsuffering, mercy and grace (1 Jn 1:9) as a means of give and take for living your will. 1 Peter 4:2, "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." Things you once took no heed of now become unacceptable. As you yield to the Holy Spirit, you become changed into Christís image. You do not live according to men in the flesh, but you live according to God in the Spirit (1 Pt 4:6). If you do not yield you become stagnate or fall back. God allows us freewill; otherwise love will not be the motivation or fruit. God operates within that freewill. When we get out of line, God chastens us as a loving Father so we will not be condemned with the world (1 Cor 11:32) and will be partakers of His holiness and thus yielding the fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:5-11, Eph 4:24). Ultimately we will stand before God for acceptance or condemnation (Mt 3:12, 12:36, 13:47-48 & 25:32-34, 41; Lk 3:17, Jude 1:15) Ė all judgment is given into the hand of the Son (Jn 5:22) who will judge righteously (Jn 5:30, 7:24 & 8:16, Rm 2:5, 2 Thess 1:5, Rv 16:7). Romans 14:12, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." This account will be heart-centered. Always remember, Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The Holy Ghost is leading and we must obediently follow.
Being a Witness
There was a power shortage at my home one night. At first everything seemed totally dark. As my eyes became accustomed to the dark, something became quite obvious. In total darkness even the tiniest smallest bit of light shines brightly (a little glow in the dark object). The light overcomes the darkness. Followers of Christ have been commissioned to be that light in this otherwise dark world. Matthew 5:14-16, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." We are to represent Christís gospel. Our light shines brightly through our demonstrated faith - our daily walk. Be aware that the darkness does not want to receive the light because it diminishes its presence. Those who walk in the light must desire to eliminate the darkness from themselves and others.
Every one of us is called to live our life as unto God before men. Our mission field is our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We are to be found faithful in our daily lives. We may be a witness at school or on a trip to the grocery store. We need to open our eyes to the needs around us and perhaps pray or fast for individuals and situations we encounter or are told about. If we see a need, the Lord may direct us to discretely give of ourselves or resources. We show love as our Lord has done to us Ė for we are like Him. Above all we are to live our lives in such a way as to please the Lord God as if for Him alone. May God open our eyes and grants us this ability.
The world loves to talk about things worldly. News, television, events, course jesting and jokes. These are not to be our desire. We must yearn to talk about our Lord and hope with the same passion that those in the world talk about their joys and dreams (Lk 12:8). Matthew 10:32, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." Should this prove embarrassing, then you must consider: Matthew 10:33, "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Our silence is denial. If you are embarrassed to talk about the Lord, this may be an indicator that you do not know Him or have His Spirit. Pray that the Lord will fill you with His Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes before men. The Holy Spirit gives boldness and endues with power (Acts 4:31, Lk 10:19, 24:49).
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