The Way of the Christian

SERVING ONE ANOTHER; THE TRUE SPIRIT OF GIVING

Volunteer, Volunteerism, Volunteering“In serving one another we become free,” is a line from the movie First Knight which is about King Arthur’s knights and round table of fame. It’s actually a good message for any generation and a true one. Many already know what it means and they live by it. It’s about serving one’s fellow man and how that service sets you free from being self-absorbed, or at least it can do that for those who serve with the right attitude and understanding. Some who serve do so with the goal of getting recognition from men, or to wield power over others. That’s not what Arthur had in mind, nor is it the right attitude.

The kind of service to others that blesses the giver as well as the recipient is serving others for the sake of helping one’s fellows, expecting nothing in return. Many have experienced the blessings that come from serving others in this manner, and once you get a taste of it, you’ll want more! One thing I’ve been shown, is that when you bless others the blessings always come back to you at some point. They may not come from the same person or place where you sowed your seed of blessing or in the same manner. They usually return to you from an unexpected source, at an unexpected time, in an unexpected way. Even so, that’s not the reason we should serve others. We serve others because in doing so “we become free,” or in other words, we are set free from self-centeredness and selfishness. A saying I love is what Jesus Christ told his followers, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” [1] That includes self-sacrifice of any kind, not only dying. When we serve others we in effect lay down our lives, giving of our resources, time, and energy.

To me, that’s what real freedom is. These days many believe it’s about being able to say or do whatever comes into their minds, but that kind of freedom is often self-serving and destructive! That kind of freedom doesn’t bless or set free, and it’s not the freedom our brave fore-fathers and mothers fought and died for on the world’s battlefields. Their service is a prime example of self-sacrificing service to others and it raises the bar, the standard of excellence, for the rest of us. The best way we can show them our gratitude is to follow their example by serving others with the same commitment, energy, and passion.

I like the idea of “becoming free” as a virtue we aspire to rather than as a right we’re born with. We aren’t born with a right to be free; we’re born to learn how to serve one another. We’re all given opportunities to acquire this kind of freedom and if we’re not serving others in some capacity whether large or small, then we’re not really living and we’re not truly FREE.

As I’ve once said, I’m not a big believer in making New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m making an exception. My prayer and goal for 2019 is that it will be a year of LOVING AND SERVING our neighbors near and far. Jesus said that our neighbor is any man, woman, or child [2]. I believe that if everyone did this, the world would become a better place than it is at present. I know, some will say that’s impossible and won’t work because the world is only getting darker. At the root of that sense of futility often lays a life-time of negative experiences: broken promises, bitter disappointments, endless monotony, and unanswered prayers. Yet Jesus said that “All things are possible to him that believes.” [3] He never said that faith comes through our experiences, but through “hearing” His words! [4] Therefore, if we’re to have real faith, the kind that transforms darkness into light, we must “hear” His words, and true hearing isn’t just reading and quickly forgetting what we’ve read. When we truly hear His words, they will transform us so that we can become a blessing and a gift to the world – a veritable light in the darkness.

One last point; it’s easy to come up with a reason or reasons why you can’t serve God and your fellow man, but no matter what your station or condition is in life, you can find a way. Serving for the right reason brings blessings to both giver and receiver. Hear now the words of our Savior Jesus Christ who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” [5], and go do it!

Debra R. Stout © December 25, 2018

FOOTNOTES:

[1] John 15:13
[2] Luke 10:29-37
[3] Mark 9:23
[4] Romans 10:17
[5] Act 20:35  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

GOING ON TO MATURITY IN CHRIST

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; (G5047) not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 

Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. “perfection” = completeness, of full age (mature)

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

Eph 4:12 For the perfecting (G2677) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: G2677 καταρτισμός katartismos kat-ar-tis-mos’; From G2675; complete furnishing (objectively): – perfecting.

Eph 4:13 – 15 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (G5046) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may preent every man perfect (G5046) in Christ Jesus: 

G5046 τέλειος teleios tel’-i-os; From G5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with G3588) completeness: – of full age, man, perfect.

What we see in each of these verses is that God’s will for the saints to leave the principles of the faith delineated in Heb. 6:1 & 2, and “GO ON TO PERFECTION” or “COMPLETENESS” ie., come to a “full age” or maturity in the faith. God never intended for His church to remain at the “beginning” or in other words, to remain at the baby stage of faith, but intends for newborns to grow up. So it is in the natural – parents teach their children easy things in the beginning but as the child grows they start teaching it harder concepts as the child is able to comprehend them. So it is in the spiritual —

Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Those that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. 

Isa 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 

Some prefer the comfort and ease of babyhood status and resist growing up spiritually speaking, so that they don’t have to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. What they don’t understand is that while remaining infantile seems easier, there are rewards and advantages to being entrusted with responsibility, and disadvantages to being a baby.

Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat

Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe

Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil

From these verses, we see one advantage of being of “full age” is that such are able to “discern both good and evil” or between good and evil. That’s a huge advantage when you consider how vital it is to be able to discern between those two opposite polarities; it can mean the difference between life and death in many instances. And how does one get there? By “reason of use” = G1838 ἕξις hexis hex’-is; From G2192; habit, that is, (by implication) practice: – use. Thus, those of full age acquire discernment through habitually exercising their senses = G145 αἰσθητήριον aisthētērion ahee-sthay-tay’-ree-on; From a derivative of G143; properly an organ of perception, that is, (figuratively) judgment: – senses

They do this by remaining in God’s Word [Jn 15:7], which means they stay with it and spend lots of time not just reading, but studying it. And more than that, they DO what it says! By actually doing what the Word says one’s spiritual senses (perception and judgment or discernment) are increased with each obedience! 2Co 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. 

from glory to glory — from one degree of glory to another. As Moses’ face caught a reflection of God’s glory from being in His presence, so believers are changed into His image by beholding Him. – Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary (Public Domain)

By reason of use – Who, by constant hearing, believing, praying, and obedience, use all the graces of God’s Spirit; and, in the faithful use of them, find every one improved, so that they daily grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. – Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible (Public Domain)

The disadvantage of those ingesting only “milk” is that they’re “unskillful” in the Word which means they haven’t yet developed their spiritual senses to the point where they can differentiate between good and evil.

To discern both good and evil – That is, in doctrine. They will appreciate and understand what is true; they will reject what is false. – Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (Public Domain)

So you see remaining a baby in Christ is a precarious position leaving one vulnerable to the devil’s deception and wiles as Eph. 4:14 points out. Since we’re living in the “last days” in which spiritual darkness covers the whole earth, it’s vital that believers have and use ALL the spiritual gifts and weapons that Christ has given His Church. It’s God’s will that His born again children be “overcomers” – Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Other ‘overcomer’ verses: Rev 2:11, 17 & 26; 3:5, 12 & 21; Rev 21:7.

1Jn 2:12 – 14  I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 

These four classes constituted the household or family of God; each class, in ascending gradation, seems to have had more light, experience, and holiness than the other.

  1. The τεκνια, beloved children, or infants, are those who are just born into the heavenly family.
  2. The παιδια, little children, are those who are able to walk and speak; they know their heavenly Father, and can call him by that name.
  3. The νεανισκοι, young men, are such as are grown up to man’s estate; these perform the most difficult part of the labor, and are called to fight the battles of the Lord.
  4. The πατερες, fathers, are those who are at the foundation of the spiritual family, and have known the whole economy of the work of God in themselves and in others. These have the largest stock of spiritual wisdom and religious experience. – Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary (Public Domain)

Therefore beloved, let us no longer be CHILDREN, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ…” (Eph 4:14&15) Realize that the spiritual gifts are given to believers for their edification (building up) and other reasons —

1Co 1:4 – 17  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 

1Co 12:1 – 7  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 

1Co 12:8 – 11 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 

A More Excellent Way

1Co 13:1 – 3  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

1Co 13:4 – 9  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 

All true, and yet beloved of the LORD, that which is “perfect” has not yet appeared, and therefore, tongues, prophecies, words of wisdom and knowledge, discerning of spirits, and the working of miracles are still valid – they have not yet passed away! “That which is perfect” is referring to the time when believers will have attained to the “full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13). Many believers misinterpret the above scriptures to mean that Jesus was himself the “perfect” which had come, therefore, the ‘gifts’ passed away after His earthly ministry was over. Those espousing this false doctrine referred to as Cessationism [1-2] can’t have read the entire New Testament, for every book in it after the four gospels clearly teach the gifts were in use after Christ. Peter, Paul, and the other apostles, practiced all of the spiritual gifts long after Christ arose. The gifts helped establish Christ’s church and there’s no scripture which states that any of the gifts died out in their time, in fact just the opposite. The book of Acts alone is filled with demonstrations of the Spirit in miraculous signs, healings, raising the dead, tongues, prophecies, casting out of evil spirits, and more. In addition, Act 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; Act 2:1 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Act 2:18  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…. (See Joel 2:28 &29) Notice that it’s both God’s sons and daughters who will prophesy. Prophesy means to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: – prophesy G4395 προφητεύω prophēteuō The gift of prophecy is mainly spoken in the Church assembly, 1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 1Co 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 

Prophecy and Tongues

1Co 14:1 – 2  Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 

1Co 14:3 – 5  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 

1Co 14:6 – 7  Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?  And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  

1Co 14:8 – 12  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?  So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. 

1Co 14:13 – 19 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?  For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 

1Co 14:20 – 33 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 

1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak (G2980); but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  1Co 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak (G2980) in the church. 

Re ‘women keeping silence in the churches’ – what isn’t apparent from just these couple of verses, is that Paul wasn’t forbidding women from PROPHESYING! How could he have meant that when in the following scriptures he clearly states that he allowed them to? 1Co 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. No gender limitation there. 1Co 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. Seems that Paul allowed women to ‘prophesy’ so long as their heads were veiled! The veil or head covering was to be worn as a sign of a wife’s subordination, or obedience, to her husband. Women in the New Testament era prophesied – Act 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. Luk 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel… To “prophesy” means to G4395 προφητεύω prophēteuō prof-ate-yoo’-o = to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: – prophesy. The word “speak” which Paul used in 1 Co 14:34 & 35 is – A prolonged form of an otherwise obsolete verb; to talk, that is, utter words: – preach, say, speak (after), talk, tell, utter. Compare G3004 = A primary verb; properly to “lay” forth, that is, (figuratively) relate (in words [usually of systematic or set discourse; whereas G2036 and G5346 generally refer to an individual expression or speech respectively; while G4483 is properly to break silence merely, and G2980 means an extended or random harangue]); by implication to mean: – ask, bid, boast, call, describe, give out, name, put forth, say (-ing, on), shew, speak, tell, utter. [Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionaries] 

Is it not possible dear brethren, that Paul had some problem with women in the church speaking OUT OF TURN, shouting or calling out questions to their husbands (which Paul makes reference to in the very same passage vs. 35), and or they were giving EXTENDED and or RANDOM HARANGUES? Def. of “harangue” =

1) a scolding or a long or intense verbal attack; diatribe. 2) a long, passionate, and vehement speech, especially one delivered before a public gathering. 3) any long, pompous speech or writing of a tediously hortatory or didactic nature; sermonizing lecture or discourse.

Please note the nature of the terms used: long, intense, attack, VEHEMENT, POMPOUS. Do any of these characterize a true prophetic word from God? Of course not. Women had to prophesy in the church assembly since prophesy needs to be “judged” by “others” in an assembly! (1 Cor 14:29) Paul’s correction in 1 Cor 14:34 & 5, likely had to do with a specific problem he was having with wives speaking out of turn, asking questions of their husbands in the church disrupting the main speaker, and even perhaps “scolding” their husbands there as well – see the def. of ‘harangue’ above. For a wife to ‘scold’ her husband is one way of “usurping authority” over him. A wife was to be in subjection to her husband according to the Torah which Paul was obviously upholding here and elsewhere, 1Pe 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. I realize this goes against the women’s liberation movement of modern times, but God’s principles don’t change with the tide of man’s opinions. It doesn’t mean a wife is a slave or can’t give her opinion but it means that she can’t wear the pants in the family! She isn’t allowed to ‘order’ her husband around like he was a puppy dog. If she scolds or berates him, she’s showing disrespect towards him, and that too is out of God’s divine order. God has an order to everything in heaven and on earth; we would be wise to find it out and follow it, or else suffer the negative consequences of not following it as we see in the fact that nearly half of all marriages end up in divorce. Too many women try to “rule” over their husbands when God told Eve that her husband would “rule” over her – Genesis 3:16. (Rule = dominion) Women, God always knows best and this is an a test of your trust in Him. Can God work through your husband even when you disagree with him? Can God provide for all your needs (emotional, physical, etc.) even when your husband appears to be working against you? Being under authority is meant to be a safeguard against deception, most of all from ourselves.  

The typical explanation that Paul was forbidding women from prophesying in the churches contradicts everything else written in the New Testament about it, as I’ve shown in this article. Besides, the LORD Himself prophesied that in the last days He would pour out His Spirit upon ALL flesh – “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Act 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…. (See Joel 2:28 &29)

For those who don’t realize it, we are now living in the “last days” of this present age, for they began in the days of Christ, 1Jn 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. Second witness – 1Pe 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1Pe 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you… There should be no doubt in your mind now that the “last days” (or times) began in the days of Christ and continue to the end of this current Age.  So, there’s no excuse, no reason, for the Church in our day to shun the precious gifts our Savior gave us for the purpose of equipping the saints to do the works which Christ ordained for them to do until He comes again. I believe that God’s gracious Spirit is grieved when his children shun His precious gifts given for their edification and maturation. Let us therefore no longer be like children tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine but let us grow up into the fullness of Christ – “unto a perfect man!”

As an aside, the term “man” in scripture is a general designation for both male and female, unless otherwise indicated. Thus, there’s no need to write, “he/she” as so many do in an effort to be politically correct. How arrogant are those who think that they can improve upon what God said! I figure that if the term “man” is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me.

Debra R. Stout, June 23, 2018

Footnotes:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessationism

[2] https://wesleygospel.com/2016/04/30/debunking-cessationism-a-cesspool-of-deformed-theology-john-boruff/   An excellent expose on this topic!

 

Bearing Unjust Criticism With Dignity

Girl covering her mouth Free PhotoEcc 3:7 “There’s a time to be silent and a time to speak” – Wrote the wise king Solomon eons ago. Notice how ‘silent’ is prominent; this is by design! God does nothing by accident. He’s making the point that we’re too hasty to speak and should keep quiet more often. Another king named David, shows us how to bear unjust criticism with meekness and quietness in the following biblical account. In it you’ll see the dignity and wisdom of not becoming defensive and argumentative, or slinging arrows back at your attacker. Though innocent in the current situation, David knew he was guilty of similar past sins so kept quiet rather than defend himself, and received the criticism as God’s chastisement. Sometimes we don’t hear God’s “still, small voice” gently correcting us, or worse, we ignore it so God has to take more drastic measures to get our attention. You see God doing this throughout Scripture, and I have myself experienced the latter on numerous occasions. Despite the seeming indignity of apparent unjust criticism, refraining oneself from striking back and remaining quiet is a dignified response. God’s ways are not our ways – Isa 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. “For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

2 Samuel 16:1 – 14

2 Sam 16:1  Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, there was Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth to meet him with a pair of saddled donkeys, and on them 200 loaves of bread, 100 clusters of raisins, 100 fig cakes and a bottle of wine. 
2Sa 16:2  So the king asked Ziba, “What are you doing with these?” Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and the figs are for the young men to eat, and the wine is for anyone who faints in the wilderness to drink.” 
2Sa 16:3  Then the king asked, “And where is your master’s son?” “Well, he’s staying in Jerusalem,” Ziba said to the king, “for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore to me the kingdom of my father.” 
2Sa 16:4  Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.” “I bow low,” Ziba said. “Let me find favor in your eyes, my lord the king.” 
Shimei Curses David
2Sa 16:5  When King David arrived at Bahurim, behold, just coming out from there was a man of the family of the house of Saul—his name was Shimei son of Gera. As he came out, he kept on cursing 
2Sa 16:6  and flinging stones at David and at all King David’s servants, while all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and on his left. 
2Sa 16:7  Thus Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out! The man of bloodshed, the good-for-nothing! 
2Sa 16:8  Adonai has returned on you all the blood of Saul’s house, in whose place you’ve reigned. Adonai has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom—so see, your own evil has overtaken you, because you are a man of bloodshed.” 
2Sa 16:9  Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why let this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and take off his head!” 
2Sa 16:10  But the king said, “What have I to do with you, sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, it’s because Adonai has said to him, ‘Curse David!’ So who should say, ‘Why did you do so?’” 
2Sa 16:11  Then David said to Abishai and to all his officials, “Look, my son who came from my own body is seeking my life—how much more this Benjamite? Leave him alone and let him curse, since Adonai has told him. 
2Sa 16:12  Perhaps Adonai will look on my affliction and return good to me for his cursing this day.” 
2Sa 16:13  So David and his men continued on the way, while Shimei kept walking alongside the hill parallel with him, cursing as he walked, casting stones at him and throwing dirt. 
2Sa 16:14  Finally the king and all the people that were with him arrived weary, so he refreshed himself there. [Tree of Life Version]

Impatience and submission
Mephibosheth, it will be recollected, was the only son of Jonathan. Now, when David was a little past the top of the hill where he had worshipped God, he met Ziba coming towards him with two asses, laden with cakes of raisins and summer fruits, a skin-bottle of wine, and two hundred loaves of bread. Probably, when David first saw Ziba, he thought that Mephibosheth had sent this timely contribution, and the first thing that annoyed him was to find that this present did not come from him at all. No doubt there was a good deal more conversation between David and Ziba than is recorded; the crafty man made it very plain that it was he who had been so thoughtful for the “king’s wants; thus he led David on to suspect Mephibosheth’s loyalty; and when the king asked him plainly why his master was not with him, feigning probably great reluctance to speak against his employer, and pretending that only loyalty induced him to speak, he told the lie against Mephibosheth. David was very apt to judge hastily: he was a man of a very warm temperament, with strong affections, and passions that were easily excited. Here Ziba seemed faithful, and mindful of his sovereign, when Mephibosheth was said to be ungrateful; and thinking that he has found devotion where he expected nothing, and ingratitude where he looked for love, as it was in the case of Ittai and Ahithophel, and really forgetting in the moment of his flight, and when in danger of losing his own throne, that he has no power to enforce his sentence, he awards to the crafty Ziba all the lands of Mephibosheth.

How many times we are warned in Scripture against pronouncing hasty judgments; and which of us has not had to confess more than once that the bad opinion we have formed of some person was altogether erroneous? Again and again we have listened to unjust calumnies; we have thought there must be some truth in the accusation, some foundation for the slander, and we have acted very much like David here. David had gone but a few steps further before he encountered Shimei, another of the tribe of Benjamin. Bahurim is but a little distance from Bethany, on the other side of the Mount of Olives; but tilt they reached that spot, faint and weary, Shimei followed them with bitter curses. Now David had recovered himself; probably his conscience blamed him for his hasty ebullition of temper against Mephibosheth: and he may have felt that he had believed Ziba’s story too easily. At least, when he spoke like that, he had forgotten his early friendship, and the beautiful and disinterested love of Jonathan. Now we are to see David in a better mood; grace has once more subdued nature. Now, Shimei was uttering unjust words: David of course knew that he did not deserve them for no one could have been more forbearing to the house of Saul: and perhaps Shimei’s words reminded him, as well as Abishai’s impetuousness, of his own conduct to that family in times past; and hence his command of his temper at this moment. 

This man Shimei evidently had long hated David. He had been hoping there would be some reverse in his fortunes, and he rejoiced in his enemy’s downfall. But what does David do? He loses sight of Shimei altogether; he looks above the instrument to the Agent; he sees God’s hand in the matter, and to be angry, therefore, would be to be discontented with the providence of God. Oh that we could learn to follow David in this! There are numberless annoyances that happen to us all; and since “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” we must be prepared for trials that will peculiarly test our faith and patience. If you forget that “the Lord reigneth,” if you do not connect the providence of God with all that happens, the very smallest daily trouble may completely upset you, and you will be continually losing your temper. (C. Bosanquet, M. A.)

2 Samuel 16:5-13

Shimei the son of Gera; he came forth, and cursed still as he came.

The forbearance of David towards Shimei
I. The provocation David received.
    1. The most irritating by which the patience of man was ever tried. The reason why God was pleased to allow this insult to be added to the other trials of David, is obvious. He wished to teach him how low his iniquities had sunk him, and to show him that the cup of the Divine indignation against him was not even yet exhausted. It tells us that the servant of God must expect to meet with insults and provocations from his fellow-sinners. We are not dwelling among angels, but among men. We are living in a fallen world, in a world that has renounced the authority of the God of peace, and thrown itself under the dominion of the prince of discord. It would be madness, then, to think of passing through it, as though it were a world of love.
   2. The conduct of Shimei was cruel also, as well as irritating. The condition of David at this period appeared calculated to disarm by its misery the most inveterate of his enemies. We are ready to suppose in the hour of affliction that every heart must feel for us, and that the malice of our bitterest enemies must now for a season be changed into pity. But experience proves that the most afflicted are generally the most persecuted. Their calamities leave their adversaries nothing to hope from their favour, and little perhaps to dread from their displeasure.
   3. The provocation which David received was also undeserved. It here was indeed blood which cried from the ground for vengeance on his head, but he had never injured Shimei; and as for his having been guilty of the death of Saul, and his family, no charge could be more unjust. But the ungodly are always selfish. They judge of others, not by the laws of impartial justice, but by the standard of self-interest.

II. But let us turn from the cruel and irritating conduct of this disappointed Israelite, and consider the forbearance which David manifested.
   1. He received the provocation of Shimei with meek silence. He heard his accusations, and he knew them to be false; but he answered him not a word. There are indeed cases in which it becomes absolutely necessary to vindicate our characters at any risk from the calumnies of the ungodly; but these occasions do not often occur. When our enemies are much incensed against us, it will generally be found that to reply to their aspersions serves only to increase their violence, and perhaps to give them an advantage over us. Silence under provocation is safety. To govern our lips is, in most instances, to govern our hearts.
   2. But there may be silence where there is no meekness. No angry word may proceed from the lips, while the deadliest revenge is cherished in the heart. It is necessary therefore that we should observe, further, that David forgave the provocation of Shimei. His friends around him were incensed to the utmost, and were eager to vindicate the honour of their insulted monarch with their swords. Would the conduct of David have been either unlawful, or sinful, if he had commanded his attendants to take immediate vengeance on Shimei? It might not have been unlawful, for the laws of Judaea would undoubtedly have condemned the traitor, and the power of carrying them into execution was vested in David’s hands; but laws were not designed by God to gratify vindictive passions. It is as sinful to seek revenge by the arm of the law as to seek it by the violence of our own arm. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Conclusion.
   1. A review of this history, as far as we have considered it, is calculated to leave impressed on us a conviction of the power of true religion; its power, not only to touch the fears and hopes of the soul but the mighty power which it exercises over the dispositions, the temper, the heart.
   2. This history reminds us also of the dignity which a meek and forgiving spirit imparts. The Bible tells us that “it is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression,” and it gives us in this chapter a confirmation of the saying. Here, then, is a lesson for those who are striving to raise themselves to honour. You wish to be highly esteemed among men, and, in order to procure their respect, you imagine that no real or supposed insult must pass unnoticed, and that you must commence a struggle for superiority in rank and consequence. Is, then, the object of your wishes to be attained by such means as these? Impossible. Cease from the foolish attempt. Go and sit at the feet of David, and let him teach you that the readiest, the surest, the safest way to exalt yourselves is to lie low and be humble, to be “meek and lowly in heart,” to triumph over the pride and folly which have hitherto been leading you captive. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

Meekness under provocation
“The fruit of the Spirit,” said St. Paul, writing to the Galatians, “is long-suffering.” Long-suffering patience is one of the rarest of virtues, because it is so easy to be impatient. There is a story told of the great Athenian Pericles, which gives us a good lesson in patience. Hardly anything ever put Pericles out of temper. There was a man who railed at him throughout a whole day in the market-place before all the people, and this although Pericles was a magistrate. Pericles, however, took no notice, but went on hearing and dealing with the various cases brought before him until night fell. Then he set out for home, walking slowly. The man followed him all the way, uttering hard, untrue, and cruel words all the time. When Pericles arrived at his house it was quite dark, so, calling his servant, he ordered him to get a torch and light his defamer home. [The Biblical Illustrator By Joseph S. Exell, M.A., Published in 1900; public domain.]

David was guiltless of the crime of which Shimei accused him; but his conscience reminded him of other flagrant iniquities; and he, therefore, regarded the cursing of this man as a chastisement from heaven. His answer to Abishai’s proposal evinced the spirit of deep and humble resignation – the spirit of a man who watched the course of Providence, and acknowledged Shimei as the instrument of God’s chastening hand. [Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary; Published in 1871; public domain.]

A DAY THAT REVEALED CHARACTER
There may have been some truth in Ziba’s statement, but we should balance it with 2Sa_19:24. Shimei vented the spleen of the house of Saul. He probably referred to the recent execution of the sons of Rizpah, and perhaps suggested that David had been guilty of all the disaster that had befallen Saul’s house from the day of Gilboa. When men curse us, whether we deserve it or not, let us look past them to the permissive will of God. “Let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him!” When, through the treachery of Judas, the bitter cup came to the lips of our Lord, he said, “It is the cup that my Father hath given me to drink.” Pain and sorrow, treachery and hard speeches, may be devised against us by the malignity of an Ahithophel, a Shimei, or a Judas; but by the time these have passed through the permissive will of God, we may receive them as the strokes of His chastening rod, that we may partake of His holiness. We are not the sport of chance or human caprice. God deals with us as with sons. [F. B. Meyer/ Published in 1914; public domain.]

Summary – David’s encounter serves as a lesson that a person who appears to be unfairly criticizing us might be an agent of God’s chastisement, not necessarily for that moment, but for past wrongs we’ve committed but not yet acknowledged or repented of. We often don’t pay attention to God’s still, small voice gently correcting us because our minds are preoccupied, or worse we ignore it, which forces God to send us a stronger word of correction, say through an enemy who’s really just an instrument in His hand. When we belong to God, everything that happens to us has to go through Him before it can reach us, so to be angry is to be angry at the providence of God.“If you do not connect the providence of God with all that happens, the very smallest daily trouble may completely upset you, and you will be continually losing your temper” [1]. May we fully apprehend and apply this helpful lesson to our lives so that we can respond to unjust criticism with dignity, knowing that God may be allowing it as a form of discipline for our good. Often it’s to bring to our attention something we’ve been doing which we’re not fully aware of that’s harmful to others or to ourselves.

God wants us to know the reason for our trials, and we can know, if we ask Him about them. Bear in mind that God answers us in His timing not ours, so be patient but persistent, persistence counts with Him – Luk 11:5-9  Then Jesus said to them, “Which of you has a friend and will go to him in the middle of the night and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has come to me on his journey and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then from within he may answer, saying, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even if the friend will not get up and give him anything out of friendship, yet because of the man’s persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ‘Ask (and keep on asking), and it shall be given to you. Seek (and keep on seeking), and you shall find. Knock (and keep on knocking), and it shall be opened to you. [TLV]

God delights to answer our questions, for He loves us, having died to save our souls from destruction. Speaking of which, continual verbal abuse from someone who’s taking out his/her frustrations on you is destructive to your soul, and is therefore not heaven sent. There’s a world of difference between that and the occasional criticism which comes as correction from God. This is why it’s imperative that we seek God in prayer about our trials and not rely upon human reasoning – Pro 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 

Debra R. Stout, April 7, 2018

Footnotes: 

[1] C. Bosanquet, M. A.

(All Scripture quotes are from the KJV unless otherwise indicated. Words of Christ are in red.)

Questions? Send an email to the address on the ‘Contact Me’ page.

SET THE CAPTIVES FREE! WHO ME?

The first thing I often hear when I try to expose the devil’s devices to another Christian is, “We shouldn’t be concentrating on demons!” I completely agree, but we have to talk about them if we want to learn how they operate and how to wage an effective warfare against them. Most Christians have been taught by their ministers that since Jesus did everything for them at the Cross, they don’t have to engage in spiritual warfare. Some even teach that demons leave automatically when a person receives Christ as their savior. If that was the case, why then did Jesus teach otherwise? Matthew 10:7-8, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”

So few engage in the Christian ministry of Deliverance, one has to ask, “Why is that?” In this article you should learn something about the long neglected ministry of deliverance, a ministry given by Christ to His Church which is as much needed today as it was two millennia ago. Contrary to popular opinion, the Spiritual Gifts given at Pentecost have NOT passed away, a belief called “Cessationism.” [1] Some content may seem strange to you if you’ve never been exposed to it before, but I pray you’ll stay with it to the end so you won’t miss anything.

IGNORANCE of the Believer’s authority and commission to cast out demons is the first hindrance to obtaining and ministering deliverance to those held in demonic bondage. Jesus’s disciples believed His words and wherever they went they healed people and “cast demons” out of them. Not once did His disciples pray to God the Father or to Christ, to cast them out. The disciples simply gave the command to the demons to come out, using the authority (power) which Jesus had given them.

If Jesus is to be our example, and the scriptures say He is, why then isn’t the Church doing what Jesus did during His earthly ministry? Why aren’t believers laying hands on people and healing them from diseases and freeing them from demonic bondage today? Why aren’t the ministers in churches teaching their flocks about spiritual warfare and deliverance from demons? I can surmise what a few of their reasons might be, among which is that deliverance can be noisy and sometimes messy, which might scare people away, but what about those being oppressed by demons? Should they just be told to seek out a psychiatrist (like many are) who’ll likely fill them with false hope and drugs? Jesus delivered people from all kinds of physical and spiritual disease, and He can still do that through His believers! Some years ago I was a member of a Christian woman’s group which worshiped, prayed and studied the Bible together in each other’s homes. On occasion, our small group was led by the Holy Spirit to cast out demons from one another, which is a great way to learn and to practice if there’s someone there supervising who hears accurately from the Holy Spirt and can get direction from Him on how to proceed, for each person needing ministry is different. In one deliverance session I actually felt a presence come out of the top of my head without making a sound, another time one cried with a loud shriek as it left [see Mark 9:18 & 26 below]. We were all born again believers! Contrary to what many have been told, deliverance is primarily for believers not unbelievers – Mat 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 

Mat 12:44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 

Mat 12:45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation

This is why deliverance is mainly for the Christian who has the Holy Spirit living in his “house” (spirit). In the natural sense, when a person’s “house” is “empty” it means there’s no one there. The same holds true in the spiritual; when a person’s spirit is “empty” it means there’s nothing there to deter or prevent demonic spirits from entering or re-entering (after deliverance) if that person doesn’t get filled and stay filled with the Holy Spirit! Even a Christian may get re-infected with demons if he doesn’t stay filled with the Holy Spirit and lives in (doesn’t repent of) sin!

There are variations of demonic manifestations but the Christian who knows his/her authority in Christ over “all the power of the enemy” doesn’t have to fear them. [Luk10:19]

Sometimes demons growl and howl as they “tear” (claw) their host’s soul when being expelled. Sometimes a person coughs, cries, sneezes or vomits when demons leave. I’ve even witnessed the vomiting of a “demon nest” during a deliverance session. The one I saw looked like a ball of slimy goo. Most believers have been misled by ministers who’ve told them that a believer can’t have a demon living inside them which simply isn’t true! Demons can live inside a believer’s body or soul, but not usually their spirit for that is where the Holy Spirit dwells. It’s like this; every human being has a physical body, a soul, and a spirit. Picture three circles or rings; the outer ring represents the body, the inner ring is the soul, and the innermost ring is the spirit. Because we are tripartite beings, demons can inhabit one or more of these areas but usually not the spirit of a believer because his spirit is indwelt and therefore protected by the Holy Spirit. Thus a believer can have demonic oppression and/or demonization but rarely possession, I say rarely because it’s not impossible. If a believer willfully continues in sin and “falls away” (defects) from the faith, thereby forfeiting the Holy Spirit and His protection, he could become possessed by demons I imagine. Heb 10:26-27 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 

Non-believers who haven’t the Holy Spirit indwelling them, can have demons inhabiting not only their bodies and souls, but also their spirits which is demon possession. That’s the difference between demon possession, oppression, and demonization. However, since each part is closely connected [Heb 4:12] if the soul is sick it can affect the body and spirit. When the body is ill, it can affect the soul and spirit, and so on. Our thoughts and emotions have widespread effects on bodily processes like metabolism, hormone release, and immune function.[2] This is why it’s so important to keep a close watch on our thoughts and beliefs as they affect every aspect of our lives – “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” [2 Cor 10:5]

FEAR is another reason believers and ministers of the Gospel don’t want to deal with demons and/or spiritual warfare. Jesus spoke against fear, He even stated that the “fearful” won’t enter into His Kingdom! [Rev 21:8] Are you aware that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible? The Fear of Man and Fear of rejection are very common stumbling blocks to one’s seeking deliverance, even though no one has a right to reject those who are “in Christ Jesus” since the Father has accepted them. [Eph 1:6] Many fear what fellow believers might think of them if they openly confess their sins and seek deliverance from demons. Therefore, many suffer in silence while demonic forces wreak havoc in their lives. Jesus told His disciples to “fear not him who can kill the body, but fear Him who can cast both body and soul into hell!” [Mt 10:28] “The fear of man is a snare (trap)…” [Prov 29:25]. Fear of reprisal from demons is another way demons keep believers from casting them out. I would wager a bet that the main reason believers fear demons and their power is that they don’t know their Authority in Jesus Christ. Jesus gives His Authority (power) to believers, which includes the power to heal and deliver men from every form of demonic oppression and possession. All may be delivered through the power of the Blood and the Name of Jesus Christ, but only if they truly want freedom from demonic bondage. God will NEVER violate a person’s free will; it is Satan the Devil who does that. The Devil is forceful and pushy and doesn’t care about your rights or your soul. Jesus came to “set men free” from the Devil’s power and cares deeply about the souls which He created and wants to see in heaven with Him. Satan on the other hand wants your soul in Hell with him because of his jealous hatred of God and all creation. He’s filled with hatred because he knows that he and one third of the angels who rebelled against Jehovah’s rightful rule of the Universe, are eternally damned [Rev 19:20 & 20:10]. Satan’s heart was “lifted up” with Pride which led to his downfall and subsequent judgment yet to be fulfilled [Ezek 28:17]. Another blockage or hindrance to deliverance ministry is pride —

PRIDE convinces believers and non-believers alike that they’re just fine even when they’re not, thus blinding them to their true condition. It requires humility to admit your weaknesses and sins, which is one reason I believe the scripture tells us to “confess our faults” to one another [Jms 5:16], which when practiced, keeps us humble. Yet when was the last time (if ever) you saw this confessing of faults to one another happening in your church? Our flesh nature revolts against that which causes us embarrassment; we don’t like humbling ourselves and acknowledging our inadequacies. Or the reverse may be true where we feel so inadequate that we don’t believe God would or ever could use us in this manner is a type of “inverted pride.” Pride hinders the operation of the Holy Spirit in church because none want to admit that they have weaknesses and sin in their lives. They may know about them, but keep them hidden if possible for fear of being exposed and judged by their fellows, which happens in churches that are poor in Christ’s love.

UNBELIEF Joh 14:12  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. If believers hear the Word of God which says that they have the Authority of Christ to “do the works He did” and even “greater,” why don’t they believe it?  I think it’s due to a general lack of knowledge of God’s Word, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge” [Hosea4:6] “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” [Rms 10:17]. Ministers are failing the Body when they neglect to teach and preach the FULL Gospel, which includes demonology and deliverance. I’ve been accused of being “critical” of the Church but here’s what Paul taught members of the Church at Ephesus Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. To ‘reprove’ means to ‘to find fault with, correct, reprehend severely, chide, admonish. Doesn’t Jesus ‘reprove’ his unbelieving disciples in the following passages and commend a woman for believing in His willingness to heal her even though she wasn’t a child of Abraham? 

Mat 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 

Mar 7:25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 

Mar 7:26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter

Mar 7:27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. [2]

Mar 7:28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 

Mar 7:29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 

Mar 9:18  And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not

Mar 9:19  He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 

Mar 9:20  And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 

Mar 9:21  And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 

Mar 9:22  And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. 

Mar 9:23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 

Mar 9:24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 

Mar 9:25  When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 

Mar 9:26  And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 

Mar 9:27  But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 

Mar 9:28  And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 

Mar 9:29  And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. 

DISOBEDIENCE (sometimes rooted in stubbornness & pride) is the defiant refusal to obey what we know is God’s will. This isn’t about weaknesses of the flesh, which we all have, but about willfully obscuring the Light we’ve been shown. We neglect reading God’s Word because it exposes our sins of pride, rebellion, unbelief, fear, stubbornness, and inadequacy to keep it, apart from the agency of the Holy Spirit. We like to think that we can live a righteous life without His help, which is utterly impossible. We can always call upon the Holy Spirit within to help us do God’s will as that’s one of His functions. However, not everyone who says they belong to Christ really does. The Word states that if a person doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, he/she doesn’t belong to Christ [Rms 8:9]. God’s Holy Spirit prays on our behalf, convicts us of sin, comforts us, leads us into all righteousness, and empowers us for service or ministry. Holy Spirit works the works of God in and through us if we hear His voice and respond affirmatively.

LUSTS OF THE FLESH The “flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” [Gals 5:17] Within the Church lurks a hideous creature more tenacious than a hungry lion stalking its prey. Our inherited flesh natures from Adam can halt the ministry of Holy Spirit (and revivals) when we don’t understand that it’s been crucified with Christ so we no longer have to obey it in the power of its lusts [Rms 6:6 & 6:12]. Even when we do know it, living in a sinful world and frail bodies, we often find ourselves obeying the dictates of our fleshly lusts instead of heeding God’s Spirit. Thank God the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin when we confess and repent of it [1 Jn 1:9]. A quick example of fleshly lust is when members of Christ’s Body try to ‘lord it over’ other members. There’s far too much clamoring for high position in the Church and its temporary glory; members arguing and fighting among themselves as to who’s greatest among them and who deserves a seat of honor. It was no different in Jesus’s day. In one instance He sharply rebuked some of His disciples who were engaging in just such a debate, Mar 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? Mar 9:34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 

The way of the world is to run over anyone or anything that gets in the way of what you want and decide is best. Jesus, who is our example in all matters of faith and life, taught his disciples (learners) that if they wanted to be “great” they would have to become “the servants of all.” [Mark 9:35 & 10:44] In other words, taking the lowest place is the way to true greatness and honor in His Kingdom, quite opposite from the way of the world. When we do that, it leaves room for God to raise us to a more prominent place [1 Peter 5:6, Luke 18:14, James 4:10]. When we follow Christ’s example and humble ourselves, we give no place for our flesh to become prideful. While our sin nature was put to death on the Cross with Christ, it needs reminding of that fact when it tries to resurrect itself from that position! We do that by declaring it defeated and nailed to Christ’s Cross, and ourselves “dead” to it. [Gals 5:24, Rms 6:11] This is easier said than done but one reason it seems difficult might be that we’re not recognizing the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit, and being filled with Him daily. “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” [Gal 5:16-18, Rms 13:14]. “They were filled with the Spirit daily…” The way of the Christian isn’t always easy, but Christ promises victory to those trusting in His finished work on the Cross, where the sin principle was put to death and defeated. All we have to do now is enforce what’s already been accomplished by Christ using the authority He gave us. That’s not easy either, and there’s spiritual warfare to be waged, but a lack of knowledge of these facts makes it more difficult for us to experience all that Christ achieved for us.

RELIGIOUS SPIRITS in the Church are a common and major hindrance to every ministry of Holy Spirit; not easily detected for they appear to be righteous. People having religious spirits will think they’re better than everyone else –

Mat 9:10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. Mat 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? Mat 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Mat 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. [KJV]

Religious spirits can halt a move of God in a church, or in a revival because they go berserk whenever Holy Spirit begins doing something they think isn’t the way He should be doing things! In several churches I’ve attended, I’ve seen them in action as they protested to the head pastor about someone giving a prophecy in church, especially if it was a woman who gave it. Don’t you know that women are to remain silent in the Church because Paul said so?! Actually, Paul was addressing a local problem in a church where women were constantly interrupting the speaker asking questions of their husbands sitting on the other side of the temple, so they had to yell over to them. That created a lot of noise and confusion so that no one could hear what the speaker was saying, thus Paul told those women to keep quite. The way he wrote it sounds like a command for all women in all churches for all times, but how can that be when there are examples in the New Testament of female prophets who prophesied? Also men and women alike were filled with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts which only says that “many of them spoke in tongues and prophesied” nothing there excludes women. What Paul appears to be doing in his injunction for the “woman to keep silent in the church” is to put an end to disorderly speaking. 1Co 14:39-40 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in orderSo unless they’re causing a ruckus and confusion, women should be allowed to give a prophecy, a word of knowledge and wisdom to the general assembly when inspired by Holy Spirit to do so. Some will argue that a woman shouldn’t preach when men are present, quoting 1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not (don’t allow) a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. Please note however, that this verse and passage is Paul giving his personal opinion on the matter; note the “I”. A verse very similar to it is Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 

I can imagine what those controlled by religious spirits would say if someone actually cast out a demon in the midst of a church gathering! Probably something like, “You can’t do that! Casting out demons was ONLY for Jesus’s day, it has passed away and the church doesn’t do that anymore!” Or worse, “You’re possessed with an EVIL SPIRIT!” Mat 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. Mat 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. 

“What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? These Pharisees had already committed it. They had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit by whose power Jesus wrought his miracles (Mat_12:28) to the devil. That sin was without excuse and would not be forgiven in their age or in the coming one (Mat_12:32). People often ask if they can commit the unpardonable sin. This is the unpardonable sin. Probably some do who ridicule the manifest work of God’s Spirit in men’s lives and attribute the Spirit’s work to the devil.” [Word Pictures in the New Testament by A.T. Robertson]

But let’s not take the extreme opposite stance of being fearful to “try the spirits” which God also commands, 1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1Co 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit. 1Th 5:20 Despise not prophesyings. 1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. It’s easy to lean to one extreme or the other, so we all need the discernment which Holy Spirit gives.

A good example of a religious spirit in operation which I’ve personally experienced on more than one occasion, is ‘false doctrine’ directed at me. Two people having religious spirits told me that that anyone who prays or sings to the Holy Spirit is “Out of order and DENYING CHRIST!They were referring to the one time I asked the Holy Spirit to come and bless us our prayer time together (not out of order since one of His functions is to help us pray). They immediately rebuked me saying we can only pray to the Father since the Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, “Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name…” They concluded from this one verse that we are never to pray or talk to either the Holy Spirit or to Jesus, for that would be “out of the order” given in the Lord’s Prayer. If that’s true, then why did Stephen pray directly to Jesus to “receive his spirit” as he was being stoned to death? – Act 7:59-60 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. There are other examples in Scripture where holy men of God prayed to and made requests of the other two members of the Godhead, Jesus and Holy Spirit. 

What this religious duo didn’t take into account, is that if the Holy Spirit is EQUALLY GOD with Jesus and the Father, why can’t you pray to Him? Surely a two-way relationship requires that both parties speak to one another, at least once in a while. How can we have any kind of relationship with Jesus or Holy Spirit if we never talk with them? Now if the Holy Spirit is just a ‘force’ then I could see why it would be wrong to speak or pray to ‘it’ but that’s not how Holy Spirit is portrayed in the bible, in fact the pronoun “he” or “him” is always used when referring to the Holy Spirit. Religious spirits always make a BIG DEAL out of minor points of the Torah, while neglecting to keep major ones – Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Mat 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. How easily Jesus spotted them, and so can we once we know how they operate.

The Bible says precisely how a person denies Christ, and it isn’t by addressing the Holy Spirit. One denies Christ by “denying that He came in the flesh” (was born as a man) [1 Jn ], by denying His Resurrection [Lk 20:27], by being remiss in doing righteous works [Titus 1:16] by denying that one knows Him [Lk 22:34, Mt 26:34 ] denying that Christ has power to save [2 Tim 3:2-5] and by forbidding men to teach or preach in Jesus’s Name – [Act 4:17& 18] But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of JesusI’ve just given six scriptural ways to deny Christ. As far as I know, there’s nothing in the Bible that says it’s wrong to speak, sing, or pray to Jesus or Holy Spirit. If you find just two witnesses that say so, please let me know? As I’ve already stated, I don’t often address the Holy Spirit, but I do often speak, pray, and sing to Jesus who I sense thoroughly enjoys my doing so! Religious spirits are artful at making you feel guilty and condemned even for things the Bible doesn’t call ‘sin.’ Just remember, Rom 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. Religious spirits hate that last part worst of all because they can’t or don’t know how to “walk by the Spirit.” Their right standing with God depends entirely upon keeping a code of ethics and rules to be strictly interpreted and followed. Grace has little or no place in their theology.

For a list of demons that you might find in somebody who has a religious spirit, go to http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/religious_spirits.php

Debra R. Stout © February 12, 2018

Footnotes:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessationism_versus_Continuationism

[2] http://www.health.com/heart-disease/can-negative-thinking-make-you-sick

[3] for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs: as by “the children” are meant the Israelites, who were not only the children of Abraham by natural descent, but the children of God, to whom pertained the adoption, by virtue of the national covenant made with them; so by “the dogs”, are meant the Gentiles, who were reckoned as such by the Jews; and by the “bread”, which it was not fit and proper should be taken from the one for the present, and cast to the other, is designed the ministry of the Gospel; which is as bread, solid, substantial, wholesome, and nourishing; and the miraculous cures wrought on the bodies of men, which accompanied it: now it was not meet and convenient as yet, that these things should be taken away from the Jewish nation, until they had answered the ends for which they were designed, and the Jews should express their loathing and abhorrence of them: which when they did, they were taken away from them, and were ministered to the nations of the world, they contemptuously called dogs. – From John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

 

 

 

I Hear You Knocking, But You Can’t Come In!

Do you know that Jesus stands outside the door of your heart, knocking to get in so that He can fellowship with you? Do you also know that there are consequences for refusing to open to Him? Hear His words —

Rev 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Allow me to paraphrase this a bit – “if any man hears my voice and opens the door of his heart to me, I’ll come in and dine with him and he with me.”

dine = deipneō; From G1173; to dine, that is, take the principal (or evening) meal: – sup (X -per). “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me – This is an image denoting intimacy and friendship. Supper, with the ancients, was the principal social meal; and the idea here is, that between the Saviour and those who would receive him there would be the intimacy which subsists between those who sit down to a friendly meal together. In all countries and times, to eat together, to break bread together, has been the symbol of friendship, and this the Saviour promises here.” [1]

Having a relationship with God entails the same dynamics of any personal relationship. In order to get to KNOW someone we must talk with them, ask questions and share our thoughts and feelings as well. Getting to know someone requires lots of time and effort. It isn’t quick and easy like speed dating, or the Bachelor TV show (ridiculously idiotic concepts in my opinion) in which both parties are flung into intimate settings and intimate relationships far too quickly, exposing their hearts to unnecessary hurt from not having adequate safeguards in place. Dear Reader, the purpose of Marriage is to provide the necessary protection for your HEART, so that you won’t suffer unnecessary hurt from sudden rejection and/or abandonment by one who hasn’t made a COMMITMENT to love and stay with you! Love today isn’t much more than physical attraction. In many cases couples merely live together and are intimate without a promise of fidelity or a commitment to stay, leaving hearts unprotected. Granted, there’s no guarantee that a husband or wife will uphold their wedding vows; divorce has been around a long time but it has never been God’s will – 1Co 7:10  And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband…

Mat 19:3  The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 
Mat 19:4  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 
Mat 19:5  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 
Mat 19:6  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 
Mat 19:8  He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (allowed) you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 
Mat 19:9  And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 

Marriage between one man and one woman is God’s will for most – [2]. 1Co 7:2  Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 

In God’s eyes, MARRIAGE is a COVENANT between two people which BINDS them together forever, not for as long as it’s convenient or pleasant. Marriage is not only a safeguard for your heart, but is the perfect environment in which to raise children. God’s will for a married man and woman is to “be fruitful and multiply” [3]. That’s always been His will and it STILL IS. Nothing has changed with God for He “is the same, yesterday, today, and FOREVER.” [4]

Marriage has another purpose; it unveils the mystery of oneness between God and His Church – Eph 5:31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Eph 5:32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Marriage may seem old fashioned or outdated to modern society, but it’s HOLY to Almighty God; a sacred union to be respected and guarded at all times, in every generation!

I believe there’s more than one reason I write about ‘marriage’ today, and it’s that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb of God is now ready, awaiting only for His Bride to come and dine with Him!

The Parable of the Wedding Feast —
Mat 22:1  And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 
Mat 22:2  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 
Mat 22:3  And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 
Mat 22:4  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 
Mat 22:5  But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 
Mat 22:6  And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 
Mat 22:7  But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 
Mat 22:8  Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 
Mat 22:9  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 
Mat 22:10  So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 
Mat 22:11  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 
Mat 22:12  And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 
Mat 22:13  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 22:14  For many are called, but few are chosen. 

The ‘chosen’ or ‘elect’ of God are those whom He ‘foreknew’ would keep His commands; these seek to please God regardless of the cost to themselves. The ‘called’ are those who’ve been ‘invited’ to the marriage supper, but REFUSE to come – But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise… They were TOO BUSY attending to their own affairs!

Likewise, those who refuse to ‘open’ when Yeshua comes knocking on the door of their hearts seeking relationship with them, are REFUSED entrance to His Kingdom —

Luk 13:23  Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 
Luk 13:24  Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 
Luk 13:25  When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 
Luk 13:26  Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 
Luk 13:27  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 
Luk 13:28  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 
Luk 13:29  And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 
Luk 13:30  And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. 

That last verse, Lk 13:30 is explained by Mat 21:31 (Jesus saith unto them) Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. Those who think they’re more righteous than certain sinners (as mentioned above) because they have an outer show of religion but whose hearts are full of wickedness, will find themselves LAST or ‘least’ in the kingdom, while the repentant ‘sinners’ who they looked down on, will be FIRST in the kingdom. ‘first’ = in rank, influence, honour / ‘last’ = of rank, grade of worth, last, i.e. lowest

Mat 5:17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 
Mat 5:18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 
Mat 5:19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 
Mat 5:20  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. What were the Pharisees if not hypocrites? Mat 7:5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.  hypocrite = hupokritēs; From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler

Men can fool other men with an outward appearance of righteousness through doing so called ‘good deeds’ and keeping various religious sacraments and rites, but they can’t fool God. God sees and judges the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts [5]. He readily forgives the penitent and contrite of heart [6], but hypocrites (who pretend to believe but really don’t) will be thrown into outer darkness with unbelievers, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth [7].

A STERN WARNING to PASTORS, BISHOPS, PROPHETS, APOSTLES, & TEACHERS:
Mat 24:42  Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 
Mat 24:43  But know this, that if the goodman (overseer; pastor, etc.) of the house (God’s household) had known in what watch the thief (false teacher, heretical doctrine) would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered (allowed) his house to be broken up. 
Mat 24:44  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 
Mat 24:45  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 
Mat 24:46  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 
Mat 24:47  Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 
Mat 24:48  But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; [8]
Mat 24:49  And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 

Note the contrast between a good and evil servant. A good servant ‘watches’ over God’s household, nurtures it, and doesn’t allow it to be ‘broken into’ – diorussō penetrate burglariously: – break through (up). He won’t allow a ‘thief’ to break in and steal the sheep through false doctrine. An evil servant does the opposite as he smites his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken! ‘smite’ = metaphorically to wound, disquiet one’s conscience; ‘eat and drink’ = metaphorically to devour, consume; ‘drunken’ = metaphorically one who has shed blood or murdered profusely. You can wound someone’s conscience by teaching them to sin against it – telling them to ignore what their conscience is convicting them of, and by living a sinful life-style thereby setting a bad example to those who look to you for guidance in matters of faith! You can murder someone’s soul by teaching that God’s commands aren’t valid for today, and therefore can be set aside. Who do you think God will hold responsible when those so taught end up in Hell? Who’s responsible for watching over God’s household, and sounding the alarm when he sees the wolf coming? The servant or overseer of God’s Household!

Mat 24:50  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 
Mat 24:51  And shall cut him asunder (cut up by scourging, scourge severely), and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 
Joh 10:12  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 
Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 
Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 

The workers of iniquity won’t make it into God’s Kingdom. Iniquity = anomia; From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: – iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness. Thus, the scripture here speaks of those who profess to know God but teach others to disobey and/or disregard God’s instructions; a very grave offense. Conversely, the truly righteous who DO His will shall enter the marriage and be glad – Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready!

 AMEN! The Lamb’s wife is preparing herself to live and reign with Him forever! She isn’t idle while waiting for Him, nor does she engage in IDOL worship with idol worshipers, but fully devotes herself to living according to His righteous decrees even when it isn’t convenient. If you refuse to open the door of your heart to Christ now when He comes knocking, He will likewise refuse to let you into His Kingdom when you go knocking on His door – Luk 13:25  Once the Master of the household gets up and shuts the door, and you’re standing outside and begin knocking on the door, saying, ‘Master, open up for us,’ then He will say to you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’ [Tree of Life Version]  

Debra R. Stout, September 3, 2017

Footnotes:

[1] Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
[2] Some choose to remain single, like Paul – 1Co 7:6  But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 
1Co 7:7  For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 
1Co 7:8  I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
1Co 7:32  But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord… 
[3] Genesis 1:22
[4] Hebrews13:8
[5] Hebrews 4:12
[6] Psalm 51:17
[7] Mt 22:13, Mt 24:51
[8] This passage is, in fact, “a parable,” though it is not expressly so called. The design is to show that his disciples should act as if they were each moment expecting his return. This he illustrates by the conduct of a servant who did not expect his master soon to return, who acted with great impropriety, and who was accordingly punished. ~ Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

*Words of Christ are in red text throughout.

 

 

ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE SAVED?

Image result for pictures of a sick seagullOn this bright but breezy Sunday afternoon I was out walking when I saw a woman sitting on a granite block (of which there are many in New England) beneath some trees in a park. At first I walked on by but then I heard a ‘still small voice’ tell me to go back and hand her a tract. So I went back to where she sat and asked if I could give her something as I reached out to hand her a tract. She thanked me and asked if I was Born Again, to which I answered “Yes.” Are you? I asked. She answered in the affirmative adding that she was kind of in a bad place right now and didn’t like getting close to people. I didn’t ask why, maybe because I was in high spirits and didn’t care to hear anything negative. For some reason however, I listened to her pour out her story for the next forty minutes or so. She began by telling that she didn’t attend church anymore, and had a strict religious upbringing by an abusive father whom she more or less, despised. She further expressed she was tired of Christians who say that God ‘allows’ suffering and we just have to accept it without questioning. Then she said she had given up questioning God about things as she felt she hadn’t gotten any answers.

After dropping those bombshells on me, she asserted that we couldn’t really know or understand God, or make any sense out of our experiences, so it was useless to try. I’m pretty sure that line of reasoning didn’t originate with her but came from someplace else, perhaps from an ancient belief system called Deism. [1] Deism is the belief that God is distant, unknowable, and impersonal; a god who doesn’t get involved in or intervene in human affairs. It means we’re basically on our own, left to fend for, and figure things out for ourselves. Could one call it Abandonment Theology? Another belief system that’s been around awhile is Existentialism, which basically asserts that man exists for his own sake, unencumbered by the restraints of religious dogma and demands of a righteous God because there is NO God. [2] In other words, ‘do- your- own- thing’ because there’s no purpose to life outside of pleasing yourself and fulfilling your desires. 

Make no mistake about it, these belief systems were inspired by ancient demonic SPIRITS who still roam the earth, seeking whom they may devour! [1 Pet 5:8] They’ll devour the lukewarm, the misinformed, the deceived, and those who love their lives in this world more than they love God. [Jn 12:25] They might be influencing your thoughts even though you don’t realize it. 

Further into our conversation the woman said that although she was ‘open to God,’ she wasn’t convinced that the New Testament scriptures were inspired of God since men wrote them fifty years after Christ’s death and resurrection. She reasoned that since she can’t remember what she said only yesterday, how could the disciples recall with any accuracy, what they’d heard and seen fifty, a hundred, or two-hundred years after the resurrection of Christ? This is a perfect example of how human intellect can get in the way of knowing God. So I asked her, “What would convince you that they’re inspired?” She replied, “Nothing on this earth!” Have to admit, I stood there in stunned disbelief at this supposed believer’s unbelief. There’s nothing quite as disturbing as a believer’s unbelief. Near the end of our brief encounter, I felt there wasn’t much more I could say to her because she really was not open to the Truth. Her final remark to me was, “You’re entitled to your opinion.” Wow that felt like an insult, since I had spent a good chunk of time listening to her and speaking God’s truth to her. I didn’t take offense realizing that she was just trying to defend her unbelief by labeling God’s Word as merely men’s opinions! To reinforce her stance, she added that everything we hear from anyone is just their opinion which you either believe or you don’t. She was wrong as the Holy Spirit still speaks through God’s servants [3]. People having her mindset can’t truly believe in ANYTHING, as it leaves them with NOTHING but a joyless, meaningless existence. How can one have joy who believes that life has no meaning and God is strict, distant, and uncaring, which she alluded to by saying how God allows suffering but does nothing about it. Truth is, God HAS done something about it. He sent His only begotten Son to die for men’s sins, bearing their griefs and sorrows [Isaiah 53]. But the truth can’t set you free if you don’t believe it.

Despite claims of being ‘open to God,’ her doubts about the reliability of His Word told a different story. It’s questionable how one so FULL OF DOUBT could be Born Again, but if true, she was definitely having difficulty in her relationship with the Lord. Believers have dry periods where they find it hard to sense God’s presence, pray, and worship. There are also times when doubts assail them but those moments should be short-lived. Persistent doubt and unbelief can lead to spiritual barrenness, drought, and spiritual death. When you have a vital personal relationship with God, you’re FULL OF THE JOY OF THE LORD. This woman had NO joy; her face was sullen and her eyes were dull. Believer’s faces SHINE from reflecting God’s glory [Exo 34:29]. The more I thought about these things, I began wondering if she had just pretended to be a believer in order to engage me in a debate. One tactic of the devil is to place people in your path who’ll speak disparaging words to try to discourage you in your faith, and or, plant doubts in your heart about God’s goodness. Isn’t that how the Devil tricked Eve into eating the Forbidden fruit?

The woman I met in the park certainly sounded more like a spokesman for the devil than for the Lord. The truth about God is that he’s NOT distant or uncaring. The fact is Jesus Christ HAS done something about all the evil and suffering in the world. He died for sinners so that “whosoever will” may come to Him in faith, and have eternal life [Jn 3:16]. The key is to be willing; God isn’t going to force or make anyone come to Him. We’re each given a choice as to whom we will serve, “Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody…” [Bob Dylan lyrics to song, “Gotta Serve Somebody” 1979] Funny, I should think of Bob Dylan, who at the time he wrote that song, claimed to be a Born Again Christian, but later on defected from the faith! [4]

This encounter reminded me that not all who say they’re Born Again really are. Many sincerely think they are, but their words and actions don’t line up with the Truth. The proof is in the fruit, and we’re told to “try the spirits” as well [1 Jn 4:1]. A truly Born Again (born from above by the Spirit of God) person will bear the “fruit of the Spirit” in their lives which is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Meekness (humility) and Self-Control [Gals 5:22-23]. The woman I met in the park, displayed a good deal of intellectual pride (instead of trust), and stubborn resistance to all my efforts to share biblical truth with her. It’s also possible for one who has been Born Again, to FALL AWAY. This is where the woman could be headed in my estimation. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance…” [Heb 6:4-6] In the end of days the Bible prophesies there will be a “great falling away” [2 Thes 2:3]. Doubting God’s Word and His goodness, is a treacherous, slippery slope that can lead you into Apostasy and spiritual death. As the woman and I walked out of the park together, she stopped to look at the river and spotted a seagull laying motionless in the mud at the river’s edge about twenty feet from us. Its wings were only half open, and it moved just its head. The woman commented that the gull was “dying.” She also pointed out some little fish that were swimming around in the water, but I saw none. At the moment I didn’t think much about it, but later the thought occurred to me that maybe the gull and absence of wildlife around it, could be prophetic signs of the woman’s spiritual condition. I had sensed a substantial amount of heaviness and gloominess about her which could be a sign of spiritual oppression. What’s certain is that her mixing of philosophy with Christian faith, and her over-intellectualizing is dangerous to the health of her faith and soul. Dear reader, WATCH your words and thoughts to be sure you’re not mixing your faith with the vain philosophies of men which can DESTROY your faith in God and the Bible! Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 

When you’re born anew you begin a new life that’s joined to the spirit of God who’ll never leave you, and will guide you constantly if you let him. So, who’s it going to be? Who are you going to serve; yourself, the Devil, or God? It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life so give it lots of thought, counting the cost. Yes, there IS a cost to being one of Christ’s disciples, so make no frivolous or shallow commitment to Him for He hates ‘lukewarmness.’ [Rev 3:16] He wants fully surrendered, zealous believers who’ll lavish their love and worship on Him, and are willing to lose their lives for His sake. [Mk 8:35] Despite the costs of following Jesus, the benefits FAR outweigh them! In the Bible are thousands of wonderful promises for those who faithfully love and serve Him. How do I know that God cares about human suffering? I know because I’ve spent lots of time getting to know Him through studying His Word and by praying and listening to Him. How do I know that His Word is trustworthy and reliable? I know because I have TESTED it. I have STOOD on God’s Word many times when I was all alone raising a severely disabled child, and it was ALL I HAD to get me through long, anxious nights. Plus, it is written, 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 

I’ve PROVEN God’s Word true by applying it over and over in various circumstances, and found it to be as SOLID as granite! Looking back, I can see how not always having human help available CAUSED me to lean hard on God and His Word, which made my faith STRONG. It wasn’t easy, but learning to trust His Word paid huge dividends for me in the short, and long run. Not that I never make mistakes, but they’re way less often and not catastrophic ones like they once were, due to having stored up so much of His Word in my heart. [Ps 119:11] You can do likewise and get the same good results, if you’re willing to trust and not give in to fear and doubt.

Just remember, not deciding to serve Jesus Christ IS a decision to serve yourself and the Devil. At the moment of physical death your eternal future is sealed, there’ll be no second chances. If you choose to serve Satan, you’ll eat the bitter fruit of death in hell with him and other unrepentant sinners. Why not serve Christ, while you still can, and live with Him forever?

Debra Stout © August 27, 2017

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/deism.html Deists deny the Trinity, the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, miracles, and any supernatural act of redemption or salvation. Deism pictures God as uncaring and uninvolved. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism  Deism (/ˈdiː.ɪzəm/ DEE-iz-əm  or /ˈdeɪ.ɪzəm/DAY-iz-əm; derived from Latin “deus” meaning “god“) is a philosophical position which posits that a god does not interfere directly with the world. It also rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reasonand observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a single creator of the universe.

[2] www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=existentialism  Existentialism in its purest form is any philosophy which states that existence precedes essence; that is to say, that there is no inherent purpose in life (though … http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_existentialism.html Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an irrational universe. It focuses on the question of human existence, and the feeling that there is no purpose or explanation at the core of existence. It holds that, as there is no God or any other transcendent force, the only way to counter this nothingness (and hence to find meaning in life) is by embracing existence.

[3] It’s disheartening so many believers are misinformed about the gifts of the Spirit which are just as valid and available to believers today as they were in the early Church period. The super-natural gifts given at Pentecost have NOT ceased, Cessationism is a lie, and a doctrine of Demons.

[4] http://www.openculture.com/2014/08/the-religions-of-bob-dylan.html

Any questions re this or any other post, you can email at the address provided under “Contact Me” on my Home Page. Also, if you’re sure you’ve been Born Again yet you really struggle with feeling God’s presence, can’t worship or pray, and have little or no joy or peace in your heart, maybe it’s time to seek counsel. I have no counseling degree, but I have the Holy Spirit. So if you want to contact me via email, I’ll consult with you to see if there’s something I can do to help you. I’ll make myself available to the extent that I can, short-term. May Yahweh bless you.

Godly Sorrow; A Loving Gift

Related imageIn the words of the great Apostle Paul, godly sorrow leads to life –

2Co 7:10  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  What was he talking about? There are many fallacies in our modern age about the subject of ‘pain’. We’re constantly being told that all pain is ‘bad’ for us; has no good purpose whatsoever. But is this true? Apostle Paul didn’t seem to think so. Let’s explore what he meant by ‘godly sorrow’ —

2Co 7:8  For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
2Co 7:9  Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
2Co 7:11  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

The Biblical Illustrator [1] sheds some light on what godly sorrow  is—

Godly sorrow

  1. The mental state here exhibited. This sorrow was not of an ordinary kind. He afterwards defines it as sorrow “after a godly manner,” or “according to God.” The emotion was connected with certain local circumstances and events; but it must be regarded as forming an integral part in those arrangements of Divine mercy which are associated with the transformation and the final well-being of the human soul.
  2. This verse is a graphic record of the practical nature of repentance, which is a change of mind from unbelief and alienation against God and His law, to faith and love towards both; and a change of habit and of life from the pursuit and practice of sin, to the pursuit and practice of holiness.
  3. Its blessings. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.” Elsewhere it is mentioned as being “repentance unto life,” because connected with everlasting happiness (2Pe_3:1-18).

The power of sorrow

Distinguish between sorrow and repentance. To grieve over sin is one thing, to repent of it is another. Sorrow is in itself a thing neither good nor bad; its value depends on the spirit of the person on whom it falls. Fire will inflame straw, soften iron, or harden clay.

  1. The fatal power of the sorrow of the world. It works death—
  2. In the effect of mere regret for worldly loss. We come into the world with health, friends, and sometimes property. So long as these are continued we are happy, and therefore fancy ourselves very grateful to God; but this is not religion; it has as little moral character in it, in the happy human being, as in the happy bird. Nay more, it is a suspicious thing; having been warmed by joy, it will become cold when joy is over; and then when these blessings are removed we count ourselves hardly treated, as if we had been defrauded of a right; rebellious hard feelings come; people become bitter, spiteful, discontented. This is the death of heart; the sorrow of the world has worked death.
  3. When sin is grieved for in a worldly spirit. There are two views of sin: as wrong, or as producing loss, e.g., of character. In such cases, if character could be preserved before the world, grief would not come. In the midst of Saul’s apparent grief the thing uppermost was that he had forfeited his kingly character; almost the only longing was that Samuel should honour him before his people. And hence it comes to pass that often remorse and anguish only begin with exposure. A corpse has been preserved for centuries in the iceberg, or in antiseptic peat, and when air was introduced it crumbled into dust. Exposure worked dissolution, but it only manifested the death which was already there; so with sorrow.
  4. The Divine power of sorrow.
  5. It works repentance, change of life, alteration of habits, renewal of heart. The consequences of sin are meant to wean from sin. The penalty annexed to it is, in the first instance, corrective, not penal. Fire burns the child, to teach it one of the truths of this universe—the property of fire to burn. The first time it cuts its hand with a sharp knife it has gained a lesson which it never will forget. Sorrow avails only when the past is converted into experience, and from failure lessons are learned which never are to be forgotten.
  6. Permanence of alteration. A steady reformation is a more decisive test of the value of mourning than depth of grief. The characteristic of the Divine sorrow is that it is a repentance “not repented of.” And in proportion as the repentance increases the grief diminishes. “I rejoice that I made you sorry, though it were but for a time.” Grief for a time, repentance for ever. And few things more signally prove the wisdom of this apostle than his way of dealing with this grief. He tried no artificial means of intensifying it. So soon as grief had done its work the apostle was anxious to dry useless tears—he even feared lest happily such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
  7. It is sorrow according to God. God sees sin in itself: a thing infinitely evil, even if the consequence were happiness instead of misery. So sorrow, according to God, is to see sin as God sees it. The grief of Peter was as bitter as that of Judas. But in Peter’s grief there was an element of hope, because he saw God in it all. Despair of self did not lead to despair of God. This is the peculiar feature of this sorrow; God is there, accordingly self is less prominent. It is not a microscopic self-examination, nor a mourning in which self is ever uppermost; my character gone; the greatness of my Sin; the forfeiture of my salvation. The thought of God absorbs all that. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

There must be sorrow for sin working repentance. Upon this point we must—

  1. Remove certain erroneous ideas with regard to repentance and sorrow for sin. Among popular delusions we must mention the suppositions—
  2. That mere sorrow of mind in reference to sin is repentance.
  3. That there can be repentance without sorrow for sin.
  4. That we must reach a certain point of wretchedness and horror, or else we are not truly penitent.
  5. That repentance happens to us once, and is then over.
  6. That repentance is a most unhappy feeling.
  7. That repentance must be mixed with unbelief, and embittered by the fear that mercy will be unable to meet our wretched case.
  8. Distinguish between the two sorrows mentioned in the text.
  9. The godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation is sorrow for sin—

(1) As committed against God.

(2) Arising out of an entire change of mind.

(3) Which joyfully accepts salvation by grace.

(4) Leading to future obedience.

(5) Which leads to perpetual perseverance in the ways of God. The ways of sin are forsaken because abhorred. This kind of repentance is never repented of.

  1. The sorrow of the world is—

(1) Caused by shame at being found out.

(2) Attended by hard thoughts of God.

(3) Leads to vexation and sullenness.

(4) Incites to hardening of heart.

(5) Lands the soul in despair.

(6) Works death of the worst kind. This needs to be repented of, for it is in itself sinful and terribly prolific of more sin.

A twofold soul sorrow

  1. The honest administration of gospel truth often inflicts sorrow on its subjects. The apostle made the Corinthians “sorry with a letter.” The gospel is a sword to cut, an arrow to pierce, a fire to burn.
  2. The sorrow is of twofold distinct types. Let us contrast these sorrows.
  3. The one is concerned with the principle of wrong; the other with the results.
  4. Some groan under a sense of their sins because of the injuries which they have already inflicted and their ultimate doom. It is a selfish regret, an unvirtuous emotion.
  5. But others mourn over the moral wrongness of the act; not because of the curse that has or wilt come upon them. The sorrow of Judas represents the one, the sorrow of Peter the other.
  6. The one is concerned for others, the other for self. “Godly sorrow” seems to engulf all personal considerations. The claims of God, the interests of society, the good of the universe, these are the subjects that unseal its fountains.

Godly sorrow

  1. Its nature—Sorrow according to God.
  2. It is sorrow for sin as an offence against God. Not that the penitent is unaffected with the evil of sin as respects his fellow-creatures and his own soul. It is, however, as an offence against God that he chiefly laments it; he views it as rebellion against God, as transgression of His law, a disbelief of His truth, a rejection of His grace, ingratitude for His goodness, and insensibility to His love. “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in Thy sight.” A consideration of his sins, as what occasioned the sufferings and death of Christ, is what especially affects his heart. He looks upon Him whom he has pierced, and mourns for Him.
  3. It is according to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Not that God delights to see any of His creatures unhappy. He knows that godly sorrow is essential to our-happiness.
  4. It is produced in the heart by the Spirit of God. Man, in his natural state, knows nothing of this sorrow.
  5. It accords with the design of God respecting man. This is evidently none other than to bring us back to Himself.
  6. Its effect. It “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.” Repentance signifies a change of mind; a change of the understanding from darkness to light, and of the will and affections from sin to holiness. Such a change is attended with the most happy results. We do not wonder, therefore, to hear the apostle declare that it is “not to be repented of.” Whether we consult Scripture or experience, whether we search the Church below or above, not a saint can we meet with that regrets his repentance or his salvation. Conclusion: But is this the case with the impenitent?
  7. Is not the want of “repentance to salvation” often accompanied with such bitterness of reflection, even in the present world, and especially at the approach of death, as makes those who feel it unutterably wretched?
  8. “The sorrow of the world worketh death.” Having no connection with the love and fear of God and faith in His mercy it never ends happily, whatever may be the causes which produce it, it terminates at no time in a change of heart and conduct. (D. Rees.)

True repentance is a godly sorrow

  1. In speaking of the nature of godly sorrow we are led to remark that it is not only sorrow on account of sin, but sorrow of a peculiar kind. The sorrow of which the apostle speaks is godly sorrow which leads men to mourn with a right spirit, and has an eye towards God, against whom sin has been committed (Psa_51:4; Luk_15:18). Godly sorrow not only mourns before God for outward sins, but also for those evil thoughts which can be known only to Him who sees the heart. It will be also an increasing sorrow in proportion as the subject of this gracious repentance is led into all truth, as he is brought to know more of the depths of iniquity, and the evil of sin; as he is enabled to discern more of the workings of his heart, and more of the spirituality of the Divine law. But it will be a feeling accompanied with peace, because it will be recognised as an evidence of grace.
  2. Some of the means by which this godly sorrow is excited, which will farther illustrate this truth. It is difficult sometimes to trace the immediate cause of godly sorrow, because the first workings of this principle are often silent and gentle in their operations.
  3. Affliction. When men are at ease in their possessions, and are intoxicated with the bustle of worldly care, they can indulge in sin with little restraint, and neglect the salvation of their souls as a matter of little concern. The mercies of God seem only to supply fresh encouragement to sin. Hence He is sometimes pleased to awaken the sons of prosperity by means of afflictive dispensations.
  4. Not unfrequently His goodness leadeth to repentance.
  5. Another means which God is pleased to employ in producing godly sorrow is the reading or the preaching of His own Word. In some, as in the case of Josiah, the terrors of the law have prepared the way for spiritual peace. In others the effects have more nearly resembled those which were produced by the sermon of St. Peter on the day of Pentecost.

The effect of this godly sorrow. It worketh, saith the apostle, a repentance “unto salvation” not to be repented of either in this world or the next. Let it then be distinctly remembered that the blessing is not of a temporal character; but the salvation mentioned in the text has reference to higher blessings, and calls for increasing thankfulness because it respects the deliverance of the soul. (W. Mayors, A. M.)

Repentance

  1. The remembrance of sin is the cause of godly sorrow in the heart of a true penitent. The sinner is to be considered in two different periods of time. In the first he is under the infatuation of sin; in the last, after-reflections on his sinful conduct fill his mind.
  2. The sinner is affected with the number of his sins. When we reflect on our past lives sins arise from all parts and absorb our minds in their multitude.
  3. The true penitent adds to a just notion of the number of his sins that of their enormity. Here we must remove the prejudices that we have imbibed concerning the morality of Jesus Christ; for here also we have altered His doctrine, and taken the world for our casuist, the maxims of loose worldlings for our supreme law. We have reduced great crimes to a few principal enormous vices which few people commit.
  4. A third idea that afflicts a penitent is that of the fatal influence which his sins have had on the soul of his neighbour. One sin strikes a thousand blows, while it seems to aim at striking only one. It is a contagious poison which diffuseth itself far and wide, and infects not only him who commits it, but the greatest part of those who see it committed.
  5. The weakness of motives to sin is the fourth cause of the sorrow of a penitent. Motives to sin are innumerable and various; but what are they all? Sometimes an imaginary interest, an inch of ground, and sometimes a crown, the conquest of the universe, the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them (Mat_4:10).
  6. I make a fifth article of the penitent’s uncertainty of his state. For although the mercy of God is infinite yet it is certain the sinner in the first moments of his penitence hath reason to doubt of his state, and till the evidences of his conversion become clear there is almost as much probability of his destruction as of his salvation.
  7. Perhaps hell.
  8. In fine, the last arrow that woundeth the heart of a penitent is an arrow of Divine love. The more we love God the more misery we endure when we have been so unhappy as to offend Him. The union of all these causes which produce sorrow in a true penitent forms the grand difference between that which St. Paul calls godly sorrow and that which he calls the sorrow of the world, that is to say, between true repentance and that uneasiness which worldly systems sometimes give another kind of penitents.

  “Godly sorrow worketh repentance.”

  1. What is repentance? Many of you would answer “sorrow for sin,” but clearly this text draws a distinction between the two. The “repentance” of the Bible is, as the word distinctly expresses, a change of purpose in regard to the sin for which a man mourns. Let me remind you of one or two passages which may show that the right notion of the word, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” i.e., without change of purpose on His part. Again, “The Lord repented of the evil which He had said He would do unto them, and He did it not,” i.e. clearly He changed His purpose. So repentance is not idle tears nor the twitchings of a vain regret, but the resolute turning away of the sinful heart from its sins. It is “repentance toward God,” the turning from sin to the Father.
  2. This change of purpose and breaking off from sin is produced by sorrow for sin; and that the production of this repentance is the main characteristic difference between the godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world. A man may have his paroxysms of regret, but the question is: Does it make any difference in his attitude? Is he standing, after the tempest of sorrow has swept over him, with his face in the same direction as before; or has it whirled him clean round? My brother! when your conscience pricks, is the word of command “Right about face!” or is it, “As you were”?
  3. The means of evoking true repentance is the contemplation of the Cross. Dread of punishment may pulverise the heart, but not change it; and each fragment will have the same characteristics as the whole mass. But “the goodness of God leads to repentance,” as the prodigal is conquered and sees the true hideousness of the swine’s trough when he bethinks himself of the father’s love.

Salvation is the issue of repentance.

  1. What is the connection between repentance and salvation?

(1) You cannot get the salvation of God unless you shake off your sin. “Let the wicked forsake his way,” etc. It is a clear contradiction in terms, and an absolute impossibility in fact, that God should deliver a man from sin whilst he is holding to it.

(2) But you do not get salvation for your repentance. It is no case of barter, it is no case of salvation by works, that work being repentance. “Could my tears for ever flow,” etc.

  1. What is the connection between repentance and faith?

(1) There can be no true repentance without trust in Christ. Repentance without faith would be but like the pains of those poor Hindoo devotees that will go all the way from Cape Comorin to the shrine of Juggernaut, and measure every foot of the road with the length of their own bodies in the dust. Men will do anything, and willingly make any sacrifice rather than open their eyes to see this—that repentance, clasped hand in hand with faith, leads the guiltiest soul into the forgiving presence of the crucified Christ, from whom peace flows into the darkest heart.

(2) On the other hand, faith without repentance in so far as it is possible produces a superficial Christianity which vaguely trusts to Christ without knowing exactly why it needs Him; which practises a religion which is neither a joy nor a security. “These are they which heard the word, and anon with joy received it.” Having no deep consciousness of sin, “they have no root in themselves, and in tinge of temptation they fall away.” If there is to be a life-transforming sin and devil-conquering faith, it must be a faith rooted deep in sorrow for sin. Conclusion: If, by God’s grace, my poor words have touched your consciences, do not trifle with the budding conviction! Do not let it all pass in idle sorrow. If you do, you will be the worse for it, and come nearer to that condition which the sorrow of the world worketh, the awful death of the soul. Do not wince from the knife before the roots of the cancer are cut out. The pain is merciful. Better the wound than the malignant growth. Yield yourselves to the Spirit that would convince you of sin, and listen to the voice that calls to you to forsake your unrighteous ways and thoughts. But do not trust to any tears, any resolves, any reformation. Trust only to the Lord that died for you, whose death for you, whose life in you, will be deliverance from your sin. Then you will have a salvation which “is not to be repented of.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

SUMMARY:

Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the vain philosophies of men who say that all pain is bad and should be avoided through denial and/or medication so you can’t feel it. The psychologists prescribe you with this or that pill to blunt your GUILT and your God-given sense of SHAME which you feel after you sin! I say ‘after’ because sinning for the moment can feel good and pleasurable, but later on results in remorse and unsavory consequences, even to the loss of conscience and ultimately, death. The sorrow which leads to repentance, is a GOOD kind of pain, as it will save your soul from destruction. Don’t shun or try to numb the pain and guilt that come from consciousness of sin, but accept them as God’s loving gifts to lead you to true, biblical repentance and life.

Debra R. Stout, June 2, 2017

FOOTNOTES:

[1] This whole section was taken from The Biblical Illustrator, a component of e-Sword®Version 11.0.6, a FREE electronic Bible Study program. To download a copy go to www.e-sword.net  This is awesome software that makes bible study quick and easy, so there’s no excuse for bible illiteracy!

*The graphic is of the penitent tax collector vs. the self-righteous Pharisee (the smug looking man putting his tithe in the collection box). The Pharisee thanked God that he wasn’t a sinner like everyone else,“I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week and I give you a tenth of my income.” Luke 18:11-12  The tax collector stood at a distance and didn’t even dare to lift his eyes to heaven because of his shame. Instead he beat his chest in sorrow and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” Luke 18:13

 

THE WILES OF THE DEVIL

Do you sometimes find yourself distracted to the point that you’re neglecting prayer and bible study? I know I do.

God has been showing me this month some ways the Devil keeps his children from spending time with Him. One of his tricks is distracting them by whatever means he can. Scripture tells us not to be fooled by his wiles (cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery) – Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 

For example, you’re about to read your bible and pray, when the phone rings and it’s a fellow believer whom you desire to speak with so you put your bible down and take the call. It’s so subtle you can easily miss it. By the time you’re done talking an hour or so later, you have chores which need doing. So, you don’t read your bible that day and the devil wins because he robbed you of spiritual, life-giving food!

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Joh 6:47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Joh 6:48  I am that bread of life.
Joh 6:49  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
Joh 6:50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
Joh 6:52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Joh 6:54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Joh 6:56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
Joh 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.

The Jews were offended by Jesus’s words because they didn’t understand that they need to be understood in the spiritual sense and not literally. As Jesus said, the words He was speaking were spirit, and can only be understood by those having spiritual ears with which to hear. Jesus Christ gives spiritual ears to whomever He chooses. When some Pharisees were questioning Him about where He came from and by what authority He did miracles, etc. Jesus answered by asking them some questions….

Joh 8:43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 8:47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
Deu 29:4  Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
Mat 13:9  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Luk 24:45  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures….

What Jesus meant by “eating His flesh” was that we feed on Him in the spiritual sense by being in His presence, praying, worshiping Him, and meditating on His words [1]. Jesus never meant for anyone to eat his actual flesh! Jesus often spoke in parables to hide the mysteries of the Kingdom from the impious while revealing them to whom they were “given.” The mysteries of the kingdom aren’t given to everyone but only to those whom God chooses. When you come to Jesus, receiving Him by faith as your Savior and Lord, you’re given spiritual understanding. Joh 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God… “received” = to receive a person, give him access to one’s self [Thayer’s Greek Definitions]

The Bible states that the Temple of God is not a structure made by human hands. 1Co 3:16  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? In the spirit of a believer is where Christ via the Holy Spirit dwells. It’s from there that believers can (and should) hear God’s “still, small voice” [1 Kings 19:12; Acts 2:37]. If they don’t or can’t, there’s a problem somewhere. It could be that the Spirit of Christ hasn’t taken up residence in them (because they’ve not really received Christ or his words). Those who haven’t a love of the truth (God’s word) will be given a “strong delusion” to believe a lie – 2Th 2:11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2Th 2:12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Other causes may include demonic interference of one form or another, or unrepentant sin. Some are afflicted with a ‘spirit of deafness’ which causes an inability to hear spiritual truth. Then there’s emotional and mental turmoil which can cause enormous distraction in a person. Abuse and a wounded spirit, which only the gentle, loving Spirit of Christ can reach and heal, can be a hindrance to hearing God’s voice clearly. Whatever the case may be, Jesus came to ”set the captives free” [Isa 42:7]. Isa 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones

Another means of distraction are daily chores and errands which obviously have to be done. We all have them, but our first priority ought to be Related imagespending time alone with our Lord in communion – not the sacrament of Communion, but communion with His Spirit. SACRAMENTS can be an alluring and subtle means of distracting men from Christ by placing a non-scriptural emphasis on PHYSICAL elements. The Devil has tricked millions into believing the lie that merely partaking of physical bread and wine gives them spiritual life. Catholics believe that when a priest blesses the communion wafer and wine, they become the actual body and Blood of Christ. They call it Transubstantiation, but there’s nothing in the Bible to substantiate that doctrine! It’s a doctrine of men [Mark 7:7-13; Titus 1:14] not of God. Hear what the Scriptures have to say about it —

Col 2:20  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances
Rom 6:9  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Rom 6:10  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
1Pe 3:18  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,
Heb 10:12  But this man (Jesus), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

That last verse alone disproves the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Since Christ now sits on the right hand of God the Father, He isn’t coming back to earth every Sunday to be crucified all over again and offered as a sacrifice! He died ONCE for our sins at the appointed time, and that was/is sufficient. End of argument. The biblical doctrine of Salvation is that we are saved by faith and not by works – Tit 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost….

Eating a wafer and drinking wine without having a personal relationship with Jesus, cannot and will not save you from your sin, nor can it impart life to you. Only God through Jesus Christ can impart spiritual and eternal life, and it’s in communion with Him that we receive that Life, not through observance of religious works. Burning candles for the departed, wearing Scapulars, keeping man-made holy days not found in the Bible, etc., do not and cannot impart life. Such observances often serve to distract people from God by replacing relationship with Him, with rituals and talismans. A scapular has no more power to keep you safe from evil than does the sprinkling of water. Burning a candle for a deceased love one, or praying to a statue does no good whatsoever. Putting your faith in such things will lead you away from the Truth. Praying for and to the dead, and bowing before statues, is strictly forbidden in Scripture, Lev 6:1  Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God. [See also Exo 20:3-5; Isa 46:7; Isa 44:9-20].

“Praying for the dead is not a biblical concept. Our prayers have no bearing on someone once he or she has died. The reality is that, at the point of death, one’s eternal destiny is confirmed. Either he is saved through faith in Christ and is in heaven where he is experiencing rest and joy in God’s presence, or he is in torment in hell. The story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar provides us with a vivid illustration of this truth. Jesus plainly used this story to teach that after death the unrighteous are eternally separated from God, that they remember their rejection of the gospel, that they are in torment, and that their condition cannot be remedied (Luke 16:19-31).” [2]

Distraction can take many forms. Martha, a disciple of Jesus, got distracted by her concerns —

'Christ in the House of Martha and Mary', Jan Vermeer van Delft, 1654Luk 10:38  Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
Luk 10:39  And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
Luk 10:40  But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Luk 10:41  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
Luk 10:42  But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

From this passage we can see that Jesus put a priority on spending time  listening to Him. He often spent hours, even whole nights in prayer, thereby setting us an example to follow Heb 5:7  Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared…

My prayer and hope is that believers become astute at hearing from God through spending time alone with Him, who like Mary, put devotion to God’s words first in their lives. May we lay aside our distractions and concerns awhile each day to hear the words of our Savior, for in doing so we’ll find shelter from the storms, as well as safety from the Tempter’s wiles.

Debra R. Stout © April 25, 2017

Footnotes:
[1] To meditate means to ponder, that is, (by implication) converse (with oneself, and hence aloud) or (transitively) utter: – commune, complain, declare, meditate, muse, pray, speak, talk (with) Psa 119:15.       [2] https://www.gotquestions.org/praying-for-the-dead.html

Seek the Lord and Be Restored!


Related imageHos 10:12  Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. 

sow = H2232 זרע BDB Definition:
1) to sow, scatter seed

Act righteously and ye shall reap the reward; a reward not of debt, but of grace. (Pro_11:18) in mercy — according to the measure of the divine “mercy,” which over and above repays the goodness or “mercy” which we show to our fellow man (Luk_6:38). [Jamieson-Fausset-Brown]

Gal 6:7  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 
Gal 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. 
Jer 4:3  For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. 

fallow ground = H5215 נר / ניר 1) tillable or untilled or fallow ground. ‘break up your fallow ground‘ this is ground that lies untilled, not ploughed, nor sown, on which nothing grows but the produce of nature, as weeds, thorns, briers, &c. is common to men and beasts, and is trodden upon, and, so is hard and unsusceptible of seed; which, if it accidentally falls upon it, makes no impression on it, and is not received by it; and the breaking of it up is by the plough. The “fallow ground” fitly represents the hearts of unregenerate men, which are unopened to the word, and unbroken by it; nor have they the seed of divine grace sown in them; but are destitute of faith, hope, love, fear, and the like; there is nothing grows there but the weeds of sin and corruption; and are like a common beaten road; are the common track of sin, where lusts pass to and fro, and dwell; and so are hardened and obdurate, as hard as a stone, yea, harder than the nether millstone; and who, though they may occasionally be under the word, it makes no impression on them; it has no place in them, but is like the seed that falls by the wayside, Mat_13:4, unless divine power attends it; for the Gospel is the plough, and ministers are the ploughmen; but it is the Lord alone that makes it effectual to the breaking up the fallow ground of men’s hearts, Luk_9:62, but when the Lord puts his hand to the plough it enters within, and opens the heart; it is quick, powerful, and sharp; it cuts deep, and makes long and large furrows, even strong convictions of sin; it throws a man’s inside outward, as the plough does the earth; and lays all the wicked of his heart open to him; and roots up the pride, the vanity, and boasting of the creature, and other lusts; and so makes way for the seed of divine grace to be sown there:

and sow not among thorns; or, “that ye may not sow among thorns” (o); for, unless the fallow ground is broken up, it will be no other than sowing among thorns; and unless the hearts of men are opened by the power and grace of God, they will not attend to the things that are spoken; preaching and eating the word will be like sowing among thorns; cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of life, and the lusts thereof, which are comparable to thorns, because pricking, perplexing, and distressing, and because vain and unprofitable, choke the word, and make it unfruitful; see Mat_13:7, now this exhortation in the text does not suppose power in man to break up and open his heart; but to show his want of renewing grace; the necessity of it; and the danger he is in without it; and to awaken in him a concern for it; see Eze_18:31. The words may be applied to backsliding professors, since backsliding Israel and Judah are the persons addressed; and this may be done with great propriety and pertinence to the simile; for fallow ground is that which has been broke up and sown, and laid fallow. It is usual to till and sow two years, and lay fallow a third: and backsliding Christians look very much like fallow ground; so faithless, so lukewarm, and indifferent; so inattentive to the word, and unconcerned under it; so barren and unfruitful, as if they had never had any faith, or love, or good work in them; so that they need to be renewed in the spirit of their minds; to have a new face of things put upon them: and to have a clean heart, and a right spirit, created in them. [John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible]

Break up your fallow ground – Fallow ground is either that which, having been once tilled, has lain long uncultivated; or, ground slightly ploughed, in order to be ploughed again previously to its being sown. Ye have been long uncultivated in righteousness; let true repentance break up your fruitless and hardened hearts; and when the seed of the word of life is sown in them, take heed that worldly cares and concerns do not arise, and, like thorns, choke the good seed. [Adam Clarke]

Is it not time that we should look into our hearts and lives, break up the fallow ground, now covered with thorns and thistles, and begin to sow in righteousness? Let us ask God to drive the plowshares of deep soul-searching and conviction across the hard and sterile acres of our hearts, and sow them with His good seed. [F.B.Meyer; ‘Through the Bible Day by Day’]

*The ‘good seed’ is the Word of God. We need to sow the Word of God DEEPLY into our hearts, which can be done after we ‘break up our fallow ground.’ Our ‘fallow ground’ is soil that needs to be tilled or furrowed so that SEED can be SOWED into it, and we can reap a crop of righteous fruit. We won’t REAP if we don’t SOW. We need to tend the soil of our hearts, lest it become overgrown with ‘thistles and thorns,’ the cares and worries of this life –

Luk 8:11  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 
Luk 8:12  Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 
Luk 8:13  They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 
Luk 8:14  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 
Luk 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. 

Break up your fallow ground ….one sowing sufficeth not. It must be no surface-sowing. And “the soil of our hearts must ever be anew cleansed; for no one in this mortal life is so perfect, in piety, that noxious desires will not spring up again in the heart, as tares….” [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]

*Tilling the soil of our hearts would include pulling out the thistles and thorns of wrong or evil thoughts, motives, and pursuits. When we examine our hearts and find these things growing in them, we need to pull them up, and sow the seed of God’s Word in their place! Then we’ll reap a crop of good fruit from our righteous acts when it is ready or ripe. Just like natural crops must ripen before picking, we patiently wait for our spiritual seeds to mature before we see fruit appear –

Gal 6:9  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 

For it is time to seek the Lord – This should be immediately done: the season is passing; and if you do not get the seed in the ground, the early rain will be past, and your fields will be unfruitful. [Adam Clarke’s Commentary]

seek … Lord, fill he come — The prophet bids them “seek diligently,” and perseveringly, “not leaving off or desisting,” if they should not at once find, but continuing the search, quite “up to” the time when they should find. His words imply the need of perseverance and patience, which should stop short of nothing but God’s own time for finding.

“If Israel of old were so to order their ways in expectation of Him, and that they might be prepared for His coming; and if their neglecting to do this made them liable to such heavy judgments, how much severer judgments shall they be worthy of, who, after His Coming and raining upon them the plentiful showers of heavenly doctrine, and abundant measure of His grace and gifts of His Holy Spirit, do, for want of breaking up the fallow ground of their hearts, suffer His holy word to be lost on them. The fearful doom of such unfruitful Christians is set down by Paul” Heb_6:4-8.

The present is ever the time to seek the Lord. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the Day of Salvation” 2Co_6:2. As Hosea says, “it is time to seek the Lord until He come,” so Paul saith, “unto them that look for Him, shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation” Heb_9:28. [Albert Barnes]

Rain righteousness upon you – God will give you the early rain in due time, and in proper measure. Here are the metaphors, and the application cannot be difficult.. Here are ploughing, fallowing, sowing, harrowing, watering, reaping, threshing, and feeding on the produce of well-directed labor. All may be applied to the human heart, and the work of God upon it. Correction, contrition, conversion, receiving the grace of Christ, bringing forth fruit, etc. [Adam Clarke’s Commentary]

SUMMATION: The ‘Good Seed’ is the Word of God, the bible. The ‘soil’ represents the hearts of men. The Ploughmen are ministers and preachers who sow the seed. ‘Fallow ground’ is soil that has been left unattended and has hardened so that it can’t receive seed. It’s a condition primarily of unregenerate hearts, but can also occur in those who’ve accepted Christ. The hardened soil of men’s hearts has to be ‘broken up,’ (furrowed/plowed) before the good seed can be sown in them. Whether it be for the first time, or numerous times; however often men discover that ‘thorns and thistles’ (cares of this life) are growing in their hearts!

A PERSONAL NOTE: I feel that the Lord impressed me today with two passages of Scripture from two different prophetic books, Hosea and Isaiah. Both mention SEEKING God and being RECONCILED to Him and to one’s fellow man; a two-pronged message. I feel that the terms ‘seeking’ and ‘reconciliation,’ were highlighted to me as I read those texts, and go hand-in-hand. 2017 may be a year in which many estranged relationships are healed as people reconcile with one another. I sure hope so.

Debra R. Stout, December 31, 2016