Monday, September 30, 2013

Your Reasonable Service

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1a)

On the surface, being a Christian appears easy to do, in as much as a Christian is basically a person that trusts in Jesus Christ. No one is more worthy of our trust, and He is fully able to bring us into the Kingdom of God. But this is a mere surface observation. The truth is that being a Christian can be very difficult because the real Christian is one who, because he trusts Christ, must set his heel upon human nature within him and subject the appetites of his flesh and the desires of his mind to the aim of pleasing God.  No wishy-washy, irresolute, vacillating, lukewarm, disorderly and unrestrained Christian will please his Master and glorify our Father.

Sacrifice requires the surrender of our life and thus control of it. What impressions we allow to be made upon our senses, the indulgences we grant our appetites, the satisfactions we seek for our needs, and the activities we engage in through this fearfully and wonderfully made instrument must now be controlled according to God's standards.  Apostle Paul writes, 

"He who sows to his flesh will . . . reap corruption" (Galatians 6:8)

as well as

"I discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (I Corinthians 9:27).

When viewed carnally, self-control—especially when linked with self-denial and self-sacrifice—seems to be essentially negative. However, when confronted with a true understanding of what human nature produces, we can see that the fruit of self-control is entirely positive.

The Apostle Paul strongly exhorts us to self-control:  

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.  I Corinthians 9:24-27

Apostle Paul uses runners in the Grecian games as examples of how we are to live as Christians. The first thing to notice is the utmost tension, energy and strenuous effort pictured by athletes straining for the finish line in hope of the glory of winning. "This is the way to run," says Paul, "if we want to attain our potential."  This requires steady, intense concentration, of focus, by the runners. They cannot afford to become distracted by things off to the side of their course. If they do, their effectiveness in running will surely diminish. Keeping focused requires control—not allowing distractions to interfere with the responsibility at hand. 

Jesus says:  "

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness"  (Matthew 6:33). 

Here, the issue is single-mindedness. James writes, 

"He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. . . . 

He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6, 8). 

Controlling our focus can go a long way toward making the run successful.  Apostle 
Paul then says the victorious runner sets Christians an example of rigid self-control: 

"Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things." (1 Corinthians 9:25)

It is not only a matter of concentrating while he is racing, but in all areas of life because his whole life impacts on the race. The runner religiously follows a rigorous program within a rigid schedule each day: He rises at a certain hour, eats a breakfast of certain foods, fills his morning with exercises and works on his technique. After a planned lunch, he continues training, eats a third planned meal and goes to bed at a specified hour. Throughout, he not only avoids sensuous indulgences, he must also abstain from many perfectly legitimate things that simply do not fit into his program. An athlete who is serious about excelling in his chosen sport must live this way, or he will not succeed except against inferior competitors. He will suffer defeat by those who do follow them.

We can learn a great deal here about self-indulgence and self-control. It is not enough for us to say, "I draw the line there, at this or that vice, and I will have nothing to do with these." We will have a very difficult time growing under such an approach, as Apostle Paul relates:  

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  (Hebrews 12:1)

Many things that are not sinful are "weights" simply because they are so time and mind-consuming. Because we do not want to fail in accomplishing the highest purposes for which we were called, we must run light to endure the length of our course successfully.

Jesus says: 

Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it"  (Matthew 7:14) 

Apostle Paul writes: 

"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier"  (II Timothy 2:3-4)

The Christian is exhorted to control himself and run to win.  In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul illustrates self-control in its positive aspects by showing what it produces along the way and—most importantly—in the end. Jesus makes it clear in Revelation 2 and 3 that the overcomers (conquerors, victors) will go into the Kingdom of God.

Self-control plays a major role in bringing victory through our trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. A noted commentator, wrote, "There are few things more lacking in the average Christian life of today than resolute, conscious concentration upon an aim which is clearly and always before us."

Self-control is not the only factor we need to do this, but it is a very necessary one. Its fruit, good beyond measure, is worth every effort and sacrifice we must make.

Apostle Paul comes at this issue from a somewhat different angle, one that comes into play in the individual choices we make during the course of a day:  

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (Romans 12:1-2)

By this, Apostle Paul demonstrates that Christian living is inseparably bound to belief in God's truth. Faith without works is dead, and works without the correct belief system is vanity. Wrong thinking cannot lead to right doing.   Thus, outwardly and inwardly he will be on his way toward God's will for human conduct. All the virtues produced from this change will begin to grow and manifest themselves in his life.

(Biblical Studies)



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Meekness in Good Conduct

This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.'   So Aaron held his peace. 
(Leviticus 10:3)

Meekness is the fruit of God by His Spirit working in us. Godly sorrow softens our stiff-necked rebellion and our hearts so that we are made receptive to the workings of the Creator to produce His image in us. Therefore meekness also includes our becoming pliable, malleable, submissive and teachable. A New Testament term for this condition might be "childlike."

Meekness is the by-product of a number of elements, not the least of which are deep, thorough humility and an awareness of the seriousness of what our past conduct produced, especially toward Jesus Christ. These things have tamed the beast, broken our self-will and made our minds receptive to the pure influences of God's Spirit. This is not natural but supernatural, the product of God's grace toward us and His Spirit working and growing in us. It very deeply, sometimes radically, alters our perspective of God, His purpose, the trials of life, the self and other people.

This is very important regarding trials because meekness is the opposite of self-will toward God and of ill-will toward men. "The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to his word and to his rod, who follow His directions, and comply with His designs, and are gentle towards all men" (Matthew Henry).

God disciplines every one He loves 

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6), 

and sometimes the disciplines are very difficult to bear. We have passionate drives within us to flee from them, or at the very least, to grumble and murmur under their burden. But the meek will not do this. They will endure the privation, embarrassment, pain, loss, ignorance or persecution with quiet patience because they know that God is sovereign over all and He is working in their lives.

Aaron's response to God's execution of his two sons is an example.  

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.'" So Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3)

This was a shocking, bitter pill to swallow, but Aaron took it properly, meekly. He was growing. David refers to a difficult situation he was experiencing, leaving us this example: 

"I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was You who did it."  (Psalm 39:9)

The supreme example of this is Jesus Christ, who endured horrific trials though He was the Son of God's love

 says, "Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?'"  (John 18:11)

 Consider this insight on Christ's meek reaction: 

"He was led [not dragged] as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth."   (Acts 8:32)

Jesus was the very King of meekness.

Meekness enables a person to bear patiently those insults and injuries he receives at the hand of others. It makes him ready to accept instruction from the least of the saints. It allows him to endure provocation without being inflamed by it. He remains cool when others become heated. Meek people seek no private revenge; they leave that to God's sense of justice while they seek to remain true in their calling and meet God's standards.

The spirit of meekness enables its possessor to squeeze great enjoyment from his earthly portion, be it small or great. Delivered from a greedy and grasping disposition, he is satisfied with what he has. Contentment of mind is one of the fruits of meekness. The haughty and covetous do not inherit the earth. 

"A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked."  (Psalm 37:16)

This much misunderstood and maligned virtue is the antidote for most of the nervous anxiety that is greatly intensifying the normal day-to-day stresses of life. God commands us in 

Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger.  (Zephaniah 2:3)

How valuable is that blessing?  There is more:

The meek shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever! (Psalm 22:26)

Further, "The Lord lifts up the meek; He casts the wicked down to the ground" (Psalm 147:6).

And finally:

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 29:19).

This is not a virtue to ignore because carnal men consider it weakness. It may appear to them as weakness, but the spiritual reality is that it is great strength, an attribute of Almighty God and a fruit of His Spirit we greatly need.

Meekness is rooted in God, and therefore we must pursue it. Because it is a quality of God's character, we must exert effort to make it part of our character. Although we may be experiencing adversity, as the meek we should still appreciate God's good and gracious will.

The truly righteous are meek and receptive to the Word of God. God says that He will guide the patient of those who have been wronged and will decide fairly for them.

The Holy Spirit enables us to produce meekness, a necessary attitude for understanding God's Word. An added benefit to the meek is that God promises them the enjoyment of peace. A meek and quiet spirit is so very precious to God that He rewards the meek with inheritance of the earth.

Jesus shows us that meekness is not a mere contemplative virtue; it is maintaining peace and patience in the midst of pelting provocations. In II Corinthians Paul realizes that the meek and gentle approach can easily appear as weakness to those unfamiliar with Jesus' example, so he calls it "the meekness . . . of Christ." True meekness is always measured by Christ's meekness. His humility, patience and total submission of His own will to the will of the Father exemplifies meekness.

Good conduct is not meekness, but we should show the attitude of meekness in good conduct, that is, in righteousness. Works done in righteousness are done with an attitude of meekness. Synonyms for meek are "gentle," "humble," "poor" and "lowly."

We should have a meek attitude to all others regardless of our relationship with them. Even when someone is antagonistic, meek correction and teaching will assist God in leading them to repentance. For meekness, the NKJV uses "gentleness" in Galatians and "humility" in II Timothy and Titus. Both of these are qualities of meekness. Meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. It is evenness of mind—neither elated nor cast down—because a truly meek person is not occupied with self at all.

The focus of true meekness is not in our outward behavior only or in our relationships to other human beings. Neither is the focus on our natural disposition. Rather, it is an inwardly developed tender-heartedness, and the performing of it is first and chiefly toward God. It is the attitude in which we accept God's will toward us as good, and thus without disputing or resisting.

Since true meekness is before God, we realize He permits and uses the insults and injuries that the world or others in the church may inflict for our chastening and purification.

Be encouraged in Jesus in all that you go through!

(Biblical Studies)


Blessed are the Meek

Put on therefore, as the elect of god, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies kindness humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering
. (Colossians 3:12)

 the example of Jesus, He was fully persuaded in His purpose and walked this earth in confidence yet He was not puffed up in who He was.  He was humble before God and man.   

is an elusive virtue that few can accurately define. Most definitions are vague on its meaning, and many people equate it to weakness. God praises Moses for being the meekest man of his time 

(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)   (Numbers 12:3). 

Though one of the greatest leaders in human history, he thought of himself as a servant in relationship to God and as such, he quietly and gently submitted to God's will. He refused to elevate his own importance over that of God, exercising his authority in humility.

Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit that seems very much lost in our aggressive, self-centered culture. Because people associate it with weakness, most today do not admire others for being "meek," but as we shall see, it is not what they assume. It is a quality of character very noticeable in the greatest human being ever to grace this earth—and one that all of us sorely need today.

A modern English dictionary or thesaurus makes it clear why meekness is associated with weakness. Notice its synonyms as listed in the Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Word Finder: tame, timid, mild, bland, unambitious, retiring, weak, docile, acquiescent, repressed, suppressed, spiritless, broken, and wimpish. Not a single one of these words applies to Jesus Christ or even to Moses. Do these terms describe the warrior-king David, a man greatly beloved by God? Or Apostle Paul, the fearless and tireless apostle, who courageously faced his share and more of dangerous, painful persecutions? No, yet once we understand what biblical meekness is, we can easily see that these men were indeed meek.

If we look at our world today, we can generally agree that modern man lacks this godly attribute. Meekness, being a fruit of the Spirit, is an attribute of God Almighty Himself and important to our being in His image and a true witness. Indeed, this characteristic will largely determine how much peace and contentment are in our lives and how well we do during trials.

So then, here is another example of the contrasts between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world.  The first thing you should know about this attribute is that meekness is controlled strength. Meekness is to be the method used in restoring a backslider. A backslider is one who goes back into a life of sin after having received Jesus as Savior:

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. (Colossians 3:12-13)

Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

Meekness keeps unity in the church.  Apostle Paul admonishes us:

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Meekness should be used in dealing with all men:

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. (II Timothy 2:24-25)

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. (Titus 3:2)

You are to receive God's Word with meekness:

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.         (James 1:21)

A wise man is a meek man:

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)

Believers are encouraged to seek this quality of meekness:

Put on therefore, as the elect of god, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies kindness humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. (Colossians 3:12)

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (I Timothy 6:11)

Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness... (Zephaniah 2:3)

The bible tells us,

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.  (Matthew 5:5)

There is much to be said about being meek.  God's children are to be humble, not puffed up in pride, boastful, condescending, disdainful of others; not their brothers and sisters in Christ nor to the world.  Knowing your purpose in God and having your faith in God that He will accomplish His will in your life should give you confidence, not conceitedness.  

Let us strive to treat others in love and humility.  After all, Jesus said by this all men will know . . .

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  (John 13:35)

(Biblical Studies)

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Word on Faith

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

The word of God has much to be said on faith:

Matthew 17:20

"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, 'Remove hence to yonder place;' and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Matthew 21:22

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Mark 9:23

"Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth'."

Mark 11:24

"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Romans 4:20-21

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith giving glory to God;"
"And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Romans 10:17

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Ephesians 6:16

"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

Hebrews 11:6

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

God's Goodness; Better Than Our Good

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
(Psalms 27:13)

God, being the standard of goodness, is unlimited in its description and its impact on the lives of everyone. The works of God are good because they reveal His attributes of wisdom and power.

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Mark 10:18

Have you ever noticed the wide and sometimes even careless use we make of the word "good"? We use it so frequently that we do so almost without thinking. Yet a thing or experience you might consider good, someone else will consider only fair, poor or even bad or evil! "Good" has implications of some degree of excellence. What varies is the precise degree of excellence that lies unexpressed, hidden in the heart, when we use "good" as a sweeping generality.

The common idea in almost all of its uses is that it suggests a desirable quality, something commendable, reliable, welcome, enjoyable, beneficent, kind, noble, admirable, propitious, exemplary and very much welcome. In the word "goodness," the inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, morality and attitude that we see in a person's behavior come to the forefront.

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.  Romans 15:14

The commands of God are good because they express the righteousness of His character, teaching us, and helping us to grow in understanding His goodness.

God's goodness is a fearful attribute, but that fear has a positive effect on us when we obey Him because it produces good spiritual fruit. Those who yield to God's commands profit by it. Apostle Paul told Titus to remind the church to maintain good works:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
 (Titus 3:8)

We do have a personal responsibility in what we do with the goodness that God sends toward us. This seems like a tall order, but God, who is faithful and true, promises to help us with it. This too is part of His wonderful goodness.

 The word of God enlightens and encourages us this way: 

Oh, how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you, which you have prepared for those who trust in you in the presence of the sons of men!  Psalm 31:19

God's commands expresses the moral perfection of His character and shows us how to please Him, while marking out the path of blessings. In our obedience to God's commands He bestows upon us blessings while teaching us how to be good like Him. Just as He loved us first He also showed goodness to us first.

The six declarations in the account of creation week are built around the theme of what is good. Six times it records that "God saw that it was good."

The account culminates in a seventh statement  hat says:

God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.   Genesis 1:31

The apostle Paul spoke of the goodness of God in this way:

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving  I Timothy 4:4

Because of the link between God and His creation, human life in this world is viewed in the Bible as good in principle.

God does not just create things good and then walk away from it, but He continues to maintain it throughout its existence.

Goodness is used in this context to convey the pleasant, joyful, and overwhelmingly positive effect of blessings on the people of Israel after their exile and captivity: 

"Behold, I will bring it [Israel] health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth."
  (Jeremiah 33:6)

A peaceful and secure life is the proverbial good life, with God and people in harmony and people rejoicing in both God and the human blessings that He bestows. The goodness of God is not isolated from life but is the basis for what is good in it.

Some of the good things that are mentioned are obviously moral and spiritual phenomena:

*        Giving thanks to God, being near to God, the hand of God upon a person, 
*       God's statutes and commandments, the promise of God, the godly life, 
*       Doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God,
*       Brethren, dwelling together in unity
*       A word spoken in season 

These are all items mentioned throughout scripture as being good. The list of things keeps expanding into less obviously spiritual areas of life. A pasture can be good, for example. So can the work of building a wall and finding a spouse. Brethren, dwelling together in unity is good as is a word spoken in season. So are eating, drinking and finding enjoyment in work; wisdom and a conscience free from guilt. So, we see there that the word goodness, the adjective 'good', covers a wide spectrum of areas of life. Any area that God has an impact, which is everything, is impacted by God's goodness.

The English word "goodness" includes many pleasing qualities. It is more than an excellence of character; it is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Goodness does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. Thus God can correct, sometimes very severely, and it is still goodness in action. Thus parents can correct their child, and it is good because it helps produce a responsible adult. 

 Apostle Paul provides a clear sense of this: 

Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Romans 15:14 

Paul links goodness with full knowledge and admonition of each other. This gives us insight into what he knew of and expected from Christians in Rome, placing before us a target to shoot for in our relationships within the fellowship of the church. Goodness is acts of holiness or righteousness. Goodness is a quality of God:

Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. (Psalms 52:1)
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men.
 (Psalms 107:8,15,21,31)

My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and He in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
 (Psalms 144:2)

The goodness of God is shown to sinners to lead them to repentance:

Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

King David said that he would have fainted had it not been for the goodness of God:

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalms 27:13)

David said God's goodness is laid up for us:

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men. (Psalms 31:19)

As a believer, the goodness and mercy of God follows you:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.   (Psalms 23:6)

Did you know knowledge combined with vanity can spew a torrent of self-righteous offense, but goodness will hold such a display in check and guide knowledge to build up rather than destroy. Biblical goodness is always, under every circumstance, beneficial. Though he had not yet been to Rome at the writing of his epistle, Apostle Paul evidently understood that he was writing to an unusually strong congregation. He was so confident that they had a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing that he wrote that they were "full of goodness [and] filled with all knowledge." They were far different from the recipients of Hebrew, whom he tells, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God": 

For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God's utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food.
(Hebrews 5:12)

The Romans' full knowledge was an intelligent and comprehensive understanding of the faith and Christian responsibility. Strong faith is not built on weak understanding. They had given honest, serious thought to applying their faith to the sometimes bewildering tangle of life in this world. They were living it.

These two qualities—goodness and knowledge combined—presents a sound vehicle for instructing us in the best ways to "walk the walk" despite the pulls of this world. Goodness provides the right disposition and motivation, and knowledge, and the correct instruction. One devoid of the necessary knowledge cannot teach; anyone destitute of goodness will not even try because he lacks the impulse to help others in the right spirit. Even if he makes the effort, only a spirit marked by active love; another fruit of the spirit,  will win the response without which no true education in God's way is possible.

(Biblical Studies)



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If It Walks Like A Duck . . .

For there are certain men crept in unawares , who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jude 1:4

In this day and age, if you are standing on the word of God, the enemy will try everything in his arsenal to trick you up.  But God, in his infinite wisdom, has alerted us of that which we should be savvy.  Namely, we have to know those that labor among us.  When you see these things, we have to act to dispel the enemy quickly.  

When King Solomon was anointed king, in a a conversation with God he asked for understanding that he may be able to discern between good and bad:

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?  1 King 3:9

Those that love and fear (reverence) our Heavenly Father, who are filled with His Holy Spirit, we are given a certain measure of discernment:

Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.    Malachi 3:18

There is a seriousness to representing God and misrepresenting God:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.  And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death ; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.  Deuteronomy 13:1-5

The power of the Holy Spirit gives us a measure of discernment which, as we build up our most holy faith in God, we are to be able to discern between the righteous and the unrighteous or the unrighteous intentions behind the seemingly good actions.

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.
 Hebrews 5:14

As believers in Christ, we should always be on the look out and on guard for those that desire to pervert the word of God, for those that use the word of God for their own selfish needs, of apostles, pastors, prophets, evangelists and teachers who speak only of prosperity with little or no emphasis on the good news of our Lord and Savior and the plan of salvation, and for those that excuse, justify or condone actions that are contrary to the word of God.

Jude 1 tells us expressly what to look for:  

*  Their walk:

            A. Crept in unawares (verse 4).
            B. Walking after their own lusts (verse 6).
            C. Walking after their own ungodly lusts (verse 18).

*     Their talk:

            A. Speak evil of dignities (verses 8-10).
            B. Speak evil of things they know not (verses 8-10).
            C. Murmurers (verse 16).
            D. Complainers (verse 16).
            E. Mouths speak great swelling words (verse 16).
            F. Mockers (verse 18).

*    Their doctrine:

            A. Turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (verse 4).
            B. Deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 4).
            C. Have not the Spirit (verse 19).

*      Their conduct:

            A. Ungodly (verse 4).
            B. Filthy dreamers (verse 8).
            C. Defile the flesh (verse 8).
            D. Despise dominion (verses 8-10).
            E. Corrupt what they naturally know (verses 8-10).
            F. Admire people because of the benefit they receive (verse 16).
            G. Separate themselves (verse 19).
            H. Live sensually (verse 19).

Thankfully, God always makes provision and also lets us know what to do.   He lets us know through His word how we are to keep ourselves protected when we see or experience the enemy in these forms:

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Hold fast to God and be fully persuaded in your faith and your relationship with God.  Jude 1: 20-23

Always remember, if it's not found, it is not sound!  If you can't find what is being expressed or taught in scripture; it is not of God.  God's word should back everything we say; should be the basis for not only what we say but also what we do.

(Biblical Studies)