Archive for November, 2015

Confidence in Approaching God

November 30, 2015

Several days ago, my wife and I had one of those long, deep conversations that spanned many subjects. As I attempted to weave together a common thread, I was at a loss. I am the type of person that I want a take-away, an action step, a plan. Today, God has given me one. My wife made a comparison to express one of her thoughts. She talked about not knowing about a drought would impact how one would value the rain. Without knowing a drought, one would devalue the rain assigning it to a mere nuisance.

As I read this morning, I was focusing on another statement in 1 John 5. God had me to go back to the text to see one of those drought situations. It has to do with our Confidence in Approaching God. The average person who does not go to church or does know that much about God rarely considers approaching God. Well, that was at least true in my life before God called me to life through Christ Jesus. The average Christian does not think much about approaching God.

Do you think about about the possibility of dying as a function of your Confidence in Approaching God? More than likely, you do not. Before we can develop a greater Confidence in Approaching God, we must recall the drought if you will in approaching God.

In the Old Testament during the time of the priests, the common Israelite did dare go into the Tent of Meeting to talk with God when you wanted and how you wanted. Like Aaron’s sons, you could have been killed for coming to God in an unprescribed way. You could not come to speak to God at a whim or when you desired. Furthermore, communication with God was primarily designated to the priests. Atonement of sins was designated to the priest as they came before the presence of God. Much of what I am saying is outlined in Leviticus.

There were a myriad of regulations that one who approached God had to follow. Praise God for Jesus “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.”(Hebrews 7:24 ) It is through Christ that we can approach God without having to sacrifice an animal, Jesus is the sacrifice; without having a specified time when we could approach Him; without having to be a direct descendant of Aaron.  As such, any one who surrenders to Jesus as Savior and Lord “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”1 Peter 2:5 It is through Christ that we can approach God without having to sacrifice an animal, Jesus is the sacrifice; without having a specified time when we could approach Him; without having to be a direct descendant of Aaron.

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

As such, our Confidence in Approaching God is solely based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is rightly relating to Christ as Savior and Lord that gives us Confidence in Approaching God.  First through Christ, we can approach God; we know God hears us. We know God will grant us what we request when our request is in concert with His will. We have an assurance of answered prayer when we come before God through Jesus Christ. He will say Yes, No, or Wait. 2 Corinthians 1 tells us “18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,

He anointed me to serve as one who would encourage the heart to stand firm or even be drawn near to Christ. Even as I wrote this, God made our Confidence in Approach God real. This is a message I received from a person I work with this morning. “please pray for me.  My spirit-o-meter feels broken today and feeling in a state of depression…I almost took a mental health day but I decided not to…just down in the dumps.   Sorry to inconvenience you this  morning…but I know you genuinely care not only about your staff” My priesthood came into effect. I was able to pray for this person and offer this person some scriptures to encourage this person’s heart.

I know God desires this person to be drawn near to Him. I know God desires for this person to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I know God desires to evidence His power in this person’s life, so this person will know that there is one true God and Jehovah is He. I know God assigned good work in advance for me to do today. What a great way to start my day. Hallelujah. This is an example of why we don’t need Thanksgiving to be thankful. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.Psalm 107:1

I’ll Write a Song For You

November 28, 2015

In the song I’ll Write a Song For You by Earth Wind and Fire, writers Philip Bailey, Al McKay, and Steve Beckmeier had the notion of love on their minds. The notion of what love means is exchanged in verses of the song. People write for many reasons. Letters are/were written to communicate the penner’s thoughts at that moment. Poems are written to note ideas or to encourage one’s heart. There is always a purpose when one writes a song, a letter, a poem or some other form of written communication. 

Similarly, John tells the readers many times why he wrote 1 John. Listen to what John tells them as he explains his reason for I’ll Write a Song For You. 

We write this to make our joy complete.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. Iwrite to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

As John concludes this letter in 1 John 5:13, He is explicit in telling us why he wrote the text. He says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” John has outlined some indicators for those who claim to follow Jesus. While no knows the thoughts of a man except the man and God, John gives believers some indicators of whose faith may be authentic and whose isn’t.

He wants them to have an assurance or confidence that their faith is genuine resulting in an eternity spent with God rather than an eternity separated from God. As such, John goes on to tell us about who Jesus is, what Jesus did for man, and how many must interact with God through Jesus. Likewise, John wants us to be informed of our walk or those around who claim to follow Jesus.

John’s I’ll Write a Song For You is designed to give us an assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Have you trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior in order for you to have eternal life?

Who Has Eternal Life?

November 25, 2015

Okay, let me settle something right now. Almost every person I have met and discussed life after death desires it. I have only met two people in my life who purported that they believe we die and that’s it. There is nothing after death. I submit to you that humans are eternal beings. God created us in His image. One of the attributes of God is that He is eternal. As someone has said God is the great I am, not the great I was! A.W. Tozer adds that “In God there is no was or will be, but  continuous and unbroken is. In Him history and prophecy are one and the same. Whatever God is He is indefinitely.” Genesis 1 tell us…. Anyone existing before time began at the creation is eternal. As an extension of His being when He created us in His likeness, God intended for man to be eternal. In fact, Genesis 2 tells us “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Adam had the choice to eat of the tree of life or from the tree of death.

Like Adam, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the choice of life and death has been restored to man. Through the Word of God, we can easily answer the question of Who Has Eternal Life?

1 John 5

We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Before we address what John said in 1 John 5, let’s see how other texts answer the question of Who Has Eternal Life?

John 3:15 – 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

John 3:16 – 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:36 – 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 5:24 – 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

John 6:47 – 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.

John 20:31 – 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Matthew 25:46 – 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Daniel 12:2 – Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Acts 24:15 – 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Romans 2:7-8 – To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Galatians 6:8 – Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Who Has Eternal Life?  God answers that question throughout the Word of God. Now, we see John, after penning the gospel of John, writing this epistle. His conclusions are the same. After all, we know that God inspired this writing as well as all scripture.

In 1 John 5, John’s assessment of Who Has Eternal Life? is consistent with all scripture and leads to the same answer.

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

If you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and evidence your belief through obedience to the scriptures, you do not have life because you do not have Jesus. John said, “10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. ” To reiterate, He who denies that Jesus is the Son of God who is the only one who can bring atonement for sin through His birth, death and resurrection is the one who does not have eternal life. He will go away to eternal punishment.

Here are other post related to eternal life.

Why God Desires Obedience and Fear

November 23, 2015

In reality, no one likes to be told what to do and how to do it. It is that innate nature that is convinced that I know better. While there are some who may know more than another, most people have convinced themselves that they beat the average. Man holds to this position even when it comes to the Lord of all creation – the triune God.

Considering that God is omniscient, I wondered Why God Desires Obedience and Fear. The bible is filled with verses that talk about obedience to God and the fear of the Lord. Search any online bible and there will be a multitude of verses that relate to obedience and fear. The answer to Why God Desires Obedience and Fear is there, but some may get lost in all of the reading.

Today, I want to share a verse that succinctly and thoroughly answers the question of Why God Desires Obedience and Fear. Let’s go to the Word of God to see what God says about Why God Desires Obedience and Fear. 

Deuteronomy 6:24-25

24 And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.25 Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ (NKJV)

24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear theLord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. (NIV)

For verses 24 and 25, I have read and understood the context of the communication God was having with His people. God was telling the parents i.e. one generation what must be done for their children i.e. the next generation to continue on relating correctly and positively with Him. If parents wanted their children to experience the same relationship and blessings from knowing the Almighty God, they must obey God’s Word and fear (revere) God for who He is.

In regards to Why God Desires Obedience and Fear, verse 24 conveys that obedience and fear maintains the prosperity and life their parents experience. The prosperity though is the personal relationship with God – seeing God protect and intervene on our behalf in our journey in life to the ultimate promise land – life eternal with Him. As a parent, it is clear that I must teach my children what God expects and who God is in order to pass along the blessing of knowing God to my children. Knowing God is an active pursuit not a passive one. We must be involved with experiencing God in our daily lives through following and obeying Him.

Again as it relates to Why God Desires Obedience and Fearverse 25 conveys that our righteous is not by simply obeying God. For what person can keep every command of God save Christ. While God expects perfect obedience, He knew that man would not be able to attain it; therefore, He sent Jesus as the atoning sacrifice which was perfect. Remember what John the Baptist said when he encountered Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” In reference to Jesus, Acts 4:12 tells us that “12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that man can be truly declared righteous. Romans 3:20-24 says, “20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Why God Desires Obedience and Fear is to enable man to be justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by faith in Christ Jesus. We show our faith in Christ by demonstrating it in obedience and fear, reverence, to who He is and what He has done. The simple answer to Why God Desires Obedience and Fear is to give us life, life eternal. What will you do today? Will you obey and fear Jesus Christ?

The By-Product of Being Born of God

November 19, 2015

When the process of making one thing results in a second product as well, that second thing is called a by-product. Molasses, for example, is a by-product of refining sugar. Food production results in many by-products: wheat germ is a by-product of wheat milling, and orange and lemon oil are by-products of citrus fruit being processed into juice. Sawdust is a by-product of the lumber industry, and feathers are a by-product of poultry processing. In each of these cases, the byproduct is important and useful, but secondary to the initial product. (vocabulary.com)

As I have shared multiple times, the physical world is a parallel of the spiritual. Of the many by-products revealed in the bible, John gives The By-Product of Being Born of God. John speaks of being born of God throughout this epistle. We see this clearly in 1 John 5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God:by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Belief in God is The By-Product of Being Born of God.
Love is The By-Product of Being Born of God.
Being a child of God is The By-Product of Being Born of God
Obedience is The By-Product of Being Born of God.
Pleasure in doing God’s will is The By-Product of Being Born of God.
Overcoming the World is The By-Product of Being Born of God.
Victory is The By-Product of Being Born of God.

Since all of those are The By-Product of Being Born of God, why wouldn’t we want to be born of God. 1 Peter 1 tells us

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus as Lord and Savior, simply give control of your life to Him. How you think, what you say, what you do must be guided and aligned with His Word. When you do, you will experienceThe By-Product of Being Born of God. Hallelujah.

 

To Whom Are You Listening?

November 17, 2015

Last week, I was in a training where the facilitator was talking about students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). She talked about “white noise” which is defined as a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing (generally from 20 hertz to 20 kHz) in equal amounts. In a less technical manner, white noise, according to m-w.com, is a constant noise (such as that the noise from a television or radio that is turned on but is not receiving a clear signal) that is a mixture of many different sound waves. Essentially, it is background sounds. For those who struggle with ADD, they hear those sounds in equal frequencies and volumes.

For those with ADD, white noise is a distraction that inhibits the person’s ability to listen or focus intently. Similarly in life, we have many people or entities vying for our attention. In those cases, it vital that we are listening to the right voices. It makes me ask To Whom Are You Listening? 

In the post My Sheep Listen to My Voice, I highlighted that Jesus addressed the question of To Whom Are You Listening?  In John 10:27 Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” I have heard you Lord Jesus. I trust you to keep me in the faith – to protect me from all that assails me even my own fears. God’s message is that even though one might be hemmed in God keeps us all, but for the believer, there is the assurance that we have been brought into the fold. The sheep may threaten but he cannot be devoured for He has laid down His life to ensure my heavenly deliverance.

Fear, doubt, unbelief are the spiritual white noises. We have the Word of God to instruct us. Like Jesus, John speaks about the matter of To Whom Are You Listening?  in 1 John 4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

John, who was with Jesus when He made the statement in John 10, is telling us that God put His Spirit in every believer to hear from God. In response to To Whom Are You Listening?, John submits that it should only be the Holy Spirit that is if you have the Spirit of God living in you. Remember Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Spirit of God does not live in you. Romans 8 tells us “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” For those without Christ, To Whom Are You Listening is answered. You are listening to your flesh – that is you make decisions based on self and not God. You are wrapped up in pleasing yourself or others but God is not the priority in your decisions or life. Psalm 10:4 says, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

In Exodus 7:16, God told Pharaoh ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. Pharaoh, like all who do not listen to God, met an unfortunate end. Is there room for God in your life? If so, surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

For the believer, Remember 2 Kings 17:13-15
13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”

14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”

To Whom Are You Listening, it makes all the difference!

 

 

You Have Overcome the Antichrist

November 16, 2015

In the post Testing the Spirits, it was shared that God expects us to test, examine, prove, scrutinize to see whether a spirit is genuine or not. Those spirits that are not aligned with Christ are called the antichrist. Remember in 1 John 1:22, John says, “22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.”While God tells us to test the spirits, He gives us a great assurance – You Have Overcome the Antichrist.

1 John 4:4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

It is clear that we have overcome, that is have victory over death, through being united with God through Christ. It is through Christ and Christ alone that it can be said that You Have Overcome the Antichrist (Ro 8:37; 1Jn 4:4; 5:4; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7). The person, whether through what is said or done, who is the antichrist is one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Through other text as well as in 1 John 3:24, we know that the Holy Spirit lives in or indwells the true follower of Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit that we have and will overcome people who deny Jesus as the Christ. This is why John says “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” God is greater than satan or any of satan’s spirits.

No we know that satan is more cunning and power than we are, but with the Spirit living in us, we have the wisdom of God and can outwit satan if we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey the Holy Spirits. As such, we have nothing to fear. John presupposes that we are obedient. Consequently, he is telling us we have nothing to fear from persons who deny Jesus is the Christ. Perhaps the greatest secondary benefit from being saved or redeemed is the peace of God.

Jesus laid the foundation for You Have Overcome the Antichrist in John 16. He was sharing with His disciples that He would have to leave this world, but He would not leave them alone. Jesus told them “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” Jesus was sending the Spirit of truth for His disciples. In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Paul reaffirms that when he said, “21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

John tells us what Jesus told him – You Have Overcome the Antichrist. John reiterates Jesus’ exclamatory declaration in John 16:33 where He says, 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” When John said “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them”, he was saying be at peace because you have Jesus’ peace despite the trouble you will have in this world.

Is that what all of us are clamoring for – peace. Jesus and John declare that peace is obtained by becoming a child of God. In fact, John called the followers of Christ – dear children. When something is dear, it is truly and deeply loved where one goes the extra mile. Our triune God went the extra mile in obtaining our redemption, the salvation of our souls. It is through this redemption that You Have Overcome the Antichrist. Trust and follow Jesus, so you too can overcome the world.

Testing the Spirits

November 13, 2015

In the post Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits, I shared in Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” In effect, Jesus was calling us to delve deeper than surface claims about one belonging to or following Him. John reiterated what Jesus had laid as a foundation for testing, examining, proving, scrutinizing whether a spirit is true to Christ or not.

The starting point for testing, examining, proving, scrutinizing whether a spirit is true to Christ or not is the Word of God. We must hear, read, study, memorize, meditate on the Word. When we do and we belong to Christ, the Spirit of God, who lives in every follower of Christ, will guide you into all the truth. Ingesting the Word of God is essential to not only Testing the Spirits but also to spiritual survival.

Testing the Spirits has another component that is requisite in fulfilling Jesus’ mandate to test, examine, prove, scrutinize to see whether a spirit is genuine or not. John reveals this in our text.

1 John 4:1-3

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

In Testing the Spirits, John calls for us to have discernment. He said “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God…every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” Now, we see the importance of the Word. It serves as the standard for which a persons actions must be measured. Remember Paul told us “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:11 Since we do not know a person’s thoughts or motives, we must evaluate their actions against the standard – The Word of God.

When the verse says “this is how you can recognize the Spirit of God” the one who acknowledges the incarnate Christ is from God is not merely a verbal acknowledgement. We all accept the saying actions speak louder than words. There is a biblical principle from which that saying has its origins. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” In Galatians 5:19-25, Paul also tells us that

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (NKJV)

One who has surrendered to Christ as Lord and Savior will have characteristics or attributes of Christ emerging from his actions. We must be able to look at one’s actions in comparison to the Word of God. While we are not able to know the thoughts of a man, we can discern them from his actions. What man or woman can totally hide their motives from their actions especially from God? None. This all the more why Peter said, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

We must look objectively as we begin Testing the Spirits. Their actions must follow the fruits of the Spirit as well as the Word of God in order for the spirit to pass the biblical test. Your welfare and possibly your eternal estate depend on your willingness to test the spirits that come your way. May the Almighty God give us understanding, so that we may keep His law and obey it with all our hearts. Psalm 119:34 May our loving God who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—do so.

“24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” – Jude 1:24-25

Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits

November 12, 2015

In the post Do You Belong to the Truth?, the goal was to assess the authenticity of one’s commitment to follow Christ. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” In doing so, Jesus not only addressed our own personal commitment, but He also addressed the commitment of those whom we may interact or follow.

Jesus’ barometer to measure the authenticity of one proclaiming to follow Him is not what one says, but what one does. Our actions or our life reveal our theology. Thank you Pastor Robert Benson for that nudge of insight to say that succinctly. During bible study last night, we discussed false teachers in connection with several texts we have been exploring at church. One prominent church leader arose. As I moved to the next passage for my devotion today, that same notion of authenticity challenged me again – Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits. Listen to what John said in 1 John 4:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

John, as an Apostle of Christ, reiterated the precepts of Jesus. Jesus said the one who does the will of His Father is the one who sees Him as Lord. He is the true believer. Similarly, John said “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” In essence, John was saying don’t believe what people tell you. Look deeper. Look at their actions. Actions reveal one’s motivation or heart.

The word used for test/try in verse one of our text is dokimazō (do-kē-mä’-zō). Dokimazō means to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals. Pyrite and cubic zirconia may appear to be gold and diamonds, but after examining the properties or characteristics of those materials, one can determine if they are authentic or not. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.” Jesus and John warned us not to believe every spirit. Because someone demonstrates some spiritual power, we must test the demonstration of the power to verify the authenticity of the spirit i.e. man or woman. John outlines that for us when he said Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits.

How do we Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits1 Corinthians 14:29 tells us to let others judge and 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 tells us to test them all and to hold on to that which is good. All believers are responsible for testing the spirits to determine if it is of God. Furthermore, Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” If you do not know the Word of God, you are seriously handicapped in testing the spirit. We are told that there have been many false prophets that have gone out into the world.

Who are you listening to without checking what he/she has said against the Word of God? David said, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9 and “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 Commit to the Word of God to follow John’s admonition Do Not Believe Every Spirit, but Test the Spirits?

congregation.

Do You Belong to the Truth?

November 10, 2015

As a child, my mother used a lot of analogies to make her point. As all parents do, she discussed the importance of telling the truth in comparison to telling a lie. When we were talking about truth and lies, my mother once said telling a white lie like a woman being a little pregnant. The point was that a woman is either pregnant or not. There is no gray area in regards to pregnancy, and in her mind, there was no gray area in telling the truth.

She would ask me if I would be known as one who told the truth or one who told lies. The Apostle John asked the same thing in our passage today. He asked Do You Belong to the Truth?

I John 3

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.

The answer to Do You Belong to the Truth? in the passage seems simple, but that is far from the truth. On the surface, the answer seemingly is in the heart of a man save the phrase “in his presence”. Left to ourselves, we can determine that we are truthful despite knowing that we are lying. In saying if our hearts condemn us, John is really saying that the Spirit of God, who lives in us, is telling us that we are wrong. If our hearts don’t condemn us, the Spirit of God is telling us that we are not wrong or have not violated the will of God. John links the notion of Do You Belong to the Truth? to what he had said in verse 9 which is  “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” John answered the question by saying the presence of the Spirit of God in us as well as our actions determine whether we belong to the truth.

 

Similarly, Jesus addressed Do You Belong to the Truth? too. Listen to what He said in the following passages.

John 7:17-18
17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

John 8:31-32
He also said, “31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:16-17
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Jesus commentary on whether you belong to the truth is answered in many places; however, these verses ask do you seek the glory of God or yourself; are you holding to the teaching of Jesus i.e. are you following and living out His Word in your life; are you evaluating yourself according to who your Father is, The Heavenly Father or the Father of Lies, satan; are you trying to get to God through other means than Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life; is the Holy Spirit living inside of you; is the Spirit guiding you into all truth. All of these are Jesus’ indicators in answering Do You Belong to the Truth?

Do You Belong to the Truth? Whether from Jesus or John, you must assess yourself like my mom said. You can’t be a little pregnant. You either belong to Jesus or you do not. If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus as Savior and Lord, then you do not belong to Him. John told us that in John 1:12. Where are you? On the side of truth (Jesus) or on the side of lies (satan). Your actions will reveal where you lie.

More about the truth.