30 November, 2012
Ephesians 3:17 “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love”
In the Ephesians’s letters we can clearly see through the eyes of Paul and his writing how the Church was flourishing in their walk as Christians. By contrast, he was constantly worrying about the Galatians to the point where in 3:1 he called them foolish Galatians. Paul was in travail for them and needed to encourage those foolish Galatians to continue in their walk until Christ was formed in them. (4:19) It is a big contrast here when we read his letters to the Ephesians Church. He was pleased with them and throughout the book of Ephesians his goal was to reinforce and strengthen them in their steadfast walk. His prayer for them shows that he knew Christ was formed in them. Each one of them was a light in the world and together as a Church they were striving in the midst of difficulties. They had the truth in them, so the false prophets were not making a dent. They had the wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s power so they were able to test any “prophets or apostles” amongst them.
I will not go into details with the Ephesians Church that had prompted those letters from Paul. Suffice to say if we read Revelation 2:1-7. John was in his nineties when he wrote the book of revelation while he was a prisoner on the Patmos Island. This background gives you a good idea as to how long the Church was in existence before they went cold. Revelation 2:1-7: "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
We see the Christians in Ephesus were able at one point to be pleasing to God and to Paul. According to what we read they were rooted and grounded in Him. What does it mean then to be rooted and grounded in Him? Well, there is no need for me to use my words here because Scriptures tell us what it means when we read Ephesians 3: 16-19 “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Now, isn’t that beautiful, the abundance of this life in Him and in the inner man (soul) strengthened by Him. Can you imagine what it means to comprehend the depth of the love of Christ, to see it with your spiritual eyes, and grasp it with your soul? Can you see the beauty of the riches we have in Him? Being strengthened to persevere and endure this life and to actually have Christ dwells in your heart? Can you truly grasp all of it with your soul and spirit? Do you truly possess these blessings in Him, right now as a corporate Church and also individually?
How do we know Christ dwells in our hearts? The scriptures tell us in John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Once again we see that Christ posed some conditions here. This goes beyond saying the sinner’s prayer. We are to love Him and obey His teaching meaning His ordinances. There is no doubt here that He also manifests Himself to those who love Him and they experience His grace and oneness even at a higher level. Often we misunderstand some passages in the Scriptures that are crucial to salvation because they look like work and since salvation is by grace we dismiss them as if we can get by, without them being part of our toolkit in our walk with Him. The misunderstanding comes mainly from lack of knowing Him first hand. So, in our toolkit, we do not have all that we need to go on being rooted, grounded and settled in Him. What we do not realize is that the work is done by the Holy Spirit. It is simply the continuance of the salvation we claim to have received, working in us by grace through faith.
Christ promising to make His abode with the father in the heart that loves Him is more than a passing phase. This oneness and this manifestation of Him will be a lifestyle as long as we keep loving Him and keep honoring His ordinances at the highest esteem of who we are in Him. Now, we know the downside of not keeping our part of the deal. It is right there in black and white in Revelation 2: 1-7. We see the Ephesians Church fell in love with Him at first, and now God told them they left their first love. When Christ dwells in your heart you cannot help but set your affections on things above as you practice His continual presence. All it takes on our part is to keep being committed to the faith no matter what life throws at us. Our job is simply to keep trusting and keep focussing on Him. And yes, this is easier said than done. Yet, He holds us responsible for it. Even if we want to ignore thousands of verses in the bible, through our spiritual blindness, the message sent to the Ephesus Church tells us that it is hard to keep following but we have to make sure we remain steadfast.
I read a sermon online where the pastor said in regard to Revelation 2: 1-7 the message was for the Church that does not mean the salvation of the Christians there, were in danger with God. This tells me this pastor’s definition of salvation is so narrow that God cannot make a dent in him. How deep can you be inside of Satan’s belly to say something like that? This pastor could easily have said God sent the message to the building. Yes, the message was addressed to the corporate Church and I have no doubt that most of those whom Paul had written to earlier where dead or old. So the flame must have been passed on to their children and other younger generations who made up the Church. But, the Church is not the building; it is us who makes up the corporate Church. We along with our leaders (mainly the leaders) in the Church set the tone that defines our walk with Him and the direction of our worship of Him.
Why do we need to be rooted? This is simple. Christ warned us as to what happened when we are not rooted in Him, in the parable of the sower. We do not have to use our imagination to know that a tree that never takes roots eventually dies. We do not get rooted in Him by living second hand Christianity either. Without being rooted and grounded in Him there is no solid foundation. Being rooted says that we have faith and we chose to continue this path He put us on. It means we have grown pass our feel good Christianity, pass head knowledge, misguided zeal, eloquence, past our experiences and opened our lives completely to Him. We do not get rooted while walking in the flesh so being rooted in Him is also an indication we are walking in the Spirit. Once again being rooted in Him is a job done inside of us by the Holy Spirit. It is once again the continuance of the salvation we have received.
It means we are standing on the only sure thing in this world that will never let us down which is God’s Word, and it is the only foundation we recognize to build onto our Christian community. When we are rooted, grounded and settled in Him, we have become unmovable. Even when the herd goes all in one direction with no clear goal, we do not mind standing alone. Our job is to remain loyal to Him and not to flinch because He has become your source of life and wisdom. Beloved, misery loves company and people who are living shallow Christianity in their head will do everything in their powers to keep you down with them. The more people they convince simply prove to them that they are right and do not have to go deeper apprehending. But remember, comes judgement day you will be alone to answer for yourself. So chose wisely whom you want to serve, God or man.
I hope you will be able to read this and ask yourself this: Are you truly rooted and grounded in Him.
Please read my book Apprehended & Apprehending with the subtitle: Soaring in the wilderness with God
If you wish to continue with this study, you can go to Amazon and get yourself a book for only $5.95. The Content of the book is worth way much more than $5.95. But if honestly you know money is an issue for you, then please get in touch with me and I will get you a coupon from Smashwords to allow you to get yourself a copy of the book, dirt cheap. Feel free to contact me at brokenness70 at gmail dot.com
In His Agape Love,
29 November, 2012
Sometimes, I like posting other people's writings because I can identify with them. We have the same message because we have learned directly from the Holy Spirit. I had one of Oswald Chambers devotional book for about 9 years. While I had great respect for his writings but I could not truly understand what he was talking about and where all these things were coming from. At one point I had to admit to myself that he had a great relationship with Christ, but I dismissed it with words like " this is his life, his walk and his things"so I kept reading him like some sort of historian that I admired. After the Holy Spirit led me to the wilderness to become His favorite rag doll that’s when all of the sudden I knew exactly what he was talking about. I could identify with each page.
As I started identifying with Oswald’s writing something sad occurred. Pastors and mentors that I used to admire for their eloquence and their knowledge, faded away. People that I used to think were so knowledgeable when I was not deep in Christ, all of the sudden I could see how much they knew nothing about Him and how shallow their teachings have always been. Make no mistake it is a sad realization because you are losing your heroes and you find it is hard to let go.
As time went by, the Holy Spirit healed my heart and filled it up with His love. He made me understand that it is all part of this walk. It is the act of being set apart for His glory. It is part of being detached from the world. And it is also what it means to be part of the remnant He keeps for Himself. When I understood that, I found a new love for these people that I was leaving behind. I will forever be grateful to them, because God has used them in my life. I love them dearly and the only way I could ever repay them is by praying for them, always.
So, while Oswald Chambers died in November 1917 these words of his are more real than ever. The Church has not improved, instead things have gotten worse. Every word in today’s devotion is still right for today’s Christians but on a larger scale. So, I am leaving you with Oswald’s own word on Christ supremacy. May the Spirit of truth help you understand these words as you open your heart to Him. I pray that He would help you let go of resistance, pride, ignorance and stubbornness in your heart as you break down in repentance.
The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “That is the work of God Almighty!” Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.
The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration— no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that He is our pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Savior long before He is the pattern. Today He is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God!
Jesus said, “. . . when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, . . . He will glorify Me . . .” (John 16:13-14). When I commit myself to the revealed truth of the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, who then begins interpreting to me what Jesus did. The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.
28 November, 2012
Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee."
At the very time when the Chaldeans surrounded Jerusalem, and when the sword, famine and pestilence had desolated the land, Jeremiah was commanded by God to purchase a field, and have the deed of transfer legally sealed and witnessed. This was a strange purchase for a rational man to make. Prudence could not justify it, for it was buying with scarcely a probability that the person purchasing could ever enjoy the possession. But it was enough for Jeremiah that his God had bidden him, for well he knew that God will be justified of all his children. He reasoned thus: "Ah, Lord God! thou canst make this plot of ground of use to me; thou canst rid this land of these oppressors; thou canst make me yet sit under my vine and my fig-tree in the heritage which I have bought; for thou didst make the heavens and the earth, and there is nothing too hard for thee." This gave a majesty to the early saints, that they dared to do at God's command things which carnal reason would condemn. Whether it be a Noah who is to build a ship on dry land, an Abraham who is to offer up his only son, or a Moses who is to despise the treasures of Egypt, or a Joshua who is to besiege Jericho seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of rams' horns, they all act upon God's command, contrary to the dictates of carnal reason; and the Lord gives them a rich reward as the result of their obedient faith. Would to God we had in the religion of these modern times a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we should enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers. Let Jeremiah's place of confidence be ours-nothing is too hard for the God that created the heavens and the earth.
27 November, 2012
Georges Matheson who was a devout servant of Christ died in 1906. This man of God talked about three classes in the Christian life. The first group is considered to be people like Matheson himself, Aiden Tozer, John Edwards, J.C. Ryle, Moody, Spurgeon etc. Note that, these people I have listed above are my preferences. These are the type of people the Holy Spirit entrusted me to when I was thirsty for Him. As such I have confidence in who they were in Christ. One that I have learned to admire in our time is Pastor Paul Washer. Him and I seem to have taken one module together from Christ’s University which is Boldness. (Not to be confused with the boldness from the flesh without going through the humility process that He provides through pain and intimacy with Him)
The Church is made up mostly of the invalid ones, those that are on the couch and seem to be in constant need of care. They never outgrow the need to be cared for. The ambulance Corps are those who follow just for the sake of following in spite of being anonymous. There is no glory, there is no spotlight on them, and there is no one who would ever write their memoirs. To begin with they seem to be uninteresting to the naked eyes. These men and women of God are found almost everywhere in every walk of life. Yet they give and keep giving of themselves to the Lord, to be used without hindering Him. While they are in the background, but, God knows who they are. So, I leave you with George Matheson’s own writings and his own words.
May God have mercy on us and bring us to a place where we can all be part of the Ambulance corps.
THE AMBULANCE CORPS.
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. "—Revelation 14: 4.
There are three classes in the Christian Life — the men of the wing, the men of the
couch, and the men of the road. The first are those who fly before ; they are the
pioneers of progress, they are in advance of their fellows. The second are those who
stand still, or rather lie still ; they are the invalids of the human race ; they come not
to minister, but to be ministered unto. The third are those who follow ; they are the am-
bulance corps of humanity; they are the sacrificial souls that come on behind. I think
that these last are the most beautiful
souls of all. They are lovely in St. John
their unobtnisiveness. They do not wish to lead, they would rather be in the rear ; they
come forward only when others are driven backward. They want no glory from the
battle, no wreath for the victory, no honourable mention amid the heroes. They seek
the wounded, the dying, the dead. They anoint for life's burial, they bring spices for
the crucified, they give the cup of cold water they wash the soiled feet. They break the
fall of Adam ; they break the fall of Magdalene. They take in Saul of Tarsus after he
becomes blind. They are attracted by defects, they are lured by every form to
helplessness. They come out to meet the shadows; they go in the track, not of the lark,
but of the nightingale ; they follow the Lamb.
Captain of salvation, put me in the rear of Thine army — with the ambulance corps ! It
is not for the sake of safety that I ask it ; it is not to be relieved from the burden and the
heat of the day that I wish to be in the rear. It is because I think the trouble is greater
there ; it is because I see more room for sacrifice, more chance of doing good. There
are some whom Thou sendest before Thee — angels of the everlasting gospel who fly in
advance over the face of heaven. Speed them, bless them! But I am not fitted to be
one of these ; I am not swift enough, I am not brilliant enough. Put me in a sphere
where swiftness is not wanted, where brilliancy is not required ! Give me the trouble
without the glitter, O Lord ! Let others lead !— I am content to follow. Be Thou my rear-
ward ! Help me to serve Thee in the background! Is it not written, “They that tarry
at home divide the spoil." I cannot fight Thy battles, but I can nurse Thy wounded.
I cannot repel Thy foes, but I can repair Thy fortress. I cannot conduct Thy marches, but
I can succour those who have fainted by the way. Write my name amongst those who
“I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine? Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Sovereign Lord. How can you say, I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals? See how you behaved in the valley consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving—in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her."
The Israelites were lavished by God with the highest privileges. But instead of worship the God who loved and honored them by making them His choice over all the other nations, they became the worst idolaters that existed in their time. They were corrupted to the core and had become useless to God. When we read those verses we see the depth of their denial and the madness of backsliding motion. They left Him, completely disobeyed His Word at all levels and all the facts were against them. They had the audacity to deny who they truly were in the presence of God. They pretended that all their sins of idolatry were not so, and if anything, God is the one who misunderstood.
Isn’t like most of us Christians today? We sin as if God was dead or blind and deaf. We are devoid of reverence for Him. We do not love Him to care enough to become rooted and grounded in the faith. We try to fool Him with ritual and entrench ourselves in service, for His benefits. The worse part of our madness is that true repentance evades us. Most of us are in complete denial of who we truly are when it comes to being Christians. Yet, our actions show what is in our heart which is the incessant need to cover up who we truly are.
If we were true to the faith, and knew how to examine ourselves, we would know and see with our spiritual eyes. The fact that we need to cover up who we truly are and the fact that we still need to wear masks to deal with day to day life and our interactions with other people, should be an indication of how much we need Him and how far we are from being true Christians. There are some of us calling ourselves Christians, yet we upstage Pharaoh with his hardened heart. Sadly, like the Israelites, sin is eating us alive like we have leprosy, yet we have the audacity to make the same claim they made in verse 23 "I am not defiled; I have not gone after other gods.”
How sad? How pathetic to reach such a low state where we think we can convince God otherwise and that He will not be wiser?
PRAYER: Lord, like the Israelites, we messed up really bad. We are running like sheep with no pastures to rest and no shepherd. Lord, pride, blindness, ignorance, and the lust in our hearts are too much to bear. Day in day out, we are committing spiritual suicide with no regards for you. We have reached a point of no return. Please shake us up, do what needs to be done to get us out of that frame of mind, and out of our lethargy. Help us face who we truly are so we can stop the backsliding mode that we are in. Give us eyes to see and hearts to repent my Lord.
24 November, 2012
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord”.
I felt it was important for me to write about God’s thoughts Vs our human thoughts because those who never experienced Him, along with those who believe only in their heads but not in their hearts are in no better position than an unbeliever in their understanding of who God is. While a Christian might have a different explanation of whom God is, this does not change the fact that if you do not know Him personally, then you do not know Him. It simply means that you have learned the lingo because you have immersed yourself in the Christian culture. In fact, until you experience God all that you have is data tucked away. This is the primary reason why Salvation is so misunderstood by His very own and the false prophets are flourishing. We have not armed ourselves for warfare.
While we have to be cautious not to seek experience because we can be caught up in sensationalism and never really walk with Him. If we look too much for sensation Satan has no problem disguising himself as an angel to keep us in bondage of wanting just that. It is equally important to apply caution in what you call Christianity, if after years and years of claiming to be Christian, the Holy Spirit has never manifested Himself to you, there is a problem there too.
Why? Because the Holy Spirit’s job is to make the life we have in God real to us. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to witness to your soul that you are a child of God. You either believe that or God is a liar. The Holy Spirit works in us is proof that we have been sealed; it is His stamp of ownership that we have become children of God. In John we are told: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all 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. ” With that in mind, you have to stop lying to yourself and take ownership for the lack of holy spirit’s activities in your life. You do not want to die and find out you were too proud to accept the fact that all you had was in vain.
When we read the Bible we are able to understand what we read with our intellect which was given to us by God so we can function in this realm. But when God speaks, the same God who has the intricate mind and unlimited power to create the world, His words are wrapped up in all these things that we can see and cannot see. His word personifies wisdom that we can never possess, intellect that we have not seen or heard of. Each tiny word that He utters also contains justice, love, wrath, and holiness etc. Everything that makes God, who He is wrapped up in everything He says. The understanding we have been given by God could be easily compared to something like someone with gazillions of dollars, then he gives you five bucks while it is nice, but in comparison to what he has you can easily say you do not have much.
Every word that He utters means all that He is. Because He is who He is, then it makes sense that we do not have the wisdom or the capacity to understand what He says. In a vision I had while spending time with Him, He showed me with sadness that His idea of Salvation for us is as big as the ocean. I remember standing there with this giant God of mine, and I still remember His sadness when He showed me how much we misunderstood His plan because we all ran with our own understanding and our own plan. As I contemplated the vastness of the ocean and the understanding that He gave me right then and there to grasp a tiny bit of His plan for us, strangely, my next step was to open up my left hand, I realized the Salvation I was holding onto was as small as a marble in the palm of my hand, then I dropped it. After I dropped it, I went straight to Him as if I wanted to embrace Him, but He was so big, when I moved toward Him I could not reach pass His feet.
My point is that when we read God’s Word, we should always keep in mind that there is another level of understanding we need from the Spirit which is the understanding that comes from God’s point of view. We cannot hold onto our own understanding that we grasp with our weak and very limited mind, and be content with what we have. Our thoughts and all our sentiments of this life He has in mind for us are different from His thoughts and what He had in mind when He set His plan of Salvation in motion.
This lack of understanding from a Godly perspective has caused the breach we see in the Church all over the world. Yes, Satan is behind it too. But who gave Satan so much power to gain so much terrain? It is us in our pride and greed. Can you understand the stupidity of saying Salvation is by Grace, yet we refuse to go to Him so that He can make us understand the full scope of it by His grace? We reject the very same grace when we hold onto our feeble understanding like a dog holding onto a bone. In our feeble mind and the pride of possessing some intellect, we reject that same grace we need for our Salvation. So, we sit there, while everyone can see we are just caterpillars, we get upset at anyone telling us we are not butterflies yet.
What I learned from experiencing God, is that we not only desperately need the Holy Spirit to permeate our lives and fulfill His role, but even when He graced us with an experience, we still do not have the mind to grasp all of what His word encompasses. All that we have written about the Holy Spirit's role from the Scriptures should not be just words to us. God already knew we could not compete with His intellect, He purposed to give us the Holy Spirit to make this life real to us. This life does not get real when we die. But right now! We receive eternal life when we know God through Christ. And we do not know God, just because we have some rituals in our lives. Every religion has rituals. As Christians our rituals should be the Holy Spirit.
So, how do we get to the point where He can permeate our lives? I can only answer this by sharing my secret. I have always been humiliated as a child and more so in my adult life, so much so there was nothing left for me to feel puffed up in anything that pertains to me. To make matters worse, I am far from being an educated person. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take God at His Word. It was not a big stretch for me to humble myself before Him. As for my childlike spirit, my brain has never been educated enough to know better. Somebody who knows me well said it is so easy for me to humble myself before God; I have no idea how hard it is for other people.
I know the God that I serve enough to know that if we truly want Him in our hearts; He is more than willing to make His Word come alive to us. If you are willing to leave your intellect behind and stop being puffed up when you approach Him, then you are on your way of finding what it means to have a child like faith and spirit. If all of it is still hard for you, then your prayer should be “Lord help me leave behind all my knowledge, my faulty understanding, my confidence in myself and be desperate enough to know your Word that I would approach your throne completely bankrupt.” We should pray until we receive it. Pray until in your spirit you have become the perfect outcast model. He is the God of the outcasts.
This subject is so vast I could write all day. Because this post is so long, I will omit tomorrow’s post to give you time to read this one on Sunday
May the Spirit of truth accompany you while reading this post.
22 November, 2012
“Hebrews tells us "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!”
These are words we should not be reading lightly. Even after you know for sure, you are indeed holy, even then you still read these words with a sober thought in mind which is “Am I walking in holiness?” The answer will be a big yes, just as long as you keep walking in the Spirit and keep walking in His light. It is indeed simple. Only the Holy Spirit, by putting the spotlight on us can show us the way to Holiness. Only He can teach us the difference between living with suppressed behavior and truly walking in Him, in the light of God.
Holiness has nothing to do with our zeal for Him, with our rank in the world or outward respectability. It has nothing to do with our knowledge of God’s Word, or how our pastors see us. It is not about having religion, attending services or going to Church. The Bible is filled with these types of people and they were not holy and one that comes to mind is Jehu. Another misconception is that we tend to think that holiness is something we receive slowly as we go through life. Holiness is like pregnancy, you are either pregnant or not. You are either holy or not. Which is not to be confused with Christ working through us gradually to perfect our holiness. That's another stage of our walk with Him.
The bible has oodles of references if we want to draw a picture of a holy man or woman. A good book that is free on the internet you can read about holiness, is written by J.C. Ryle, and titled “Holiness, its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties” But, I have to caution you when you read such book you can either have a headache for days or you end up making a list of things to do and start walking with your suppressed behavior in order to get there. But, a suppressed behavior it's not the same as walking in the Spirit.
While in the wilderness the Holy Spirit mentioned to me that I needed to move forward with Him toward holiness. In my simpleton mind, I did not understand, nor that did I wait for Him. I left Him behind and set out to understand how I was going to make myself holy. Suffice to say that after a few months I gave up it was all too much for me to bear. We tend to do the same thing again once we know for sure we have been made holy; we go crazy trying to find ways to keep our holiness intact, so we read books, and we start applying ourselves because somehow we think we can lose the holiness we received from Him. While it is partly true but this is a whole different story and it pertains to those who fall away.
I wish someone had told me that all I needed to do to walk in holiness before an after, is to cultivate His mind and remain plugged in His divine nature. If we practice that, then being a man or woman after His heart, practicing the sermon on the mount in our lives, shunning sin, keeping His commands, walking in humility etc., are all to my knowledge and experience with Him, the fruit of holiness.
Holiness actually leads to a different level of Sanctification and no you are not holier than thou. The walk is still painful and most of the time mundane because this is the nature of the Christian journey. So, you enter a different level of sanctification because the Spirit is perfecting your holiness which He continues until death when we will be perfectly holy. In this walk of holiness, or as some call it, pursuing holiness” you learn to walk in His grace in steadfastness as you are chastised, tested, and refined by Him. In your afflictions you learn to persevere and endure through faith and His grace as you walk diligently while keeping your eyes on Him. In my opinion which is based on my experience with Him, the sermon on the mount are not some sort of rules we follow, but rather what He is able to work out in us as we pursue holiness.
Another thing we will also find that He works in us more and more is righteousness. But two things we can be sure of are, that holiness and righteousness do not come without holy afflictions which we are to go through while submitting to His hand on us. The second one is that this holiness and righteousness in question are not ours they are Christ’s. Hence, this righteousness we are told in Mathew 5:20 that we are to possess until it surpasses the righteousness of the Pharisees, along with holiness cannot be worked out in us while living in the flesh. They are the work of the Holy Spirit as we go on in faith and grace apprehending this life we have in Him. They are worked in us solely by Him and in His own way.
As I explained in my book, it feels as if you are an embryo being fed in the mother’s womb through the tubes that connect you to her. Except that, the mother’s womb is none other than Christ’s. You are formed and fed, you live, you breathe, and you find life right there in Him. The nutrient that He is passing to us it is found through the blood He shed for us. It is His very life.
Beloved, it is indeed a phenomenal thing to be able to experience our spiritual life in Him! It is my biggest desire, and for some of you if you end up in Heaven, you will be able to see how much I prayed for all of you. I will continue to petition God until my last breathe, to revive hearts and take away the blindness so we could all learn to walk and live in Him. I am begging you to believe me when I tell you there is a different Christianity that most of us do not know of. It is one where you are led solely by the Spirit while you abide in oneness with Him. Please stop living in the flesh. You cannot hide from Him or lie to Him. This life in Him is real. Open up your heart do not let Satan have a fiesta at your expenses. Make that decision today!
I will leave you with a thought to ponder after Paul warned the Christians Galatians he said this in Galatians 6:6-8
I will leave you with a thought to ponder after Paul warned the Christians Galatians he said this in Galatians 6:6-8
"Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."
This Blog is related to my newly released Christian book “Apprehended & Apprehending”. Feel free to get yourself a copy
21 November, 2012
Every time I read Galatians 5:16-25 I cannot help but ache for some Christians. In these verses, Paul is sharing with these precious believers that he loves so much yet he is in pain for them because they are in trouble with their Christian walk. The whole chapter is about how to preserve in the faith. While a lot of Christians enjoy putting a different spin on these types of warnings to go right back to the fact that God cannot lie as such they will be okay. I feel for them, because I was there too. I also feel for them because I know for fact, that the only reason someone who is in the Word would read certain warnings and lie to themselves and dismiss those warnings as if God can be manipulated into keeping His word, is the subtle work of Satan.
In our walk in the flesh, we have learned to redefine words such as immorality, filth, idols, ambitions, indecent etc, according to our own explanations and understanding. The truth is, we stop seeing the good in us only when we can see ourselves through His eyes. Only then, we have no illusion about who we are in the flesh. As this has become the truth we live by, we yearn to walk in the Spirit, because that is where He is found and that is where we find life.
As I shared in my book, a few years after I started my wilderness wanderings with God, the Holy Spirit started taking me in a direction where His will for me was to learn to walk in the Spirit. At the beginning I fought Him with everything I had, because I was confused. I heard it over and over again through various pastors and elders that as soon as you say the sinner's prayer you walk in the Spirit. So, I basically sided with man’s explanations, rather than the Holy Spirit’s leading. (I am glad I came to my senses not long after that) to my surprise, I had no idea those sermons I was listening to, and those pastors and elders who were saying that Christians automatically walk in the Spirit were confused Biblically. That was a major stumbling block for me and it is still a major stumbling block for many Christians out there. There is a massive amount of Christians out there that has no idea what it means to walk in the Spirit. You either walk in the Spirit or you wing it.
Paul in Galatians 5 was talking to Christians, some he brought them to the Lord himself. We do not have to be drunk, practice witchcraft and have orgies like mentioned in verse 21, to belong to the category Paul was referring will not see the Kingdom of God. A true Christian makes it a point to walk in the Spirit. While it is difficult the first few years but, over time as you remain grounded in your identity in Him, you get the hang of it to the point where you know when you are in the flesh. That is because walking in the Spirit has become your lifestyle and who you are in Him. Even Paul Himself found the secret of walking in the Spirit which has enabled him to translate from the Christian he was in Romans chapter 7, years later he became the Christian in Romans chapter 8. You would make a monumental error if you assume that Paul remained that shoddy Christian he was in Romans chapter 7. Furthermore, Paul basically gave us a command in Galatians 5:16 to walk in the Spirit “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
A while back I was talking to a couple, and sadly, the woman told me that it does not matter if she has never learned to walk in the Spirit because God made a promise as long as we believe in Christ, we are saved. I can tell she already has her defense planned. In her mind, God is mute. I honestly could not dispute the woman, because in her blindness, she is not even able to think that God could ask her what exactly did you believe in that cause you to resemble to your father Satan. After all, Satan actually believes and he knows the Bible by heart. It isn’t for nothing that Scriptures said to us in John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” What we do not know is that when we are called in front of His throne, we will have to stand there naked, everything stripped away, including excuses, but your lies, stubbornness, unwillingness and all that stops you from following after Him will remain. I have been called to the light while I am down here, and it is not a pick nick. While you are there, there are three things you can be sure of: you are stripped of everything, shame and guilt are your companion, and you keep quiet because you cannot utter one word
I discussed this subject in depth in my newly released Christian book “Apprehended & Apprehending” and explained step by step how you get to walk in the Spirit. The book is available on Amazon, and all fine bookstores.
20 November, 2012
Jeremiah 32: 39:41
“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts that they may not turn from me.”
I was online reading a well crafted sermon about part b of Jeremiah 32:42 which is “I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.” . The writer went on and on about how faithful God is and He will never lie to us etc. Since, I did not remember the verse by heart, I pulled out my Bible to read about Jeremiah 32. Then I realized the writer omitted the fact that, while God promised to give prosperity to the Israelites, He had conditions in the previous verses that the writer neglected to mention. While it is true, God is faithful and will never lie to us, we would do well not to test Him while we stand on a few words that tickle our funny bones.
He promised in verses 39-41 that He would give them one heart, and that He would put His fear in their hearts so they would not turn away from Him. To sum up, verse 42 cannot be claimed by itself while neglecting the above verses. In Christianity we miss out on the fact that God Himself has given us a new heart to learn to fear Him and stay the course so we would not turn away from Him. This is extremely important. This is why I tell people in my new released Christian book to examine themselves and if after a decade or more of Christianity they are still the same old plain Jane or John that accepted Christ and there has been no awareness of a supernatural transformation, they ought to go back to the basic.
We cannot stand there like lost sheep and tell people, oh yeah I am a Christian. What this claim amount to in your life matters very much to God. His promises are for those who have God’s fear in their hearts, they are kept in His ways and they are able to continue the path of Salvation they are on. We tend to think that the passage in Mathew is not for us “Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?” A lot of us in the church love to think that this passage is only for some. It is equally for those Church goers who have never gotten to the point where they were changed by the Salvation they claimed they have received.
In the new heart we receive from Him, if we believe, then the next step is to trust Him and have confidence in Him to walk the walk He put us on. So, we not only receive conversion by His grace, we learn to walk and persevere through the Holy Spirit, by His grace, So, if you have not been transformed inwardly because of what you believe, then I am afraid all your beliefs are floating around your head and they have not even made ways to your mind, let alone your heart. Examine yourself, unless you believe in vain.
PRAYER: Father God I pray that together we learn to walk in unison according to your word. I pray that we would learn to be people after your own heart. That we would make it our joy to honor your covenant with us so together we might enjoy the life we have in you now and future blessings awaiting us. May the ascended Christ help us to examine our hearts so we do not believe in vain and end up disqualified when it is too late.
Check out my Website www.apprehended,ca
19 November, 2012
Read Jeremiah 20:1-6
Jeremiah and Pashhur
When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple. The next day, when Pashhur released him from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord’s name for you is not Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib.a For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will hand all
over to the king of
Judah , who will carry
them away to Babylon or put them to the
sword. I will hand over to their enemies all the wealth of this city—all
its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Babylon . They will take it
away as plunder and carry it off to Judah . And you,
Pashur, and all who live in your house will go into exile to Babylon . There you will die
and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.’” Babylon
I find Jeremiah chapter 20, heart breaking. There is also something about him in his painful trials and complaints to God that reminds me of David. He hashed it out with God, then in the end he always ends up saying something like you are my God, I trust in you and I put it all in your hand to do according to your will. Jeremiah was depressed and hurting because of the nature of his ministry. He prophesized exactly what God told him to, he was beaten by the priest Pashur, the son of Immer who was the chief priest of the temple of the Lord. Immer actually served under David’s reign. Pashur, was a priest so he and Jeremiah were basically in the same boat. So, if anything, his job would have been to look after Jeremiah’s well being. Instead, he humiliated Jeremiah to discourage him from such prophesy.
As a priest , pashur also had a hard heart and did not take heed to Jeremiah’s word which was from the Lord Himself. Instead, he had him beaten, put in prison and in stock which is an instrument of torture. From what we read, Jeremiah never said a word, he submitted to the humiliation and the injustice. This is the beauty of serving a just and divine God. As Christian, God made it clear to us that we have no right to retaliate. It is more so when we are walking in His will and someone else decides to make an example of us to feed their ego and accomplish their own goals.
The plan that God had there for Pashur was definitely not good news and no one in the right mind would want to be in his shoes after God made such personal plans for Pashur who dealt treacherously and heartlessly with His servant Jeremiah. We see in this passage that judgement came swift. God reassured Jeremiah right away. Unfortunately, most of the time things do not happen that fast. We deal with people who hurt us on purpose and for their own gain. While we have no idea how long it will take God to deal with them, we have to resist putting our own little vengeance machine in action.
I know what I am saying is not easy and personally, there were times in my life where people hurt me so deep inside just because I was there, and because I tend to be an easy prey. On several occasions I wished that God could send a bolt of lightning right then and there, to avenge me. As I get deeper in Him, I learned to live my life through Him, I realized God Himself deal with me with mercy and patience. Through His grace, I did not get what I deserve so now, instead of wishing a bolt of lightning after those who hurt me for their own pleasure I learn to pray for them. I refuse to give in to the need for revenge and instead I keep on praying until my prayer becomes a sincere desire for my offender to have an encounter with God. I learn to pray for healing for myself so that Satan does not gain a foothold in my relationship with Him. While it will never be an easy choice to take the high roads, but as Christians, God does not give us a choice and Christ was our example all throughout His life on earth until the last moment. We simply cannot be above the Master.
PRAYER: Father your Word instructs us not to seek for revenge and we should leave it to you. It is not always easy Savior. Nevertheless, your Word should prevail if we say we belong to you. So daddy, I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ would learn to glorify you when they are hurt and humiliated by others just because they have the power to do so. I pray that we all as a community, your church and your people would learn to trust your judgement is divine and timely. So instead of focusing on the pain and those who offend us, I pray we learn to turn our hearts to you and look to you to defend us, because your Word will not come back void to you.
18 November, 2012
This is the third and last part of a series titled :what kind of Christian are you? which was written by a man who who had a heart after Him, and knew Him well.
I have just described a class of professors of religion, who are moved to perform religious exercises by hope and fear. They are moved sometimes by self-love, and sometimes by selfishness. Their supreme object is not to glorify God, but to secure their own salvation.
There is a plain distinction between self-love, or the simple desire of happiness, and selfishness. Self-love, the desire of happiness and dread of misery, is constitutional; it is a part of our frame as God made us, as he intended us to be; and its indulgence within the limits of the law of God is not sinful. Whenever it is indulged contrary to the law of God, it becomes sinful. When the desire of happiness or the dread of misery becomes the controlling principle, and we prefer our own gratification to some other interest, it becomes selfishness. When, to avoid pain or obtain happiness, we sacrifice other greater interests, we violate the great law of disinterested benevolence and it is no longer self-love, acting within lawful bounds, but selfishness.
You will recollect that this class, and the class I had described before as the real friends of God and man, agree in many things, and if you look only at the things in which they agree, you cannot distinguish between them. It is only by a close observation of those things in which they differ, that you can see that the main purpose of the latter class is not to glorify God, but to secure their own salvation. In that way we can see their supreme objective developed, and see that when they do the same things, outwardly, which those do whose supreme objective is to glorify God, they do them from entirely different motives, and consequently the acts themselves are, in the sight of God, of an entirely different character.
I intend now to point out the characteristics of the third class of professing Christians, who "love the praise of men more than the praise of God."
I would not be understood to imply that a mere regard for reputation has led this class to profess religion. Religion has always been too unpopular with the great mass of mankind to render it a general thing to become professing Christians from a mere regard to reputation. But I mean, that where it is not generally unpopular to become a professor of religion, and will not diminish popularity, but will increase it with many, a complex motive operates - the hope of securing happiness in a future world, and that it may increase reputation here. And thus many are led to profess religion, when after all, on a close examination, it will be seen that the leading object,which is prized beyond anything else, is the good opinion of their fellow men. Sooner than lose this, they would not profess religion. Their profession hinges on this. And although they do profess to be sincere Christians, you may see by their conduct, on close examination, that they will do nothing that will forfeit this good opinion of men. They will not encounter the hatred that they must, if they were to give themselves up to root sin out of the world. (John 15:18)
I will now mention several things by which you may detect the true character of the class of persons of whom I have been speaking; who make the praise of men their idol, notwithstanding they profess to love God supremely. And they are things by which you can detect your own true characters, if you belong to this class.
1. They do what the apostle Paul says certain persons did in his day, and for that reason they remained ignorant of the true doctrine; they "measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves." (2 Cor. 10:12)
There are a vast many individuals, who, instead of making Jesus Christ their standard of comparison, and the Bible their rule of life, manifestly aim at no such thing. They show that they never seriously dreamed of making the Bible their standard. The great question with them is, whether they do about as many things in religion, and are about as pious as other people, or as the churches around them. Their object is to maintain a respectable profession of religion. Instead of seriously inquiring for themselves, what the Bible requires, and asking how Jesus Christ would act in such and such cases, they are looking simply at the common run of professing Christians, and are satisfied with doing what is commendable in their estimation. They prove that their object is not so much to do what the Bible lays down as duty, as to do what the great mass of professing Christians do - to do what is respectable, rather than what is right.
2. This class of persons do not trouble themselves about elevating the standard of piety around them.
They are not troubled at the fact, that the general standard of Piety is so low in the church, that it is impossible to bring the great mass of sinners to repentance. They think the standard at the present time is high enough. Whatever be the standard at the time, it satisfies them. While the real friends of God and man are complaining of the church, because the standard of piety is so low, and trying to wake up the church to elevate the tone of religion, it all seems to this class of persons like criticalness and a meddlesome disposition. Just as when Jesus Christ denounced the scribes and pharisees, and leaders of his day, they said, "He hath a devil." "Why, he is denouncing our doctors of divinity, and all our best men, and even dares to call the scribes and pharisees hypocrites, and he tells us that except our righteousness shall exceed theirs, we can in no case enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 23:13; 5:20) What a bad spirit he has."
A large part of the church at the present day have the same attitude, and every effort to open the eyes of the church and to make Christians see that they live so low, so worldly, so much like hypocrites, that it is impossible the work of the Lord should go on, only excites ill will and occasions reproach. "Oh," they say, "what a bad spirit he shows, so censorious, and so unkind, surely that is anything but the meek, and kind, and loving spirit of the Son of God." They forget how Jesus Christ poured out his anathemas, enough to make the hills of Judea shake, against those that had the reputation of being the most pious people in that day. Just as if Jesus Christ never said anything severe to anybody, but just fawned over them, and soothed them into his kingdom. Who does not know that it was the hypocritical spirit exhibited by professors of religion, that roused his soul and moved his indignation, and called forth his burning torrents of denunciation. He was always complaining of the very people who were set up as patterns of piety, and called them hypocrites, and thundered over their heads the terrible words, "How can ye escape the damnation of hell!" (Matt.23:33)
It is not surprising when so many love the praise of men more than the praise of God, that there should be excitement when the truth is told. They are very well satisfied with the standard of piety as it is. They do not seem to know that the lives of the majority of professing Christians are almost as different from the standard of Jesus Christ as light is from darkness.
3. They make a distinction between those requirements of God that are strongly enforced by public sentiment and those that are not.
They are very scrupulous in observing such requirements as public sentiment distinctly favors, while they easily set at nought those which public sentiment does not enforce. All those sins that are forbidden by public opinion this class of persons abstain from, but they do other things just as bad which are not thus frowned on. They do those duties which are enforced by public opinion, but not those that are less enforced. They will not stay away from public worship on the Sabbath, because they could not maintain any reputation for religion at all if they did. But they neglect things that are just as clearly required in the Word of God. Where an individual habitually disobeys any command of God, knowing it to be such, it is just as certain as his soul lives, that the obedience he appears to render, is not from a regard to God's authority, or love to God, but from other motives. He does not, in fact, obey any command of God. The Apostle has settled this question. "Whosoever," says he, "shall keep the whole law, and offend in one point, is guilty of all," (James 2:10) that is, does not truly keep any one precept of the law.
Obedience to God's commands implies an obedient state of heart, and therefore nothing is obedience that does not imply a supreme regard to the authority of God. Now, if a man's heart be right, then whatever God requires he regards as of more importance than anything else. And if a man regard anything else of superior weight to God's authority, that is his idol. Whatever we supremely regard - that is our god; whether it be reputation, or comfort, or riches, or honor, or whatever it is that we regard supremely, that is the god of our hearts. Whatever a man's reason may be for habitually neglecting anything which he knows to be the command of God, or that he sees to be required to promote the kingdom of Christ, there is demonstration absolute that he regards that as supreme. There is nothing acceptable to God in any of his services. Rest assured, all his religion is the religion of public sentiment. If he neglects anything required by the law of God, because he can pass along in neglect, and public sentiment does not require it; or if he does other things inconsistent with the law of God, merely because public opinion does require it, it is a simple matter of fact, that it is public sentiment to which he yields obedience, in all his conduct, and not a regard to the glory of God.
How is it with you, beloved? Do you habitually neglect any requirement of God, because it is not sustained and enforced by public sentiment? If you are a professor of religion, it is to be presumed you do not neglect any requirement that is strongly urged by public sentiment. But, how is it with others? Do you not habitually neglect some duties? Do you not live in some practices acceptable among men, that you know to be contrary to the law of God? If you do, it is demonstration absolute that you regard the opinions of men more than the judgment of God. Write down your name, hypocrite.
4. This class of professors are apt to indulge in some sins when they are away from home, that they would not commit at home.
Many a man who is temperate at home, when he gets to a distance, will toss off his glass of brandy and water at the table, or step up to the bar and call for liquor without shame; or if they are in Europe, they will go to the theatre. When I was in the Mediterranean, at Messina, a gentleman asked me if I would go to the theatre with him. "What! I go to the theatre? A minister go to the theatre?" "Why," said he, "you are away from home, and no one would know it." "But would not God know it?" It was plain that he thought, although I was a minister, I could go to the theatre when I was away from home. No matter if God knew it, so long as men did not know it. And how should he get that idea, but by seeing ministers who would do just such things.
5. Another development of the character of these individuals is, that they indulge themselves in secret sin.
I am now speaking of something, by which you may know yourselves. If you allow yourselves in any sins secretly, when you can get along without having any human being know it, know that God sees it, and that he has already written down your name, hypocrite. You are more afraid of disgrace in the eye of mortals, than of disgrace in the eye of God. If you loved God supremely, it would be a small thing to you that any and everybody else knew your sins, in comparison with having them known to God. If tempted to any such thing, you would exclaim, "What! shall I commit sin under the eye of God?"
6. They indulge in secret omissions of duty, which they would not dare to have known to others.
They may not practice any secret sins, or indulge in those secret pollutions that are spoken of, but they neglect those duties, that if they were known to neglect, it would be called disreputable to their Christian character. Such as secret prayer for instance. They will go to the communion - yes, to the communion! - and appear to be very pious on the Sabbath, and yet, as to private piety, they know nothing of it. Their closet for prayers is unknown to God. It is easy to see that reputation is their idol. They dread to lose their reputation more than to offend God.
How is it with you? Is it a fact, that you habitually omit those secret duties, and are more careful to perform your public duties than private ones? Then what is your character? Do you need to be told? "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
7. The conscience of this class of persons seems to be formed on other principles than those of the gospel.
They seem to have a conscience in those things that are popular, and no conscience at all on those things that are not required by public sentiment. You may preach to them ever so plainly, their duty, and prove it ever so clearly, and even make them confess that it is their duty, and yet so long as public sentiment does not require it, and it is not a matter of reputation, they will continue on in the same way as before. Show them a "Thus saith the Lord," and make them see that their course is inconsistent with Christian perfection, and contrary to the interests of the kingdom of Christ, and yet they will not change. They make it manifest that it is not the requirement of God they regard, but the requirement of public opinion. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God.
8. This class of persons generally dread, very much, the thought of being considered fanatical.
They are ignorant, practically, of a first principle in religion, that all the world is wrong! That the public sentiment of the world is all against God, and that every one who intends to serve God must in the first instance set his face against the public sentiment of the world. They are to take it for granted, that in a world of rebels, public sentiment is as certainly wrong as that there is a controversy with God. They have never had their eyes open to this fundamental truth, that the world is wrong, and that God's ways are directly over against their ways. Consequently, it is true and always has been true, that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12) They shall be called fanatical, extreme, and the like. They always have been, and they always will be, as long is the world is wrong.
But this class of persons will never go further than is consistent with the opinions worldly men. They say they must do this and that in order to have influence over such men. Right over against this is the course of the true friends of God and man. Their leading aim is to reverse the order of the world, and turn the world upside down, to bring all men to obey God, and all the opinions of men to conform to the word of God, and all the usages and institutions of the world to accord with the spirit of the gospel.
9. They are very intent on making friends on both sides.
They take the middle course always. They avoid the reputation of being overly righteous, on the one hand, and on the other hand, of being lax or irreligious. It has been so for centuries, that a person could maintain a reputable profession of religion without ever being called fanatical. And the standard is still so low, that probably the great mass of the churches are trying to occupy this middle ground. They mean to have friends on both sides. They are not set down as reprobates on the one hand, nor as fanatics or bigots on the other. They are "fashionable Christians!" They may be called fashionable Christians for two reasons. One is, that their style of religion is popular and fashionable; and the other is, that they generally follow worldly fashions. Their aim in religion is not to do anything that will disgust the world. No matter what God requires, they are determined to be so prudent as not to bring on them the censures of the world, nor offend the enemies of God. They have manifestly more regard to men than to God. And if they are ever so circumstanced that they must do that which will displease their friends and neighbors, or offend God, they will offend God. If public sentiment clashes with the commands of God, they will yield to public sentiment.
10. They will do more to gain the applause of men than to gain the applause of God.
This is evident from the fact, that they will yield obedience only to those requirements of God which are sustained by public opinion. Although they will not exercise self-denial to gain the applause of God, yet they will exercise great self-denial to gain the applause of men.
11. They are more anxious to know what are the opinions of men about them, than to know what is God's opinion of them.
If one of this class is a minister, and preaches a sermon, he is more anxious to know what the people thought of it, than to know what God thought of it. And if he make anything like a failure, the disgrace of it with men cuts him ten times more than the thought that he has dishonored God, or hindered the salvation of souls. Just so with an elder, or a member of the church. If he prays in a meeting, or exhorts, he is more concerned to know what is thought of it, than to know how God is pleased.
If such a one has some secret sin found out, he is vastly more distressed about it because he is disgraced than because God is dishonored. Or if he fall into open sin, when he comes to be met with it, he cares as much again about the disgrace as about the sin of it. They are more anxious about their appearance in the eyes of the world than in the eves of God. Females of this character are vastly more anxious, when they go to church, how the body shall appear in the eyes of men than how the heart shall appear in the eyes of God. Everybody can see, at a glance, what this religion is, the moment it is held up to view. Nobody is at a loss to say what that man's or that woman's name is - it is hypocrite. They will go in to the house of God with their hearts dark as midnight, while everything in their external appearance is comely and decent. They must appear well in the eyes of men, no matter how that part is on which God fixes his eye. The heart may be dark, and disordered, and polluted, and they care not, so long as the eye of man detects no blemish.
12. They refuse to confess their sins in the manner which the law of God requires, lest they should lose their reputation among men.
If they are ever required to make confession of more than they think consistent with their reputation, they are more anxious as to how it will affect their character, than to know whether God is satisfied.
Search your hearts, you that have made confessions, and see which most affects your minds, the question what God thought of it, or what men thought of it, Have you refused to confess what you knew God required, because it would hurt your reputation among men? Will not God judge your hearts? Only be honest now, and let it be answered.
13. They will yield to custom what they know to be injurious to the cause of religion, and to the welfare of mankind.
14. They will do things of doubtful character, or things the lawfulness of which they strongly doubt, in obedience to public sentiment.
15. They are often "ashamed" to do their duty, and so much ashamed that they will not do it.
Now when a person is so much ashamed to do what God requires as not to do it, it is plain that his own reputation is his idol. How many do you find who are ashamed to acknowledge Jesus Christ, ashamed to reprove sin in high places or low places, and ashamed to speak out when religion is assailed! If they supremely regarded God, could they ever be ashamed of doing their duty? Suppose a man's wife were slandered, would he be ashamed to defend his wife? By no means. If his children were abused, would he be ashamed to take their part? Not if he loved them; it would not be shame that would deter him from defending his wife or children.
Now such persons as I am speaking of, will not take decided ground when they are among the enemies of truth, where they would be subject to reproach for doing it. They are very bold for the truth when among its friends, and will make a great display of their courage. But when put to the trial, they will sell the Lord Jesus Christ, or deny him before his enemies, and put him to open shame, rather than rebuke wickedness, or speak out in his cause among his enemies.
16. They are often opposed to men, and measures, and things, while they are unpopular and subject to reproach, and when they become popular, fall in with them.
Let an individual go through the churches in any section, and wake them up to a revival of religion, and while he is little known, these persons are not backward to speak against him. But let him go on, gain influence, and they will fall in and commend him and profess to be his warmest friends.
This class of persons, as they set with the tide one way, when a man is reproached, so they will set with the tide the other way when he comes to be honored. There is only one exception. And that is, when they have become so far committed to the opposition, that they cannot come round without disgrace. And then they will be silent, until another opportunity comes up for letting out the burning fires that are rankling within them.
17. If any measure is proposed to promote religion they are very sensitive and scrupulous not to have anything done that is unpopular.
If they live in a city, they ask what will the other churches think of such a measure? And if it is likely to bring reproach on their church or their minister, in view of the ungodly, or in view of the other churches, they are distressed about it. No matter how much good it will do, or how many souls it will save, they do not want to have anything done to injure the respectability of their church.
18. This class of persons never aim at forming a public sentiment in favor of perfect godliness.
The true friends of God and man are always aiming at forming public sentiment, and correcting public sentiment, on all points where it is wrong. They are set, with all their hearts, to search out all the evils in the world, and to reform the world, and drive out iniquity from the earth. The other class are always following public sentiment as it is, and feeling after the course of the tide, to go that way, shrinking back from everything that goes in the face of public sentiment. And they are ready to brand as imprudent, or rash, any man or anything, that goes to stem the tide of public sentiment and turn it the other way.
They do the things that outwardly pertain to piety, and they give themselves credit for being pious, when their motives are all corrupt and hollow, and not one of them drawn from a supreme regard to God's authority. This is manifest from the fact that they do nothing except where God's requirements are backed up by public sentiment. Unless you aim to do all your duty, and yield obedience in everything, the piety for which you claim credit is mere hypocrisy, and is in fact sin against God.
2. There is a great deal more apparent piety in the church than there is real piety.
There are many things which sinners suppose are good but which are abominable in the sight of God.
3. But for the love of reputation and the fear of disgrace, how many there are in the church, who would break out into open apostasy.
How many are there who know you would break out into open vice, were it not for the restraints of public sentiment, the fear of disgrace, and the desire to gain the credit of virtue? Where a person is virtuous from a regard to the authority of God, whether public sentiment favor it or frown upon it, that is true piety. If otherwise, they have their reward. They do it for the sake of gaining credit in the eyes of men, and they gain it. But if they expect any favor at the hand of God, they will assuredly be disappointed. The only reward which God will bestow upon such selfish hypocrites is, that they may be damned.
And now I wish to know how many of you will determine to do your duty, and all your duty, according to the will of God, let public sentiment be as it may? Who of you will agree to take the Bible for your rule, Jesus Christ for your pattern, and do what is right, in all cases, whatever man may say or think? Every one that is not willing to take this ground must regard himself as a stranger to the grace of God. He is by no means in a state of justification. If he is not resolved upon doing what he knows to be right, let public sentiment be as it may, it is proof positive that he loves the praise of men more than the praise of God.
And let me say to the impenitent sinners. You see what it is to be a Christian. It is to be governed by the authority of God IN ALL THINGS, and not by public sentiment, to live not by hopes and fears, but by supreme consecration of yourself unto God. You see that if you mean to be religious, you must count the cost. I will not flatter you. I will never try to coax you to become religious, by keeping back the truth. If you mean to be Christians, you must give yourselves wholly up to Christ. You cannot float along to heaven on the waves of public sentiment. I will not deceive you on this point.
Do you ask, sinner, what is to become of all these professors of religion, who are conformed to the world, and who love the praise of men more than the praise of God? I answer - They will go to hell, with you and with all other hypocrites. Just as certain as that the friendship of the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4)
"Wherefore, come out from among them, my people, and be ye separate, and I will receive you saith the Lord. I will be a Father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." (2Cor. 6:17) And now, who will do it? In the church and among sinners, who will do it? Who? Who is on the Lord's side? Who is willing to say, "We will no longer go with the multitude to do evil, but are determined to do the will of God, in all things whatsoever, and let the world think or say of us as it may."