The "Pieces of Fruit" tab is simply offerings of the Spirit.
Each part is meant to benefit a person's Walk with the Lord, but this tab does take a little time to read.
Some might consume it in one sitting, surely, but as one needs, it can also be read in pieces over time by printing it out, or by simply noting a starting point for next time.
With that, here we go...
------- Pieces of Fruit -------
The longer we pretend that sin isn't the problem, the more dire our circumstances will become.
We die by what we live by, good or bad.
If we ask God and Jesus to help us, will They turn us down ?
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" - Jesus in Luke 11:9-13 (NKJV)
If we have God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit helping us, can we be good-hearted ?
If we have God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit helping us all the time, can we be good-hearted all the time ?
If we say "no" to either question above, shouldn't we look at God and tell Him why ? If we do that, we might discover our need for the Father and His Word.
If we say "yes" to both questions above, then by Whose Standards of good-heartedness shall we be accountable to God if we Love Him, ours or His ?
Do our standards of righteousness match God's Standards of Righteousness ?
Again, if we say "no", shouldn't we look at God and tell Him why ? And again, if we do that, we might discover our need for the Father and His Word. Self-righteousness varies with the emotional whims of the human side. It's like an ocean wave... a crest one minute, a trough the next. If our human side is like a reed swaying in the wind, how can we ever be founded in Love or Truth ? God's Righteousness is a Rock of immovable Love and Truth in equal measure. When we are born of the Spirit, we are to throw out our self-righteousness and anchor ourselves to Him, so that our human-sided tugs no longer pull us away from what is Right and Good and Lovely and True.
We cannot operate on "feelings" without facts, nor impulse instead of patience. When we are anxious and pulled strongly toward something earthly, it is critical to stop and do nothing, even walk away, until we've had time to be still inside and discuss the matter with God, who can then lead us by the Holy Spirit. Only Satan invites regret.
An anxious mind or idle hands so often leave us open to evil. Both extremes work against us by muting our Spirit, leaving our human side unguarded against Satan's suggestions. Alternatively, surrendering to God in Faith helps us keep calmness and persistence in our thinking and doing. It's the only Way to get to the finish line Alive.
Beware of the "tools of the devil", such as rationalizing, minimizing, justifying, and defending sin. All are lies that keep people from repentance, and ultimately Salvation, as they remain mired in pride and self-righteousness. We cannot be cleansed from that which destroys us if we refuse to see things in the same Light of Truth God does. The devil wants little more than for us to see our sin as "not that bad", or for us to pretend that our evil somehow started out with good intentions. Calling evil "good" is a lie, so we are to keep the lines clear - Righteousness is Righteousness, and evil is evil, just as a yes is a yes, and a no, no. As Jesus tells us, all else is from the evil one.
There are also other "tools of the devil", such as "deflection", "diversion", "projection", and other deceits. These lies, along with the ones noted above, are often defined as "defense mechanisms" by secular human psychologists. But that very term itself is just another devil-suggested, misleading term that tries to soften and replace the word "lies", lies by which people try to excuse or keep from admitting their sinful behavior, thus keeping them from repentance and Salvation. Of course, that is exactly what Satan wants - to destroy people in sin. Therefore, we should be keenly aware of the devil's lying manipulations and of the secular world's refusal to call sin by its proper name. Instead, we must be Truthful and call sin what it is, as God does, because He wants us Saved.
It might also be a temptation to use the "tools of the devil" to claim that our own willful sin is really someone else's fault. Such irresponsibility denies free will, another lie that brings death. God held Adam accountable for his own sin, and did not accept Adam's excuse that his wife, Eve, whom the Lord gave to him, was really the one who handed him the fruit to eat. As well, God held Eve accountable for her own sin, and did not accept Eve's excuse that the serpent was actually the one who deceived her. Neither excuse was a valid reason for disobeying what God explicitly commanded. As noted, their choice brought them (and all of mankind) death, which they could not deny they knew ahead of time. Of course, we only know of that one, single sin committed by each of them, so no one should feel too bold about standing in judgement, for we too have all sinned. For all of us then, we can be thankful the Lord had a plan of Salvation ready, to provide a Way back to Him, for those who willfully turn and make the Best Choice.
But another warning: The devil also wishes for us to use his manipulative "tools", all being lies, on the sins of others, or on societal sin as a whole. But again, to do so separates us from God.
Excuse-making, whining, and self-pity reinforces all manner of sin within us. Such childish, human-sided inner or outer tantrum throwing will never be rewarded by God.
Here is a typical human life for many, along with the consequences:
God gives us life, and the means to sustain it.
As our Father, God shows us what to do, all for the good, because He Loves us by the Truth, wanting only the Best for us.
We don't want to do what He says, because we want to sin instead.
Childishly, we rebel against the Truth with all manner of inner and outer disobedience.
Clinging to our sin, we use the "tools of the devil" (defined earlier) with every technique, approach, and argument in the world to ignore and disobey God's Way.
We do everything we can except one thing - acknowledge the Truth.
We never change our heart or mind, refusing to see God's Love or admit He is Right. So we never come to Him and ask Him to forgive us.
He knows we don't Love Him, because we remain unrepentant, unforgiving of others, and refuse to do what He asks. We are stubborn in pride, all to keep sin.
We die without Peace in our sin - unforgiven, unpardoned, having turned down Jesus' Sacrifice on our behalf - all because we would not Love enough to come to the Truth, by Faith in God.
We sleep in the dust until the end.
We are resurrected at the end, to condemnation, where both body and soul are burned like stubble in Hell Fire. We have no immortality, no eternity.
It was our choice.
Here is typical human life for few, along with the consequences:
God gives us life, and the means to sustain it.
As our Father, God shows us what to do, all for the good, because He Loves us by the Truth, wanting only the Best for us.
We don't want to do what He says, because we want to sin instead.
Childishly, we rebel against the Truth with all manner of inner and outer disobedience.
Clinging to our sin, we use the "tools of the devil" (defined earlier) with every technique, approach, and argument in the world to ignore and disobey God's Way.
We do everything we can except one thing - acknowledge the Truth.
Finally, we change our heart and mind, seeing God's Love and knowing He is Right. So we come to Him and ask Him to forgive us.
He knows our Love for Him is True, because we are repentant, now forgiving of others, and now doing what He asks. We are surrendered in humility, all for the good.
We die Peacefully in Jesus - forgiven, pardoned, having accepted Jesus' Sacrifice on our behalf - all because we Loved enough to come to the Truth, by Faith in God.
We sleep in the dust until the Last Day.
We are resurrected at the Last Day, to Life, and given new incorruptible bodies. We have immortality of both body and soul for our eternity in Heaven.
It is our choice.
"Childish" and "child-like" are opposites.
"Childish" is prideful, self-centered, fear-laden, hateful, and disobedient. It is weak. It is prison. It is death.
"Child-like" is humble, open-hearted, Faith-filled, Loving, and obedient. It is strong. It is Freedom. It is Life.
Jesus tells us plainly that there are two types of children - children of God and children of the devil. The Bible also tells us that God wants every single one of us to be a child of His, and not of the devil. But God and Jesus know the reality of this world, that "many" go down the wide road to destruction, but "few" find the narrow Way to Life. That said, Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son can help us understand what it's like to come to God. First, if like many we start out as a child of the devil, we are in prison, one we barely sense through our human eyes, at least until sin's destruction in our life becomes very apparent. Even then, many of us never see, refusing even to our death, thereby committing the Unpardonable Sin. But, if a person truly stops to consider the pain and dead-end pathway of sin, a pathway that offers them no True Love or Joy or Peace, then they might just want goodness enough to begin to see, through their still weak but strengthening Spiritual eyes, the Path to Freedom and Life as one of God's children. Returning home all begins with the choice of repentance. From there, only by remaining with the Father and never leaving may we Live in the Light of His Protection and Love. We're either living at home with God or out in darkness in prison with the devil, and we're the children of whom we live with. God Loves us and tells us the Truth; the devil, through sin, hates us and lies to us; if we thoroughly reflect on that, the choice becomes clear, and so does our vision.
"My mother and My brothers are these who hear the Word of God and do it." - Jesus in Luke 8:21 (NKJV)
We cannot claim to Love Jesus if we refuse to do what He says.
We become what we're immersed in. What we feed our mind flows to our emotional and physical chemistry, solidifying there in proportion to the redundancy of it, thereby programming the inclinations within us. If we keep our mind fed with the sin of this world, our inclinations are to sin. If we keep our mind fed with God's Word and prayer, our Spirit is strengthened with the Power of God through His Spirit, and our inclinations are to Walk calmly in Faith with Jesus through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Sin is a drug, and the devil is the pusher bringing death.
Sin is toxic, weakening us like decay in the bones.
Sin does not numb pain; it reinforces it.
Sin does not provide an escape from stress and anxiousness; it multiplies it.
Sin is a deceitful trap that steals and destroys our very Life.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." - Jesus in John 8:34 (NKJV)
"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - Jesus in John 8:31-32 (NKJV)
Repent, come to Jesus Christ, and Live !
"I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
"Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
- Jesus in Luke 15:7,10 (NKJV)
Imagine that, and please let it sink in... a single sinner's repentance is both known and celebrated in Heaven ! It makes God and His Angels happy when we are found !
Now, many of us convince ourselves we are "a good person", believing we don't sin merely because we don't run around shooting people with a gun. Yet we are quick to accuse others of wrongdoing for many things that don't involve running around shooting people with a gun. So whose standards should we use... our own hypocrisy mixed with our fleeting feelings that change with the wind, or God's Commandments of immovable, eternal Rock, the same yesterday, today, and forever ?
A human body can be either clean or dirty inside, in proportion to the volume, duration, and degree of sin stored within it. If human beings were removed from the Earth, there would be no more sin. God, because He Loves us, would simply prefer that we clean up our insides (and therefore our outsides) with Him, through His Son, Jesus.
What happens to a fish that swims in sewage ? It becomes filthy and sickly inside and out.
What happens to a fish that swims in clean water ? It becomes clean and healthy inside and out.
We become what we're immersed in.
There were once two oceans, one of sewage, one that was clean.
The clean ocean was much greater in size than the ocean of sewage.
Between the two oceans was a small ridge that came out of the water,
enough to separate the oceans but still low enough that the fish could
easily jump over the ridge from one ocean to the other at their choosing.
Many of the fish were born in the ocean of sewage, but some were born in
the clean ocean, and all knew how the other ocean differed from their own.
Now it was observed that a few fish jumped from the ocean of sewage to
the clean, but more fish jumped from the clean to the ocean of sewage.
In fact, the ocean of sewage kept getting more crowded, more filthy, and
more sickly, while the clean, healthy ocean had fewer and fewer fish in it.
Upon observing this strange behavior, what would we conclude ?
We would conclude that the fish are increasingly self-destructive.
Even knowing better, few who are sick want to be made well.
And many who briefly are well choose rather to become sick.
Only a few choose to be well and remain there.
Who wants us to NOT sin ? God. Who wants us TO sin ? Satan.
Who wants to heal us ? God. Who wants to bring us harm ? The devil.
Can it be any clearer than that ?
From the two simple Truths above, even a child can see that sin correlates to harm, and not sinning correlates to the healing of a life.
So why does God want what He wants for us ?
To heal our lives.
The One who wants us to cease sin is the One who Loves us.
You cannot spell "Good" without "G-o-d", and you cannot spell "devil" without "e-v-i-l".
S.A.F.E. = S-tay A-way F-rom E-vil.
The Bible defines what sin is in three basic ways, all accounting to the same thing:
(1) From James 4:17, if we know to do good and don't do it, it's sin. (Likewise, if we know a thing is wrong but do it anyway, it's sin.)
(2) From 1 John 5:17, sin is all unrighteousness.
(3) From 1 John 3:4, sin in lawlessness (NKJV), or similarly stated in the (KJV), sin is transgression of the Law (God's Commandments, the same Law specified in James 2:10-11, Romans 7:7, Matthew 5:17-19, and elsewhere).
In addition to the above definitions of sin, Jesus teaches that there is the Letter of the Law and the Heart of the Law, and that the Heart contains more than just the Letter. He gives us examples of this to follow in Matthew 5, including the heart of "you shall not murder" and "you shall not commit adultery", from which it is clear that Jesus expects us to not hold anger toward another, to not look at anyone to lust for them, and to not divorce (except for sexual immorality). We know from Jesus' examples to us that a true-hearted person will not just walk the line but will jump well over it, to contemplate on God's Law and know the full extent of human behaviors that are the opposite of Love for God and others. When a person does this and becomes convicted by the Holy Spirit as to what sin really is, they'll know the true extent of sin, and its causes-and-effects, both within themselves and in the world around them. It is a great awakening, from which a sanctifying Walk with the Lord can progress in all Valuable ways.
Speaking of the heart of "you shall not commit adultery", yes, regarding divorce, Jesus makes for us the exception of sexual immorality, for God and Jesus are obviously aware of the pain for a human being in such difficult circumstances, and do provide Mercy. But if there is any way for the marriage union to stay together, please find encouragement in this: God did vow to take back Israel after they committed adultery against Him (idolatry), as He even had the prophet Hosea take back his adulteress wife if she was willing to no longer play the harlot (Hosea 3). With all due compassion to anyone having to deal with such pain, maybe God, through His own example and that of Hosea, can help strengthen us to consider not divorcing too quickly due to sexual transgression, if the other person is willing to repent and walk right going forward. This does not mean it is not painful. It does not mean that one cannot separate and take time for healing. It only means that reconciliation is of God, if possible.
Any human solutions to problems caused by sin ultimately fail without calling upon God and Jesus in repentance, forgiveness of others, and obedience to God's Law.
(a) Why did God give His Son Jesus as a Sacrifice on the Cross for the sin of all mankind - was it out of Love for us, or by hatred for us ?
(b) Why do God and Jesus give us God's Law (the Commandments), and teach us to repent, forgive, and stop sinning - is it out of Love for us, or by hatred for us ?
We should answer thoughtfully, because our answers will judge us.
"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." - Jesus in Matthew 12:37 (NKJV)
Most people would answer question (a) above correctly.
Question (b) above, though, seems to truly reveal hearts.
It's so easy when God does something for us, isn't it ?
Many of us don't seem to think it's nearly as easy to do something God wants, though, even if what He wants is all for our benefit.
How much we fight the Truth when we are selfish.
If we reread question (b) above, we see there are two possible answers.
But those two possible answers represent three different types of people:
(1) The many who answer, "Because They hate us." These currently hate God and Jesus, and are lost in their still-desired sins.
(2) The many who answer, "Because They Love us," yet do not do what God and Jesus teach. These know, but do not do. They too are lost, still clinging to the world.
(3) The few who answer, "Because They Love us," and do what God and Jesus teach, by believing their own answer. These know, and do. They are saved by their Faith.
The few in heart category (3) are the only ones who actually keep the New Covenant with God, accepting His grace and embracing His Truth, Loving unselfishly in return.
If we don't see and believe the simplicity of God's Goodness in both Love and Truth, by which we take hold of Jesus' Hand and Walk with Him, what chance do we have ?
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14 (NKJV)
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." - Jesus in John 4:23 (NKJV)
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." - Jesus in John 14:6 (NKJV)
Notice how true grace, proper worship, and the Way to God all include the Truth. Truth is inseparable from God.
And we will not accept and live by the Truth unless we truly Love God and Jesus, and others as ourselves, knowing how God and Jesus Loved us first.
Jesus will heal our life if we let Him, but there are no shortcuts that allow willful sin to remain in the life.
Jesus Christ was full of grace AND Truth, not just grace alone, as many half-hearted wishful thinkers would like to believe.
It's only when we stop trying to make up a Jesus we want, and instead allow Him to make us who He wants, that we may become a Child of God.
A True relationship with God can only be had out of Love, not out of obligation. With Love, our heart is in it; with obligation, it is not.
Anyone who thinks it's "work" to repent and turn from evil deceitfully misuses the word "work" and abuses the Letters of Paul in the process. Paul knew well the difference between the keeping of God's Law (or the former Law of Moses for that matter) by a heart of ritual obligation, versus the keeping of God's Law that will only be done God's Way by a right heart. If our heart is not one of Love, we won't truly repent, forgive others, or keep God's Law, but will break the New Covenant with God, and thereby reject His grace.
The Bible, including Jesus Himself, makes it more than clear that God uses our "works" (behaviors) in His Judgement of us. Some verses for this: Deuteronomy 7:9-10; Job 34:10, Psalm 18:10, 62:12; Proverbs 11:41, 24:12; Isaiah 59:18; Jeremiah 25:14, 32:19, 50:29, 51:56; Ezekiel 24:14, 36:19; Hosea 12:2; Amos 8:7-8; Jonah 3:10; Zechariah 1:6; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6, 8:13, 8:28; 2 Corinthians 11:15; 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; and Revelation 2:23, 18:6, 20:12-13, 22:12, among others.
Only the most obstinate in sin could deny that God likes good "works" (behaviors), stemming from our repentance for sin and turning from evil.
God knows that good "works" (behaviors) are the very fruits of the those who have Faith in Him and a heart of Love for Him and others !
As a matter of fact, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." - James 2:26 (NKJV)
Who wants "dead faith" ? God doesn't want that for us. After all: "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." - Jesus in Matthew 7:19 (NKJV)
Yes, but can we fake a good behavior for God with a wrong heart, hoping the behavior will cover us ? Of course not. God sees the heart, and is not mocked !
As a matter of fact, as a friend in God pointed out, works without Faith are also dead. "For men do not gather figs from thorns." - Jesus in Luke 6:44 (NKJV)
Something supposedly done for God, but without Faith that keeps the Truth by Love, always leaves a trail of hypocrisy behind, visible even to people, much more to God.
Now for the half-hearted who merely want to check off the "Christian" box on forms that ask for "religion", while still hoping God will someday approve of sin...
Ceasing willful sin isn't "work", as though one gains something by labor.
Ceasing willful sin is surrender, by which one gives up something by choice.
Trying to surrender willful sin for the wrong reasons - begrudgingly, out of obligation - might feel like work to the half-hearted who, in their anguish, never succeed.
But surrendering willful sin for the right reasons - freely, out of Love - is Freedom for those who Love God with all their heart, and succeed by Faith in His Love for them.
Gods Law: keeping the Ten Commandments (Truth) because of the Two Most Important Commandments (Love).
Neither Love nor Truth can do any good thing without the other. They are meant to be intertwined and inseparable.
That is why God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word all are Love and Truth in exact equal measure.
To embrace God's Law is to embrace God's Love and Protection for us. By it, we hold Jesus' Hand as we Walk with Him.
To resent God's Law is to walk away from God's Love and Protection for us, letting go the Hand of Christ Himself.
Attempted "obedience by obligation" merely masks resentment and sugarcoats continuing desire for the things of this world.
It is "image" without substance, not True obedience, and can never hide the continued willful sin that always shows through.
The rich young ruler and Judas walked this wide road.
Anyone who labels it as "work" to not murder, steal, lie, covet, commit adultery, dishonor parents, misuse God's name, commit idolatry, or have other gods; or to keep the only Sabbath in the Bible (which is also not work but rest)... such a person refuses both Jesus' teachings and Sacrifice.
It's better for a person to never come to God than for them to pretend to come to God.
Hating Truth is the opposite of Love.
Fighting against even one of God's Commandments is not Love. It is only fighting against God Himself.
Seeking technicalities to avoid any part of the Letter OR Heart of God's Law is also not Love. We can't desire to continue in sin and claim we Love God.
Anyone who claims Jesus doesn't teach us to stop sinning immediately is a liar, and neither Love nor Truth is in them.
Anyone who claims Jesus doesn't teach us to keep all the Commandments is a liar, and neither Love nor Truth is in them.
"Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words." - Jesus in John 8:46-47 (NKJV)
"One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." - Proverbs 28:9 (NKJV)
Refusal to read God's Word is rejection of the Father and Son, which is also rejection of Peace and safety for our lives.
The person who resists good will get their wish.
Failure to recognize sin and its destructiveness leads to one's being subject to it, willfully or not.
"My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge." - Hosea 4:6 (NKJV)
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. " - Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)
"Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." - Jesus in Matthew 10:28 (NKJV)
Jesus surely does not want us destroyed, so He knows it's critical for us to fear God enough to start and stay on the path to Wisdom and understanding through His Word. Does this mean we should live being afraid of God ? We should be afraid of God only if we don't Love or respect Him, or keep in mind His Infinite Power in this Universe. Using our free will to fight against the sole Infinite Power who Loves us, wants the Best for us, and works to protect and save us, is nothing but sheer madness, driven by prideful defiance that leads straight to destruction. We have a choice... all Good, all Love, all Truth, all Light, and all Life on one hand, or permanent death on the other.
There is Love of the Lord and fear of the Lord. Love is preferable, but if we don't start there, we should at least start with fear that leads to knowledge that leads to Love.
"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." - Jesus in John 12:46-48 (NKJV)
Our final Judgement will not be arbitrary; the Standard of Judgement will be God's Word, which contains His Righteousness. Of course, that is precisely what makes the Bible our Perfect manual for living, and for taking care of ourselves and others. Sadly, as one preacher noted, it might be the least-read best-seller ever. That might be true for many who own one, but on a better note, it is surely the most Valuable, Life-saving Book ever to those who actually read and do what it says.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." - Jesus in Mark 12:30 (NKJV)
And "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Jesus in Mark 12:31 (NKJV)
It might seem anti-intuitive to a human side that doesn't want to give it-"self" up, but the Spirit knows that surrendering "self" is the only Way to Victory. We are born with two natures - a Spiritual nature and a human nature. One is Spirit, one is flesh. The "flesh" consists of our mental, emotional, and physical states, also known as our mind, heart, and strength (or body). Our mind thinks, our emotions feel, and our body acts. All "four parts" of us - Spirit, mind, heart, body - can interact relatively seamlessly. The mind is the control center, of course, and what is fed into it determines the state of our being. When a person lives as a carnal being - not by the Spirit in connection to God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit, the Word, and prayer - then their Spirit is essentially dead (not germinated) within them. Their lifeline to God has "potential", but no active Life. Therefore, in a carnal state, a person essentially lives by just the mind, emotions, and body. Feeding their five senses the "culture" in front of them, the carnal mind's storage of such often manifests as one doing whatever they "feel like" and physically desire, in line with the "culture" and the sin it promotes***. Any of us can look at our own life, or around this world, to see the damage from sin by carnal living. Of course, Jesus tells us that the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, knowing our flesh is not meant to lead us, for God intends our Spirit to be fed and to grow by a purposely-chosen, daily-living, Family connection with Him. Our Spirit was made to be the Parent within us, over our human side. Our Spirit is to be the part of us that, by connection to God, has control over what is fed to our mind, and therefore our emotional and physical states. We are to voluntarily give up "self", and not do just what we "feel like" or physically desire, but instead do what is Right as our Father teaches us, driven by Love for Him and others. By our Spirit in connection with Jesus through the Holy Spirit, we are to have "self-control", that is, control of the self.
*** The carnal world does not teach ONLY sin to its children. As Jesus tells us: though we are evil, even we (as carnal or "worlded" people) know to give good things to our own children, like food. Yes, the carnal world does pass on to its children some of what is Right, so there is some "good" to point to ("I haven't murdered anyone with a gun, and I did well in school and have a job."). But pointing to what is Right does not remove the wrong in sin this carnal world also, and increasingly, continues to pass on to its children. Satan mixes the bad among the good - to destroy. It's sin that's the issue, not any minimal and lessening goodness transferred to the next generation.
From now until the approaching Last Day, the already-small percentage of True Believers on the Earth will decline to the point where no more will be added.
"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." - Jesus in Luke 17:26-30 (NKJV)
In Noah's day, out of all the people on the Earth, only eight people, Noah's family, entered the ark and were saved. Eight ! No new believers beyond those eight were added, even after Noah himself preached to the people (2 Peter 2:5) for decades while building the ark. Why were no new believers added ? Because the world was so depraved and filled with sin that no one was listening: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." - Genesis 6:5 (NKJV) Was it any different in the days of Lot ? No ! God assured Abraham that Sodom would not be destroyed if even ten righteous people lived there, and we can be sure if there was even one righteous person besides Lot (with his family), then God would have saved that person too. But there were not, so only Lot and his two daughters ended up being saved on the day of Sodom's destruction. Even the rest of Lot's own family didn't take the warning and instruction from God seriously, and so their demise was sealed, their heart being little different toward God than the other residents of Sodom. So, based on what Jesus tells us, we can see that the Earth will become so corrupt in sin that "every intent of the thoughts of the hearts will be only evil continually", just as in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot. No one else will repent beyond that point, and that is when Jesus will return to the Earth in the clouds above to get His own away from it, as the rest is marked for destruction.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." - Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." - Jesus in John 10:27 (NKJV)
One's continued resistance to the call of their Creator leads to their Spiritual, and ultimately, permanent death.
One can commit the Unpardonable Sin by blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The essence of blasphemy is to not hold God up to His Rightful place as the Creator-King of the Universe. By this, we marginalize God in our hearts and attempt to exalt ourselves to His Rightful place in our lives. In other words, if we blaspheme God, we don't believe He is who He says He is, and therefore set ourselves up as "god" of our own lives, and often attempt to self-righteously be "god" over others as well. The sins of covetousness, not Loving God, having other gods before Him, and treating God vainly (among others) are behind it, all pointing to self-exaltation by evil measures. Likewise, if we blaspheme Jesus, we do not believe Jesus is who He says He is. Of course blasphemy can also manifest on the outside of us as outright disrespect of God and Jesus, or in trying to test Them, or by other such behaviors stemming from a lack of Faith mixed with the childish, self-centered desire to be "great" in all the wrong ways. Now, if we don't have Faith that God and Jesus are who They say, then we won't believe God's Word. And if we don't believe God's Word, then we won't believe that everything God and Jesus have is available to us, including God's Holy Spirit to dwell within us. By refusing to believe, we have no way to accept the Holy Spirit, and we cut off the only path to our forgiveness, because it's the Holy Spirit's job to convict us of sin and guide us into all Truth, and to bring to our mind any part of God's Word we know that can help us in our life. Rest assured, the Unpardonable Sin, or blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, is not a one-time action of disrespect, verbal or otherwise. It develops as we continue to ignore the calling of God's Holy Spirit to our Spirit, always putting Him off and never inviting Him in. In that state, we will not come to repentance (nor will we be forgiving of others or obedient to God's Law), but remain in willful sin. If we get to the end of our life having never trusted in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God's Word to lead us, then we die in our sin, unforgiven and unpardoned, having also turned down the offer of Jesus' Sacrifice on our behalf. (Sure, many insincere folks might believe they can trick God toward the end of their life with an insincere verbal repentance, but God knows the heart and is never mocked.) From this, it can be understood that the Unpardonable Sin is unpardonable because it is not a sin someone can confess to God, and thereby be forgiven (1 John 1:9). For how would they sincerely confess it, and to Whom, when they never heeded the call of the Holy Spirit to repentance in the first place, and to believe in the One who forgives ? When we blaspheme the Holy Spirit, we do not hold the Spirit of God up to His Rightful place as the Invisible-yet-Tangible Guide for our life. And if we refuse to believe as such, having little or no Faith, we will not follow His call to do what is necessary to come to Life in the Lord. Dead in Spirit, body and Soul perish at the end.
We need to start with prayer and go from there. Once we've asked for the Holy Spirit, it will be given. Should we then grieve Him away by persistently having no Faith ? No ! As Jesus tells us, if we ask, seek, and knock, it will be given, found, and opened. But we must open our heart in Faith like a little child to keep hold of what is ours.
Knowing and doing are two different things. There is no Faith in only knowing, for even the devil knows. The Faith is in the doing. If we know what to do, but don't act on it, we have no Faith. Likewise, "to believe" means "to have Faith". Therefore, "believing" is not just knowing or mentally acknowledging; like Faith, it is Walking in trust.
Believing without doing isn't believing.
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great." - Jesus in Luke 6:46-49 (NKJV)
A Sanctified Life is a process of first knowing the Truth, and then changing by the Truth, by Faith, because of Love. It is a Protected, Blessed Life.
God does not conform to us; we must conform to Him. Perfect cannot conform to imperfect ! So it must be that imperfect must instead become Perfect.
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect ." - Jesus in Matthew 5:48 (NKJV)
Who is more Loving and Trustworthy than our Father, God, and His Son, Jesus ? Yet whose job is more thankless than Theirs ? Shall we not Love them back with Faith ?
We know that God provides His "basic" Miracles to all: the Universe, the Earth, nature and all that is in it, as well as our own existence with all the means that support it such as fresh air, sunshine, rain, food that grows right out of the ground, water to drink, and materials with which to clothe and shelter ourselves. (Sadly, people acting in concert with the devil through sin often attempt to thwart God's basic Miracles, by poisoning the air, the water, and the ground, and also by greed with which the rich hoard and the poor go without. The faithless do this because they do not believe in God, even though in hypocrisy they accept even His basic Miracles for themselves.)
In addition, there are wonderful "personal" Miracles from God and Jesus. Sadly, many people refuse these for themselves by a lack of Faith. The Bible contains many examples showing Jesus could only do personal Miracles of healing and Blessing for those who Truly believed (who were also alive and able to speak for themselves). For those who were healed from bodily death or another condition where they could not speak for themselves, at least they did not fight Jesus' Merciful efforts by a lack of Faith. Even so, those close to them, such as family, were encouraged to have Faith for their loved one to be healed.
As for the rest who had little or no Faith, Jesus could not help them. We see this in the example of Jesus' own home town of Nazareth, where the people only thought of Jesus as just a boy who grew up among them, and so they refused to believe He could also be the Messiah, God's own Son. Almost no one there had Faith in Him, even though they knew His works in other places ! So for Nazareth, we are told, "Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief." - Mark 6:5-6 (NKJV)
Of course, "trying" to believe in Jesus just so we can receive some sort of personal Miracle is bad-hearted, and God knows that. Nothing will be done for such a person. For a new Christian growing in the Faith, though, God through the Holy Spirit will certainly bring many good and amazing things. And as one's Faith grows, they will see even more. Now, sometimes we believe enough to receive a Miracle instantly, as was the case with many of Jesus' Miracles for those who believed in Him. But we can also slow up God's and Jesus' Perfect Ability to perform wonderful life-changing transformations for us, because of a sometimes still-doubting Faith, wherein we make an otherwise instant Miracle take much longer to effect change for us. How slow of heart we are, afraid to shed the hardness that sin has put upon us ! Yet if we sincerely repent and believe, with a Faith revealed by our willingness to Walk simply by God's Command to do so, Jesus promises that all that is Theirs we can also receive !
If we truly want to give someone a gift, and they resist accepting it, how does that make us feel ? And if we try to give someone a gift, and they accept it gladly, how does that make us feel ? Allowing one to give is a gift to them. We know this ourselves when we want to give someone a gift. Shall we limit God's giving by a lack of Faith ?
If we're not good to God, we won't truly be good to anyone else. If we don't treat God right, our own Parent who created us and Loves us, how will we treat anyone else ?
God did not make this world the way it is. He made a great world for us and gave humans a choice. Sin made it like it is, and sin will be its demise.
What is society at large more interested in - the next TV show or movie they want to watch, or God's Word ?
What is society at large more interested in - their next escape INTO sin, or escaping FROM sin ?
Why is the world like the world is ?
It's not too hard to know... we reap what we sow.
To prophesy is simply to tell it like it is, and often what it will lead to. Only a prophet who prophesies in the Truth is of God, speaking in agreement with God's Word.
Bible prophecy makes it clear that so many are "dead", and increasingly so, that the ravages of sin will continue to destroy the Earth to the point where the Lord must come back, get His own sheep away from it, and cleanse it with Hell Fire. God's Word points us right to the End Time; all we have to do is know it and believe it. To keep the religious wolves at bay for now, we'll state it this way: There will be no one alive on this Earth in the year 2700. It will actually be sooner than that, but for now, please simply consider what this means to you personally, and to your family, and even to the society in the world at large. What if everyone on Earth knew of the relatively few generations of people left before the End comes ? Will some repent and come to God ? Will evil become more evil ? You are Loved, you know. What will you do ?
This proud world, once thinking itself unsinkable, has already slashed its hull on the lurking iceberg of sin.
It is taking on the water it thought it could always stay on top of, the waves of sin that will become its grave.
And look ! The man-made lifeboats are nothing but cheap substitutes, each with holes drilled in them by lies !
This is what the prophets saw,
The Earth is headed for its fall.
Where sin abounds, True Love cannot,
Reapers reap what they begot.
By mid-millennium it will rise,
The foundation of the Earth's demise.
Hope for better, prepare for worse,
The coming destruction upon the Earth.
- In the Spirit, Year 2011
Those who don't bother with eternity won't have one.
Satan has prompted, prodded, pushed, and pulled many false alarms to dull our senses to the reality of the coming Day of the Lord, the resurrection of the Righteous, and the separation of the wicked. Of course Jesus implores us repeatedly to remain attentive to the signs of the times and Faithful in our duties to God. We are to be alert and ready at all times, and not have our senses dulled by sin or by false prophets who misuse God's Word. Jesus specifically discusses the End Time events that will occur, and just as sure as He was here the first time, He will be coming back to gather His elect. It is interesting to note that all other Scriptures in the Bible regarding these prophecies are in full agreement, as were the Old Testament prophecies that pointed directly to Jesus' First Appearance, which occurred, and ended, right on time. If we Love God's Word and investigate it for ourselves, the Holy Spirit will lead us in a variety of ways to bring it to Light in our very own lives, and it will never cease to amaze us. Of course, just knowing some prophecy about Jesus' Return at the End Time won't mean much if we won't be going with Him, so it is most critical to know and be doing all that He taught us first. Only by His First visit may we be prepared for His Second !
That said, we must beware of false prophets, who speak only from the deceit of their own heart. We can spot them because their words will not match God's Word.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." - Jesus in Matthew 7:15 (NKJV)
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." - 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)
Surely, we must be wary of people who don't care to know God. The standard, worlded, "un-religious" person is at least relatively easy to see. While they might currently be lost, they at least have not fooled themselves with false doctrine that blocks the Narrow Way, and so they still have a reasonable chance to want True Love enough to come to God. The un-intuitive reality is, the currently-unlearned are easier for Christ to teach. We have proof of that simply by whom Jesus chose to be His Apostles, and they would also tell you the same thing ! Therefore, the more difficult are the so-called "religious" people who do not actually think, speak, and act in the Truth. It is critical, even for our own Salvation, that we not be deceived by them. And the only way to do that is to read God's Word for ourselves. Jesus is the discerner of hearts, but He didn't leave us empty-handed. His Word in the Bible is our discerner of hearts as well, for it is not God's intention for us to walk in blindness, or to be misled by evil. But we have to want God, and to read His Word, in order to know the difference.
How many of us blame God and hate Him solely because we don't trust so many of our fellow human beings ? Yet who is willing to give up their own free will and power of choice to make sure it's also removed from others ? God didn't create us as pre-programmed robots who MUST love; He created us with free will. He even created the Angels in Heaven with free will. How would you have done things... would you want a bunch of machines around you who have been programmed to Love you, or would you want beings of free will who have the choice to Love you or not ? Which one would be Real Love and which one would not be ? That's why God made us as He made us. Therefore, we can all thank Him for embedding our Spirit within us, and for our power of choice that determines what we become. Who, when standing in front of God at the end, will be able to look at Him and say He was unfair for all the Blessings He bestowed upon us, including the gift of a human life ? Which one of us will be able to blame God for our own failure to act on His Word ? Will the "other people" excuse be acceptable for why we were no more trustworthy than them ? If not, then we must appreciate our God-given Blessings, and purposely keep God's Word. He Loved us first. Should we not do the same toward others ?
When God implants our Spirit (or Soul) within us when He stitches us together in the womb, that Spirit-seed includes the DNA of the Two Most Important Commandments. We are all born with innate knowledge that we are created. And we all know that the Creator made us for good, because He Loves us, not because He wants to harm us or torture us. We see that as we grow and notice the Universe, the Earth, nature and all that is in it, and consider our own existence with all the means that support it such as fresh air, food that grows right out of the ground, water to drink, and materials with which to clothe and shelter ourselves. We know it is right, therefore, to Love the Creator with every aspect of us - our heart, Soul, mind, and strength - because the very Blessing of our existence is an integral part of who He is. We also have been given on our Spirit an innate sense-of-self (i.e. when we look in the mirror, we know it's us and not some other human being). By it, we all know that to treat anyone else like we don't want to be treated is wrong. Said another way, we shall Love others as ourself. Again, implanted in the very seed of Spirit that we are all given at birth, we have the Two Most Important Commandments to Love God and others. Therefore, just like Paul says, we are without excuse if we do not do these things. Nor will we have an excuse if we choose to never feed our Spiritual seed, to have it germinate and grow according to our capabilities that God knows. Until such a time as we do, our Spirit will remain dead (dormant), and can never grow and bear fruit. But if we feed God's Light and Living Water to our Spiritual seed, we can be "born again"... germinated and growing !
"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." - James 1:21 (NKJV)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” - Jesus in John 3:3 (NKJV)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’" - Jesus in John 3:5-7 (NKJV)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." - Jesus in John 6:53-56 (NKJV) Here, Jesus' flesh can be seen as His life and Ministry when He was on the Earth the first time (i.e. in the flesh), the food of which is His Word (His teachings). And Jesus' blood of course represents His death on the Cross as the Sacrifice for our sins. Therefore, unless we consume, that is, partake of, both His teachings AND Sacrifice together, we have no Life in us. Only if we consume them together can Christ become inseparably embedded in our Spirit, as literal food and drink become in our flesh. If we do not eat food or drink, or if we only attempt to consume one without the other, death is the result.
The Way to ensure we have the Bread of Life in constant supply to nourish our Spirit is to always be attached to the lifeline, Jesus, through Whom the Word flows directly from the Life-giving source of all, God.
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." - Jesus in John 15:1-2, 4-6 (NKJV)
Many of us like to hear nice Bible verses and nod our head in knowing agreement. If we go no further than that, then we are only looking at the Vine and branches as a non-participating spectator. We have to make sure we're participating, by doing, by Faith in the Truth from the Trustworthy Vine, Jesus. We must make sure we have Life, the Word, flowing within us. We do NOT want our vantage point to be from the ground, cast off from the Vine, watching others grow and bear fruit as we wither to death !
Many of us like to point only to the good while willfully ignoring the bad. But Jesus sternly warns against believing God can be mocked or fooled by a divided heart: “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. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" - Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) This itself proves that "he who does the will of My Father in heaven" is the same individual who does NOT "practice lawlessness", meaning does NOT break God's Law. It is undeniable that Jesus is saying here that those who continue in willful sin, breaking God's Commandments, no matter what good they might do otherwise, will NOT be going to Heaven. This should be a loud wake-up call to the many who try only to point to God's Love while ignoring God's Truth. Be safe, little children, and stay far away from the wolves in sheep's clothing who refuse to discuss or take God's Commandments seriously. Do not share in their sin.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." - Jesus in Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)
And again: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’" - Jesus in Luke 13:24-28 (NKJV) This itself proves that the narrow gate to the Way is not merely just knowing or "feeling close to" Jesus. Heaven's door will only be opened to those who are NOT "workers of iniquity", that is, who do not willfully sin, but keep the Commandments of God. Again, beware children, of those who seem "familiar with" God and Jesus yet do not discuss or take God's Commandments seriously. We do not want to share their fate.
And again, from the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Jesus speaking in Matthew 13:40-42 (NKJV):
"Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire."
And again, from the Parable of the Dragnet of Fish, Jesus speaking in Matthew 13:48-50 (NKJV):
"...and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire."
In Jesus' clarifying explanations of the two Parables above, He clearly associates for us exactly who the wicked are - those who practice lawlessness; that is, those who continue in willful sin, breaking God's Law, His Commandments. Jesus is every bit as clear in stating these folks will NOT being going Heaven at the end of this age, but to the furnace of Fire instead. Who can refute Jesus ?! The wicked are those who continue in willful sin ! Again, children, stay far away from anyone who will not discuss or take God's Commandments seriously, for indeed, all such are wicked. Let us be safe, and have no part with those who remain unreceptive to the Truth in Jesus' Word.
"And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city !" - Jesus in Mark 6:11 (NKJV)
Jesus is clear regarding those who won't receive His Word. And it's not just individuals. Also run from any church that is more "the world" or social club than Bible study, or one that week-after-week merely goes through the same tired old motions of some tired old rituals that serve mainly to defeat the Spirit. God's Word is Alive, not dead ! Any church that does not discuss Jesus' teachings in full, or does not encourage God's Commandments (and not their own) within the lives of its members, is not a church that Loves its members, or that lives in the Truth. It should not be a shock to anyone that this is, sadly, the overwhelming majority of churches today. They have "a form of godliness" as they go through their religious motions, but they reject the True Message of Christ, and thereby reject the Power of the Gospel for Salvation. So search for one of the very few churches who Love God and put His Word first. And be sure to pray often and read God's Word for yourself, so the Holy Spirit can guide you and keep you safe, so that your Life may be saved. Jesus is clear.
It is important to keep in our heart and mind that God condones NO sin; God wants His Commandments to be known and kept, and for us to sin no more. Therefore His Son, Jesus, teaches exactly the same, just as He heard from the Father in Heaven:
"See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." - Jesus in John 5:14 (NKJV)
"Go and sin no more." - Jesus in John 8:11 (NKJV)
"Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." - Jesus in Luke 13:5 (NKJV)
"If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." - Jesus in Matthew 19:17 (NKJV)
Jesus exhorts us with these and many similar exhortations because He Loves us, knowing that sin brings devastating consequences to us.
So be extremely wary of any supposed Christian or church that does not teach the same, or that omits teaching in completeness all that Jesus does.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."
- Jesus in John 10:1,10 (NKJV)
Steal ? Yes. Any person or church who avoids the door of the Truth, who will not discuss sin and teach all of God's Commandments specifically and explicitly, but tries to influence Jesus' sheep by some other way, the same is a thief and a robber... they are trying to steal God's children away from Him with falsehood. Again, we must beware of false prophets who want us to share in their sin. We ourselves must discuss and teach the Two Most Important Commandments and the Ten Commandments, just as they are written in Exodus 20, and repeated in Deuteronomy 5, in the Bible. This does NOT mean using a church's "version" of the Commandments, or a church's rationalizations that slyly seek to modify the Commandments. God's Commandments are in the Bible for anyone who can read to read. The only reason for a church to not use the Bible, but to use their "own way" instead, is because they do not want God's Way. They are of the devil, for only Satan seeks to substitute himself for God.
Kill ? Destroy ? Yes. What else would one call it if a false prophet attempts to influence people away from the Truth, and therefore from life-saving Salvation, by false doctrine willfully meant to minimize God's Word by suggesting that sin is okay ? Often, their toxic message is mixed with smooth, easy words to slyly suggest that we are just helpless sinners, that we cannot do anything about it, so we shouldn't worry too much about ceasing sin. Is this what Jesus teaches ? That we're helpless ? Hardly ! Jesus clearly teaches, in fact, that we have our part to do. And what is it ? To learn what He teaches and do what He says, by Faith. He gives us all the help we need ! Should one suggest the devil is mightier than God ? Only if one worships the devil is the devil mightier to them. But for those who worship God and are yoked to Jesus, there is no need to follow the currently-lost to Hell. By reading God's Word for themselves, Jesus' sheep hear His voice and follow Him, but never the voice of strangers.
True or False: "If everyone kept the Ten Commandments, the world would be a better place."
Anyone who answers "True" to that knows and admits that God's Commandments are good.
"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." - James 4:17 (NKJV)
Thus, if we know God's Commandments are good but do not willfully keep them ourselves, we are a hypocrite, and in sin.
We pray, "Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven."
And what is God's Will ? Love. And what is Love ?
"If you love Me, keep My Commandments." - Jesus in John 14:15 (NKJV)
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His Commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His Commandments. And His Commandments are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:2-3 (NKJV)
Anywhere where God's Commandments are being broken, it is not Love, and His Will is not being done.
So, are we supposed to keep only some of God's Commandments or ALL of them, His Law ?
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." - Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19 (NKJV)
Have Heaven and Earth passed away yet ? If not, then every single aspect of God's Law is still in effect.
"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." - James 2:10-11 (NKJV)
Obviously, we are to keep all of the Truth God has given us. Therefore, if we know the Commandments, as we should, then we are to willfully be keeping all of Them, not just some of Them. And not just the nine out of ten that many acknowledge while rationalizing the remaining one away based on the tradition of men, who have acted in concert, either willfully or in ignorance, with the devil in an attempt to change God's times and Law. If we cannot justify our behavior based on what the Bible, and the Bible only, says, then we should change our behavior to God's Way. Habit change in this life is a whole lot easier than facing God in the Judgement and trying to explain to Him why we felt we could willfully discard even one of His Commandments. Jesus, and all of God's Word, makes this exceedingly clear. Do we Love Him, yes or no ?
We say "nine out of ten" above, knowing that many reasonable and moral folks who refer to themselves as Christians, and who are not leaders of the "beast" church of prophecy, would acknowledge Commandments 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. They'll have to face God over the Fourth Commandment, because God's Commandments cannot be altered, only broken or kept. If we've heard and know better, then we're to keep the Light we have. Now... the beast church on the other hand, is another story.
Line-walkers and pretenders try to negotiate God's Commandments in an attempt to keep sin based on wished-for technicalities or tradition, driven by pride, evil, or both. A true-hearted person does not seek technicalities with God, or to keep wrongful traditions, but simply seeks to be safely under His wing, no matter what, by Love for Him.
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men." - Jesus in Mark 7:8 (NKJV)
“All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition." - Jesus in Mark 7:9 (NKJV)
"You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts." - Jesus in Luke 16:15 (NKJV)
Too often when a believer tries to reason with a group over one of their doctrines, and by Love for God, and them, points out an impurity that is not Scriptural, Satan, the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10), is quick to hand the group many diversionary accusations against the believer that serve only to avoid the point made. But when the manufactured smoke clears, the choice still remains unchanged - we either use God's Word, the Bible, for what we believe, or we refuse, with God as Witness.
Dirt makes a white shirt dirty; the white shirt does not make the dirt clean.
A drop of poison makes a bowl of soup toxic; the bowl of soup does not make the poison safe.
In the same way, that which is wrong defaces that which is Right.
Until dirt and poison and wrong are removed, a thing is not clean or safe or Righteous, and there will never be Peace about it.
99% pure is more pure than 95% pure, which is more pure than 80% pure, which is more pure than 55% pure. But all are still impure and have room for improvement.
What if, over a long period of time, we find our spouse or co-worker or friend to be trustworthy 49 out of 50 times; and for the one time out of 50 when they are willfully untrustworthy, they do not repent, but instead try to rationalize, minimize, justify, or defend their action, and then move on. Do we trust them ? Now, what if that person is not someone else, but us ? Would we be trustworthy ? Surely, 98% trustworthy is more trustworthy than 95%, and 80%, and 55%. But who would we rather deal with - a person who is 100% trustworthy or 98% trustworthy ? Therefore, what kind of person should we be for others, and Whose Standard of Truth should we use ?
It's not what we do right that needs correcting. And while there is wrong, there will be no Peace. For when we sin against God and others, we also destroy ourselves.
Sincerity, if it even exists in a given person, is a good start, but only half the battle. What is sincerity ? It's a lack of deceit. How ? It exists when one's thoughts match their words which match their actions. If there is any inconsistency among the three (thoughts, words, actions), then there is insincerity, that is, deceit, or hypocrisy. But one can be sincerely wrong or sincere in ignorance, if one does not have the Truth. That is still a dangerous position, but God, by His grace, will do His best to encourage people to Him by the Truth, to bring them under His Loving and Protective wing. When Truth is then purposely sought by a sincere person who is humble in their heart and has Love for God, they will find and receive, and God's Kingdom will be opened to them through His Word and Holy Spirit. They will be fed the Bread of Life and Living Water, and will Grow to bear the fruit of repentance, forgiveness, and obedience, by which God's Blessings can flow easily and without measure, as He wishes for anyone to choose in Faith. But notice, once a person knows the Truth, it is in their thoughts, and they can only continue to be sincere if they change their words and actions to live by the Truth the Holy Spirit has given them. It is impossible to be sincere - meaning consistent in thoughts, words, and actions - by continuing to defend a lie with rationalized words or actions that do not match the conviction on their Spirit. Only the insincere can attempt to bury the Truth within themselves in order to keep living lies by pride.
"When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite." - Jesus in Luke 12:58-59 (NKJV)
If we are an adversary to the Holy Spirit by resisting the Truth, will He not take us to the Judge, Jesus ? And being found guilty by His Word, will we not be delivered to the Officer, the One who allows the awful earthly consequences of sin to be our earthly sentence, in the hope that it will turn our heart back to Him, by which rehabilitation for eventual habitation in Heaven can take place, instead of permanent, unthinkable consequences beyond this age ? So if our sin has gotten us cast into an earthly inner-prison, manifested also with outer consequences, does not God know that the proper earthly sentencing time a person needs will be that by which they finally give in and surrender to what is good ? His hope and Mercy wait patiently for us the whole time, from the first minute, so our earthly sentence is solely the length of time it takes us to give up our pride. And if we never do ? The Bible tells us that all will confess God, but if not in this life, one's begrudging confession of regret at the End will be too late.
Let there be no misunderstanding here. Can God punish ? Yes, God can impose His Will anywhere at any time to correct any situation, all by His Righteousness. Does God Himself personally punish sin often ? Let's liken it to this: a person commits a crime on Earth, gets caught by the police, is tried in court, gets sentenced by a judge, and is then sent to prison. In prison, there are also other prisoners who likewise are lawbreakers, and even though confined themselves, they often make the lives of their fellow prisoners quite difficult. It's truly a prison within a prison – all bad. Now let's ask, is a guilty person who ends up in prison truly punished by others, or have they punished themselves ? Yes, there was a criminal justice system in place to process the crime, but truly, it is the person who chose their own predicament. It's really no different where sin is concerned. Let's face it - too many believe the bounds of morality are limited only to “getting caught” by human authorities; that anything they can get away with otherwise is okay. And many times, in fact, we are not caught by human authorities for wrongful behaviors. But the system God put in place isn't like that. Yes, God's System is built upon Laws, Righteous Laws, and they include the Two Most Important Commandments and Ten Commandments. But they also include all the natural laws for all the processes of the Universe. And unlike human systems, God's System isn't fallible, for in His System, each cause automatically produces an effect. There is no such thing as “not getting caught”, because in God's System, all is seen, good and bad, both outer behaviors and inner, and all effects occur automatically from their cause. Many of us do not perceive most causes and effects, least of all our own, nor do we often keep in mind as we go about our day-to-day routine that many causes produce effects that also build up over time to produce a much larger effect, whether one of success or too often one of devastation. But nothing passes under the radar in God's Universe, which includes our own Earth, where what is sown is also reaped, good or bad. So, to go back to our original question... does God Himself personally punish sin often ? God can and does step in supernaturally where He Righteously deems it necessary, but more often than not, we as free-will beings in His Universe choose to punish ourselves when we decide to live apart from God and His Way, away from His Light and out in the darkness, which is not a vast “free” zone at all, but only a confining prison of pride and sin, a double-prison where other prisoners-by-choice – including Satan and his demons – also live to make the inmates' lives harsh and difficult. It is not God's Will to punish. God is a Righteous Parent who tries to protect us and keep us from evil, knowing True Freedom only exists with Him.
For a brief discussion regarding the difference between God's discipline for His children and punishment for sin, please click here.
It's not often that we consider the sheer multitude of human actions, great or small, and how each produces an effect (or effects) in the Universe. While some effects might seem neutral, many effects will either contribute positively and productively to life, or negatively and destructively to life. It is God's Righteous judgement that has the final say in all matters, but surely He thought it important enough for humankind to have a record of His Word, including the Bible, yes, but also of His Creation, whereby none of us are to remain ignorant of the Life-Giver, or of that which contributes beneficially to Life. Love and Truth are not a lamp hidden under a bed; we are to see the Light.
The "automatic" nature of cause-and-effect that God instilled in all matter and energy in the Universe applies to how we are built as well:
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." - Galatians 6:7-8 (NKJV)
Jesus also assures us of the Righteous cause-and-effect nature of God's Way, in complete accordance with His Mercy and justice:
"For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." - Jesus in Luke 6:38 (NKJV)
It is no small thing to say that the standards of our own heart toward God and others will determine what happens to us. If the standards we embed in our heart agree with God and His Law of Love and Truth, then what happens to us we will also find agreeable. If the standards we embed in our heart differ from God and His Law of Love and Truth, then what happens to us we will also find disagreeable. This applies not only to our earthly life, but also regarding Eternal Life. It is Purity in simplicity.
As a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, producing much grain (Jesus in John 12:24), we often reap much more than we sow, good or bad. Even the smallest causes can produce the biggest effects, good or bad. For example, if we keep the New Covenant with God during this earthly life, which is not made too difficult for us, then by God's grace, we will reap Eternal Life through His Son. By sowing relatively small, we reap much greater. But a warning... it works the other way if we sow evil.
Again, all causes and effects, good or bad, even those seemingly imperceptible to humans, are seen, and become part of the record of the Universe.
Jesus Himself points out that everything done under the sun, even all words spoken, are seen and known in Heaven.
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." - Jesus in Matthew 12:36 (NKJV)
"For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known." - Jesus in Luke 12:2 (NKJV)
"Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins ? And not one of them is forgotten before God." - Jesus in Luke 12:6 (NKJV)
"The very hairs of your head are all numbered." - Jesus in Luke 12:7 (NKJV)
(Jesus also assures us, "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.")
So we can see the level of detail in the Universe that is known by God is... everything ! He who made galaxies also made atoms; all matter and energy is accounted for. And when atoms make up a body into which God must breathe Spirit for there to be life, including free will, all aspects of that life are also accounted for.
There is individual sin and also societal (collective) sin, which is the sum of all individual sin together. Suffering comes from both. We are supposed to work together for the good, after all. As parents, are we meant to live in sin, away from God, and then also raise our children in sin and away from God ? As neighbors, are we supposed to willfully embed sin into our own flesh, and by our example teach the same to others ? As well, should any of us use the sins of others as our own excuse to sin ? And do we not know that when we manifest our own evil in sins we think no one else sees, those same sins become the part of us that is seen ? Any willful sins we continue in become part of the offense-and-stumbling-block cycle of destruction that we cannot deny is continually increasing on this Earth, all fed by human choice for the devil's suggestions. But to be a prisoner, and to produce more prisoners, is not God's Will for us at all ! Damage is damage, and as damage increases in volume, duration, and degree within us, the more toxic and hardened we become, both individually and collectively.
It is individual and collective sin, by individual and collective refusal to Love the Creator and be grateful for the Truth He gives to protect us, that is the basis of almost all the destruction on the Earth. The rest is mostly caused by ignoring the natural laws God set up for the processes of the Universe, including for the Earth.
It should convict us that little children, and True Believers (who become like little children), and practically everyone else as well, suffers so much because of sin's destruction. It should also convict us that, because of sin, including our own, we too have a part in the murder of the sinless Son of God on the Cross. We can only be thankful to God that by His Mercy and justice, He will save the innocent and forgiven, by having Jesus lead them away at the Last Day from the collective prison of sin that currently exists on the Earth. If we want to be a part of that Amazing Escape, we must first allow Jesus to lead us to Freedom in this life from our own individual prison of pride and sin.
So, the prison of pride and sin begins at the individual level, and accumulates to collective levels. Nations also ? If a nation chooses to ignore the Truth, that is, resist the Holy Spirit in a mass fashion, does that prideful nation suffer a sin-prison of its own making ? Of course ! What happens when a nation allows its food industry to poison the food supply ? Bad health, high medical expense, and death for its citizens are the result until that nation gives in and changes. How about allowing air pollution to go mostly unchecked ? It's the same result - destruction leading to death unless that nation changes, by turning to God to live in the Truth instead. What about mass covetousness, greed, and materialism - not only of government, corporate, and banking entities, but of the citizenry itself ? Jesus assures us that any individual - and therefore a nation made up of individuals - who is untrustworthy with money, which is unrighteous, will not be given the True Riches of Righteousness. Do we not all know of nations right now who claim "Christian" but who, on an individual and national basis, greatly misuse even unrighteous mammon, again, to the point of destruction of life ? But do these nations ever give in to God's Way, or do they just go on honoring Him with their lips while their hearts are far from Him ? And what of ever-increasing social sins ? And so their prison continues.
Speaking of ever-increasing social sins that go against the Holy Spirit and cast people into prisons of destruction...
A hypocrite is a man who looks at other peoples' daughters in porn, even though he'd never want his own daughter to be in porn.
A liar is a man who claims he wouldn't care if his own daughter was in porn.
The only way to not be a hypocrite or liar in this realm is to cut it out of your life - forever.
"But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Jesus in Matthew 5:28 (NKJV)
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched."
"And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched."
"And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire."
- Jesus in Mark 9:43,45,47 (NKJV)
Which is easier to do - to give in to temptation and sin, or to resist temptation and not sin ?
Therefore, those who don't sin are stronger (not merely of themselves, but also of God), and those who do sin are weak.
Now, the devil has no power we don't give him. But, he was initially created as an Angel in Heaven after all, and was a perfect Angel at that, Lucifer by name, until iniquity was found in him and he was cast to the Earth with one-third of the Angels of Heaven who bought the lies against God that he, now named Satan, sold. (Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Revelation 12:3-4,7-9). (Yes, God makes all His beings in the Universe with free will, not as pre-programmed robots that do not have the capacity to truly Love. It is a risk, but that is the price of True Love. God's Way works exceedingly well throughout the Universe, for this Earth is the only known place of rebellion where the battle of good versus evil is taking place (and heading to its conclusion). We should not forget - it is humans who chose, and who still choose, the side of the devil, even knowing better, even having the Power of God available. But Salvation is offered to those who accept it, and God's Righteousness will win out for them in the end.) Continuing on, the Bible tells us that man was created a little lower than the Angels (Psalm 8:5), so regarding temptation, yes, on our own, we can find ourselves weaker than Satan. But failure to admit we need help is no different than rejecting help. God and Jesus want to help, but we must come to Them to receive it. Only when we embrace God's Way, and receive the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, may we have the Power of Christ working on our behalf to help us resist all temptation to which we might be subjected (1 Corinthians 10:13). Christ is much stronger than the devil and his demons (too many verses to list), so there is no need to get ourselves further enslaved in addiction to all forms of sin, including sexual immorality, from which only destruction is assured. Instead, let us invite Christ into our lives to save our lives. Any man who wants to be a Real man, a strong man, must do so through Jesus.
Do we want Victory in a True fight ? Do we want to be a Real hero, instead of a fake "tough guy" who tries to ignore or justify his frequent departures into the pit of lusts ? There are no private sins, and all weakened addicts are the same, no matter the lust. If we look at our own behaviors, public and private, and know of one we would not want to get caught at by a particular person because we'd be ashamed or it would hurt them - perhaps our parent or spouse or children - then let us apply this test to that behavior: if we think we're not an addict, then certainly we could quit the behavior immediately and never look back. And if we cannot ? Then we're not nearly as tough as we thought we were, but are owned by that lust as its slave. If this is the case, would we rather be tough for Real ? What takes infinitely more guts - that which Christ with the iron spine endured for us in Victory on the Cross, or Satan deceiving weak people and slithering away with a spine of rubber ? Then let us fight for good, not evil.
Our actions are our vote. By them we either condone this world's sin or reject it. We're either on God's side or the devil's.
"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" - Romans 6:16 (NKJV)
What is the Truth like ? It's like a woman who sees that little black dress in the closet that "culture" suggested was good, but on her Spirit she knows it has done nothing but lead others to adultery in their heart. In her sorrow and anger, and subsequent refusal to even give it away for others to be devalued, she gets out the scissors and cuts it into many pieces. Afterward, looking through her still-drying tears of sadness and Joy, having tasted the True Freedom of God's Law and finding it to be excellent, she attacks the rest of her revealing and form-fitted wardrobe with vigor !
Jesus makes it clear... we are not only responsible for ourselves, but also responsible for what we cause in others. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." - Jesus in Matthew 18:6 (NKJV)
Wearing a meat suit to the zoo is both cruel and dangerous. There is zero good that comes from it.
Immodesty does nothing but beget sin from us and invite sin toward us. It is outside the bounds of God's Protection, and Satan has no interest in our safety or well-being.
Modesty is of God, in all things - thoughts, words, dress, actions, material goods - everything. God, by His Love, knows modesty protects us. By it, more Blessings occur.
This is another clear, simple, and timeless lesson we can learn from the Garden of Eden - we're given all good things by God; if we want to continue in good, don't sin. God, by His Love, wants only the Best for us, but we must choose, knowing that sin's consequences will end up costing us the good we were otherwise meant to have.
Sin murders Love.
Do we not know that we get what we ask for, that we reap what we sow, that the measure we use will be measured back to us ?
What we are is what will be drawn to us.
The covetous and adulterous draw their own kind.
The modest wise draw their own kind.
After all, God is not mocked. Superficial exteriors and lies do not hide the heart from Him. God gives as the heart is.
If we want to Love another person, we must Love God first, and more.
Females are emotionally-inclined, males are physically-inclined. And all are pride-inclined. To live with insecurities and self-concern regarding what others think of us, superficially or otherwise, is toxic to us. Those who refuse to leave behind the covetousness and adultery and all other sins of "culture" will not escape, but will die there. So we must surrender in humility and Faith, and cast off our pride and fears, in order to let go of the burdens the devil, through "culture", has attempted to place upon us. We must be bold in the Lord and prayerfully happy to be a "culture outcast" in order to find Blessing, and relief, in being the child God made us to be.
God must be our measure, not the lost who live by this world's measures.
"Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." - Jesus in Matthew 15:14 (NKJV)
We must open our Spiritual eyes and see the Truth - God Loves us and wants us to be as He made us to be, not as the lost dictate.
The Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV), God talking to His servant Samuel regarding the selection of a new king for Israel
God also ensured that, in every way, Jesus did not conform to this world's measures, even His own physical being:
"He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him."
- Isaiah 53:2 (NKJV), from an AMAZING God-given prophecy regarding Jesus Christ, written down by the prophet Isaiah nearly 700 years before Jesus was born
Any of us who try to exalt ourselves, by attempting to make ourselves "rich" in any way this world desires, are covetous, and seek the covetousness of others. And if someone ends up being fed by this world, finding their importance in it by its prideful measures, there is little likelihood they will ever enter the Kingdom of God. From finding importance in money, power, fame, intellectual status, titles, image, social popularity, material ownership, superficial physical appearance, and on and on, any person "rich" in this world, fed by it, will practically never seek a relationship with God, for their god is not Him.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Jesus in Luke 12:34 (NKJV)
"But woe to you who are rich,
For you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full,
For you shall hunger.
Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
For so did their fathers to the false prophets." - Jesus in Luke 6:24-26 (NKJV)
"Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." - Jesus in Mark 10:24-25 (NKJV)
"And they (the disciples) were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, 'Who then can be saved?'
But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.'" - Mark 10:26-27 (NKJV)
Therefore, with God, all things are possible. Without Him, there are only this world's measures, which make being saved impossible.
The opposite of pride is humility.
The opposite of fears is Faith.
Pride and fears bind us, pushing us to try to believe in a surrounding culture that is untrustworthy, which further pushes us to inner-anger over its fraudulence, which we then mix with our own evil as a cheap excuse for sinning ourselves, thereby being untrustworthy to others, and thus a continuing part of the problem. There is no peace there, only a prison. It is a circular spiral down, and often one that takes a person decades to see, if they ever see it. If they never see it, it becomes a death sentence.
Humility and Faith free us, prompting us to believe in God Who is completely Trustworthy. There is True Peace there, a Loving Home. There, we never again have to be a "self"-righteous judge holding energy-depleting ill will on our heart toward others, for we know that True and Righteous judgement is in God's Better Hands. There, we can unburden ourselves by forgiveness of others, knowing we also need forgiveness ourselves. There, we find solace in God's Commandments, knowing they are His Love and Truth for our lives, given by His ever-protective Zeal for us. There, we are free to Love as God wants.
The bridge from pride-and-fears to humility-and-Faith is repentance to God, by Love.
When we attempt to be judge and jury by self-righteous hatred from our heart, we become a slave to our hatred. Because of the human side's evil, when we are hurt, anger is soon attached to the hurt within us, often at the very lowest levels of our subconscious. But "sub"-conscious does not mean "un"-conscious or non-existent. It means it's there, subtly influencing our chemistry, seeking to manifest in thoughts, words, and deeds. Low-level or otherwise, anger is a tumor that keeps the hurt from healing; and as long as we cling to the burden of hurt and anger by our pride and fears, we are in danger of reactionary sin, and have no Peace. The only way to get rid of the burden and return to normal is to forgive. Forgiveness requires, first of all, a recognition of our own sin, that we ourselves are not guiltless in front of God. Only with a repentant heart can we live by the opposite of pride and fears, that is, humility and Faith. Only by humility and Faith may we loosen the inner grip on our burdens and hand them over to God, so He can handle the consequences, as He does for our own sin. If we insist on using our pride and fears, then we'll remain mired in hypocrisy, trying to use our self-righteousness to handle the consequences, something we gave up our right to do the very first time we sinned. It is only forgiveness, forgiveness, and forgiveness, in the light of our own unrighteousness, that cuts off and throws away the tumor of anger from the hurt, leaving the hurt to heal, sometimes with a small scar that dissipates over time, and many times scar-free.
When we point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing right back at us. It's a losing game, so the only way to win it is to not play it.
If we demonize, we do the devil's work for him. Such work is enslavement, an entanglement in a hungry spider's web with little chance of escape.
We cannot get rid of poison if we refuse to let it go.
God did not kill us on our first sin or even our 1000th sin, so shall we hold hatred or condemnation in our heart, the basis of murder, toward others ? Or should we simply live with a little longsuffering and forbearance as God does for us in much greater amount ?
As long as we want only God's Mercy for ourselves while wishing only His justice upon everyone else, we will not be Free.
It's when we also want God's Mercy for everyone else, and are willing to also accept His justice for ourselves, that we can become a Child of God.
Freedom = Living without judgement + Loving with Truth.
Freedom = Not desiring to be "great" or "important" in this world's ways.
Freedom will always come down to repentance, forgiveness, and obedience to God's Commandments, by Love.
We cannot live in the Freedom of humility like a child if we keep clinging to the opposite: pride.
"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." - Jesus in Matthew 18:3-4 (NKJV)
You want to be a kid again ? Then read the Gospels and take special note of Simon Peter. You'll see what Jesus saw - an open-hearted, Faith-filled, child-like person who Loved Truth enough to Grow. When we learn that Peter's testimony founded the Book of Mark in the Bible, which was also a primary source for Matthew and Luke (both of whom included additional research and witness in their Gospels), we can see how Jesus' Church was indeed built on the Rock of Peter's testimony for Christ ! The three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke form the very Foundation of our knowledge about Jesus and His teachings, a Foundation that perfectly underpins the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus, from which the other stones of the Church, including the witness of the others in the New Testament, could be added in perfect alignment. This Foundation of witness for our knowledge that forms the very structural basis of Jesus' Church is so well built that all the torrents that have battered against the Bible, the New Covenant, and Jesus' True Church throughout time have never shaken it. It still stands unchanged after many centuries, and will continue to do so for all time, for anyone willing to read. Peter ? A Rock ? Ask Jesus. He will tell you what He saw in this fisherman. Praise God that Jesus is also willing to see the Child in us.
God and Jesus make it clear: The "least" in this world are the greatest in God's. And the "greatest" in this world are the least in God's.
"But Jesus called them (His disciples) to Himself and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'" - Jesus in Mark 10:42-45 (NKJV)
Jesus taught us the True meaning of service, in the Word and by Amazing Example:
"As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." - Jesus in John 10:15 (NKJV)
"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again." - Jesus in John 10:17 (NKJV)
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." - Jesus in John 15:13 (NKJV)
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." - Jesus in Luke 9:23 (NKJV)
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." - Jesus in Luke 9:24 (NKJV)
So there we have it. Do we want a good life, full of Life, not to mention Eternal Life later on ? We must not care so much about our own life on Earth that we live selfishly. By selfishness, we seek after all the wrong things as our precious God-given life slips away, and lose out on the Greatest Blessing God wants us to have. On the other hand, if we give our life away, in the Lord's Name, by His Word, caring about God, Jesus, and others more than our self-centered wants, then we'll have the Greatest Life.
But how do we give up the high opinion we have of ourselves in order to lower ourselves enough to be a proper servant ? Aren't we above that ? Allow Jesus:
"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet." - Jesus in John 13:14 (NKJV)
Jesus, the Truth, Loved Truly. And so should we. Yes, but what if we're self-conscious regarding service toward others ? Allow Jesus' disciple, the Apostle John:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." - 1 John 4:18 (NKJV)
In other words, we must Love enough to get over ourselves. If we Love Truly, we will get over our self-consciousness to serve.
Love based on the Foundation of Truth is Trustworthy.
If one doesn't live by the Truth, can their Love be True ?
Love without Truth is dead; it is false love. Without Truth, Love becomes unaccountable; that is, fraudulent, untrustworthy, full of lies. Truth keeps Love accountable.
Truth without Love is dead; it is true hate. Without Love, Truth becomes heartless; that is, unmerciful, destructive to life, full of hatred. Love keeps Truth kind and caring.
Apart, neither Love nor Truth can do any good thing without the other. But, Love + Truth in perfect balance = TRUE LOVE. The simple fact is, Love and Truth are never meant to exist apart, but in marriage only, because They encourage the good of the Other, while keeping the Other well-grounded. It is like a man and woman should be in marriage, and also like a person's heart and mind should be in front of God - undivided, working together for good. To attempt to divorce Love and Truth is adulterous.
If we want more Love, we must go through the door of Truth to get it. If we don't, "feelings without facts" will always end in regret.
If we want more Truth, we must go through the door of Love to get it. If we don't, "facts without feelings" will always end in futility.
It's easiest to find and keep more Love and Truth simply by reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and doing what Jesus says.
Love and Truth are like a helium balloon to a child.
The floating object of Love can only be kept by the string of Truth that we tie to us.
Without Truth, we won't have the Love we want for long.
Without Love, the Truth has no Life.
Much sin in this world is committed thoughtlessly or carelessly (or both).
God gave us a brain. Shall we not use it to think according to His Truth ?
God gave us a heart. Shall we not use it to care according to His Love ?
God gave us a body. Will it not manifest behaviors according to what we think or care about ?
God did NOT give us a brain and heart to go unused, or be used separately, or to be run by our human side's carnal instincts.
God gave us a brain and heart to be used, and to be used together, inseparably, under the guidance of the Spirit and His Word.
Only in that Way may our brain know the Truth.
Only in that Way may our heart have Real Love.
Only in that Way, with mind and heart together, may the body God gave us manifest Righteous actions of His Love and Truth in equal measure. Then His Will is done.
Real Love keeps the Truth. Thinking and caring must be done on purpose, driven by our Spirit connected to God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit, the Word, and prayer.
Instead of just acting on carnal instinct, without thinking or caring about God, and with little concern of cause-and-effect or consequences, shouldn't we at least review our own behaviors in front of God, and ask ourselves why we think or feel or do a certain thing ? Won't His Spirit reveal a proper answer to us if we ask Him, and whether, by the Light of God's Love and Truth, it's a Valuable thing to continue or not ? We are creatures of habit, and on a day-to-day basis, good habits that Value us (and others) take about the same amount of effort as bad habits that hurt us (and others). On a longer-term basis, bad habits actually require infinitely MORE effort, expense, and pain when we factor in the related continuous incremental degradation that, with time, leads directly to final, quick, and total destruction. We might never know when a failing structure will finally yield to total collapse, but it will. Yes, changing from a bad to a good habit takes some surrender on our part, but God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit help us with that. And once in a good habit, it's as easy as being in a bad habit on a daily basis, but is much less costly over time. But we will only invest in Life if we Love God !
If we enter a conversation or see a news story wherein someone else is airing the sins of another, shall we who have sinned cast our vote for such behavior by continuing to discuss or read or watch ? Or shall we cease to partake, thinking instead of our own sins we would not want aired publicly as red meat for wolves ?
It is doubtless that much that is called "news" could simply be replaced with the statement "Sin Destroys More Lives". Such continuous repetition of who did what to whom, or of what befell people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, isn't really "new" at all. As a matter of fact, this endless loop will continue until the Earth's hastening demise is fulfilled. With that, we should keep in mind that practically any "news" source, whether individual or corporate, has specifically chosen the news they print or air, not by ignorance or because they primarily care to help mankind, but based on the underlying motive for attention, ratings, or profit. For such perceived gain, "news" entities are well aware of how to tempt people often into the pit of negativity, covetousness, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy, by the "news" they offer. They know that once in that pit of addiction, the viewer will continue to click for more. What isn't news is that it's easy to exploit the sins and tragedies of human beings, as well as the weakness of on-lookers. It's also easy to throw in the occasional "feel good" story to attempt to hide one's own guilt, but God knows the heart. We cannot open a stone throwing pit, provide the victims, and sell advertising, without taking on the guilt of the actual stone-throwers we invite. For this, we will be judged as murderers ourselves.
"Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted." - Jesus in Matthew 15:13 (NKJV)
“There were present at that season some who told Him (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.'” - Luke 13:1-5 (NKJV)
As we can see in the verses above, Jesus was solely interested in the Salvation of the news addicts. If we are an addict for what the world pushes, the Lord can help us.
Beware of pretentiousness that believes it's being "open-minded" by giving equal time to that which God calls unrighteous. A wonderful preacher once said it this way: We must be careful not to be so open-minded that our brains fall out. We could also say that if we open our mind to everything, surely evil will enter. Because our Father Loves us, He tells us to guard our heart and mind through Christ Jesus, the Truth. It is the devil who hates us, so only he would suggest that we lend our minds to evil.
Beware of self-righteousness that attempts to use its contrived version of religion as a veil for its misguided fears, lack of forgiveness, and hypocritical hatred of others. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 -7 tears that veil in two, but only for those willing to believe and do what Jesus says. One cannot claim "Christian" otherwise.
"I desire mercy and not sacrifice." - God through Hosea the prophet, Hosea 6:6 (NKJV); also referenced by Jesus in Matthew 9:13 and Matthew 12:7
So God would rather we be Merciful - that we simply stop hypocritically hating other people as though we haven't sinned ourselves, and start treating others like we want to be treated, no matter what. As Psalm 51 tells us, a repentant, contrite heart is really what God is looking for, not religious ritual that means nothing as we go through it with an unchanged, hardened heart. If we have a changed, repentant heart, it will show by Mercy toward others. Without that, our religious activities are a false sacrifice.
There is also this: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." - God speaking through His prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)
So, both Mercy and obedience are desired over sacrifices that mean nothing without them. Again, if we have a changed, repentant heart, it will show not only by Mercy, but also by obedience to God and His Law. Without that, our religious activities are in vain. As Jesus says it in Mark 7:6-7 (NKJV) regarding those who hold empty tradition over God's Love and Truth:
“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
If our religion does not change our heart and our behavior in accordance with God's Will by His Word, then our religion is useless. Our Faith comes to Life by our actions.
As Mercy and obedience are a sign of a True heart to God in recognition of the Mercy He has had on us for our own disobedience, so is the related forgiveness of others. As a person who remains unmerciful will eventually be dealt with unmercifully by God for their unrepentant hypocrisy, an unforgiving person will not be forgiven by God.
Who among us could pick up a stone to throw at another if that stone weighed what our own sin weighs ? Who here can pick up a million pound stone for throwing ? Therefore, others' sins should remind us of our own first, so we don't destroy ourselves trying to murder them.
"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Jesus in Luke 6:37 (NKJV)
Yes, we are to learn and know the difference between right and wrong. But we are not to put ourselves in the judge and jury seat which belongs only to the sinless, that is, God and Jesus. The difference is this: knowing right and wrong is in the brain; judging others in condemnation and ill will comes from the heart. If we hate or condemn another person from our heart, then we are attempting to exalt ourselves as though we have not sinned. An unrighteous person pointing the finger in hatred or condemnation toward another unrighteous person = two unrighteous people + one unforgiving hypocrite. Better to suffer in grace, and to forgive and stay clean, than to use someone else's sin as a cheap excuse for our own. But again, this does not mean we should not know right and wrong by God's Standard of Truth, His Commandments; we should.
In addition, we shall not use the "tools of the devil" (defined earlier) to twist either our own actions or the actions of another in such a way that we end up calling evil good or good evil, the biggest lie of all. Again, using God's Standard, good is good, and evil is evil; a yes is yes, and no is no. Once all is said and done, if we see another person do something wrong, we can know it, but have no right to hate them. Letting others' sins convict us of our own is a good start.
Self-exaltation (covetousness) was the first sin of Satan when he was still in Heaven, and was also the first sin of humans, as the devil tempted Eve by saying, "in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..." Of course she then chose to take the first bite of the forbidden fruit just before handing it over to her husband, who then went along as well. Wanting to put ourselves in God's position, instead of living contented as little children with God as the Father, is the foundational sin of all. It is the same blasphemy of not Loving God, of treating Him vainly, of not holding Him up to His Rightful Position as the King of the Universe. Until we get that Proper Order right, we will continue to have other gods before Him - ourselves - and will continue on the road to planetary ruin, one rebellious human being at a time.
"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." - Jesus in Luke 18:14 (NKJV)
Pride exalts itself.
The prideful seek to tear down others, including both the prideful and the humble, sometimes by hostility (hatred, which Jesus associates with murder), and sometimes by false flattery and deceit (lies). This should come as no surprise, since Jesus tells us about Satan: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." - Jesus in John 8:44 (NKJV)
If we are prideful, then:
-- Just like the devil, we often claim good motive for our outward actions that are truly driven by underlying lies and hatred.
-- We also lie to ourselves, often by using the "tools of the devil" (defined earlier) to deny our own sin.
-- By denying our own sin, we convince ourselves we are righteous.
-- By convincing ourselves we are righteous, we don't repent, believing we have not sinned.
-- Unrepentant, we also don't forgive others because we believe our supposed sinless self-righteousness appoints us as judge.
-- As the judge in our own inner-kingdom, we don't bother with God or His Commandments, because why should we change what is already perfect ?
-- As a sinful, unrepentant, unforgiving, self-righteous, Law-breaking judge, the devil-prince of this world laughs at us, because we don't see we're actually serving him instead of God.
If we are prideful, and stay that way, our demise is assured by our own choice. We will be humbled, soon in this age, and at the Last Day after it's too late.
Humility does not exalt itself.
The humble seek to tear down no one. Yes, they test the spirits, but they don't hate, and they are not untruthful. Instead, the humble embrace Love and Truth.
If we are humble, then:
-- We do not deny our sin, nor do we pretend our human side is righteous, for our Spirit connected to God through His Word and Spirit knows the Truth of us.
-- Knowing our own sin, we have repentance for our sin and forgiveness of others for theirs, knowing we're not righteous enough to hold ill will against them.
-- Knowing also we're not worthy of God's grace, but having Faith in His Word of His provision of grace for us, we long for the Love we know we don't deserve.
-- Wanting God's Love we don't deserve, we know it is only right if we give the same to others, and to do what God asks in His Righteousness from now on.
-- Seeking to do God's Will, also for the sake of others, we learn to Love people, yet hate sin, realizing it's the devil who seeks to destroy people by it.
-- Loving people yet hating sin, we have compassion on those bound by it, even if they do not understand why we keep the Truth, and even hate us for it.
-- Suffering in grace for others without willfully sinning ourselves - that is the very Walk along the Narrow Way, by Love for God, knowing how He Loved us first.
If we are humble, and stay that way, our Salvation is assured by our own choice. We will be exalted, both in this age, and at the Last Day with Eternal Life.
You are Loved, you know. Don't turn away your Father who made you, but turn away from the "culture" that lies to you. God made us to Walk with Him... every single day of our lives. He very much wants that Family relationship with us, and wants us protected by the Truth. It hurts Him severely when we show we don't care, but He will not chase us down... He has given us free will. But know that when we walk away from Him and ignore His Word, we walk into the hands of the devil, with no middle ground.
Many are drawn to various "culture"-based representations of the battle of good versus evil, but few realize that there is the REAL thing on this Earth right in front of them, and that everyone is on the front lines. As a mature young man of God once sermonized, "We're either on God's side fighting the devil, or the devil's side fighting God." Yes, the devil's final defeat is assured, but between now and the end of the world, Satan will seek to destroy as many as he can, and sin will rise to a deafening pitch. Much of the this world's sin will seem increasingly sinful even to the carnal, but by Satan's craftiness, much of it will be increasingly devious by false love in words, but continued willful sin in actions. Going against God's Word, willful sin will always be the mark of the beast.
How many of us choose to add stress to our lives by living by what we think we need, including the keeping of various sins, instead of living by what we actually need ?
"Culture" often paints a picture of success when one has or does "it all". But "culture" doesn't warn us that the chase to do so will cost a person their life.
“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." - Jesus in Luke 12:15 (NKJV)
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul ?" - Jesus in Mark 8:36 (NKJV)
"For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God." - Jesus in Luke 16:15 (NKJV)
"So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." - Jesus in Luke 14:33 (NKJV)
We should well be aware that Satan is behind the big lie of "culture", selling its evil as "good" while hiding the infinite cost of precious human lives.
"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." - James 4:4 (NKJV)
"The carnal mind is enmity against God." - Romans 8:7 (NKJV)
"Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." - 1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)
It all comes down to this: Who do we Love more ? God or the world ?
If we say God, but don't live out His Word, the Bible, as the Truth for our life, then we are on display as liars for all to see, and our hypocrisy will tempt others to hate God.
Also: Who is right, God or man ?
Anyone who says God yet believes it's okay to twist, add to, or subtract from God's Word does not adhere even to their own words.
"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." - Isaiah 8:20 (NKJV)
Any self-declared Christian who does not believe ALL of the following still has plenty of room to Grow in the Faith:
-- that God created all of Creation, including human beings;
-- that human beings existed from the beginning of Creation;
-- in Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel;
-- that there's a devil and his evil angels;
-- in Noah's ark and the Flood;
-- in the burning sulfur destruction of Sodom, and the death of Lot's wife;
-- in Jonah's evangelistic adventures with God;
-- in Miracles;
-- in the Truth of Bible prophecy;
-- in Christ's Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension;
-- that Jesus is returning to the Earth a second time in the clouds above with all the Holy Angels; and
-- that the dead remain asleep in the grave until the End, to be resurrected either to Life or to condemnation.
Keep in mind that Jesus speaks of these things clearly, so to reject any one of them is to call Jesus a liar.
Will the Kingdom of Heaven contain anyone who thinks Jesus is a liar ?
"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much." - Jesus in Luke 16:10 (NKJV)
"God is not a man, that He should lie." - Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)
Now consider the humble belly-button. Let us think on how and why this little Miracle-portal was made; and the incredible nature of its purpose and function in the womb; and then, once its work is done, how neatly it closes up, leaving behind only a simple reminder of the supernatural means by which God made us, as well as a smile on our face when we consider it. Let us consider this as well - would anyone be alive without one ? If not, then let us see the supernatural means of existence in all things.
We were made from the dust of the ground, given a heart that knows how to beat, and provided with oxygen that is replenished by trees. We are given seeds and soil and sunlight and water, which miraculously combine to become food. We are provided healthy things to drink, as well as materials for clothing and shelter. Babies are stitched together in the womb from seemingly almost nothing. We are given every good thing for the survival of all people, even as man, in cooperation with the devil, abuses God's providence and destroys the Earth, and himself, by selfishly competing with his fellow man instead of selflessly cooperating for the good. If we even begin to contemplate the countless Miracles provided by God each day, or the abundant and precious Life He provides, or the magnificence and balance of nature we see here in our Earth home, or stop to ponder the incredible Universe, or consider God's Power at all, we'd live in constant amazement and appreciation of Him. But that is rarely the case. Sadly, most of us thanklessly take all of His Miracles for granted as we race to our graves, rarely bothering to notice or look up, finally dying in faithlessness, covetousness, and sin-addiction, infiltrated with man-made toxins, eaten by unhealed emotional wounds severely infected by our continuous failure to repent or forgive, and with a final refusal to give in and open up to the endless Joy and Peace God wanted us to have, even on this Earth, and even on an individual basis if others would not share in it. So how wise is man as he overlooks, fails to appreciate, and even works against God's constant Miracles ? Man on his own can eat, sleep, plant, and build, and on a good day maybe fly to the moon or refrain from unrighteous war. But man cannot create even a single cell from nothing at all. Sure, man can manipulate life, and we can certainly destroy life, but man cannot, nor will he ever be able to, make either matter or energy from nothing at all. It will remain only the Creator Who knows the mysteries of Existence, including all aspects and all Truth of all things. We can do so little on our own, yet we so often attempt to limit God to the confines of our own human understanding, somehow thinking if we can't do, understand, or explain something, then God can't do it either. It's the classic "God cannot be greater than me" syndrome of which Satan himself is quite familiar. As it is working out for the devil as he fights God, it will work out for anyone who continues in foolish pride, resisting the Truth merely to feed self. In self-exaltation, it is easy to convince ourselves we are the ones who have the Power. But until we can make even a single cell out of nothing at all, Wisdom will remain dependence on, and gratitude to, God, our Creator who wills to give all things to those embrace His Love and Truth. Now, if it's wise to seek True Happiness, then counting our daily Blessings from God, and contemplating His constant Miracles, is wise. If we do this, it also helps defeat a multitude of sins.
"You cannot make one hair white or black." - Jesus in Matthew 5:36 (NKJV)
"And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?" - Jesus in Luke 12:25-26 (NKJV)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
The discussion above of earthly Blessings did not even begin to include how God Loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him in Heaven eternally, or that He has provided the Gift and the Way for those who believe and Walk in the Light, or that He freely gives us His Holy Spirit for the asking, or that He has also given us His Word by which we can know Him and Jesus, and how to be with Them. But if we do not begin with the earthly Blessings we do know, how will we ever consider the Spiritual ?
"If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" - Jesus in John 3:12 (NKJV)
What is more evil than attempting to modify God's Word, especially His times and Law, and then claiming it's because we Love Jesus ? This stems from the time Satan realized he couldn't kill off the early Christian movement, so he joined himself to the church over the early centuries A.D. to try to kill it off from the inside out. But trying to replace God on Earth by attempting to adulterate His Word and promote traditions of man-made counterfeit worship must be seen for the Satanic covetousness it is.
How many people say in their hearts, “God Loves us so much that it's okay if we attempt to modify His Commandments and set up our own way, as long as everyone else is doing it, and we say it's for Him.” The devil knows that people will follow others who claim power, and so the beast breathes. But none of this will serve as an excuse to God. And just like in the Garden of Eden, the devil will tell us, "Sure God says this, but He really means that, so don't worry about it, it won't hurt you." But just one reading of Christ's teachings in the Gospels clearly points out - even to a child - that not one of God's Commandments can be changed; they can only be broken or kept.
Does God change ?
“For I am the Lord, I do not change.” - Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” - Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)
Any willful alteration of God's Word ends in dismal death for the unrepentant perpetrator.
(See Revelation 11:5 also for how God protects His Old and New Testaments !)
In the Old Testament, didn't God have the kingdom depart from King Saul for taking a direct command of God and altering it to suit himself, with Saul also insisting that he did it that way because he wanted to worship God ? Not only did it end up in death for Saul, but also for his sons who followed along with him. Attempting to change God's Commandments to worship Him as we please, instead of how He wants us to worship Him, is not worshipping God at all. As with Saul, our pride ends as suicide.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death.” - Proverbs 16:25 (NKJV)
If we keep rationalizing reasons and excuses why something cannot be done, even as the Lord Himself says it not only can be but must be done, Who is right ?
There's "our way" which leads to death, and God's Way which leads to Life.
Once we see Satan's many lies by comparing them to God's Word (which we should be reading), then Righteousness can win out within us. As Christians we are compelled to seek and know the Truth. If we do not even bother to investigate God's Word for ourself, but continue to commit adultery with the harlot church (which runs through many denominations) just because our parents or other people do, then we are showing that we do not care enough about God to know and keep His Word... something the devil counts on by the way. Thankfully there has always been a small remnant of True Christians, not making up any one denomination, who Walk the best they can with the Lord, seeking and keeping all the Truth revealed to them by God, Jesus, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, through reading, prayer, contemplation, and also others.
Here's one simple example of adultery against God's Word. Jesus makes it quite clear that those who like to go around in long robes and/or refer to themselves with religious titles such as father, rabbi, or teacher are not His, for His are simply brethren ("brother" and "sister") with one teacher, the Christ. So we are to beware of the religiously pretentious who cling to such image and pride by their position, for Jesus tells us they will receive the greater condemnation. Can we think of any supposedly-Christian religious leaders like that ? If so, we should beware of such modern-day "Christian Pharisees", for they shall not fare any better than their former counterparts.
The only power one can have is in being the least.
The more Trust one is given by God, the more humility one needs to handle it properly.
At least Jesus wants to help us resist the temptation of self-exaltation while doing harvest field work: "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’" - Jesus in Luke 17:10 (NKJV)
Yet how many of us are humble enough to give up our own selfish human-sided will for God's Will instead ?
We cannot want "our way" more than His Way, or else we are not listening to Him.
If we do not listen to Him, we do not Love Him.
If we do not Love Him, we end up with a religious world like this:
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." - Jesus in Matthew 11:12 (NKJV)
As in the days of the Pharisees, the violent, that is the forceful who are not Truly humble to God, still seek to own God's Kingdom here on Earth, usually by their own brand of religion, instead of letting God's Word do the leading simply because God is... God. It should surprise no one that worst of offenders exist in the "leadership hierarchy" of denominations and churches, because human beings have a difficult time handling any form of power, which corrupts even worse than money. We humans are a sad, competitive lot, seeking earthly gain mostly, often needing to be reminded even to Love or to give, just like we have tell our kindergarteners to share their toys. Many adults, being worse than children, are still drawn as a moth to light to compete to be "the greatest" and to "win", in whatever field they're playing, but not in a good way or for the the right reasons, but only by covetousness. It's easy to see the destruction of this in the banking field or politics, but the field of religion is not much different. People there might talk a better game, but few play it, because many still love the earthly more than Jesus. And so, like the Pharisees, many don't practice what they preach, but instead become addicted to the notoriety of their supposed-religious position or status, at whatever level they've clawed out for themselves. Satan certainly makes sure the hypocrisy in many religious leadership circles runs high, knowing their corruption flows to those who continue to listen to them instead of reading God's Word. In this way, the devil can also ensure that unbelievers also hate God and blame Him for the religion and hypocrisy of the self-declared religious people they hate, few if any of whom they've ever been able to trust. But Satan shouldn't exalt himself for this... his job is fairly easy now that his influence in the church has been compounding for many hundreds of years like interest at the bank. Misleading people who are weak and drawn to evil is much easier than actually leading them to seek strength from Jesus and to keep God's Commandments. God has the hard job, and quite a thankless one at that. But God is happy, overjoyed actually, with the few who come to Him in Spirit and in Truth, and He Blesses them endlessly. They live secret lives of gratitude, mostly unnoticed by unbelievers still lost in carnality. But, not to worry, for God Himself knows the irritating portion of religion that people see so often is not of Him at all. God also knows that if anyone comes to Him and reads His Word, and by Love believes and does what Jesus teaches, they will step away from the harlot church in all its forms, and into His True Kingdom instead. So, the test remains, and is more than just, for all are given the proper chance. Sure, the devil feels emboldened for now by the vast number who are set for destruction. But Satan seems to forget that his own demise will be multiplied in pain for each lost soul. In a little while, when the One who has Infinite Power in this Universe knows that no more people will be born into Salvation, the time of His vengeance will be at hand, and the horrific destruction of Satan and his, and of the wicked living and dead, will be total. He who has ears, let him hear !
So, what about the so-called religious leaders who use God's Kingdom to suit their earthly motives ? They might not like it, but Jesus is our High Priest and only Teacher, and no one else. The "greatest" anyone else can be is a brother or sister of Jesus by Loving Him and doing what He says, and even then we are unworthy servants who are simply to do our duty in gratitude to our True Father God. To share the Word with others means using God's Word only, pointing to Jesus, and not seeking the glory for ourselves or our denomination. All others who insist on higher status in the Spiritual realm do so against God by acting against what Jesus teaches. At any scale - neighborhood church or large denomination - such behavior is childish, driven by covetousness, just like Satan who wants to be exalted above God. But, since the devil was cast out of Heaven, it is obvious that to follow such is to go in the wrong direction. (It should also be obvious that since Jesus is the opposite of this, to follow Him is to go in the Right direction.) Of course, the deviousness in the religious world is that the many wolves in sheep's clothing go to great measures to hide their selfish motives behind a veil of false love, hoping the sheep won't notice or question their unfounded version of mangled scripture, their additions to or omissions from God's Word, or their traditions that are founded in sin. There are many such breeds of wolves, but thankfully the zipper on their sheep costumes is readily apparent to those who look closely enough, with Bible in hand and a simple prayer to God asking Him for guidance. Then God, by the Holy Spirit, pointing only to His Word, the Bible, will help us see clearly the difference in how given religious leaders speak and behave from what Jesus says about being a proper servant. This is not to say that this group or that does not have some of the Truth, but it is never where a group agrees with the Bible that is the problem. The problem is where they do not agree with God's Word. Using some Bible Truth as bait to catch unwary sheep for indoctrination into the rest of a religious tradition that departs from Jesus' teachings in God's Word is an abomination. There is little more evil than the use of false humility to slip poison into the Bread of Life before feeding it to the flock, because to do so is all for the sake of self-exaltation no matter what words are spoken. Many who do this will receive the most severe punishment God will ever use at the end of this world for human beings who rejected His Son's True, and humble, Leadership. As God is, we can be thankful for the very few True and humble servants of the Lord who still exist. May we all be the same.
For all of us then, there is this: "And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." - Jesus in Luke 12:47-48 (NKJV)
Obviously, it's best to simply know the Master's Will and to do it. Why ? NO stripes ! (Stripes refers to lash marks across one's back. In other words, bad consequences.) Yes, we are held more accountable as we know more. But to note, even the ignorant suffer some bad consequences for wrong choices - earthly to start. As our Parent, God is hopeful the result of bad choices quickly turns us to what is good - Him - by Whom we know more and hopefully Grow, thereby producing the best Heavenly result.
"If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains." - Jesus in John 9:41 (NKJV)
The Bible tells us that true ignorance (true blindness) is overlooked by God. But God is not mocked... He knows every thought and desire of the heart, and the difference between true ignorance and willful ignorance. True ignorance is not knowing and not doing. Willful ignorance is knowing yet not doing. Willful ignorance is defiance, or going against the Truth that we do know, the same as resisting the Holy Spirit. For those who think they can simply avoid knowing on purpose and God will overlook that, they should keep three things in mind: (1) God knows every person's capability to seek, know, and keep His Word; (2) God knows the defiant are aware of what they are avoiding and why; and (3) God knows that willful ignorance is the same as willful sin, and will be judged accordingly.
Are little children held as accountable as adults ? No ! Even in the evil human world it is acknowledged that little children do not have the same capabilities as adults to always keep from childish, selfish behavior. Surely, God knows this same difference, as He knows all our capabilities in total, from birth to death. Rest assured, He is fair, so we will all be held accountable according to the capabilities God knows we have. Jesus makes it clear that God expects us to meet our potential that He gave us.
There is Absolute Truth and revealed Truth.
Absolute Truth is the entirety of Truth in all the Universe that God knows.
Revealed Truth is the subset of Absolute Truth that has been revealed to a given person (or particular group of people).
Revealed Truth should continue to grow in a person (or particular group of people) by their purposeful asking, seeking, and knocking for more.
"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." - Jesus in Luke 11:10 (NKJV)
"For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him." - Jesus in Matthew 13:12 (NKJV)
There is willful sin and unwillful sin. Willful sin is also known as "presumptuous" sin; it means when we know something is wrong or bad, but we choose to do it anyway. Now, God knows every thought of our heart. And we will be held responsible for willfully keeping all the revealed Truth we have. But God also knows there is unwillful, involuntary sin. If we grew up in sin - as most have - then it might be that even though we don't want to, we happen to slip with a bad thought, or an unkind word, or have a wrongful dream, or even end up with a song in our head that contains sin because we heard it over a store's speakers. God knows whether we purposely continue on in bad thoughts, words, or actions; He knows if we willfully want to keep such things running on further or not. God is Love and Truth in equal measure; so while there is His justice according to the Truth, there is also His Mercy according to His Love. We can never say God is unfair ! So if we do our best according to our capabilities that God knows, because we Love Him and Jesus, and call on Them immediately to help us get rid of whatever poison is trying to tempt us further, we will delivered from evil, and into the Power and Glory of God's Kingdom, both here and now through His Spirit within us, and also into His Eternal Kingdom of Heaven in the future. A final note: We should never lie to God by claiming that a willful sin was unwillful, for God will not be fooled. Being open with God is the only way. Psalm 19 is wonderful encouragement for anyone willing to look further.
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - Hebrews 10:26-31 (NKJV)
God's Word is pure. There, Love is married to Truth, and Grace is married to God's Law in a Covenant bond.
There is always God's part AND our part in the Covenant-relationship we are to have with Him. God always does His part. God wants to hold our hand, but only can if we are willing to hold His. If we refuse, what can He do ? He will not force anyone to Love Him. And if we will never Love Him, what choice is there but to finally let us go ?
"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." - Jesus in Mark 8:38 (NKJV)
There is a battle inside a person, and two natures, one good, one evil. Again, the human side, our carnal nature, naturally inclines downward to the pit, toward Satan's suggestions of negativity and evil, and the use of the devil's "tools" (defined earlier). If led by the human side alone, then pride, hate, lust, self-righteousness, and other sins are our destructive fate. Our Spiritual nature, or Spirit, naturally inclines upward to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God's Word. If we are Born Again and feeding our Spirit with God's Word, prayer, contemplation with the Holy Spirit, and fellowship with True Believers, then our Spirit can and should become stronger than our human side. Once our Spirit is the Parent over our human side within us, we can have the control-of-self necessary to purposely turn our human side away from the pit, and from as many inputs of evil as possible. One of our natures is going to run us, and it's up to us which one it will be. But know that a human side is naturally fed from the deep poison well of sin in the surrounding world, and by it, our human side continually seeks to grow itself within us. Therefore we must purposely, continually choose to seek out and feed our Spirit the things of God to make sure it remains the strongest part of us, while minimizing our human side's intake from the world's sin and evil to the best extent possible. Only then may we keep Proper Order within us - our Spirit over our human side - and obtain the Victory promised through Jesus Christ.
Two main tenets of the Bible are: (1) God wants the Best for us, and (2) we reap what we sow (and more than we sow, good or bad).
One respected preacher once said that if he had to describe what the Bible was about in two words, it would be "sin" and "Salvation". Not too many preachers these days are willing to truly dive into the topic of sin, but it is their job. What to do about sin is the other part of their job. Making church a "feel good session" and saying "Peace, peace" when there is no Peace is not Love. Trying to modify God's Commandments and telling people that men can take the place of God on Earth is not Love. These are nothing but "forms of" godliness that deny God's Power to save through the Truth, Jesus Christ. As Revelation 18:4 (NKJV) tells us, the Lord wants us out of the harlot church (in all its harlot forms): "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." Only the Truth in the Word can set us free.
How can a life be lived without the One who created our life to be lived with Him ? It cannot be. Without Him we flail around in the dark with reliance on a valueless, carnal culture that leads people to Spiritually dead "adult" lives that have the same childish value systems as a never-ending high school, socially perpetuating little but covetousness and adultery. As culture degrades generation by generation to each "new normal", this world ends up calling evermore evil "good". The Bible makes it clear there will come a time, and we can see it from here, that God will have to step in and cut it off, just as in the days of Noah. But the next time will not be with water...
What is not of God will be devoured by Hell Fire. That includes religious hypocrites who won't address sin, and the carnal world that remains evil after hearing.
If God says it, it is so. Amen.